How to Remove a Stuck Arrow or Crossbow Bolt from a Target

If you’ve been shooting arrows from bows or bolts from a crossbow, then you’ve probably got an arrow stuck in a target. Dealing with a stuck arrow is quite frustrating. You might end up using more energy to pull out the arrow than shooting. Also, you might end up bending the arrow as you struggle to pull it out with force, thereby rendering it useless.

Whether you’re shooting arrows at a target in professional archery, practicing to aim, or just for fun, a stuck arrow will destroy the entire experience. Luckily, it’s possible to remove a stuck arrow with ease. Let’s start by discussing different types of targets.

Types of Targets

There’re different types of targets available today. They’re ideal for different target purposes. The most common types of targets include:

1. Bag Targets

Bag targets are some of the most popular targets. They are ideal for use with compound bows. These targets are also great for beginners. They have a large surface that makes it easier for a beginner to hit. Bag targets can withstand many shots. Some are waterproof such that they can be used in most weather conditions. Bags are also portable. However, they’re challenging to hit from a longer distance, especially for a beginner due to their small circles.

2. Bullseye Targets

A bullseye target is one of the oldest types of targets. A bullseye target is distinguishable from other targets due to its huge bullseye at the center. A typical bullseye target is rounded, with one side larger than the other. Hitting the bullseye makes it fun to use this type of target. However, bullseye targets are not very portable.

3. Cube Targets

Just like the name suggests, cube targets resemble cubes. These targets are also known as foam block targets. Some come with targets on several sides while others have targets on a few sides. A cube that has targets on several sides makes it possible to shoot at it from different angles. You can also shoot at it from different heights. These targets are lightweight and portable. However, they lose their form over time. The target can get pushed from its position if you just shoot on one side.

4. 3D Targets

3D targets are specially designed for use by archers and hunters. They have a three-dimensional shape, and that’s why they’re known as 3D targets. They’re made to resemble an animal. Thus, they’re most popular with hunters. However, 3D targets are often pricey.

An arrow can get stuck in any type of target. Here’re how to remove a stuck arrow or crossbow bolt from any type of target.

Tip #1- Using an Arrow Lube

An arrow lube is a special type of lubricant used for lubricating arrows. It works by preventing arrows from getting stuck. Although an arrow lube will allow an arrow to go deeper into a target, it’ll reduce friction between the arrow and the hole it creates in the target. Consequently, it’ll be easier to remove the arrow from the target. Thus, you should apply arrow lube on the tip of the arrow and the front section of the shaft before shooting the arrow.

Tip #2- Using an Arrow Puller

One of the safest methods of removing a stuck arrow is using an arrow puller. It’s especially important to use this tool when pulling an arrow made of carbon material. The tool will also protect your hands from getting injured by splinters.

The tool grips the arrow such that you can pull it outward more easily. A typical arrow puller is made of rubber for a tighter and safer grip. You’ll simply attach it around the shaft of the arrow or bolt and use your hands to pull it by the handle.

If you applied arrow lube on an arrow before shooting it, then you’ll find it much easier to remove it with an arrow puller. If you had not used an arrow lube, you’ll need to pull it out with more force. Else, ask friends to help you in pulling by doubling the pulling force.

Tip #3- Twisting the Arrow

If you had already applied lube on the arrow and it’s still stuck, or you’re trying to pull it out with an arrow puller but it’s not moving, then try to twist the arrow. Twist it gently in both clockwise and anticlockwise direction. Grip it tightly when twisting. You can use a soft cloth or work gloves for enhanced padding and a tighter grip when holding and twisting the arrow. The padding will also keep your hands protected from developing blisters.


When removing a stuck arrow or bolt, be careful not to stand directly behind it. Also, ensure no one else is standing behind the arrow. This is important because the arrow may give way with a lot of force and its nock may injure you when standing behind it. Also, be careful not to bend or damage the arrow when trying to force it out. Now that you know how to remove a stuck arrow or crossbow bolt from a target, you’ll be less frustrated the next time your arrow gets stuck.

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