Introducing kids to archery is the best way to ensure our great sport finds its way to the future.
When done right parenting is a tough job. Not only do kids require a tremendous amount of energy, but the responsibility of instilling values and raising them up isn’t as easy as it may seem. This comes from a dad in the throughs of a home with two girls under the age of three. As parents we want to give our kids the best shot at this world. That can seem difficult, especially at a time when the world is changing so fast. In my belief though, the world is always changing and impressing upon our kids a few basic principles can go a long way to helping them in this world. One of those basic principles is fostering a love of the great sport of archery and the outdoors.
The simplicity of the outdoors is something kids crave. When we go camping as a family, its crazy how few times we have to discipline our kids. By in large they are content to dig in the dirt, watch birds, chase butterflies, and leap into every puddle in the county. Kids are just engrained with a natural inclination to appreciate nature. That being the case, why do we drive ourselves crazy and coup them up all day inside a house with a few boring toys they’ve played with a thousand times? What would you, and your kids, rather be doing? To me its a no brainer and a big reason why taking my girls out of doors is so important.
For a host of reasons, many archers will want to hand over to the next generation their enthusiasm for archery. Introducing kids to archery is not only important for preserving our great sport, but is an easy way to share experiences across the age gap. In other words, archers of all ages go through a lot of the same things, and that connection helps create strong relationships. For example, every archer out there knows the letdown of a miss, and everyone knows the confidence boost of a bullseye. When parents and kids can have those same experiences it adds strength to their bond. It allows us to empathize with one another and speak the same language. You’d be surprised the impact a simple connection like this can have on a kid.
Although introducing kids to archery is important, it is also important how you go about it. As my kids are young I don’t claim to be an expert in parenting by any means, but as a high school teacher I would claim to know a thing or two about how kids operate. Kids, and all people for that matter, thrive when something is their idea. In other words, if they are motivated to do something from the inside they will surely do great things. As a parent I feel my job is to simply offer archery as an option and see where it goes. Sure, I may suggest that we go shoot our bows, but if my oldest daughter doesn’t want to I never push the issue. There is no easier way to take the fun out of something than to force someone to do it. Ensuring a child has success and fun early on in archery is the best way to cultivate a love for the sport.
Another way to help foster a love of archery is to make sure archery newbies have equipment that makes it enjoyable. If you hand a kid a bow that is too heavy, too big, or otherwise a pain in the neck to shoot, don’t be surprised if they quickly lay it back down. This doesn’t mean their equipment has to be the most expensive, but simply a good fit for them. Today there are several archery companies that offer a great lineup of kids bows. These bows are oftentimes adjustable and can grow with a young shooter as they grow. An investment in one of these isn’t an investment for a year or two, but an investment for years to come. There are also a number of good traditional bows out there for a first time shooter. Traditional archery is more difficult to perfect but offers kids a fun shoot and the opportunity to shoot goofy or instinctive shots. This type of shooting is laid back by nature and very enjoyable.
Finally, introducing your kids to archery is a great way to promote attributes many folks out there appreciate. Archery takes practice and persistence to become proficient at. It also requires self-control to execute shots under high pressure situations. Finally, for shooters who become consumed by the sport, the discipline it takes to become really proficient can help you in anything in life. These may not be the most important character traits to teach a youngster, but they by no means are the worst. In fact the biggest benefits of most sports are the lessons learned that help kids in their lives.
As I mentioned I won’t claim to be an expert on the subject of parenting by any means. Hopefully though these few insights into introducing kids to archery can offer a bit of guidance to someone searching for it. Let archery be their idea, hand them the right bow, and let the wonder of the sport do the rest. They may not grow up to be the next Howard Hill, but they will know about archery and take with them the lessons it teaches.