“Auntie! I brought my bow!”
“Auntie! I brought my bow!”
What’s better than hearing that from a 4 year old as she piles out of the car? Archery has become a prevalent family pastime over the last several years and raising our next generation of hunters is key to the preservation of our hunting rights. The biggest question regarding young archers is often ‘when should I introduce my kid/niece/nephew/grandchild to archery?’ I think the answer to this is pretty simple—whenever they want! My niece has shown interest in hunting, archery, and fishing for a year and a half or so. She got a fishing pole last summer and a bow for Christmas. Here are a few things I have learned so far about working with an aspiring outdoorsman.
1. Keep it fun.
Seems obvious, right? I mean, we are shooting a plastic bow with a twine string ribbon on it. Casting with Anna and Elsa on our fishing pole. Looking at bright pink BB guns in the store.
As every hunter and angler knows, we aren’t always successful. How do we keep fishing fun….when we don’t catch anything? We touched the worms. We put our toes in the lake. Okay. I touched the worms. Princesses don’t touch worms—in case you didn’t know. We saw the splash from a fish. And we only spent about 15 minutes fishing.
Nothing kills the fun from something like overdoing it. When we lost interest, we wrapped it up and went for ice cream. The fish must have been sleeping. We’ll try again another day.
2. Pay attention to what hand seems to be dominant.
My. Niece. Might. Be. A. Lefty.
If I don’t help, she’ll alternate between hands but left seems to be the most prevalent. Many young shooters struggle because we impose what we think is correct from a dominant hand and eye onto them. Trust me, I hope she’s right-handed. Trying to transfer the right-handed processes to the left-handed version is significantly harder than I thought it would be. Trying to make her a right handed shooter could cause her significant frustrations as she gets older and begins to work on accuracy. I am currently researching some methods to help identify eye dominance in little kids so we can help her as we step into more advanced lessons and equipment.
1. Don’t worry about hitting the target.
We mostly shoot at a snowbank or a large upright target. Let’s just try to shoot in the general direction of something while we work on the concepts. I don’t care if she hits it. I care if she’s trying to remember the mini lessons we’ve had—which end up of the bow is the top, how to place her fingers on the string, not to shoot if Grandpa is behind the target….
About shooting Grandpa….. Yes. We are shooting a little plastic bow with little plastic tips that goes about 15 feet; however, someday, that’s not going to be the case. We spend a lot of time talking about looking beyond the target. Where are the dogs? Is there a building behind the target? What about your Auntie’s truck? And really. Where is Grandpa??
In Grandpa’s defense, we are still working on what end of the bow the arrow comes out. Our number one priority is safety. Does a 4 year old need to know the why behind the safety precautions? Not yet. But if we teach her to follow the safety precautions today, the why will come as she gets older.
Who else has introduced a young child to outdoor sports? What lessons did you learn as you shared your lifestyle with the younger generation?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Vanguard Outdoors Target Archery ProStaff
FOLLOW KENDAL ON INSTAGRAM AND GOWILD:
GoWild: Kendal Quandahl
ReelCamo Girl is a lifestyle brand focused on ladies who love the outdoors.There is a growing need for a place for women to share their outdoor experiences, as well as an interest in clean eating and self-sufficiency. Through our website and social media networks, we offer a safe place where the ladies can share their pictures, stories, wild game and fish recipes, and news articles about conservation and hunting perspectives.
ReelCamo girls are strong, capable, kind, compassionate, nature & country-loving individuals. We encourage responsible and ethical hunting. We care about the land and wildlife management and about long term sustainability. We hunt, fish, dive, shoot and hike…for peace of mind, happiness, pure clean protein & connection to the outdoors. ReelCamoGirls can shoot a gun, draw a bow, track an animal, get CAMOed up, bait a hook, clean a fish and still be feminine.