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Archery is a growing sport. Whether you’re into archery or not, getting your kids into the sport can be a great idea. Archery can help develop balance, coordination, concentration, confidence, and self-awareness. Below is a quick list of things that will help you and your kids get started.
1. Establish Eye Dominance (above): Not everyone who is right or left handed has the same eye dominance. When beginning shooting, it is easier for a child to shoot with their dominant eye, rather than their dominant hand (if there is a difference). To do this, have them form a triangle with their hands outstretched in front of them. With both eyes open, have them center an object that is 10-20 feet away. Without moving their hands, close one eye and then the other. The object should move out of sight with the non-dominant eye and stay centered with the dominant.
2. Bow Type/Weight/Length: Now that you know if you’re looking for a right or left handed bow, it is time to pick a bow type, traditional or compound. A traditional bow (longbow or recurve) will retain full draw weight when held back at full draw. A compound bow will have “let-off” (reduced weight) at full draw, which allows the shooter to hold the bow easier. A compound bow should also be adjustable so that as the child grows, the draw weight and length can be increased. If the bow is difficult for them to pull back, it will be difficult for them to shoot accurately. Lastly, you will need to figure out their draw length. This can be done by having them hold their hands out to the side and measure the distance from fingertip to fingertip; then divide this number by 2.5.
3. Arrows and Targets: Make sure that the arrow length is safe; the arrow needs to extend forward of the “rest” by a good 2 inches when at full draw. You can buy some really nice targets, but I find that making one is a good DIY project to involve your kids with. Either hay bales or a good chunk of foam with a piece of paper on it work great.
4. Fun and Safety: Kids will only like archery if they have fun doing it. Letting them guide themselves through practice times is good; however, they should always practice under supervision to make sure that they are shooting safely.