Archery season is upon us! This is the first in what we hope will be a series of articles by THLord Deryk Archer on how to make various types of novelty targets for SCA archery practices and competitions.

Greetings. I am THLord Deryk Archer, and I have been an archery marshal for 20 years.

As much fun as archery can be, shooting at novelty targets takes the sport to another level. Today I’ll start with how to make styrofoam heads.

THLord Deryk Archer with a Frankenstein head target. Photo by THLord Juan Miguel Cezar.

THLord Deryk Archer with one of his styrofoam head targets. Photo by THLord Juan Miguel Cezar.


  • Styrofoam head
  • Duct tape in various colors
    • “Cookie Dough” for face, and black, brown, red, or yellow for hair
  • Masonry cord or other very sturdy rope
  • “Googly eyes”
  • Adhesive-backed Velcro
  • Carabiner, wooden skewer, or part of a broken arrow
  • Optional:
    • For a William Tell shoot:
      • Plastic apples to affix on top of the head
    • For a “hanged man” shoot:
      • Manila rope (~25’)
      • Clothes hanger
      • 2-3 Pool noodles
      • An old t-shirt

You can sometimes find styrofoam heads at thrift stores, or you can buy them inexpensively online. Male heads are thicker at the neck, while female heads are better for a “hanged man” scenario because they have thinner necks which are easier to get rope around.

Many people have tried to use foam heads for archery targets but found that they shatter. Duct tape is the answer. Wrap the entire head in duct tape to give it better structural integrity. “Cookie Dough Duck Tape” is similar to flesh tone, and black duct tape works for hair.

I like to add “googly eyes,” which you can buy at a craft store. I use adhesive-backed Velcro to attach the eyes to the head.


Velcro for googly eye attached. Photo by THLord Deryk Archer.

Photo by THLord Deryk Archer.

Googly eye attached. Photo by THLord Deryk.


Carabiner holding rope at the bottom of a styrofoam head. Photo by THL Deryk.

Usually a styrofoam head is suspended from above by a rope. Most Styrofoam heads are hollow, so it’s easy to add the rope. Punch a hole in the top of the head, then run a masonry cord down through the hole to the bottom of the neck. Tie the cord to a carabiner, wooden skewer, or piece of a broken arrow to hold it at the bottom of the head, then tie the top of the rope to a target or tree and you’re ready to shoot.

At first the head will be a little hard, but the more you shoot it, the more arrow-friendly the head becomes. When it’s been shot so much that it looks like it’s done, all it needs is a fresh retaping. I have a head I have retaped 15 times. When the inside becomes mulched, it can be restuffed with cut up pool noodles. Noses can be restored with old wine corks.

Apple attached to the head for a William Tell shoot. Photo by THL Deryk.

Apple attached to the head for a William Tell shoot. Photo by THL Deryk.

Once you’re good at hitting the head, you can add a plastic apple (available at Wal-Mart) on top by drilling a hole through the apple from top to bottom and running the cord that goes into the head through it. Then you have a William Tell shoot, where archers must shoot the apple without hitting the head. Get more then one apple, because people will love this shoot!

You can also do a “hanged man” shoot where archers try to shoot the rope that’s hanging their friend. Get about 25 feet of 1 in. rope. Tie a hangman’s noose around the neck of the Styrofoam head and hang the head from a tree or target. Whoever gets closest to the noose without hitting the man wins. For this target, you need to put some weight under the head, so I suggest creating a body. Attach the head to a clothes hanger with pool noodles tied to it for the shoulders. Cover the hanger and noodles with an old T shirt and add two more noodles to fill out the arms. The body will catch any misses.

"Hanged man" target. Photo by THL Deryk.

“Hanged man” target. Photo by THL Deryk.

I hope you find these ideas fun and add them to your practice. If you have questions or ideas, contact me on Facebook.

Remember shoot safely, shoot often, and have fun!