Reviewed By Steve , 28 May 2010
We spend a lot of time talking about bows and arrows and sometimes forget that once we have a bow in our hand that we need something to shoot at. By far the most popular style of archery is "Target". Whether you shoot a compound, a recurve or Longbow with or without sights, when you shoot "Target" you shoot for score. As we all know the highest scoring part of the target is the centre.
At £470 the Atlas target is not cheap but it has a little secret up it's sleeve which may well make it the best value target on the market.
The standard Fita face is 122cm and the target we have on test is the one sized to fit this face. In fact we have had this target on test for several weeks , we were determined to give this the test it deserves so it has been shot daily by up to 20 archers. Every archery club knows that it's archers are practising to hit just one small section of the target and that constant bombardment will soften to the point where arrows will eventually pass through. With Bows becoming ever more powerful and no end of gizmo's and gadgets to help you become more accurate, both recurve and compound shooters can destroy a target in quick time. Targets are a major expense for any club and the thought of spending £470 on each target might make club secretaries think more than twice about that level of investment. Several times I have been the lucky recipient of a target deemed shot out by a club which is allowing pass throughs from compound bows, incredibly 93% of the target is intact and perfectly adequate, but that little spot in the middle has rendered that target unusable. The solution once you see it is so simple you wonder why it has never been done before.
The Atlas target has been reverse engineered, starting at the middle the designers have come up with a specialist material which will outlast a conventional target, not just because it is made from an advanced polymer blend which has almost magical stopping, self healing and recovery properties but because it is spherical a real head slapping moment as inspiration strikes home, why of course ! make the centre from a long lasting material and then offer the option to turn the sphere slightly not only bringing the centre back to life but giving you back the other 93% of the target which was fine anyway !!
It doesn't end there because if you are designing a target to accept a sphere which can be rotated then you are designing a target with replaceable parts thus saving money on parts which do not need replacement. The design task was to then build a target around the sphere, the solution was as inspired as the original concept with a clamshell made from laminates of closed cell foam in varying thickness which have been bonded by a heat process, the end result is a target 275mm thick.
In order to access the sphere the target is put together in sections which have been cut in wedges so that there are no straight joints where an arrow might sneak through, it's very much like cleverly designed Chinese puzzle but with only one very obvious solution – we managed to take apart and put back together the whole target in under 4 minutes.
Despite our best efforts this target is showing no signs of wear at all, the sphere is made from an incredible material which just sucks up punishment , the arrow is very easy to withdraw and within seconds its as if it was never hit, we have rotated the sphere only because we wanted to see how easy it would be. For clubs with compound and recurve bows this target is a no brainer, sure it costs a more than conventional targets but it will outlast them by 10's of times and even then you need only replace the worn central sphere.
However ingenious the design no one has yet come up with a target that can hover 4 foot from the ground, this means a frame is required. You can bet that where there is a frame an arrow will be sure to find it. It is a real pleasure to see that this problem has been addressed as best as it can be by the frame having been rebated into the edges of the target itself as much as is possible. There are still legs but I think that most clubs have come up with their own leg solutions anyway. As a last resort these too can be replaced.
The target is 1280mm square and 275mm thick, at 22.5kg it isn't really heavy but it is bulky, however one person can move it about using a "sherpa" style technique, standing with your back to the target just tilt it until it leans against your back, grasp it under the main body and shuffle off to the new location, admittedly it is easier with two !
Spare spheres and foam sections can be purchased. The target is available in 3 sizes 1280, 950 and 700mm and with either the full frame for target shooting or with a field frame which has only very short legs.
Reviewed By Andy, 14 May 2010
While I shoot a lot of field, like most archers I started on targets and over the course of a fair few years have shot all manner of different designs and materials. The most common is the standard straw boss type, these are freely available, in general are well made and in the past lasted a number of years before being replaced. However one major problem with this target type is that the middle portion where the centre of the target and therefore the main focus is placed, is the centre of the straw spinal. Even in it's fresh form this is a problem but as time goes on this is hit with regularity and becomes totally destroyed.The second problem is that often these targets are mounted on a tripod stand with the central leg running exactly down this central path. Modern compounds will penetrate this with ease, even in their new state and rubber mats are often placed behind to stop the arrow, but even this only does half a job.
It would be bad enough if this were the only problem, but as time goes by the straw tends to change and then starts to grip arrows tight and pulling them from the target becomes at best an effort and other times a total nightmare, made worse by the fact it keeps hold of your points. Other options such as sheets of rubber do a slightly better job of stopping the arrow, but still tend to wear badly with repeated use meaning the same shot out middle occurs.
For me the Atlas target is the ultimate marriage of the two, Steve dealt with removable central ball, but I actually think it's more significant than that as the whole middle quadrant can be replaced. The section of ball exposed is actually rather small and us more traditional archers would struggle to find it with any regularity, in terms of size it's about the size of the inner gold ring. As a archer without sights however at 30-40 yards it's generally all in the red and gold an area which this inner square covers, this means even us traditional archers are covered. The ball is excellent and hard wearing but so is the rest of the target and even with large field points it soaked up the abuse we gave it.
I currently live in a flat, which as you can imagine doesn't lend itself to archery practice, however if and when I did move and I had somewhere to practice I'd be buying one of these. Yes, £470 does sound like a lot of money but given the amount we spend on bows, arrows and all the other consumables we use, (which for me runs in to thousands of pounds a year) it's actually rather good value when you consider as an individual it would last you a life time. For me this is one of the best products we have ever tested as the level of consideration which has gone in to every detail is fantastic.
|Features & Design|
|Excellent design, as archers we know what we want from a target, the designers have addressed each of the issues encountered using technology and the understanding that comes through being archers themselves.|
|We tried, God knows we tried – but despite our best efforts we couldn't damage the target to even a lesser extent – I can see this outlasting any other target by many, many times.|
|Value for Money|
|Incredible, initially the price tag may sound high, but if it lasts just 10 times as long as a conventional target you don't need to be Charles Babbage to compute the value – in a word INCREDIBLE !|
|It's a basic premise when designing something that "form should follow function" here Target Tech have understood the needs of the modern archer and translated that into a target which will last as long as possible, be replaceable in sections, be great value for money and of course stop arrows – It has to be the answer to every archery clubs prayer !|
Steve Nicholson and Andy Gilfrin, are real archers interested in the best archery suppliers have to offer. In our search for the very best bow, arrows and equipment we have shot, used and worn pretty much everything on offer.
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Atlas Archery Target From Target Tech
It's a proper full sized Fita target.
Thick enough to stop any arrow.
Easy to maintain, quick to repair, if ever it wears out……
The clamshell design is a stroke of genius, the centre section contains the sphere .
We take a tour the length and breadth of the British mainland to visit Scotland with Border Bows, Yorkshire with Aidy Hayes, the Wirral with Jason from thelongbowshop.com, down South with the Company of Canterbury Longbowman, and Geoff is in Spain.
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