A buyer’s guide to the best crossbow target in 2019
Having completely worn to death my old Hurricane bag target, I decided to take the time to do a bit of research into the best crossbow targets in 2019.
I can’t complain, I got a lot of service from my Hurricane, but things change fast and it generally pays to do your due diligence.
The Hurricane was great for field-tips, but I’d like to be able to practise with my broadheads from time to time. Also, it took some serious damage from being left out in the sun.
So it’s time to look for something new.
I’ve pieced together this article based on my research (and final purchase decision). First though, I’ll let you know a bit about the characteristics of a good crossbow target, and the different types of targets available. Then we’ll dive into five reviews – one for each type I looked into.
The targets I review are the:
- Rinehart 18-1 Broadhead Target
- SpyderWeb ST 18XL Field Point Crossbow Block Target
- Morrell Double Duty 450FPS Field Point Bag Target
- GlenDel Full-Rut Buck 3D Target
- Splatterburst Targets
If you’re short for time, my final decision was the Rinehart 18-1 Broadhead Target. That said, do check out the reasons I give in the review below. Depending on your situation, there could be a more appropriate crossbow target for you.
The best crossbow targets: key characteristics
Of course you’ll want the bag to last for a long time. Some of the best last as much as ten years. Synthetic fillers and foam generally last for a long time. Look for materials that are high quality, and be prepared to pay a little extra so that you don’t find yourself buying another target in 18-24 months.
If you’re buying a bag target, is the outer layer resistant to fraying so that the inner material doesn’t fall out? If you get a 3D deer, is the core replaceable?
It’s essential that your crossbow target is thick/compact enough to prevent the arrow from burying itself deep in the target. Particularly at high speeds of 350 FPS+, where it becomes more noticeable on some targets.
The problem with burying the bolt deep in the target is a) it’s a nightmare to pull out, and importantly b) it ends up doing damage to the vanes, and you have to replace them.
The counterpoint to resistance is that we’d like to be able to easily remove the bolts from the target. If it’s compact, it may make it much harder to remove the bolt, particularly if the target is made of foam.
Cool tip: struggling to get your arrows out of your target? Try applying a touch of washing liquid or soap to the arrow before you shoot. It’ll make removing it that little bit easier.
We don’t want the target to damage our arrows, or more commonly, their broadheads. If it’s hard to remove the bolt, you may end up leaving a loose field-tip (or worse, your precious broadheads) inside the target.
Some targets will allow you to open them up and retrieve the broadhead from within. If you can’t get inside your target however, you’ll end up fighting with your target – and possibly damaging it – in an attempt to retrieve your broadhead(s).
We want the target to be suitable for the type of crossbow and arrow we’re shooting.
If you’re working with broadheads, you probably want a foam target which allows you quick (and easy) entry. This however comes at the expense of easy removability of your arrows.
If you’re doing a lot of practice with field tips, there’s no reason to go for foam, as there are some other really high-quality polyester fillers which allow you to slide the arrows out with zero resistance.
Multiple aim points
It makes sense to be able to practise grouping around several aim points before walking 20+ metres to collect your arrows.
Does the target that you’re considering allow you to mix up the target faces? Maybe it has multiple sides you can aim at, removable covers or adhesive targets you can swap in.
Don’t miss my adhesive target review below for a fun solution to boring targets.
Also, I personally don’t like my targets to be big circles, because it’s just not realistic. If you’re aiming at game, you want to be hitting a spot no bigger than an inch or so in diameter. This begs the question, why don’t we practise with no more than inch-wide targets?
What’s more, ideally I want rings that get bigger in exact inches, so that I know how many clicks I need to be able to sight in with my scope.
I’m not interested in big circles and extravagant shapes or patterns, they won’t help me get better at taking down deer!
Depending on the shape of your target it might not be so important, but normally you don’t want your target to move around every time you hit it. Otherwise you’ll be going backwards and forwards between every shot to straighten it up.
Ideally therefore, the target needs a bit of weight to it so that it can take the hit and stay still. I have seen that some people end up putting logs and other weights behind their targets to stop them moving when the going gets tough.
The issue with denser, heavier targets is that you’re sacrificing on mobility. If you like to take your target with you to different places then take into account portability. Does it have a handle or wheels to help you move it?
Finally, if you’re working with youngsters or inexperienced hunters, then we probably want a bigger target which is a little less compact so that it’s easier to remove the arrows, and make it more fun!
Crossbow targets: different types
If you’re crossbow shooting with field-tips then block targets may well be the best solution for you.
Blocks are densely packed with heavy material inside, and its stocky dimensions generally prevent too much movement.
If you find a foam block then you’ll be able to fire broadheads into it. This may make removing the arrow trickier, however some of the newer ones are made of other materials with less resistance.
Bag targets are generally resistant and durable, while being friendly on your arrow. They’re normally a bit heavier and bigger than the blocks due to their density.
I actually like my bag targets to be a little bit heavier as an indicator of its quality, as some manufacturers will use lighter materials so shipping costs come down.
I also look out for quality material for the bag itself, so that the insides don’t start falling out. Equally, some bags have replaceable covers as an alternative.
A drawback of bag targets is that you can’t use broadheads as they’re likely to rip the outside of the bag and ruin the target.
Foam targets are just like blocks but you can practise with broadheads.
Unfortunately it’s hard to get your arrows out. The foam grabs hold of the broadhead and the worst thing that can happen is that the broadhead gets stuck in there.
It’s catch-22 as you need to practise with your broadheads before you go out to hunt, and therefore you need a foam target. The downside is you may damage them or just generally struggle with removing them.
If you’re going to get a foam target, then make sure it’s built up inside of foam layers which you can access and change. This will allow you to both control the depth of penetration and retrieve broadheads that get stuck. One of the most frustrating things about target practice is losing arrows or broadheads in targets, so this will get rid of that problem.
Another possible negative is that they might leave some residue on your arrow, which isn’t positive for the integrity of your arrow.
There are some bag and block variations that offer more angles, for example the Rinehart 18-1. Generally my feeling is these are great targets to practise at angles and have more places to aim before retrieving your arrows.
You may need a backstop though, as when you’re targeting harder angles it’s likely you’ll miss or ricochet from time to time.
Spider webs are blocks, but it’s super easy to remove the arrow from target (no resistance whatsoever) thanks to the materials they’re made of.
They’re also extremely durable, as long as you look after them a bit and keep them out of the sun, or on a stand off the ground to prevent water damage.
With spider webs, you can’t shoot broadheads into them either which might put some people off.
3D targets are realistic life-like targets based on real game. You can get 3D targets in the shape of most animals, and they can be a lot more fun than other targets.
I also feel that they are an important step in learning to hunt. They let you get a feel for the anatomy of game, and to know where to shoot them for maximum impact and damage. This is something which I think is lost somewhat on other types of targets.
Lots of models have replaceable cores which you can switch out to save replacing the whole animal. This is great as 3D targets are a bit more expensive than others.
Also, check what material it’s made of. If it’s made of foam you might have the same arrow-removal issues as with foam block-targets. A foam 3D target is generally a bit easier going after it’s taken a few hits as it doesn’t hold onto your arrows quite so much.
Make sure it’s not too heavy to transport or relocate so you can recreate realistic hunting situations.
Best crossbow target reviews
Rinehart 18-1 Broadhead Target Review (Foam Cube) | Overall Best Crossbow Target
The Rinehart 18-1 is a 15-inch foam cube with an intriguing 18 faces.
This beast of a target is my overall best crossbow target. Not only because I want to be able to shoot broadheads to my heart’s content, but also because it’s built to last. I’ve read reports of people having them for nearly ten years despite pummeling them with bolts.
Its secret is its special self-repairing foam which is made of various closed-cell urethane foams. These foams press the hole closed so they’re virtually invisible once the arrow is removed.
It will of course lose its shape over time, but being built from quality material, the Rinehart maintains its structural integrity for an extremely long time.
As if this wasn’t enough, they’ve made it super easy to transport. It has an easy to carry handle, and at 14.7 lbs it makes it very easy to take it wherever you like to practise.
I’d also like to point out just how quiet it is when hit by an arrow. It’s a very low-maintenance target too, that won’t get damaged by rain or sun if you want to leave it outside.
If I had to find a negative, I’m not that impressed by the big fluorescent targets it has. I’d much prefer some more realistic one-inch diameter aim points, but I’m getting picky.
- Best crossbow target for broadheads
- Best crossbow target for high-performance crossbows with high FPS
- Self-repairing foam
- Great target for mobility
- Very quiet impact
- Won’t damage left outside
- In colder climates it’s harder to remove the crossbow bolts
- Nitpicking: I’m not impressed by the fluorescent targets
Question: Will this damage or make my broadheads dull?
Answer: the reality is all targets will dull your broadheads, and this one will like any other, although not more so. Shooting a broadhead a couple of times before going out to hunt isn’t going to do it any damage.
Question: Does it roll when shot?
Answer: it doesn’t roll although it may move a little, so stick something small behind it to prevent this if it happens. I really depends on your crossbow and the force.
Question: is this the best crossbow target for 400 FPS or above?
Answer: yes, this target is built to handle anything you can throw at it. That includes top performance crossbows and expandable broadheads. This is ultimately why we feel it’s the best crossbow target for the money.
SpyderWeb ST 18XL Field Point Crossbow Block Target Review
I also got the chance to test out the SpyderWeb ST and I loved it. If it weren’t for the fact that I can’t use broadheads, this would be my number one pick.
It’s a block target of 18*18*14 inches, weighing in at about 35 lbs. It consists of a polyester fill which is ground up and compressed which makes it unbelievable easy to remove your arrow or bolt. You literally don’t even have to pull.
The surface is made of spylar which is a self-repair material. Instead of breaking, the spylar allows the bolts to slide between the fibres so that it maintains its integrity.
This in turn means that the polyester fill won’t spill out, regardless of the number of hits it takes.
It works perfectly fine with the very best performance bows at 400 FPS+, and won’t swallow your bolts up to the vanes. This was a big problem I found on some bags, like the blackout or yellow jacket target.
It works equally well on all arrow sizes, be it for bows or crossbows, and you can leave it outdoors day and night thanks to its weatherproof design.
Due to its weight, it’s not the easiest thing to hulk around although that added poundage means it won’t move when it receives big hits.
One tip for working with this Spyder Web is that you make sure your field-tips are flush before sending them, as on the off-chance you lose one inside the block, it’s a real pain in the arse to remove.
- Takes abuse from high-performance crossbows
- SUPER easy to remove your arrows
- Self-repairing surface
- Won’t damage left outside
- Can’t use broadheads
- (Picky:) hard to remove lost field-tips
The Morrell Double Duty archery bag target is designed for high speed crossbows and high-speed compound bows and arrows.
It’s a field-tip only 19.5” * 19.2” * 19.2” bag, which treated right will last you for a long, long time.
This durable bag weighs in at about 40 lbs, so can be difficult to shift around. The manufacturer has added in some adapted carrying handles to make it easier.
This bag has a massive number of reviews on Amazon, so something they must be doing very right.
The downsides for me are that it can get damaged by the sun, and obviously that you can’t shoot broadheads into it.
That said, you can purchase only a new cover, meaning that you can get excellent longevity out of it for cheap.
- Easy arrow removal
- Lasts for a very long time
- Completely replaceable cover
- You can’t shoot broadheads into it
- You shouldn’t leave it outside
Question: Can I use broadheads on this target?
Answer: Using broadheads is not recommended by the manufacturer if you want to get the expected years of use out of it. However, if you’re happy to sacrifice longevity, the target will also handle broadheads surprisingly well and you’ll still get fairly good use of it.
GlenDel Full-Rut Buck 3D Archery Target Review
3D targets are a mixed bag for reasons I’ll explain. On one hand I believe they’re great for learning to hunt for real and ethical killing. It helps you get used to where the major organs appear and to aim at them from all angles.
We did however read some reports – not always mind you – that they are fragile, and that from time to time they arrive broken out of the box.
After a lot of research I went with the GlenDel Full-Rut Buck. It’s the largest 3D deer target that you can buy, with a shoulder height of 37 inches and total height of 62.
The manufacturer claims that the “polyfusion technology fuses the internal layers to the inner target wall, resulting in uniform layer compression and ease of arrow removal”….I think it’s bull. There are plenty of reports out there of people fighting to get arrows back from their target, and losing.
These targets have a pretty good lifespan thanks to their replaceable insert core (14-inches cubed). It’s essentially a removable block where the organs lie which you can purchase at a reduced cost.
A big positive is that you can use broadheads on them! After all, most of them are made of foam.
I think if you go for this target you won’t be disappointed, as long as it arrives in one piece. If not, well you can send it back, so aside from a little disappointment, no harm done.
- Long target life
- Won’t damage left outside
- Learn to shoot at realistic game
- Several reports of arriving broken in package, although it can be sent back
- May be confusing to put together
- They say easy arrow removal, but it’s not really
Splatterburst Targets Review – 8-inch Stick & Splatter Reactive Self-Adhesive Shooting Targets
I’ve included a surprise entry here with the Splatterburst, but I just felt that I had to in the end.
I’ve included it because I’m not impressed by many of the printed aim points that feature on other targets out there.
These are 8-inch targets on 9-square-inch paper, with rings spaced exactly one inch apart so you know just how many click adjustments to make to sight in with your scope. It also has small individual red-circle aim points of ¾ inches.
These high strength adhesive targets stick to almost anything at any temperature. Each target has 19 cover-up patches per target in case you want to do some more shooting.
The cool part is that you’ll instantly see your shots burst bright fluorescent yellow upon impact. That way, you’ll know you’ve made contact from distance and don’t have to walk downrange to see your shots.
I highly recommend these targets as they’re cheap and replaceable. You can buy packs that you can stick to any target face to liven it up, and add more difficulty.
It’ll work with any type of firearm too, and is obviously easily transportable. There’s no downside…
- Cheap and replaceable
- Hit confirm with “high-visibility splatter”
- Works with all types of firearms
- Easily transportable
- Increase the difficulty of your targets
- Sticks to any surface
The best crossbow target: conclusion
It depends on your needs.
If you only want a target to practise with broadheads, then you probably want the Rinehart 18-1. It’s a beast, and will take abuse from your broadheads and high-performance crossbows for years without complaint.
If you’re a recreational shooter that uses more field-tips, then I prefer and recommend the bags or the densely-packed blocks. They have many advantages, from ease of removal, durability, arrow protection and more. These targets will last for years, and my particular favourite is the Spyder Web ST.
There’s also a lot to be said about practising with 3D targets. If you’re really keen then the GlenDel Full-Rut Buck is the best that I came across while researching them extensively. They nonetheless have some negative (see review), although I still think they’re worth it once you get it setup.