I remember going to Pines Youth Camp when I was a young boy. This was a week long, local bible camp tucked away in the pines located on the shores of the Fort Peck Reservoir in Montana. We learned a lot at that camp, but the two things that really stuck with me were the canoeing and the archery.
I fondly remember lining up with a dozen or so other boys and girls and freeing an arrow towards some target. The vibrant yellow, green, and red colors of those fiberglass bows and arrow fletching all lined up made for a great site to a young boy. What fun that was, and I still remember it to this day. It seems those days have been all but forgotten…or have they?
Interest in archery among teens has spiked over the last few years. The book, The Hunger Games, released in 2008, and more recently the blockbuster movie based on the young-adult trilogy seems to be the main reason. The Archery Trade Association has reported a 20% increase in archery sales in just the past year, and the group’s 2012 annual trade show reportedly had the same 20% increase in exhibitors. Archery ranges are seeing a dramatic increase in attendance and requests for lessons.
Hollywood has been using archery themes in such recently popular movies as Lord of the Rings, Avatar, and Clash of the Titans, to name a few. Whether you believe that Hollywood (whodathunkit!) is partially responsible or not for the increased interest in archery, it is undeniable that the beautiful and appealing Katniss Everdeen’s archery skills and symbolism in The Hunger Games have created a stir in the archery world, perhaps mainly among teens 15 to 17 years old as reported.
Reports also state that the interest in ages 9 thru 23 has increased as well. Who benefits from this? We all do and I love it! These kids are getting a foundation formed in archery that can benefit them their entire lives.
FUN FOR ALL
Some will go on to hunt and others will just enjoy the sport for the pleasure it provides and pass it on to their kids. That is one of the beauties of the sport of archery—you don’t have to hunt to enjoy it! It’s a great recreational sport that will get the entire family outdoors for some good, wholesome fun. Shooting can be quietly done (except for the laughter or cheers!) in a neighborhood where legal, the arrows are reusable, and it’s relatively cheap to do.
Back in the “Good Ol’ Days” of archery, I suppose the 1950’s and 1960’s, the archery companies, such as the famous Bear Archery, marketed their products as outdoor fun for the entire family. Archery tournaments and clubs boomed. Moms and dads bought their kids bows and took to the field and great times were had. It seems that those days slowly faded away, perhaps due in part to the advancement of modern technology…both for bows and electronic entertainment. Modern bows were less affordable so kids suffered the impact.
The simplicity was taken away, and simple skills turned into “something they could get into when they got older.” When the kids got older, they had entirely different interests and the window of opportunity was gone. But, today, parents are asking around to find out how to get their kids started in archery? And this is amazing because these parents vary from inner city single moms and dads with no archery experience to seasoned archery veterans and hunters!
There is a lot of internet information out there, but I have learned that it is difficult for a person entirely new to the sport to know what to look for and who to believe when reading reviews and receiving advice. So, I dug into my own experience and leaned on some well-respected and knowledgeable people in the archery world to provide some helpful guidance for anyone who might be interested in getting his kids started in archery.
My oldest brother and I got our first Red Bear fiberglass bow sets for Christmas when I was five years old. My girls, nieces, and nephews still use these bows today. When I was seven, my parents took my brothers and me to Hamilton, Montana, where Dick and Vikki Robertson owned and operated their custom bow building business at the time, Robertson Stykbow. There, we “helped” Dick build our very own longbows. I got my first hunting Robertson Recurve for my 12th birthday. The rest is history.
I started all three of my girls when they were two years old on a tiny little recurve I found on eBay. I looked for it for a long time and have only seen once other since; it’s a “Little John” by Wha Gok Archery. It measures less then 28 inches strung up and has an extremely light pull. It was perfect for my girls to start on and they had a blast with it. I made the arrows for their first setup, and have both bought and made arrows for them since. The girls will graduate to a larger bow when they turn five. Of course, the fiberglass Red Bear’s are thrown into the mix as well. They are nearly indestructible and perfect for kids.
Other used bows that I have gotten for them include a Darton Dart (50” 24 # at 24”), Little John by Howatt Archery (44” 20# at 24”), and multiple Ben Pearson Broncos. These used bows are mostly from the late 1960’s and 70’s. My girls share all their bows with their friends and cousins when we get together and shoot.
I could have saved myself the risk of buying an older, used bow, as well as the money I spent on them and easily paid for a new, high-quality custom bow from Mike Mecredy at Mad Dog Archery. If only I had met him sooner! Mike builds reliable and affordable bows for archers and bowhunters of every age and size (maddogarchery.com). Mike’s custom bows range from around $100 to $400.
Each of my girls gets a Mad Dog Pup when they turn five years old, complete with their name, choice of color and “The Big Five” handwritten on each. Our last Mad Dog Pup had a purple riser and white fiberglass limbs—perfect for an excited little five-year-old girl ready to take on the world! Mike is a one-stop shop for bows, and you can order your bow at the same time you order your kid’s bow. Great deal indeed!
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