It is only natural for any archer to enjoy shooting their bow as much as possible. After all, archery is an endeavor that gets in your blood and becomes a way of life, warranting endless hours of practice and fine-tuning of equipment. This often leads to a desire to practice whenever and wherever possible, including your backyard. But do you know the legalities that apply to such at-home range time?
In reality, there are several laws and ordinances that must be investigated and adhered to when asking yourself is it ok to shoot a bow and arrow in your backyard.
Although there is little, if any, restrictions put on shooting in your yard at the state or federal level, local and city ordinances can widely vary as they pertain to the matter.
Is It Legal To Shoot Your Bow Within Your City Limits?
Since state and federal regulations are wide-sweeping and apply to both rural and urban settings as a whole, little if any laws on such matters are on the books at this governmental level.
However, what any archer must particularly pay attention to are their local laws and statutes that apply to their individual town, city, metropolitan area, or county.
As a general rule of thumb, if you live in a rural area outside of town or city limits, little oversight exists pertaining to shooting a bow at a target in your yard. However, this should not be taken as a given, as it is advisable to seek confirmation of this fact through the proper authorities.
On the other hand, if you reside inside the limits of a town or city, the odds are good that there is some form of legalities that exist concerning whether or not you can practice your shooting skills in your yard.
These laws and ordinances vary greatly, from those that stipulate that shooting must be conducted at a minimum set distance from occupied dwellings, to others that forbid the practice in its entirety.
When in doubt: Call your local courthouse
Since matters of this nature are highly dependent upon the location of your residence and the jurisdiction that it falls under, it is important to seek council from local authorities when in doubt.
In most cases, a call to your local courthouse will be all that is needed to receive an answer to your question. If the individual that you are speaking to does not know any governing ordinance, they will be able to put you in touch with someone who will.
What To Do If It’s Not Legal To Shoot a Bow Within Your City Limits?
If you find that shooting a bow in your backyard is not legal, do not fret, as there are many other excellent worthwhile options for archery practice that exist.
Although some of these options might not be as simple as just walking out your backdoor, any additional effort is a small price to pay to continue your pursuit of archery proficiency.
Bow Shooting Range Near You
If you are seeking an alternative location in which to practice shooting your bow, many ranges and clubs exist for just such a purpose. And a lot of people will tell you, that they love the opportunity to practice their shooting skills outside the hunting season (or their own yard).
Many of these ranges and clubs require either a small fee that is per visit or monthly in nature.
Although at first, this might seem like a setback, you must also consider the fact that these ranges usually provide all targets, therefore saving you money on a similar purchase of your own.
This helps to offset and justify these fees.
Furthermore, many of these ranges and clubs offer a diversified and intriguing archery experience that would be difficult to replicate in one’s backyard. It is common for such a venue to feature both indoor archery ranges of varying lengths, as well as outdoor 3-D courses to test your skills.
Many clubs or independent ranges also hold a multitude of competition shoots on a regular basis. This can be an excellent way to not only test your merit as an archer but to also grow and become more skillful in your endeavors through a little friendly rivalry.
Advantages Of A Bow Shooting Range
- They are providing the targets
- A diversified and intriguing experience
- In- and Outdoor Courses (incl. 3-D courses)
- The chance to compete with other archers
Locating a range or club in any given area is typically not very difficult. The Internet is your best friend when attempting to locate such a venue. By conducting a quick, location-specific inquiry through a search engine, you will have countless options at your fingertips. A call can then be placed to club staff to ask any further questions that you might have.
How Much Room Would You Need For Your Own Indoor Range?
The answer to this question is highly dependent upon the distance in which you intend to shoot. Most indoor ranges are at least 20 yards long. If this is the distance at which you would like to shoot, then you would base your plans off this figure.
Tip #1 – If you are seeking to construct your indoor archery range, you will want to build your structure at a minimum length of five yards longer than your desired shooting distance. This allows you to draw and shoot your bow with correct form without being situated directly against the wall at one end.
This increased length also allows you to have room to place your targets downrange without cutting into your overall shooting distance.
Tip #2 – Another consideration that must be made when building your indoor archery range is how many lanes you wish for your range to be. Will you be having friends and family over to shoot with you?
If so, you will need to account for this by adding an additional distance of approximately five feet in width for every successive lane in which you intend to include.
Tip #3 – When building an indoor archery range, you will want to make sure that you own adequate ground to facilitate such a project. This means that you, at a minimum, will need approximately five to ten feet of clearance between your range and any nearby structures.
This figure can vary widely, as building codes in many areas mandate minimum distances between structures.
Tip #4 – Before attempting to build an indoor shooting range on your property, you should consult your local planning and zoning office. Most any build of this nature will require a building permit and possible inspection.
They will also provide you with a list of requirements that the construction of your indoor range must meet for the process to be legal.
If It Is Legal To Practice Archery In Your Backyard
If you find out that it is indeed legal to loose a bow in your backyard, there are still some safety concerns that must be taken into consideration.
Never Shoot In Any Unsafe Direction
This point cannot be stressed enough. If you intend to shoot in your yard, then you need to carefully study your surroundings. You need to always be aware of the location of surrounding houses and roadways.
No shooting should ever be conducted in these directions. Instead, opt to set your target up in an area that will not lead to the potential of a horrific accident should a complete miss of the target occur.
Build A Backstop And Never Trust Your Archery Target
If you believe that an archery target will stop your arrow under every circumstance, you are risking a potential accident. The truth is, today’s ultra-modern high-speed bows can easily send an arrow completely through a slightly worn target.
Always have a reliable backstop in mind. In some cases, a natural backstop might exist in the form of a dirt pile or berm at the edge of a yard. In other instances, one must be provided.
Hay bales have a reputation of making quite adequate backstops, as do pieces of ¾ inch plywood. In all honesty, if an earthen bank does not exist, it is wise to layer multiple backstops for added insurance.
Watch Your Angle Of Draw
You must always remember that at any point in your draw cycle, an arrow could be unintentionally released. For this reason, you must keep your bow pointed only were safe while drawing and aiming.
Some people have the habit of drawing a bow while it is pointed in an upward angle, then dropping their bow arm to acquire the target.
If an arrow were to accidentally be released when the bow was at this angle, it would be sent into parts unknown. This is a huge issue in a neighborhood, as a wayward arrow could easily end up sailing into a yard full of children or through a window.
In Rural Areas: Talk To Your Neighbors
Even if it´s legal to practice bow shooting – Show them what precautions you took and that you are a responsible person.
Backyard Archery Legalities
Although it is natural to assume that it would be permissible to shoot a bow in your yard, the truth is that this is often a more complex issue than one might think. Although under state and federal law, there is very little oversight on the matter in general; city, town, and county ordinances often state otherwise.
It is always best to call your local courthouse to become properly acquainted with the laws governing the issue. Just ask them directly, if it’s illegal to shoot your bow in the city.
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