Do you want to learn more about archery for kids?
I’ve got three kids under the age of 10 and I’ve spend countless hours researching archery and I hope I can share some of what I’ve learned along the way.
Archery has seen a major increase in popularity in the last decade and is a fun sport for adults and children. Many children tetheir parents they want get into archery but it can be hard to know what they need to get started.
This article will help you learn about archery for kids, as well as youth archery bows, and other youth archery equipment.
As a fellow parent with three kids under the age of 8, safety is a concern when considering archery for kids. Many parents have asked about how safe archery for kids is, and it is a good question.
We like to think our kids know how to be safe, but then, sometimes we wonder. (Yesterday was the 4th of July, and one of my kids reached out and grabbed the burning end of a sparkler. That one is probably not ready for a youth archery bow!)
Is Archery Safe For Kids?
The answer is absolutely, with supervision at certain ages. Archery is not inherently dangerous when safety guidelines are followed. But I would say kids under the age of 10 (this depends on the maturity of the kid) will need supervision while shooting a youth archery bow.
General Safety Rules for Kids in Archery
- When it comes to archery for kids, the safety guidelines are the same as with adults.
- Never shoot without an adult present.
- Never aim your bow at anything but your target
- Only shoot a target in a safe direction. (Away from people, houses, cars, animals, etc.)
- Always make sure others are behind you when shooting your bow.
This is a simple list of major safety guidelines. It seems pretty common sense but with kids…I’m sure you understand.
I’m a big advocate of parents getting involved with archery for kids. Even if you don’t participate in archery yourself, you can be a huge help to your child developing archery skills.
Even if you decide to get them an archery coach, if they are young they will still need your supervision while they practice at home. Additionally, can give feedback, instruction, and encouragement.
If you spend a little time on this website and read some of the training articles, you will be able to help your child with things like their shooting form in no time.
Archery Is Fun For Kids
Archery has spread in popularity, in part, because of how enjoyable it is. You can participate in archery right in your backyard for fun, and this is all that many archers do. They enjoyment and challenge of shooting a bow will keep you interested.
Your kids may only want to shoot in their backyard for fun, and that is perfectly fine. Eventually, they may find that they always want to enjoy some competitive target archery or perhaps even bowhunting. There are many different ways to participate when it comes to archery for kids.
Ways Kids Can Participate In Archery
As far as archery for kids is concerned, it follows the same rules as that of adult archery; however, the main difference between both of them is the distance between the archer and the target.Various youth archery competitions are being held at this time by different forums for children of all ages. Make sure to go throw the age guidelines before taking part in a certain competition.
Shooting distances-The shooting distance depends upon the competition and the age of the archer. All the information regarding the shooting distance is always mentioned in the specific age guidelines of the competition. For the youth division, the shooting distance is mostly 50 yards whereas, for adults, it is 80 yards and for kids, it is 30 yards.
Types of Archery for Kids
Nowadays, there are different kinds of archery being practiced by the youth all around the world. The most common ones of them all are target, clout, field and flight archery. There isn’t a huge difference between these types of archery. Each of them requires different equipment and shooting techniques which will be discussed below.
This type of archery is being practiced at Olympics level and is also available for youth to take part in. It is essential to know that beginners start learning archery from this version first as it helps them to focus on their targets and also enables them to learn how to shoot the arrows at a specified distance. Target archery can be played both in outdoors and indoors.
It’s possible a school near you has an archery program. The NASP (National Archery in the Schools Program) is nation wide. Check out the video below if you would like to learn more about it.
Field archery takes place in woodland and topographical relief. In this type of archery, the archers are supposed to shoot a certain number of arrows at various targets followed in a sequence. The participants might have to go uphill or downhill depending upon where their target is situated at. The targets are of different shapes and sizes. Field archery can only take place in outdoors.
Clout shooting is the historical way of playing archery as it was used for military training in the past. In this type of youth archery, the clout is the target. Clout is a small flag which is tied to a vertical stick. The stick is fixed up to 165 meters in the ground. The archer has to shoot near the clout. The score of each player would be determined on how close his/her arrow landed near the flag.
Flight shooting is defined as the type of youth archery in which the archer has to shoot the arrow as far as he/she can. There is no specific target in flight archery which is why it takes place in the open ground with a flat surface. Recurve and longbow classes help the archers to excel in the flight shooting. It is always recommended to use lightweight arrows as it reduces the drag.
Archery for Kids- What do they need to get started?
You might be unsure about what your child needs to get started in archery. I want to quickly cover youth archery bows and other youth archery equipment that they will need.
Kid’s Archery Check List
- Youth archery bow
- Arm guard
Youth Archery Bow
The first major thing they will need is a youth archery bow. Parents often start researching youth archery bows and aren’t sure what their kid needs. It can seem daunting when you start looking online because there are so many options out there. I will try to simplify the options to help you narrow it down.
Youth archery bow types-Your first big decision needs to be between a youth compound or youth recurve bow. Here is an in-depth article on buying archery bows online if you want to know more about this.
The two type of bows are very different, but when it comes to archery for kids the major different is:
A Compound bow is harder to set up, but easier to shoot accurately with. A recurve bow is easier to setup, but harder to shoot accurately with.
Youth Compound Bow
A typical youth compound bow utilizes cams for a pulley system that makes it easier to hold at full draw. This has to be specifically set up for your child’s size and strength. (This is referred to as draw length and draw weight) Not only do you have to buy a youth compound bow with an appropriate size range, but it must also be adjusted within that range so they can shoot it correctly.
This is something you can have done at an archery store or learn to do yourself, but there is a learning curve. A downside of kids using compound bows is also that they are growing, so they will continue to need the bow adjusted as they grow, and eventually, they will outgrow it.
Another minor negative of starting a kid off with a compound bow is the other youth archery equipment needed for the bow itself. Most compound bows are shot with a release aid, and the bow itself is set up with a bow sight and bow rest. I’m putting this in the negative category because it’s an added expense and additional equipment you will need to set up before they can shoot.
What about compound youth archery sets?
A good option if you want to start your kid off with a compound bow is to start with a compound youth archery set. These sets vary in what youth archery equipment they include, but often it will be a compound bow that comes with the bow sight and rest already attached. The arrows and release aid may need to be purchased separately.
The plus of a compound youth archery set is that it comes with rest and bow sight that fit the bow. These will still have to be adjusted so that the arrow flies correctly off the bow and the sight is lined up with the arrow trajectory.
This process of adjusting the rest is called center aligning the bow, and the process of adjusting the sight is called sighting in the bow. You can learn more about both of these things.
Youth Recurve Bow
A youth recurve has a much simpler design, so you only need to buy a bow that works for their strength. (Draw weight) If you want to start your child off with a youth, recurve I would recommend getting a traditional takedown to recurve bow.
A takedown bow means that the limbs are detachable. A recurve is a youth archery bow that will not need all the accessories like a release aid or bow sight. It will need some form of rest attached to it, but these are typically simple rests that are inexpensive.
The set up for a recurve bow will be attaching the limbs which are usually not difficult at all. This type of youth archery bow will also need the bowstring put on and taken off when you will not be shooting for a while. You will also need to attach a nocking point for this type of bow which requires a bow square and either metal nocking points or serving string to tie on a nocking point.
What about recurve youth archery sets?
A recurve youth archery set will often come with the bow and rest, and some also comes with arrows as well. The arrows need to be consideration when purchasing a recurve youth archery set because they need to have feather fletchings. Fletchings help control the flight of the arrow.
Most compound archers use plastic vane fletchings, and most recurve archers use feather fletchings. The reason for this is the difference in the design of the two bows. The arrow flies against shelf or rest of recurve bow, and so feathers are needed because lie down when they come into contact with the bow and do not interfere with the shot.
A compound bow can easily shoot arrow with both types of fletchings, but plastic vanes last longer and are not affected by moister.
The Best Youth Bow Choice
I mentioned the downsides of a recurve and compound bow when it comes to archery for kids. The recurve bow is more difficult for a child to shoot accurately. The compound bow is more difficult to set up. One bow manufacture, Matthew’s Archery, realized the strengths and weaknesses of these two types of bows and created a youth archery bow that is essentially a combination bow.
This is the Genesis youth archery bow, and you can read my in-depth review of this bow here. I believe this is the best youth archery bow when it comes to archery for kids.
The Genesis bow is labeled a compound bow because it has the pulley system that helps aid the child in drawing the bow back. They ingeniously eliminated what is known as “let off” on compound bows.
Without going into too much detail, let off is a feature of a compound bow that makes it easier to hold the bowstring in full draw.
This feature relies on having the bow adjusted for a specific draw length and when it is, the bow can only be drawback to a certain point. Having to adjust the draw length is the biggest downside of kids using a compound bow.
The Genesis Bow Features
The Genesis youth archery bow has zero let off, which means the draw length does not need to be adjusted. So essentially, your kid gets most of the benefits of using a compound bow with all the hassle. These bows come in a few different sizes with an adjustable draw weight range (this is the weight it takes to draw back the bowstring.) IT is incredibly easy to adjust this.
I purchased both a Genesis Original and Genesis Mini for my kids, and after adjusting the draw weight, they were able to shoot the bow easily. This is only compound bow your child can shoot out of the box. Any other compound bow will require numerous adjustments before they can shoot it.
Additionally, the Genesis Original bow have a draw length range that is long enough for most adults which means your child could use this bow for many years. No other compound bows work like that.
The bows I got were also a part of a youth archery set which came with the bow, an arrow rest, five arrows, a quiver, an arm guard. Except for a target, this is everything they need to shoot.
The Genesis bow is the only official bow of the NASP National Archery in the Schools Program. That tells you something about how great these bows are. I highly recommend them for your child’s first youth archery bow.
Other Youth Archery Equipment
You may be wondering, in addition to the bow, what other youth archery equipment you will need. This will depend on whether or not you get a youth archery set. But in addition to the bow, here is some gear that will be necessary.
Your child will need arrows to shoot. Arrows, like most youth archery equipment, have more than just one type available. Parents commonly ask about what type of arrow their kids will need and what type of arrow and length.
When it comes to archery for kids, my advice about arrows is not to spend too much money or time worrying about it. They don’t need expensive carbon arrows to enjoy learning how to shoot. I would stay away from fiberglass arrows as these splinter and break the easiest.
I believe the best choice of arrow for kids is aluminum arrows. They are affordable and last a long time, assuming they don’t lose them! They can get bent but can also be straightened out if the bend is not too severe.
As far as arrow length, the only major concern is getting them too short. This is a safety issue. If the arrow is too short, it might fall off the riser when bow is drawn, and this is dangerous. I would stick with 30-inch arrow or somewhere near this.
I also advise against trying to have arrow cut shorter for kids because as they grow over the years, they will need them longer, so you end up wasting money and again, it is a safety concern. There is also no real advantage to shooting shorter arrows.
Here is an article that goes in depth about arrows and arrow material if you want to know more.
A good target is an important part of youth archery equipment. The two major categories of archery targets field point target and broached targets. These two types are made of different materials and designed differently for either field points or broadheads. Your first target for a child learning archery should be a field point target. A broached target can be purchased later if your child is old enough and decides to bow hunt.
Children who are not hunting age should never shoot broadheads. These are large razor sharp arrow tips designed to causes maxim damage when shot at an animal which kills them more humanely. Broadheads are very dangerous for kids to even handle.
Types of Targets
Field point targets, often called field point bags, are targets designed to adequately stop a fast field point arrow, and allow for easy arrow removal. This is aspect is important when it comes to archery for kids because they need to be able to extract their arrow out of the target. Targets that are poor quality may stop the arrow but also make it difficult to pull the arrow out.
I say in many of my articles that quality archery gear is what is important. This doesn’t mean that it has to be the most expensive. Expensive archery equipment won’t automatically make your child a good archer or help them enjoy archery more.
Quality youth archery equipment will still not automatically make them a good archer but it can help them develop into a good archer easier, and it will certainly help their experience of archery to be more enjoyable.
Cheaper not always better
Targets are good example of this principle. This is an area where many parents are tempted to save money. After all, it’s just a target. The problem is that a cheap target is made cheaply. When it comes to cheap field point bags, this means that is just a bag stuffed with some form of poly-fiber material.
At first, these types of target may work fine. It will not take long before the material begins to come out of the bag since you are shooting arrow into it, this leaves holes. The material will also clump up and leave thin spots which will lead to arrows shooting through the bag. When arrow go through targets, it messes up the fletching which will eventually have to be replaced.
This means in addition to spending more money on arrows; you will eventually have to buy another target. Often these “cheap” targets are not that much less than a quality target. You are better off just getting a quality target to start with. I highly recommend the Morrell double duty target.
It is not just a stuffed target. Its made with self-contained layers inside which means when you shoot holes in it, it doesn’t clump together and settle at the bottom. This target is also a “block” field point bag which gives you four sides to shoot at instead of just It also has great graphics on it which will give your child different shooting games.
Best of all, this target has a replaceable cover, so when the outside is full of holes, you can easily put on a new and not have to replace the whole targets.
Finally, an arm guard is a necessary purchase for kids shooting bows. String slap is the term for when the bowstring comes into contact with your forearm when you shoot. This can be extremely painful, and a simple arm guard will keep your child’s forearm protected.
Why Archery for Kids is Great
There are many reasons why archery is considered to be a good activity for the youth. As it is an extracurricular activity that helps to occupy the time of youth it helps them to stay away from other bad habits. It is one of the safest sports which is why many schools have been allowing their students to take part in it.
Another great thing about youth archery is that you can play it in both indoors and outdoors. Many colleges have been offering scholarships to from the student’s previous sports record. Therefore, if your kid starts learning archery and excels in it, then there is a huge chance that he/she might end up in a good college.
Archery also allows the youth to learn how to focus on their target through a step-by-step method. First, you will be taught how to draw a bow, and then you will learn the skill of shooting the arrow at your target. I
f you make any mistakes, then you will be taught how to analyze your steps and try again to improve this time. In the same way, your physical health will be improved as you will not be spending your free time on the couch.
As most of the times, archery is practiced in outdoors; therefore you will be in the sunlight absorbing vitamin D which is very beneficial for the human body. You will also train them on how to strengthen your muscles and balance your body.
Their posture will be improved which will counter some of the slumped posture sitting in front of the T.V. (I know, I do it too!)Archery can teach your kids how to set a goal and focus on it to achieve your target. Archery is a great activity for the youth as it not only helps to improve the physical condition of the kids but also enables them to focus their minds on a goal.
Author: Kasey Jones
Published: July 6, 2018
Category: Youth archery