Has your child told you they want a bow and arrow and you are wondering what is the best age to start archery?
I’ve been there.
If you’ve looked at some kids archery bows you may have seen some that say they’ll work for kids as young as 3. I’m a sucker for that kind of stuff. I’m the dad that bought youth bows and fishing rods before my kids could walk. Because once they start walking they should be able to shoot a bow, right?
Here’s the truth
WHILE EVERY KID IS DIFFERENT, ON AVERAGE THE BEST AGE TO START ARCHERY IS 6.
There I said it. I made it bold so you know I’m serious. But I’m not going to throw that out there and run. I will explain.
Why 6 is the best age to start archery.
I wasn’t joking about trying to get my first kid started in outdoor sports as soon as she could walk. I made a 3 foot fly rod for her so she could learn to cast when she was 2. (She started walking at 9 months so I though, of course she can fly fish at 2) I also tried to get two of my kids shooting bows every year since they where 3.
But you’ll notice I said EVERY YEAR.
Why every year? Because they couldn’t do it.That is until they reached the age of 6.
I know every kid is a unique snowflower. Your’s may be a prodigy. If your kid is 4 years old and your positive they can shoot a bow, go for it. I’m just telling you how it’s gone for two of my kids and my opinion after researching many aspects of youth archery. Hopefully I can share some of that knowledge with you and more importantly, help you avoid some of the mistakes I made.
The fact is NASP (National Archery in the Schools Program) starts in the 4th grade. Most kids in 4th grade are somewhere near the age of 8. The folks in charge of NASP knew what I had to learn on my own.
It’s really hard to for little kids to shoot a bow.
Most kids under the age of 6 lack the strength and coordination needed to shoot a bow.
Yes, with bows like the Genesis Mini you can lower the draw weight to 6 pounds but small children can still have trouble drawing that much. Additionally, such a low draw weight means there is only a small amount of force launching the arrow, making it tough to make it to a target 10 yards out.
BUT, THE GOOD NEWS
When my kids turned 5 I noticed they were getting closer to being able to shoot adequately on their own. By the age of 6 they are ready to not only shoot on their own but also enjoy learning to shoot accurately.
If you are researching youth archery, then either your child is asking for a bow or you are considering getting them involved. I applaud you for doing some research.
My three children are all under the age of 10. They’ve asked to participate in everything from fly fishing to trapeze lessons. I told them there are no trapezes in Montana. I don’t know for sure if that’s true, but I figure when they are 18 they can decide if they want to train for the carnival.
The point is that kids quickly become interested in a lot of things. But they also quickly lose interest in those things. So what about youth archery? Is it something your kid will enjoy or just another thing they will lose interest in?
The rest of this article will look at some of the reasons you should get your child involved in youth archery,even if they’d rather play video games all summer.
I’ll also briefly cover some of the basic information you need, like the types of archery they can participate in, and what they need to get started.
A great way to get your kids involved in archery is through the NASP (National Archery in the Schools Program) You can read more about it here or what the video below.
Reasons To Get Your Kid Involved In Youth Archery
1. It’s Fun
They may not know it before getting started but youth archery will be one of the most fun things they’ve ever done. Shooting a bow can be slightly frustrating at first, but it won’t take long for them to enjoy it.
Once they stick their first arrow in the target, you’ll get that, “Whoa, I did it!” look that makes it fun for us as parents.
Most kids don’t lose interest once they are able to shoot their bows comfortably. Archery challenges kids in a way that will keep them working to improve.
2. They Can Participate At Any Level
One of the drawbacks to junior high and high school sports is that it is a major time commitment both for the parent and child. Archery is very flexible.
Of course, this depends on the type of archery you child participates in and how involved they want to be. Some kids like competition; some don’t. Every kid is different. Most sports are competition based. You practice to play games.
Archery is great because you can participate at any level. You can shoot as a hobby in your backyard, or shoot in competitions and both are very enjoyable. If your child’s school participates in the NASP (National Archery in the Schools Program), this would be an awesome way to help them learn archery and introduce them to competitive shooting as well. (Link)
3. They’ll Make New Friends
Archery can be an excellent way for your kids to make new friends. Many schools around the country now have archery programs, and there will also be archery clubs they can join.
4. There are Scholarships Available For Archers
Thousands are available for student archers going to college. The National Field Archery Association Foundation (NFAAF) has joined forces with the Easton Foundation to offer scholarships.
There are also state provided scholarships and other opportunities directly from Universities along with many different There NASP National Archery in the Schools Program.
5. It Can Be A Year Round Sport
Another significant benefit to getting your child involved in youth archery is that it can be a year-round sport. If they are involved in a youth archery program, they may have an outdoor and indoor range for them to use depending on the weather. They often have competitions scheduled throughout the year as well.
Of course, your child can shoot at home year round at home. This will vary depending on where you live. If you have harsh winters, then you may want to look for an indoor range. I live in Montana, and we get a decent winter up here, but I’ll say, there isn’t much that keeps my kids inside. (They may need you to dig the target out of the snow!)
6. It Will Help Their Confidence
Archery is enjoyed by all ages and there are even great archers who compete with disabilities. If your child is willing to learn the basics and stick with it, they can become a good archer. Succeeding in archery can boost their self confidence and help them accomplish other things they want to do.
7. It Requires Focus and Self Discipline
If your child is involved in any youth archery program, they will likely have rules to follow. Some of these may pertain to school grades, like no pass no play. This can be a great motivator for your child if they want to compete in archery. I’ve read many stories of kids turning their academics around so they can participate in archery tournaments.
Additionally, archery is a mental sport. This is great for keeping your child’s mind active and helping them with things like critical thinking skills. If they choose to compete, it will also force self-discipline which is of great benefit to them now and later in life.
8. Archery Is A Useful Skill
Unlike many sports, archery is a valuable skill for anyone to develop. Many target archers also are also bowhunters. This may be something your child will have interest in. There are many benefits of bowhunting and getting out into nature.
If your child does show interest in bowhunting, be sure and check out this page for your state archery regulations. In addition to a minimum age requirement, some states have regulations for the types of bows and arrows used. The most common regulation is a minimum draw weight requirement. Usually, it will be around 40 pounds.
Types of Archery
The two major types of archery are bowhunting and target archery. While bows have been used for hunting for thousands of years, shooting at targets for recreation and sport wasn’t popularized until Henry VIII. Now, target archery is an Olympic event and enjoyed by many worldwide.
As the name suggests, target archery is the sport or hobby of shooting arrows into targets at various distances. Within this category of archery, there are different types of bows used, such as compound bows, recurve bows, and longbows. There is also a category for what is known as barebow.
This refers to shooting a bow instinctively with no sights, stabilizers or other additional accessories. There are also different types of target archery. The World Archery Federation currently governs competitive modern archery, and 142 nations participate in these competitions.
Traditional target archery involves shooting a stationary target at a set distance and scoring based on where the arrow hits within the multi-colored circles. Competitions for this type of archery can be outdoor or indoors. Those that are outdoor sometimes have targets set at different distances. Indoor competitions usually involve shooting at targets at one distance.
This type of archery is also shooting at traditional targets but takes place in wooded or rough terrain areas. Shooting a bow in this environment increases the challenge as the targets can be placed on different elevations and the lighting changes especially in wooded areas. A variation in field archery is using 2-d or 3-d animal targets. This type of archery is also excellent preparation for bowhunting.
Recreational Target Archery
Finally, recreational target archery. If you’re currently thinking, “I’m not ready to sign my kids up for the Olympics,” don’t worry. Many archers of all ages have the most fun shooting in their backyard. Again, archery is great because it has so many options for involvement.
My kids haven’t moved beyond the backyard with their bows, and that is ok. They may want to shoot competitively when they get older, but they may not. It’s up to them. It’s still an extremely valuable skill for them to have and an enjoyable hobby.
The second major category for archery is bowhunting. You could say not all target archers are bowhunters, but all bowhunters are also target archers. What I mean is that bowhunters don’t just head out with their bow with no practice and try to shoot an animal. There is usually a lot of target practice that happens before hunting.
Shooting an animal without a lot of practice is tough. Bowhunting is an entirely different dimension to archery. Not only do you have the challenge of shooting a bow, but you add to it the adrenaline of having an animal close to you, often anywhere from 10-40 yards.
You also have the difficulty of changing light, as animals are usually out at dawn and dusk. Then there is the possibility of hunting from tree stands which causes you to shoot downward at a very steep angle.
Bowhunting is an exciting and rewarding type of archery, but if your family does not hunt, bowhunting may be way off your radar. There is nothing wrong with that. Additionally, your child may not be old enough to hunt. The main point is that archery is such a great sport because there are so many options available.
What Do Your Kids Need To Get Started In Youth Archery? Two Important Lessons
So if you’ve read this far, you may be wondering what the best archery equipment for kids is. This simple answer is a bow, arrows and a target. Choosing the right bow for your child will be the hardest part. If you are like me and you don’t love wasting money on things your kids don’t use, your first thought may be, “I’ll get them a cheap bow to start and see if they stick with it.”
This is my thought on MANY things my kids want. I know they don’t really understand the value of things and whether it’s ten dollars or a hundred dollars, there is a good chance they will lose it or break it. Maybe i’m just cheap……I don’t know.
But the purpose of this article is convincing you to get your kids into archery and to start them off right. I’ve learned some lessons I’ve learned personally getting archery equipment for kids that I think can save you some frustration. I’ve narrowed it down to two important things.
- Get them the right equipment.
- Get/give them lessons in basic shooting form.
Youth Archery Equipment
A lot can be said about selecting about for youth archery equipment. Since this is an overview of what your child needs to get started, I will save the in depth analysis of each bow type for another article. The three types of bows on the market for youth archery are:
The longbow is the simplest type of bow and requires no set up but will be the most difficult for young children to shoot with. These bows are the least expensive and sold in a lot of different stores. They often come with a few of arrows. If you get your kid a longbow, there is a good chance it will end up in the_______. Fill in the blank with the place your kid puts stuff they don’t use.
The recurve is a step up form the longbow and a better choice for youth archery. Most can be fitted with an arrow rest which is highly beneficial while learning to shoot. A youth recurve will have a specific draw weight and draw length range. They are not adjustable so you must buy the correct bow for their size and strength. You can read the first part of this article for information on measuring draw length and figuring out draw weight.
The compound is the most complex bow type. They are made with a specific draw weight and length range. For an example, let’s say your kids draw length is 25 inches and approximate draw weight is 35 pounds. A compound bow with a draw length range of 22-27 would work.
Many youth compounds have a large draw weight range. In this example it would likely be 20-45 pounds, which would also work. Once you have a bow with the correct range, it still has to be “set up” or adjusted to the specific draw length and weight you need.
So….Which Bow Should You Get For Your Kid?
I highly recommend the Genesis Bow. You can read my in depth review here. This bow is such an awesome choice for youth archery because you do not have to adjust the draw length. This is huge because having to adjust the draw length is the biggest negative on other youth compound bows. Kids grow every year (and their draw length changes) so you will have to frequently adjust this on other bows.
The Genesis mini bow is a smaller frame bow for kids under 8. It has an adjustable draw weight 6-12 lbs and an draw length range of 14-25 inches. The Genesis Original should work for most kids 8 and up. It has an adjustable draw weight 10-20 lbs and a draw length range of 15-30 inches. This means that this one of the few bow that your kid can use for many years.
This Genesis bows are the only approved bow of the NASP National Archery in the Schools Program. That tells you something about their quality and suitability for kids. Personally, I wasn’t crazy about the $180 price tag until I discovered in the long run, you end up spending a lot more on cheaper bows they outgrow rather than buying one Genesis Original bow that they can use for a long time.
Arrows- In addition to the bow, arrows are also needed. For kids, the best option is aluminum arrows. They are relatively inexpensive and will last a long time. If you decide to buy the Genesis bow kit, it comes with 5 Easton aluminum arrow which is all they will need starting out.
A Target- Your kid will also need a field point target. A few target companies make “youth targets” which are really just smaller versions of the regular targets. I would advise not to go this route. If anything, I think kids could use a larger target when they are starting out. This would result in fewer lost arrows.
My kids have always just used my Morrell field point target bags. You can check out my top recommended field point target for adults and kids. It’s a mid-priced target but it is really the only target you will ever have to buy.
Lessons in Basic Shooting Form
In addition to getting your kids the right equipment, they will need some basic instruction. If they join a local archery program, there will likely be lessons given. You can also check out your local archery shop to find a qualified archery instructor for private lessons. If you think your child will most likely want to compete in archery tournaments, this would be a good option.
If you are just wanting to ease your kid into archery as a hobby, you can always teach them yourself. Spend some time reading the articles here on simplearchery.com and it won’t take long before you’ll be an awesome archery coach.
Honestly, I would recommend this option over anything else for young kids starting out. Not only can you quickly learn enough to start helping your child with their shooting form, it is a great way for you to spend time with your kids. Trust me, they will love it!
Author: Kasey Jones
Published: May 24, 2018
Category: Youth Archery