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Is It Legal To Shoot A Bow In City Limits?

If you're wondering "is it legal to shoot a bow in city limits?", then I highly recommend you to find out carefully.

You may not need a license to possess a bow and arrow, but if that arrow strays from your property, you may end up with a criminal charge.

Do I need to mention that in this way, you can endanger the safety of others who surround you?

Let’s Talk About Law:

let's talk about law

All states, cities, and municipal governments have their own laws or ordinances which prevent you from discharging a weapon under certain circumstances.

These laws differ greatly between states and cities. Here I will provide you with a link where you can check valid state laws.

Having in mind that bow is a weapon, many states consider using it within city limits as a misdemeanor or a felony.

Depending on the law of the state you live in. In any case, both can result in significant criminal penalties.

But misdemeanor offenses are less serious than felony offenses.

Any criminal charge involving a prohibited weapon is a serious situation that can negatively impact your life, family, as well as your job.

In case you got arrested, charged with a crime, or questioned by the police for any weapon charge, you need to speak to a local criminal lawyer. Immediately.

Defining What Exactly Unlawful Discharge is?


Unlawful discharge is unlawful firing from a firearm, such as a gun or shotgun.

The law also applies to other weapons like bows, crossbows, pellet guns and more.

That law applies to firing any weapon in certain areas like firing into or at an occupied building or firing a weapon 100 yards from a school.

You may come across the statement that says you're allowed to shoot a bow within city limits except within 400 ft. of occupied dwellings.

This doesn't necessarily mean you cannot shoot in your neighborhood. So if you are in doubt, ask the local authorities to explain.

Still, some cities have fully adopted unlawful discharge, which prohibits the firing of a weapon even if you are on private property.

The law also applies to fire a weapon under some specific circumstances, such as firing from a moving vehicle. Firing across a public roadway is a big no.


Criminal sentences greatly vary from state to city. The penalties can be:



In this category, a conviction for illegal discharge varies from symbolic to significant.

Misdemeanor fines are in a range from $50-$1,000, while felony fines can go up to sky-high $10,000 and more.



Jail time penalty is different from place to place. Misdemeanor charges usually result in a few days in jail.

In severe cases, it can go up to a year.

In case of a felony charge for persons who fired at an occupied house and risk human safety, a prison sentence is a minimum of five years.



Unlawful discharge may also result in a probation sentence. Meaning you will have to pay all court costs and fines.

Also, regularly reporting to an amenable probation officer is mandatory.

If there was a substance-abusing you will undergo drug or alcohol rehabilitation.

Lastly, not committing any more crimes. The probation sentence usually lasts 12 months.

But it can be extended up to 3 years if failing to comply with any probation condition.

Firearms restriction

firearm restriction

Many of you know that federal firearms law prohibits any convicted felon from possessing a weapon.

Usually meaning on firearms like guns and shotguns.

If you get convicted of a felony criminal discharge crime, you must get rid of any weapon you have in your possession.

Also, you won't be able to legally purchase a new one.

When Is It Legal To Shoot A Bow and Arrow Within The City's Boundaries?

As I already stated above, shooting from a bow within city limits where you live completely depends on your local ordinances.

But there are certain situations where the law allows people to legally discharge a weapon. Those are situations like:

  • Firing the weapon in a gun range or shooting gallery
  • Firing in public places like parks that are intended for bow shooting
  • Firing during an athletic contest
  • Firing while hunting

What Are Your Options If Archery Is Not Legal?

If archery is illegal in your state, that does not mean you can’t practice it at all.

In some cases, that also means you won’t be able to shoot the target in your own backyard as well.

Don’t even think about trying your luck out if your property takes place in a crowded settlement.

Yeah, this is kind of a bummer. Especially if you invested a lot of money in equipment you won’t be able to use as you planned.

No need to despair, my friends, there are still few possibilities in this situation.

Local Archery Clubs or Shops:

local archery club

The first option and the most logical one is to join a local archery club.

There are a lot of clubs all across the country with outdoor as well as an indoor shooting range.

You may also want to pay attention to smaller 3D archery clubs.

They are a bit harder to notice since the majority has only an indoor shooting range.

You can check out your local archery shop too.

Usually, there is at least one shooting lane for a potential customer to try out the bow before purchasing it.

Some will even have a fully arranged indoor archery range.

It won’t hurt if you try to find a common language with an owner to let you practice there for free or a reasonable fee for a few hours a week.

High Schools and Universities:

high school

This might sound surprising, but many high schools and colleges have an archery program and excellent facilities specifically intended for practicing.

Your option here is to get in touch with someone who might be able to give you permission to use their facilities for your shooting routines.

The negotiations might be a bit harder if you try to score the deal with University.

Since they are quite large, you will probably need to contact more people to get permission.

If they grant your wish, you will probably get the appointments, like after hours or weekends.

In Your Own House:

own house

If you want you can make an indoor range in your own home - you’ll need some spare space, of course.

Premises like a large basement, attic, or garage are the best possible solution.

This way, you will be able to practice as long as you like whenever it suits you.

What Factors Must I Consider If I Want To Practice Archery In My Backyard?

Backyard ranges are theoretically possible in cities or in rural areas.

But before stepping outside with your brand new target, keep a few considerations in mind.

Contact your local police station to make sure you do not break any law.

After that, I strongly advise you to talk with your neighbors.

Many people do not feel comfortable being around or walking by the person who is shooting from the bow on their property.

After you get a green light from both authorities and your neighbors, start setting up an archery range on your property.

Let’s start with some useful advice.

How to Properly Set up an Archery Range in Your Backyard?

The first thing that you must keep in mind is what will happen if I miss the target?
Where will the arrow end up?

No matter how careful you always follow general safety rules.

Never shoot toward the house, sidewalk, or any other area frequented by people.

Make sure to know what lies beyond your target every time.


archery backstop


A backstop plays a vital role in every backyard range. It prevents wandering arrows from damaging property or injuring people or pets.

The most practical and affordable option is to use hay bales.

Just stack them one on top of another and create a wall that is at least 5 feet tall by 5 feet wide.

Probably the better solution would be plywood or densely compressed foam plastic depending on how thick they are.

The reason why this is a better option for you is safety, since they are way better in stopping stray arrows.

Besides, it will last longer than hay bales for sure.


sack target


Here your options are downsized to two models: bags or foam blocks.

Bag targets are a great option since they are lightweight.

The great thing is that removing an arrow from it is straightforward.

However, they only provide two-face shooting experience. Plus they don’t last as long as foam blocks.

Foam block, on the other hand, offers heavy-duty performance and multiple shooting faces.

The problem may occur if you must drag your target in and out every time you practice. Bearing in mind that foam blocks are bulky and heavy.

Your shooting habits will determine which type of target you need.

If the bow of your choice is from the category of low-poundage gear, a bag model is just the right target for you.

Check your gears

What Parts of Bow Could Be Afftected ?

Make a simple checklist in your head that you will go over every time before you start your practicing routine.

This will prevent any type of accident as well as help you to maintain your gear in the best possible condition.

Unfortunately, there have been reports of accidents where an arrow has been shot and injured or killed the neighbor.

To prevent worst-case scenarios, just make sure you take all the precautions seriously.

Precautionary Measures And Tips:

precaution and safety tips

Archery is fun only as long as it is safe.

The reason why I decided to enlist some of the essential precautionary measures is to boost your knowledge and enhance your views on safety.

If you are interested in finding out more about archery safety, browse this link.

Also, on the link I provided, you can take online hunter safety courses and get certified in a few easy steps.

  • Never point your bow at anyone or draw an arrow if there are people between you and your target no matter if you don’t mean to shoot it yet
  • Never fire the arrow up in the air as you can’t be able to predict where it will land
  • Always keep your arrow aimed towards the ground when nocking it
  • Always check the bow limbs for any damage before shooting, as well checking on the wooden arrows for cracks and splinters
  • Always replace the string if you notice even slightest signs of wear
  • Regularly wax your strings
  • Always wear an arm guard
  • Never use a bow and an arrow if you are under the influence of the alcohol or any other mood-altering substance.

Take It One Shot At A Time:

So your question was, is it legal to shoot a bow in city limits?

Well, the most accurate answer I can give you after all is yes and no.

In most cases, you will find out that shooting a bow in the city boundaries is legal as long as you adhere to the prescribed regulatory requirements.

Some communities strictly abide by prohibiting any weapon use in the city limits. If that is a case for you, don’t give up.

Strain your brain a bit more, and I bet you will find a suitable solution that will make everyone happy.

Robert Gate

Hi, I’m Robert Gate – an avid hunter and founder of I grew up in Texas, USA and learned archery from my dad when I was a child. He gave me a Mathew bow as a gift when I got 12 years old. Read my story!

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