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Getting Kids into Archery: What You Need to Know


Every year a new generation of archers lines up at the shooting line, and there is nothing better in my opinion. The enthusiasm and spirit they bring to competitions are priceless.

Getting kids into archery is easy and fun for kids of all ages.

Starting your child off in archery is much like starting them in any sport. They will need age-appropriate equipment, lessons from an instructor or yourself, and plenty of opportunities to practice.

To learn more about bow selection, safety, and teaching archery to your child, continue reading. I will share everything you need to know about how to start your kid off on the right foot in archery.

Why Get Your Kids into Archery?

If you’re reading this article, it is probably because you’ve already thought about getting your kids into archery and you know it is a good idea, but there may be a few reasons that you haven’t thought of.

Archery is a great sport for children for so many reasons.

  • Archery is like living history. Archery is the oldest sport still practiced today, and while the equipment has changed, the sport itself is remarkably unchanged in essentials.
  • Archery gets your kids outside where they can soak in that vitamin D and fresh air.
  • Archery can help your kids develop their ability focus, their concentration, and their perseverance.
  • Archery can boost your kids’ confidence by giving them a skill that they can steadily improve upon.
  • Archery can provide a positive outlet for a competitive kid.
  • Archery can also be a great way for kids to develop new relationships like friendships, mentor/mentee relationships, and acquaintances of all ages.
  • If you’re into archery, then it provides an opportunity for you and your kids to bond.

Archery Equipment for Kids

The most important thing when introducing archery to your child is that they have fun with it. If it isn’t fun or if it is too challenging for them, they aren’t going to want to do it for very long.

Getting the right equipment for your child will help them enjoy archery more because they won’t be struggling with a bow that is too difficult to draw or too big for them to hold properly.

The right equipment will also help your child practice good form so that they can be the best archer possible.

Where to Buy Archery Equipment for Kids

The best place to buy a bow for your child is at your local professional archery shop where they can fit the bow to the child and find the best draw weight for them.

Your child will also be able to try out a variety of different bows and styles at a pro shop. The person at the shop will test their draw strength and take measurements to determine the size of a bow needed and the draw length.

Tips for Picking Out Archery Equipment for Kids

You kid may not want to pick out the bow you would pick out. The bow’s color and style may appeal to them more than some features you would find important, but remember, the best bow to buy is the one that they will have fun using.

Check out this article I wrote all about choosing the right bow for a 10-year-old child.

If you are looking into a compound bow, it is best to go with a bow that offers the most customizations as they will continue to work for your child as they grow and gain strength.

Look for kits that include everything your child needs to get started with archery. Many youth sets will include the following:

  • Bow
  • Arrows
  • Armguard
  • Quiver
  • Finger tab
  • Trigger
  • Targets

How Do I Introduce Archery to My Child?

When first introducing archery to your child, you will want to keep it fun and light. If you are planning to teach your child yourself, then make it as stress-free as possible.

Show them how you stand, explain where to put their feet, and how to hold the bow. You don’t need to jump into the particulars of an anchor and proper grip during their first session. Just take it one step at a time.

Tips for Introducing Archery

  • Take turns shooting alongside your child. If they watch you shoot a few arrows, they will naturally want to mimic your form.
  • Use a nice big target and start close to the target to make it easy for your child to experience success. This will encourage them to keep trying and build their confidence.
  • Use a target meant for kids or one that their arrows are sure to penetrate like this one. This is especially true of children using less powerful bows. It can be very discouraging for your arrows to fall when they hit the target.
  • Join a club or competition. Joining a community of archers will allow your child to make connections, learn, and develop as an archer, and it is fun!

Are Bows and Arrows Appropriate for Children?

Kids of just about any age can practice archery as long as they are equipped with the proper equipment for their age and maturity level.

Archery is extremely safe when practiced responsibly. This, of course, involves equipping a child with the right degree of respect for archery safety principles.

For children under 5 or those older who are less mature, you can buy a plastic bow and arrow kit with arrows that have suction cups on the ends. These may seem like just toys, but it will give you little one practice aiming and drawing a bow until they can handle a more serious bow.

As your child gets older and gets used to using their bow and following safety rules, they can begin to use more advanced bows and arrows. Arrows meant to be used with children’s bows come in different sizes, and many come with a variety of safety features like blunted ends.

Critical Safety Information for Archers

Safety information is very important to discuss, especially with younger children before they first shoot a bow and arrow.

It is also worth remembering that if you instill the correct safety procedures in people when they are young, they will usually remember them and adhere to them for life. For more information from the source of the information below, look here.

The safety information discussed below contains information relating to the safe practice of storing, handling and shooting of bows. Always be sure to check local laws if confused about your legal rights with bows.

Storing

These subjects deal with how to safely store bows and accessories, as well as subjects that deal with taking care of your bow.

  • Store your bows in bow cases, preferably hard cases for maximum protection. Store recurve and longbows unstrung.
  • Store arrows in quivers and other accessories in either a padded bag, sturdy box or lockable chest.
  • IMMEDIATELY repair any damage done to equipment, even if it is only slight. Before each use, check for cracks, dents, breaks, and other defects.
  • Regularly check the bowstring and replace it if it becomes worn or frayed. Frequent use of bowstring wax can greatly extend the life of the bowstring. Also, it is recommended to use a bow stringer to properly string longbows and recurve bows.
  • Also, check all of your arrows for defects and discard any arrow that has an irreparable flaw. This is very important, if the arrow is not structurally sound, it could shatter upon trying to shoot it, or fire inaccurately.

Handling

These subjects deal with how to safely handle your bow. This includes equipment but excludes tips intended for a person with a loaded bow.

  • Only point the bow in a safe direction, this includes when the arrow is not loaded in the nock. Pointing any weapon at someone, even if it is not a fully weaponized one, is never in good taste.
  • DO NOT dry fire a bow. Dry firing is pulling back and then releasing the bowstring without an arrow loaded and can cause injury to both the bow and the archer. Check out this article I wrote all about what to do if you accidentally dry fire a bow.
  • Be very careful handling arrows, always keep your arrows in a quiver when carrying them together. If you are walking with an individual arrow, be sure to walk with the tip faced down.
  • It is not recommended to drink alcohol in combination with handling or especially with shooting bows and arrows. If you have older children, telling them this may not be a bad idea.

Shooting

These subjects deal with how to safely shoot your bow. These tips are mostly centered around how to approach shooting a bow as well as when and where you should never shoot a bow.

  • It is safest to wear finger protection and an armguard while shooting bows and arrows.
  • Keep your emotions under control when handling a loaded bow. You are in control of a weapon and must treat the situation with respect.
  • Just like with handling, only point a bow with a nocked arrow in a safe direction.
  • Make sure that you know
  • Only shoot when you have a safe range or shooting area, and a safe background. Another way of saying this is to be sure of your target and what is in front of it, behind it, beyond it and beside it.
  • Also, never shoot into or over an area to where you can’t see what’s on the other side. This would include times where you think nothing is over there. Situations like this include shooting over ridges, into ravines or really straight up in the air. While you may think that sort of shooting is fun, you never know what might happen.

Safety guidelines are never really a fun thing to teach kids, especially when kids are excited to try something new and just want to get to the exciting part of the activity.

With safety guidelines for archery, a child can always learn them in an archery class from an instructor if you don’t know much about archery yourself.

It’s still always a good idea however to emphasize the importance of safety and following the rules with kids. This is especially the case when learning something with some inherent risk involved, like archery.

Which Bow Should My Child Learn With?

Bows for children generally come in all the varieties that adult bows come with, and they have the same benefits and disadvantages as adult bows.

A small child should start with a longbow style bow, as in a bow that does not have a significant recurve. This will allow them to practice archery safely because these bows tend to be less powerful.

If your child is eight years of age or older and they have shown that they know how to safely handle a bow, they are likely mature enough to use a more powerful bow like a recurve or a compound bow.

Which bow you prefer will depend on the goals you and your child have. Compound bows are good for hunting, and recurve bows are more standard in target archery.

Does My Child Need Archery Lessons?

Archery lessons are always a good idea, but they are absolutely necessary if you are not an experienced archer or are unable to teach your child the basics of archery.

During archery lessons, your child should learn the following:

  • Safety guidelines
  • How to care for their bow and equipment
  • How to use their equipment
  • Proper form and posture
  • How to draw the bow
  • How to aim the bow
  • How to release the bowstring

To find lessons, you can visit your local shooting range or have your child join an archery club or beginners’ team.

Alternatively, you can sign your child up for an archery summer camp where they will get plenty of instruction in a fun environment. USA Archery is a good place to start for finding learning opportunities for children.

What if My Child Doesn’t Like Archery?

If your child isn’t yet excited about archery, there are some things you can do to help encourage them to develop an interest. However, depending on the age of your child and their temperament, it is sometimes best to let them come to the hobby in their own way over time.

Here are some things you can try to spark interest in archery:

  • The best thing you can to encourage your child to take up archery is to let them see you enjoying it. Let your kids watch you shoot from a young age, and if they see you loving it, they will naturally be interested.
  • Take them to a youth tournament or watch a youth tournament online. If your child sees other kids practicing archery, it will spark their interest.
  • Watch movies and read books that involve people doing cool things with archery, like The Hunger Games, Hawkeye in The Avengers, the Percy Jackson series, or Legolas in Lord of the Rings.
  • If you have a child who is particularly interested in history, Native Americans, ancient Greece, or basically any historical period, you can easily relate archery to any of these topics.
  • You can also find a location that does archery tag, which is like laser tag, but with bows and arrows. The arrows have foam ends so that they will not hurt when you are shot with one.

Other Resources

Here are a few more ways to make shooting archery targets a little more fun. These methods may not necessarily spark true interest in archery for your child, but they may give him or her a shot at just that!

These methods are centered around ways to make the sport of target archery more fun for everyone. One such method involves hanging blown up balloons on your archery target to shoot at.

Here is a video of another fun archery “game” where someone put glitter into a balloon and shot it with an arrow. I’ll let you click the link and watch the rest.

Other fun improvised targets are fruit, old Christmas ornaments and smaller targets built onto a larger one.

An example of what I just described can be read about here, but in short, the Junior Olympic Archery Development advocates for making a similar target to train.

Essentially, they believe that being able to shoot an arrow into a pipe sticking out of a target is great practice.

Peter Sontrop

I live in Alberta, Canada where I enjoy field archery and target shooting with traditional bows and compound bows. On this site, I share everything I’ve learned about archery along the way.

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