Things to Consider About Archery for Elementary Schoolers

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After watching movies like Hunger Games and Brave many kids are taking a sudden interest in archery.  Young children may be asking for archery lessons, bow and arrows, and to have their birthday party hosted at an archery range.  Parents may be willing to indulge this new interest, but are unsure when it is appropriate to buy a real bow versus a toy one.  Consider a few of these things when you are thinking about letting your kids take up archery.

Age: According to Ken Colgrove from Full Draw Archery in Omaha, Nebraska, the best time to get kids involved in archery is between the ages of 5 to 7.  He feels that if kids start young they will be more likely to stick with it for a lifetime.  Kids can start later than this, but often older kids are already involved in several activities and don’t really have time to add something else to their already hectic schedule.

Price: Bow kits for beginners start at around $20 and can go up to over $400.  The more expensive kits have high quality compound bows instead of the basic recurve bow set.  Most kits come with practice arrows as well.  Depending on the archery range you go to, there may also be leagues and classes offered, and the prices will vary by location.

Longevity: Archery has been around for almost as long as humans.  Archery became a sport in 1879 when the first archery tournament was held and the NAA (The National Archery Association) was founded.  Archery first appeared in the Olympics in 1900, but was removed after the 1920 Olympic Games because there was a lack of consistency in the rules.  Archery did not make another appearance in the Olympics until 1972 in Munich, Germany.  Interest in archery has gained popularity thanks to popular culture movies.  Katniss in Hunger Games, Marida in Pixar’s Brave, and even Susan in Chronicles of Narnia all feature strong females that are very talented with a bow.  Girls seem to be identifying with these strong female characters, which is sparking their desire to get involved.  Boys are also enjoying these movies, and like the idea of shooting an arrow.  There are two more movies coming out in the Hunger Games trilogy, so it’s likely that archery will stay popular for at least a few more years.

Opportunity: Check around at your local YMCA or YWCA for archery classes.  Ask at your local sporting goods store or archery range to see if there are archery leagues for kids to join.  Check online to see if there are any archery clubs in your area.  Boy scouts and girl scouts learn archery, as do many 4H members.  JOAD (Junior Olympic Archery Development) has groups in every state, so they may be of some help as well.  If you don’t find any clubs in your area then you might consider starting one.

Not just for hunting: Archery isn’t just for hunting, it’s also a sport that can be a great option for a child who is not interested in traditional sports.  To excel at archery you need to learn patience, focus and perseverance.  Archers are independent, and target shooting gives immediate feedback – either you hit the target or you didn’t.  There’s no need to wait around to hear from the coach.  Archery can be a great hobby and, if there’s an interest, can also be used for hunting.  There are special hunting seasons reserved just for bow hunters. 

Archery at school: Schools have been teaching archery for decades, but about 10 years ago National Archery in the Schools instated a program to train teachers in archery and encourage schools to teach archery in PE classes by offering discounted equipment to the schools.  This year more than 2 million students will experience archery in gym class.

If your kids show an interest in archery, explore your options.  Check to see if you have an archery range near you and if they offer classes.  Archery can be a fun way for parents and children to enjoy a hobby together.

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