Prior to the largest shopping season of the year (Christmas,) LG and I spent a lot of time chatting with friends about how to choose bows for their sons and daughters. The answers varied, depending on the ages, skills and interests of the young ones.
LG didn’t get a new bow for Christmas, but she did receive a Merida figurine from Disney’s Brave. Brave is of one of the reasons so many children are interested in archery these days. It is exciting to see so many young ones getting excited about a bow and arrow.
Last week, I stopped by the local archery shop to buy some arrows for my LG. As I waited, the bow technician and I chatted. I disclosed that I had referred a number of moms and dads to his shop to discuss gifts for their loved ones. He said that, throughout the holidays, the store sold a record amount of youth bows. More good news that there are potentially a lot of new archers entering the world!
Archery target shooting will offer a unique opportunity for these children. Shooters learn muscle strength, as well as safety, focus and discipline while shooting bows. They will have fun shooting bull’s-eyes, and might even compete or progress on to become hunters.
As I made the long trek home from the archery shop, I wondered how the parents of these children were getting them started in archery and how they will grow in their quests to hit their marks. After all, we don’t want their new bows to become dust collectors after the excitement fades. Mom or Dad can teach the kids, but there are other ways to share the archery passion with young archers and keep it alive.
5 ways youth can become involved with archery
- Youth Hunter Education Challenge (YHEC): I mention the YHEC program again and again because of its diversity in types of shooting. Hank and I taught LG to shoot a bow at home, but she began competing when a friend invited her to join the local YHEC club.
- National Field Archery Association (NFAA): Via your local bow shop, LG and her YHEC team began competing during the off-season in NFAA youth indoor/mail-in competitions. Via NFAA’s joint Certified Instructor Program, shooting and equipment clinics and shooters’ schools are accessible in all 50 states. Additionally, NFAA members may compete at USA Archery (USAA) national and regional events, and USAA members may compete at NFAA national and sectional events.
- USA Archery: USAA Offers Junior Olympic Archery Development (JOAD,) a nationwide youth archery program found in more than 500 clubs across the country. Archers up to age 20 can enroll in classes near them, learn the basics of archery, earn achievement awards and learn to compete, if they so choose. JOAD is structured to help archers achieve their archery goals, whether that is to enjoy the sport recreationally or reach an Olympic or Paralympic dream.
- Archery Shooters Association, LLC (ASA): ASA is proud of the fact that it is very active in supporting youth archery. The ASA has worked closely with development and promotion of National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP), but, more recently it has been active in the development of the Scholastic 3-D Archery (S3DA) program. S3DA is specifically geared toward after-school archery. In addition, the S3DA and ASA programs work in conjunction with United States Collegiate Archery (USCA) that sanctions collegiate archery programs and include scholarship opportunities in archery.
- Local Archery Shop: You can always ask your local archery shop, or look online, for a listing of programs are available in your area. Many archery shops offer instruction or reserve shooting lanes for instructors.
What will you do to make sure your child becomes involved with archery?