I currently work on a diy-target. I wan to fill a big cardboard box with stuff, that stops an arrow. However, I'm not able to get my hands on foil rests or textile waste. I just have a full paper bin :)

Is this paper-waste, when compressed (pressed in the box and held together with duct-tape), (cardboard, common paper) suitable to stop an arrow?

  • 2
    Here is a data point. A box 50cm x 50cm x 25cm, stuffed with old clothes, stops (along the short dimension) (and permits easy arrow removal) arrows from my 14kg recurve at short range.
    – Vorac
    Commented May 20, 2016 at 13:25
  • 1
    What sort of arrow? Made of what? Fired at what speed? From what distance? From what relative height? Commented May 20, 2016 at 17:32
  • The obvious answer is to try it and see. Commented May 22, 2016 at 13:14
  • @OlinLathrop Don't think so since we talk about hunting equipment and thus there is a potential security risk. Another thing is that I don't want to break my arows (if it stops too hard or you can't pull them properly anymore).
    – OddDeer
    Commented May 23, 2016 at 13:57

3 Answers 3


The simple answer is yes, you can definitely use waste paper or cardboard to stop an arrow. Various folks have used cardboard boxes, flattened, and piled up to anywhere between 6 and 12 inches thick, held together with straps or duct tape.

You'd need to use trial and error to find out what thickness works for you - if you compress the cardboard tighter you don't need as great a thickness - but if it is standard paper waste, rather than cardboard boxes, you'll possibly need double the thickness to start with.


A paper bin is going to make a fairly small stopping area. Hopefully there is something more substantial (like a wall) behind the target that will stop the arrow if you happen to miss the target entirely.

A couple of bales of hay make a larger area, small bales are relatively inexpensive and reliably stop arrows without damaging them. The best quality, recently cut hay runs under $5. Straw is usually $1-2, and often, last years hay can be had for at or nearly free.

If you cover the bales you should be able to get multiple years of use out of them. When your done, give them to a friend to compost for the garden.


Yes. There are two common approaches to this:

  1. Press moistened paper into the target container, which can be a box of any sort. The paper should be wet enough and pressed hard enough that at least a little bit of water is squeezed out upon pressing. You don't have to wait for it to dry to shoot it. The advantage of pressing wet paper hard is that you can eliminate density variations and pockets. E.g., you won't find the arrow penetrating 2" in one spot but 6" (or worse) in another.

  2. Create a laminate target by stacking the paper/cardboard and then compressing and strapping/taping the back of the stack. By shooting into the ends a target like this can last a long time because, ideally, the arrows are stopped primarily by friction as they slide between two sheets and get squeezed to a stop. This is the concept behind the popular "Block" targets, which use layered foam.

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