It’s always exciting to introduce kids to a new outdoor activity. Seeing them express interest in something other than a screen is amazing. These activities teach them values like patience and discipline.
If you have a young aspiring archer, encourage them to pursue their new-found passion. More importantly, prepare them well. They need a good instructor, age-appropriate equipment, a safety lesson and lots of practice.
This here is a complete guide to getting a kid into archery. Follow it and who knows? You may be training a future archery Olympics champion.
Is Archery Safe for Kids?
Even with bows and arrows, archery is still quite safe. Compared to most common activities like soccer, your child is at a low risk of getting injured.
According to this study the injury rate for archery (bowhunting and target) is 4.4 per 10,000 participants. This is less than 1%. 99% of these injuries were not serious. Additionally, most of them could have been prevented by proper education on how to handle a bow and wearing basic protective gear.
These statistics make archery way safer than golf. You have nothing to be afraid of—as long as your child has the protective gear and is under supervision.
Why Should Kids Take Up Archery?
Other than shooting at targets and being outdoors, are there any benefits? Well, you’d be surprised.
Archery involves the use of weapons. Kids are taught to be responsible for their safety and that of others.
Every archer also has to take care of their equipment. There are things you have to do and others that you shouldn’t do to ensure durability.
All this teaches a kid to be responsible at a young age. The responsibility extends to other areas of their lives.
b. Physical Exercise
It’s hard to believe that archery can be a workout. But if you are keen, you will notice how challenging it can be. Drawing a bow is not as easy as it seems. Especially when you have to hold it at full draw to aim.
Besides, there is a lot of walking. Whenever an archer shoots their target, they have to walk to it to collect their arrows and then get back to shooting. Doing this for a few hours gets your child the exercise they need.
c. Focus and Coordination
A big part of archery is about focus and coordination.
For an archer to be great, they have to master hand and eye coordination. This skill will prove to be extremely useful in other day-to-day activities and sports.
They also have to focus all their concentration on what they are doing. There is no room for wandering thoughts when you are trying to hit a target.
The better they get at this, the easier it will be for them to be pay attention and be mindful in life.
c. Determination and Persistence
If you are an archer yourself, then you know that it takes a ton of effort to finally get it. Your child may start off hitting anything but the target.
It is only through relentless practice and determination that they will be able to do it right.
Being a good archer takes time. They will learn patience and gain confidence as they get better at it.
d. Easy to Join
With most sports, you cannot join if you’re not a certain height or weight. Well, not archery. Anyone can do it regardless of age, size or ability.
Most programs in the United States accept young archers from the age of 8. For parent archers, you can have your child start earlier than that. If they are very young, you should be very cautious. Maybe get them a toy set at first.
Whenever a child announces a new hobby, most parents think, “Oh, another expense!” Archery is not free. But it is cheap compared to many other activities. You can get entry-level equipment for surprisingly low prices.
How to Choose Archery Equipment for Kids
A toy archery set has been mentioned above. So, is your kid ready to have a real bow or should they use a toy first?
This depends on their age. Kids below the age of 6 will be just fine with toys. The toy arrows cannot penetrate a target and are, therefore, safe.
When they are older, however, you’ll have to buy them the real thing. There are tons of youth bow sets out there, both recurve and compound. Most of them are simple and cost less than $100.
1. The Bow
Before you go shopping, first establish your child’s dominant eye and shooting hand. This is because a bow can either be left-handed or right-handed.
A left-handed shooter holds the bow with their right hand and uses the left one to draw the string. For dominant eye determination, there are a few simple tests that you can try.
In most cases, you will find that the dominant eye is on the same side as the dominant hand. But if they are on different sides (for instance, dominant left hand and dominant right eye), the eye determines the bow orientation.
So if the child is right-eye dominant and left-hand dominant, you should get them a right-handed bow.
Next up on factors to consider is the draw weight and draw length of the bow.
A person’s draw length is defined as how far back they can pull the string. The draw length of a bow should allow the archer to pull the bowstring up to their focal point. This is usually the chin or corner of the mouth. Here is how you can measure your child’s draw length.
The draw weight is the amount of force you need to draw the bowstring to your focal point. The higher the draw weight, the harder it is to draw the bowstring and the more powerful the bow is. It can be as low as 10 pounds or as high as 70 pounds. Use the general guide below.
For recurve bows:
- Age 8 to 15: 10 lbs to 14 lbs
- Age 15 to 20: 14 lbs to 22 lbs
For compound bows:
- Age 8 to 15: 10 lbs to 24 lbs
- Age 15 to 20: 24 lbs to 36 lbs
As stated, this is just a general guide. Athletic kids can handle more. It would be ideal to have the child shoot a few bows of different draw weights. See what they are comfortable with.
2. The Arrows
Once you have the bow figured out, you won’t have much trouble with arrows. To make your work easier, you could buy a bow set. It comes with almost everything.
Alternatively, see the arrows recommended by the bow manufacturer. The ideal arrow length is your draw length + 2 inches.
3. Other Essentials
Bow case: you want the junior archer to be responsible with their gear. Start by getting them a case. It keeps everything secure and durable.
Armguard: it protects the shooter from getting injured by the bowstring. This one doesn’t have to cost much. As long as it fits and is comfortable.
Archery tab/glove: while it may not be necessary, buy your child one if they keep having a sore finger from practice.
Quiver: the young archer will need something to carry their arrows in. Consider this a necessity unless you want to keep replacing lost arrows.
Where to Take the Kid for Lessons
If you want, you can choose to teach your child archery. It would be nice since you already know them. Your backyard is a great training ground or anywhere else. Wherever you decide to go, make sure it is legal and safe.
The other option is to enroll them in an archery program.
Places like the Archery Learning Center offer aspiring archers a fantastic learning opportunity. The child will have the privilege of practicing under experienced instructors. Since they will be practicing together with other children, they will make friends and acquire team-building skills as well.
Some of them even offer free rental equipment. Your kid can try to see what they like before you buy them their own bow set.
Encourage your child: archery is interesting. But sometimes they may feel discouraged or just unwilling to continue. Don’t push them too much though.
Give a safety talk: if you are their archery teacher, be very clear about safety precautions. Before you give them the bow, let them know that things can go wrong if they are careless.
Equipment responsibility: kids may not know how to take care of the equipment if you don’t teach them. Tell them how they should store each item. Don’t forget to tell them that they must never dry fire a bow.
Proper shooting techniques: it is not enough to know how to shoot. To become an accomplished archer, one has to master the correct form and shooting techniques. Watch how they stand, grip the bow and nock their arrows.
Archery is one of the best things that a child can decide to do.
It is more than a hobby. It teaches life skills that will be useful even in the future.
Get them youth-specific equipment. A bow should not be too powerful. That won’t be enjoyable for any kid and it’s a quick way to get them disinterested.
Buy protective gear to keep them safe.
Finally, show them the fun side of archery. Learning doesn’t have to be boring.