Top 10 Target Archery Games | Have Fun While Practicing!

archery with friends top image

One of the best ways to practice your archery is to involve your friends and family in your training. They support you and make everything more fun and lighthearted. That’s why I suggest you try some target archery games with them. They will help you enhance your skills in an exciting way while spending time with people you enjoy… while earning some bragging rights.

Most of the games listed below are also really easy to set up and don’t require much gear besides your ordinary bow and arrow, and some things everybody has laying around in their house. Some of them are just fun, others are designed to train a specific archery skill.

These games will be especially fun if you’ve followed my guide of building an archery range in your backyard, especially if you invited some people over. They will help you break out of the habit of just shooting at your target and motivate you to practice in other interesting ways.

In this short post, I’m going to tell you about my favorite archery games. These will both help you better your archery and bowhunting skills, in a less traditional point-and-shoot way. Excited? Let’s start.

Safety note: With any of the games below, never shoot your bow without making sure there’s no one standing between yourself and the target. Always be aware that you’re holding a weapon, and make sure you’re shooting from a clean shooting line that no one has passed. It’s a good idea to create a buddy system, where when someone shoots their bow, their buddy makes sure no one passes the shooting line.

1. Popping balloons

One of the most fun activities you can do at the end of a long shoot with a friend is balloons popping. All you have to do is simply take some balloons, and using tape or small pins attach them to a target or a backstop. You then try to pop them. You can either take turns at shooting them or all shoot at once.

It’s an incredibly fun game and fits archers at any skill level. So even if you’re a group of mixed beginners and advanced archers, you can all participate together. If you’ve decided to involve your kids in archery I really recommend this game for you – they simply love it.

You can make the popping effect more visual by filling the balloons up with something – many choose glitter or any other powder. When the balloon pops the powder spread through the air and makes it way more satisfying.

2. Night archery range

An awesome way to turn your small 20 yards range into a cool experience is to set up a night archery range. You basically need to set up the range beforehand and place flashlights around the field in various locations. When the sun sets you start shooting to the light of the flashlight only. It isn’t much of a competition, but just a fun activity.

Since it’s hard to see in the dark a shorter range is required, so a space of up to 20 yards will be perfect. You need to make sure that it’s lit correctly – not too much to the point the targets are easy to see, but not too little to the point of shooting in the dark.

To keep yourself safe I’d suggest placing a rope around the range. Also, use light-reflecting material to mark yourself and everybody nearby, especially kids that might accidentally run to a dangerous location.

This game is a lot of fun because it adds a new layer of challenge to your ordinary 3D archery. It’s also a good practice for archery in low light. You can also combine it with the previous game and shoot balloons at low light. I really like it.

3. Lucky dip

This game needs a bit of preparation in advance, but it’s well worth it. The basic rules: every archer has a set number of arrows (usually 6) at each round. The archer shoots all of the arrows at the target and then pulls a scoring method note. The basic idea is that archers don’t know what their score is until they pull the note. There can be a lot of different scoring notes, so be creative, but if you have trouble coming up with ideas, here are some examples:

  • Normal scoring system
  • Negative scoring (you lose the number of points you’ve earned this round)
  • Reverse scoring (hitting the center equals 1 point, and the edge of the target equals 10 points)
  • Black rings equal 10 points, the rest are 0.
  • Missing the target is worth 10 points
  • Hitting the same color multiple times only awards score once

Another way to play the game is for the archers to pull the note before shooting. It then acts as an instructional note instead of a scoring note. This allows competitors to practice shooting at different scenarios. Example instruction ideas:

  • Normal scoring
  • Reverse scoring (similarly, 10 points scored at the edge of the target, 1 point in the center ring)
  • Shoot from a crouched position
  • Stick a piece of paper on the target. Hitting it is worth 10 points, the rest of the target scores nothing.
  • Place a blocking object on the range, try shooting the target normally.

This game is really fun to play with buddies because it involves an element of randomness, but also require a lot of skill.

4. Unknown range game

A simple way to practice target archery with your buddies and enhance your distance judging skill is to play this unknown range game. It requires almost no setup and is great to play.

You should note that to play this game the range shouldn’t have distance markers in it, so if you have pegs marking the distances – remove them for the purpose of this game. You also need a rangefinder, and I have some great recommendations for you on my recommended gear page.

To set the game up, take some pieces of paper and write yardage distances on them. They can be round numbers, which is recommended for beginners, or more specific numbers which will make the game more challenging. You can use other small objects to mark distances – poker chips, playing cards, etc. Put all the notes on a small bag, or a hat, so no one can see what distance they’re going to draw.

Archers then take turns drawing a note from the hat. They then walk up to the target and stand in a location where they feel is distant to the target as the number on the note. They then proceed to take a single shot at the target. After they’ve shot, they may use a rangefinder to check how off they were.

This game is a really great way to practice your yardage judging skills in a fun way, and practice your precision at different distances. If you’re not sure how to judge distances, make sure to read my detailed post about learning how to judge yardage. It’s a great way to get started with field and 3D archery.

5. Archery H-O-R-S-E

This might be one of the most famous basketball-based games in the world, but with a small twist, you can take it to the archery range. It will help you challenge yourself at shooting in ranges and positions you’re not comfortable with, which is so important for improving your archery skills.

The basic idea of the game is for archery to take turns shooting at the target for any location they choose. The first archer to hit the target forces the next one to shoot from the same location they shot from.

The next archer then has to hit the target closer to the center than the previous archer did. If he managed to do that, the next archer has to do better then he did, and hit the target even closer to the center. If not, he’s awarded the first letter “H”, and continues until the entire word “H-O-R-S-E” was spelled. The first person to have the entire word spelled lose the game.

When an archer misses the shot and is awarded a letter, they also award the next archer with the right to shoot from anywhere in the field again.

This game is fun because it forces you to shoot in uncomfortable positions and under pressure of losing. It’s considered one of the most common archery games. You can make it even more challenging by placing multiple 3D targets and blocks on the range. This is a really great way to practice 3D archery with your friends.

6. Archery Tic-Tac-Toe

This game is really easy to set up and really fun to play. You simply need to get a large piece of paper and draw a tic-tac-toe board on it, then attach it to a target or directly to a backstop with some small pins or tape. It’s a good idea to have each player shoot arrows marked by a different color.

The rules vary from game to game, but a basic rule set suggestion is to have players shoot in turns, trying to hit the correct square. A player that has 3 squares in a row, column or diagonal wins. A player misses their turn if they miss the board or hits a grid space that was already taken. You can also play in teams, where turns go from one group to the other.

If the game doesn’t feel challenging for you, you can create a smaller board to play on. The smaller the grid points are – the more challenging it is.

This game can be changed into 4 in a row by having a bigger board with more grid points, and only hitting squares above other taken squares. This is more challenging because you have less room for error.

This game is really fun and can help a lot with your shot accuracy. It’s also really easy and quick to set up, and only requires things most people have at home. It does get old quickly, so have other games in your sleeve if you intend to play it.

7. Open table archery poker

Get your pack of cards ready, because this archery game is one of the good ones. It’s really easy to set up, and it’s really fun to play with a group of buddies. All you need to do to set the game up is to tape or stick the entire deck to a target, face up.

Every archer then takes their turn shooting 5 arrows at 5 different cards. The winner is whoever ends up with the best hand. Standard poker rules apply. Missing arrows mean that in the end, the archer has fewer cards, which limits their ability to win. This is why an intelligent choice of cards is required – going for the highest hand isn’t always smart.

This game trains your precision, but that’s not the point of the game. It’s just a lot of fun to play, especially if your friends are into poker. It’s worth the price of a cheap deck of cards.

8. Knockout game

This one is more of a friendly skill competition. It’s also a good way to determine your current ideal shooting range, and perfect your shooting precision.

Archers stand in the first shooting line, which should be at 10 yards. They take turns shooting a single arrow at the target. When they finished shooting, they retrieve their arrows. Archers who missed the targets are eliminated from the next round, which is shot at the next distance increment, at 15 yards. They continue to shot at larger and larger distance increments until all are eliminated. The last archer to stay in the game is the winner.

If multiple archers are knocked out at the last round, the archer which shot closest to the center of the target in the previous round wins.

This game is simple and requires no early setup, but is still a good way to determine everyone’s current skill level and enhance your under pressure archery skills.

9. Snakes and ladders

Another cool scoring system, quick and easy to set up. A large “snakes and ladders” board is drawn on a bit piece of paper and pinned down to a target or a backstop. The squares of the board are numbered in the ascending order, similar to a standard game board.

Each archer then shoots 3 arrows at the target, being awarded the number of points which is the number on the square. If the archer shoots a square with a ladder on it, they are awarded the score of the top of the ladder. If they hit a snake, they are awarded the lower score on the bottom of the snake.

The rules of the game are pretty simple, and it requires some easy set up to be played. It’s a good way to practice your precision.

10. 3D archery

While it’s not a specific game, 3D archery is a great way to practice archery with your friends in a special fashion. It’s a form of archery where the archers move around a large range, usually in a wooded or hilled area, and shoot at 3D targets, that look like life-sized animals or creatures.

The distances of these ranges are typically unmarked, which adds a whole new layer of challenge to the competition. It’s a really cool and challenging test, and most ranges allow for multiple archers to shoot together, at groups or at an all-against-all scoring system. It’s also a really good exercise.

If you’re interested in 3D archery, make sure to read my post about archery competition rules, that covers the rules of every type of archery tournament, and specifically 3D archery competitions. Obviously, if you play with your friends and family it will be less competitive than participating in a competition, but it’s a good idea to know the rules if you want to play.

I really recommend 3D archery to anyone who’s involved in archery. It’s a great way to get the feel of what archery really is all about and practice some bowhunting skills without actually going hunting.


In this post, I’ve covered my favorite 10 archery games you can practice with your friends. It’s a really cool way to involve other people in your training, and have a good time with your family. Most of the games we’ve covered specifically target an aspect of archery you should train, all while being a lot of fun.

I really hope you’ve found this guide helpful and that you’ll make sure to practice archery in a more exciting way from time to time. Thanks for reading!