When it comes to introducing kids to sports, coaches and instructors are often asked, “How old should my child be before he or she tries football, baseball, archery … ?” The first two are easy. Providing kids are physically able to toss a football or swing at a whiffle ball on the tee, they’re ready. But archery, like other shooting sports, is different, and it is the parent or guardian who is best equipped to make that call. In addition to having to be physically strong enough to hold a bow out in front of them, kids must be able to comprehend their shooting fundamentals, nock an arrow, draw the bow and shoot—all while focusing on the safety rules. In one case a 5-year-old may be ready while in another, an 8-year-old simply may not have the hand-eye coordination, patience or maturity to focus.
The one thing I know for sure is that once kids give it a try and start hitting the target, they’re hooked. For some, archery becomes an anticipated annual event at summer camp. For others it becomes a regular activity through the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP). For others, it’s a shot at competing in the Summer Olympics. And for bowhunters like me, it’s the chance to drop a big buck … or a bugling bull … or whatever game is in season. I’m betting that last part has us all counting down to fall.