Make It Safe: Crossbows and Broadheads at Your Archery Range

Photo Credit: Paul Sherar

Author: ATA Staff

To attract visitors to your community archery park, you must welcome a broad range of archers to the facility. That means dedicating an area for crossbows and broadheads.

“The ATA does not recommend banning any equipment on archery ranges,” said Michelle Zeug, the ATA’s director of community and international programs. “Instead of banning broadheads or crossbows, try one of several ways to accommodate them at your archery park.”


Crossbows are now more widely legal for hunting. Photo Credit: Paul Sherar

Crossbows are legal for hunting in most states, including at least 25 during the archery season. Some archers also shoot them in competition. Modern crossbows produce arrow speeds similar to high-performance compound bows, with one exception: Arrows shot from crossbows are heavier and deliver more kinetic energy, which wears out targets faster than regular arrows.

Because crossbow arrows are much shorter than normal arrows, a worn target center could cause a pass-through or let the arrow penetrate so deeply that it’s difficult to pull it out. Therefore, crossbows shouldn’t be used on beginner ranges, except for programs using crossbows with less than 30-pound draw weights.

Planning and budgeting for target repair and replacement is the best way to accommodate crossbows at your community archery park.


Clearly label your broadhead targets so archers know which ones to use for broadhead practice. Photo Credit: Carver Park Reserve, Laketown Township, Minnesota.   The Ben Avery Shooting Facility in Phoenix, Arizona, provides broadhead pits like this one.

Targets made specifically for broadheads can accommodate crossbow shooters and compound bowhunters. These targets can withstand a broadhead’s cutting surfaces, and stop high-speed arrows 20 yards (the most common shooting distance) from the shooting line.

Crossbow-shooting bowhunters can sight in their equipment by using targets designed to stop broadheads. You can also create an area with broadhead pits – targets barricaded or backed up by a sand pit – that safely stop errant arrows without damaging the arrows or broadheads. If those aren’t viable options when other archers are using the range, set aside specific days and hours for crossbow and broadhead shooters, and encourage them to use the range at those times.

A specially designed bowhunter area with a safety berm, like the one pictured here, can accommodate broadheads and crossbows.

If space, finances and interest allow for a designated broadhead/bowhunting area, place five targets 10 to 40 yards, minimum, from the shooting line. A target should also be placed at 100 yards for those planning to shoot in Western states. Practicing at long ranges helps archers learn their maximum effective range. Also consider special broadhead targets, a simulated blind, and elevated platforms that accommodate two people.

Check out the ATA’s Archery Park Guide  for more information on accommodating crossbows and broadheads at your community archery park.


Share This Story