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Toronto Archery Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Where can I practice archery in Toronto?

The only places you can legally practice archery in Toronto is at the archery ranges (the Toronto Archery Range, the private range at Hart House, and similar private indoor ranges). If you are a beginner please use the short range. Don't practice at the long range until you can consistently make clusters at shorter ranges.

Is there any archery ranges in Brampton, Mississauga, Scarborough or other cities in the GTA?

Yes and no. There are a few privately run (members only) ranges scattered around the GTA. The Toronto Archery Range is the only public range and one of only two public ranges in Canada (the other one is in Burnaby, British Columbia). Examples of these private ranges are: Durham Archers north of Oshawa, Archers of Caledon north of Brampton, York County Bowmen east of Newmarket, and the Ontario Centre for Classical Sport in Mississauga.

Are there any indoor ranges in Toronto that are open to the general public?

No. None. What you are looking for is a private indoor range, in which case there are several outside of Toronto. The University of Toronto does have an indoor range in the basement of Hart House, but it is for club members only. Likewise York University and Ryerson both have archery clubs, which operate inside gyms.

Is there any archery ranges in such-and-such area?

As you may have noticed, archery ranges are few and far between. Below is a list of archery ranges that we know of (there might be others we haven't heard of) that are either in Toronto or near Toronto. If you know of an archery range that is not on the list, then please contact us with their location.

  • The Toronto Archery Range
  • AEMMA (Academy of European Medieval Martial Arts)
  • Archers of Caledon
  • Durham Archers
  • Hart House Archery Club, University of Toronto
  • JCCC (Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre)
  • OCCS (Ontario Centre for Classical Sport)
  • Ryerson Archery Club Range
  • York County Bowmen
  • York University Archery Club

    How much does it cost to use the Toronto Archery Range?

    Absolutely nothing. Completely free for anyone to use. You just have to follow the Archery Range Rules.

    What are the archery range hours? What days is the range open?

    The Toronto Archery Range is open 24/7 for 365 days per year.

    What are the distances at the archery range?

    Officially the distances are 20 yards, 30 yards, 50 yards, 60 yards, 70 yards and 90 yards. Unofficially, the shooting line has moved over the years so the precise distances are further than that. 1 yard = 3 feet.

    How busy is the archery range?

    Depending on the day of week and time of year the range might be completely empty or have 60+ people there. Expect more people on weekends in the Summer and usually the range will be completely deserted from December to February.

    Other than the archery targets is there any other equipment available at the range?

    Just the target butts and picnic tables / benches. Some people have also donated large patio umbrellas.

    Are there paper targets on the target butts? If not do we need to bring our own?

    Paper, plastic or cloth targets are not provided. You will need to bring your own. In terms of durability, cloth targets last the longest of the three.

    Many of the more experienced archers stop at one of the two Tim Hortons located near the archery range on their way there and then use a coffee lid as their target. Routinely archers leave used targets behind when they are done using them for other archers to shoot at.

    Please use non metal pins to pin up your target. The preferred method is to use wooden golf tees (you can buy 50 of them at a dollar store for $1). Using metal objects like nails can damage your arrows - and if left stuck in the target will damage the arrows of others.

    Where can I purchase a paper target?

    Many of the stores listed in the archery equipment section also sell paper targets. You can also just as easily Google the words 'printable archery target' and then print out small archery targets on 8x11 paper which you can use as you see fit.

    We have a selection of archery targets in a zip file which you can download and print out.

    What if I forget to bring a paper target and there is none available?

    There are several thorn bushes and leafy trees located near the south end of the archery range. It doesn't take a woodsman to pin a leaf to the target butt using a thorn. Shooting at a leaf is better than shooting at nothing.

    What if all the target butts are being used?

    Share the target butts. Although it is more polite to ask first. Also never shoot at someone's paper, plastic or cloth target without their permission.

    What if the target butts are all broken or collapsed [as they often are during the Winter]?

    Then it is up to individual archers to bring their own portable targets. A variety of portable targets can be purchased from Bass Pro, Canadian Tire and similar stores. Or you can make your own portable target butts.

    Are we allowed to use portable targets of various kinds?

    Yes. Portable targets, 3D targets of deer/boar/rabbits/etc, archery target balls, and even homemade portable targets are all acceptable.

    We do recommend placing the target at least 30 feet / 10 yards or more from the shooting line. For safety's sake do not place targets in any location common sense would dictate is unsafe.

    Note - In September 2019 we added an extra page on the legality of portable targets just to explain why it is perfectly acceptable to use portable targets. See Target Butts Vs Portable Targets.

    Why are the target butts made out of Natural Tentest [as described on the archery range page], wouldn't hay bales be cheaper and last longer?

    Yes, hay bales would be cheaper - but have you ever shot at a hay bale using a 50+ lb compound bow? Your arrow would go deep into the hay bale and be buried somewhere inside. Plus vandals (there is a high school and a middle school less than a mile from the archery range) would cut the cords holding the hay bales together and make a ripe old mess of the collapsed hay bale. Other archery ranges might make use of hay bales for non-compound bows because they don't have any vandals and they're cheap, but because many of the Toronto Archery Range's visitors are hunters using compound bows we need something that is more durable and won't "swallow" their arrows.

    What is the proper way to pull an arrow out of a target?

    If you are shooting at a paper, plastic or cloth target please follow the traditional way of removing an arrow from a target which is to place your fingers on the target around the base of the arrow, hold the shaft of the arrow at the base with your opposite hand and then pull out the arrow out gently. Don't just yank out the arrow, it rips / damages the target. Always use this method if given permission to shoot at someone else's target.

    What is the best way to remove an arrow that is stuck in the wood?

    Wiggle it with the grain of the wood - the wood is weakest in that direction. If the grain is horizontal, wiggle it side to side. If the grain is vertical wiggle it up and down. Add a circular rotation every 10 wiggles to help loosen the arrow. If you cannot get it unstuck, unscrew the arrowhead from the arrow shaft and then use pliers to pull out the arrowhead (or buy a new arrowhead later).

    Do we need to be experienced to use the Toronto Archery Range?

    Nope. Completely open for everyone. Although it is strongly recommended that beginners stick to the short range until they have consistent arrow clusters.

    What is the age requirement for the Toronto Archery Range?

    16. Under 16 and you need to be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Young children will require constant supervision.

    How young can children start learning archery?

    Judging by the video below, we are going to say 2 - but you would likely want to bring a small portable target butt so they can practice shooting at shorter distances. (You can find portable target butts at Canadian Tire and Bass Pro.)

    Remember that young children will require constant supervision so that they obey all the safety rules.

    What is a good way for young children to learn archery?

    Boy Scouts / Girl Guides, Summer Camps, or Day Camps that offer archery. See our list of Toronto Archery Camps.

    Can we bring our dog with us to the Toronto Archery Range?

    Yes, but the dog should be kept on a leash and tied near the west fence to prevent them from running out on to the range while people are shooting.

    Do you need a license to do archery?

    No, you do not need a license if you only want to do target practice, compete in archery competitions, or do recreational archery.

    If you are planning to hunt or fish however, then yes.

    For hunting you need either a H1 (rifles and bows) or H2 (bows and falcons) Ontario Outdoors Card, plus the appropriate hunting tags for whatever you are hunting. Please follow all Ontario hunting laws and local municipal by-laws regarding where you can hunt and what seasons you can hunt. (eg. Deer Hunting Season for Bowhunters is typically in the Autumn. Check Ontario government websites for the precise dates of different bowhunting seasons.)

    For bowfishing you need a fishing license, you can only fish for carp or the 4 varieties of asiatic carp and only during bowfishing season (May to July). You will also need a bowfishing reel that attaches to your bow, a bowfishing arrow with fishing arrowhead, and a taste for carp (which doesn't taste that good by itself, but if you spice and marinade it there is a dramatic improvement in taste).

    Where can I buy archery equipment?

    See the list of local recommended stores in our archery equipment section. Note we only list reputable stores on this website. If the store is not on the list then it has a bad reputation.

    Is there a private range in Toronto that rents equipment? Does anyone rent out archery equipment?

    No to both questions. There are no local businesses within Toronto that rent out archery equipment. Broken arrows, lost arrows, damaged equipment is far too common for beginners so there is no point to renting equipment. To even offer such a service a company would require a deposit for the total value of the equipment, and would then subtract a damage deposit for each damaged or lost piece of equipment (and beginners tend to break a lot of arrows unless being taught proper form and aiming techniques by an instructor).

    Note - If you are willing to travel outside of the city Exclusive Sports Rentals has a location in Vaughan that does rent out recurves and crossbows. They require a $150 damage deposit per rental. Remember crossbows cannot be used at the Toronto Archery Range so you would have to find a different place to practice with it. OCCS in Mississauga also offers equipment rentals when using their indoor range.

    Is it possible to rent a crossbow just to see if I like it?

    See the above answer and corresponding note. Asides from the obvious liability concerns of renting out such a dangerous weapon, see the above question and corresponding answer with respect to people breaking equipment. Plus where would you even use it? There are no archery ranges in Toronto currently that even allow crossbows (and any outdoor use of a crossbow within Toronto city limits is prohibited by by-law).

    Where can I get crossbow lessons?

    We only know of one person who teaches crossbow lessons for hunters (Craig Murphy of Survivor Archery). You might also try contacting AEMMA (the Academy of Medieval Martial Arts) and see if anyone there specializes in medieval crossbows. Remember that legally you cannot fire a crossbow outdoors in Toronto. You would need an indoor range that allows crossbows.

    Where can I practice with a crossbow?

    Due to the outdoor ban on crossbows in Toronto you can really only use them indoors - so in your basement or garage is a viable option if you have them. If you are looking to practice outdoors then you need to go outside of Toronto, find a private range that allows crossbows - or find a farm, orchard, wooded lot, old rock quarry, etc and ask the owner if you can practice on their property. This is the same routine used by hunters during deerhunting season for asking farmers if they can hunt on the farmer's property, so this would not seem too unusual to a farmer who is used to the deerhunters showing up and asking permission. For additional info on bowhunting in Ontario we recommend you consult OODMAG's Bowhunting Forum.

    Note - OCCS in Mississauga's indoor range does allow crossbowmen. You have to bring your own portable target butt and there is a fee for using the range. Take special note of their safety and footwear requirements.

    Is there a private range that teaches large groups of people such as bachelor parties, birthday parties, company events, etc?

    No. There are no local businesses that teach large numbers of people. The reasons why are similar to the reasons why nobody rents out archery equipment. (If you are looking for a place that caters to bachelor parties/company events/etc then we recommend you try BATL, the Backyard Axe Throwing League, which has 2 locations in Toronto and 1 in Pickering. It may not be archery, but it is still a lot of fun.)

    What is the best way to get into archery if you are a beginner?

    What is the best way is a matter of opinion. Here are three possible routes you might take.

    Option #1. Buy your own equipment and practice + possibly buying a How-To-Book like "Archery - Steps to Success" (beginner) or "Precision Archery" (intermediate to advanced).

    Option #2. Hire an archery instructor before purchasing equipment. This way you learn how to do archery first before buying equipment that might not suit you. Better to get advice first.

    Option #3. Build your own bow (PVC or wood) and just wing it. Because shooting with a homemade bow can be just as much fun as anything you can purchase in a store.

    What is the difference between a longbow and shortbow? Which one is best?

    Longbows are evidently longer, and typically used by a person on foot. Think Robin Hood. Shortbows - sometimes known as horsebows or horseman bows - can be used on foot but is meant to be used from horseback. Think Mongolian, Hungarian, Persian or Korean Horsebows. (The image below is of a Korean equestrian archer.)

    There is no "best". It is really more a matter of which bow is best suited for the activity. Shortbows are evidently better for shooting while on horseback because they give the archer a great range of motion.

    Korean Horsebow

    What equipment should I purchase if I am a beginner?

    You will need:

    A bow - for beginners we recommend a 3 piece recurve like a Jandao ($120), Ragim ($130), or Samick ($150). If you shop online / order from a store you can get higher quality bows too. eg. Bear, Hoyt, Martin, PSE and similar higher quality companies also sell 3 piece and 1 piece recurves.

    Note - Buy a bow you can pull easily without shaking. If you buy a bow that is too powerful you won't be able to use it properly. Don't let the lack of inventory in a store result in you buying whatever they have available. Order something you can use properly and wait for it to arrive at the store.

    Arrows - 10 or 12 is a good number to start with. Don't buy the cheap fibreglass arrows that look like plastic. They break super easily. Get carbon or aluminum arrows instead. Expect to spend at least $6 per arrow on quality arrows. You also need your arrows to have the correct spine flexibility for your bow. The stronger the bow the less flexible / stronger the spine should be.

    Easy Pull Arrowheads. Good quality arrows often don't come with the arrowheads and need to be purchased separately. Arrowheads are measured by weight in grains. 100 or 125 grain arrowheads is a good weight for beginners. Don't buy anything too big or too small.

    Bowstringer - you need this to string your bow without twisting the limbs / damaging your bow. Stringing a recurve without a bowstringer voids the warranty.

    Finger gloves, shooting tab or thumb ring to protect your fingers. Some people like to shoot without gloves or a tab, but they get really sore fingers over time - and prolonged use of a heavier poundage bow with no finger protection can cause serious nerve damage to your fingers. Traditionally people wore gloves or used a thumb ring while shooting.

    Armguard / bracer to protect your bow arm. Because string burn really hurts.

    I am new to archery and want to buy my own bow but I don't know how many pounds my bow should be. How do I decide?

    Luckily there is a formula for determining this.

    First, what is your age?

  • If you are 4 to 7 start with 8 lbs.
  • If you are 8 to 12 start with 12 lbs.
  • If you are 13 to 19 start with 16 lbs.
  • If you are 20 or over start with 20 lbs.

    Second, how tall are you for your age?

  • If you are short for your age, subtract 2 lbs.
  • If you are average height for your age, don't add anything.
  • If you are tall for your age, add 2 lbs.

    Third, are you slight, medium or large frame?

  • If you are slight, subtract 2 lbs.
  • If you are of medium build, add nothing.
  • If you are large frame, add 2 lbs.

    Thus if you an adult who is tall and strong a good starter bow for you is 24 lbs. You might even be able to handle more, but you should practice on 24 lbs for now and upgrade to a more powerful bow later. Always best to build your form and strength first before upgrading to something more powerful.

    Always try pulling back the bow in the store before purchasing (get the staff to string it for you). Pull back with your elbow and forearm in line with an imaginary arrow (don't dryfire the bow!). Pull back until your fingers are touching your chin or mouth. Hold steady for 12 seconds. If your arm is shaking like crazy after 12 seconds this bow is too powerful for you. If you can't even pull it back to your chin it is WAY too powerful for you.

    What kind of arrows or arrowheads are we allowed to use?

    The brand names of arrows don't really matter. Arrows are commonly made from wood, bamboo, aluminum, carbon fibre, and fibreglass.

    Regarding arrowheads, field points (also known as target points) are safe to use. Broadheads (with sharp blades) are strictly prohibited.

    Is it possible to have a picnic or BBQ at the archery range?

    Picnic yes, BBQ no. The City of Toronto prohibits the use of BBQs in that section of the park.

    However if you go to Serena Gundy Park or Sunnybrook Park further north, they have public BBQs installed there. You just need to bring a grill, matches and charcoal with you. Serena Gundy Park is approx. a 15 minute walk from the archery range so you could have a picnic/BBQ there, and then walk to the range afterwards.

    What places are there to eat near the archery range?

    There are quite a few places nearby. Including two Tim Hortons (one on Don Mills and one on Overlea), a McDonalds, a Wendy's, several sushi places, several all-you-can-eat places including Itamae Sushi on Don Mills, Maki Sushi on Laird and the Mongolian Grill north of Eglinton on Don Mills. There are also a plethora of ethnic delights on nearby Overlea and Laird. And pubs, like The Leaside Pub or the Old Fish and Chips place both on Laird. Last but not least, Wisey's Pie Shop at Eglinton and Laird.

    What if I have additional questions?

    If you have additional questions not shown here email us and we will add your question and our answer to our FAQ page.