The older I get, the more I appreciate kids’ archery. I can remember being a kid with a toy bow and suction cup-tipped arrows and how much fun I would have with it. I always dreamed of the day when I would be older and get a real bow. That dream became a reality when I got a well-used bow for my 11th birthday. Little did I know at the time, but that would become a life-changing event for me. From shooting with the neighborhood kids to going to youth league each winter, and then eventually competing in local tournaments, it was all a very memorable part of growing up. Now, having kids of my own and being in the archery industry, it brings me great joy to see kids participating in archery. I often get the question from friends or customers, “How do I get my kids started in archery?”
Starting Kids in Archery
As cliché as it may sound, the toy bow with suction cup arrows may be the best start, depending on the child’s age. This provides many benefits:
- It’s very safe. They can’t hurt anyone or themselves with this setup. The family dog or cat may find themselves running for cover from time to time, but it’s all in good fun.
- Secondly, it’s very cost-effective. If your child loves shooting the toy, there is a good chance they will enjoy shooting the real thing. If they do not, then it might be a sign that archery is not for them, and you didn’t put out a ton of money to find that out.
Testing Their Interest
If your son or daughter is older and shows an interest in archery, I recommend finding a friend that shoots or even a local archery shop or club where they could do a test run before making the investment. Many times, these places will have “club” bows that are specifically designed for kids’ archery and can be quickly adapted for a try-out.
If there’s still interest in archery, this is where things can get interesting. Selecting youth archery equipment can be quite a task. Once again, this is where the archery shops or local clubs can come into play. Most of these places have the experience to provide the correct guidance on what would be best. Oftentimes, you may even be able to luck into some second-hand equipment at a fair price.
Archery Equipment Upgrades
Keep in mind that younger kids will need to replace or upgrade their bows, bow strings, and other equipment as they grow. Once they start getting older, around the age of 10, there are bows out there that are very adjustable and will last them until they are adults. Bow models like the Mini Genesis, Genesis, Mission Craze, and Diamond Infinite Edge are all great youth bows.
Both of my kids were starting archery by the time they were 2 years old. They couldn’t pull the bow back by themselves, so I would help them draw and aim. Some days they would only shoot 3 arrows and be done, and other days they would shoot 20-30 arrows. Somewhere between 3 and 4 years old is when they wanted to be independent and do it all by themselves. Seeing the smile on their face when they get that arrow in the bull’s eye is a great feeling.
Anyone Can Shoot Archery
The great thing about kids’ archery is that anyone can do it. You don’t have to run fast or jump high. I often compare it to golf. Some guys just like to go out after work and chase the ball around the course while others want to be the next Tiger Woods. Archery is the same way. You can be a recreational archer, shooting in a local league, or you can compete in tournaments at various levels from local to international.
Something that is often overlooked when discussing kids' archery is safety. This is super important. If taught properly at a young age, it will stick with kids forever, and they will pass it down to the next generation. Here are 3 safety lessons to implement when starting kids in archery:
- Always point the bow in a safe direction and only shoot at the designated target.
- Have everyone remain behind the shooting line until all archers have shot their arrows.
- Never dry fire the bow. Dry firing occurs when you shoot your bow without an arrow. Without an arrow, the energy is transferred into the bow and can result in damage.
Today, it seems that many kids are getting into archery with parents who do not shoot. While I can’t explain this, it is definitely a good thing. Archery can be a great family activity, whether it’s spent playing archery shooting games or spending the afternoon at an archery range.