Becoming skilled at archery takes a lot of practice, so naturally, some people will want to shoot in their own yard. After all, it can be a hassle to go to a range for every practice session. But are you allowed to practice archery on your own property?
For the most part, you’re likely okay to shoot some arrows on your own private property. However, always check your state, county, and city laws. The last thing you need is a nosy neighbor calling the police for you doing a little backyard archery.
As far as we know, no state outright bans practicing archery on your own property. However, some cities and counties might have certain restrictions. For example, you might not be allowed to shoot arrows over a public road or street, or practice within city limits. Or, you might be required to be a certain distance away from an occupied dwelling.
Do a search online or call your local police or county offices to get clarity on the laws for archery practice at home where you live.
Terms to Watch Out For
When looking at backyard archery laws, watch out for a few key terms. For example, if you come across the phrase “projectile or missile,” you need to be careful. Depending on how the law is worded, a projectile or missile could mean anything that can be thrown, even a rock.
Firing near an occupied dwelling also comes with its own regulations. In some areas, restrictions only apply to firearms. In others, you require the property owner’s permission before you can practice archery. Always double-check your local laws before practicing someplace.
Set Up a Safe Backyard Archery Range
Your area may allow you to practice archery at home, but only after an inspection and successful application for a permit. If this is the case, a safe backyard range is essential to pass inspection.
Even if an inspection isn’t required, prioritizing safety is a good idea. Here’s what you’ll need:
A sturdy backstop catches any arrows that miss your target. An arrow from a high-powered bow can shoot through a fence. To avoid injuring neighbors or failing an inspection, a safe backstop is essential.
Construct your backyard archery backstop from thick materials like hay bales, rubber mats or tires, or multiple layers of plywood. Make sure it extends at least a few feet out on all sides of your target.
If you have to pass an inspection, make sure everything about your range screams “safety first.” Consider printing out a safety checklist to pin up somewhere your inspector will see it. Include things like never pointing an arrow at anything you don’t intend to shoot (even if the string is slack) and calling out “clear” so everyone knows to clear the lane before you shoot.
Consider roping off your backyard archery lane so no one can accidentally wander into the line of fire. Keep the area clean and free of debris or anything that could be a distraction as you’re shooting. If possible, you can position your target at a slightly downward angle, a generally safer angle for targets.
Tell Your Neighbors
Once you’ve got the all-clear from local authorities to practice archery at home, it’s still a good idea to let your neighbors know what you’ll be up to. This is especially important if they live close by or in line-of-sight.
Your neighbors might not know that it’s perfectly legal to practice backyard archery where you live. Out of concern, they may call the police. While you know you’re within your rights to shoot on your property, it saves everyone time and hassle if the authorities don’t get involved.
A simple knock on their door with a, “Hey, I’ve gotten the ‘OK’ from the county/police/city to practice archery in my yard, and I wanted to let you know about it” can go a long way. Ensure they know your backyard range is perfectly safe, and ask if there are certain times they’d prefer you not shoot. It’s a simple courtesy that your neighbors will appreciate.
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