by Tracy Breen
In today’s world, kids often live a fast-paced life like their parents. Between going to school, doing homework, and playing sports like football, soccer and basketball, few kids have much time left over for doing much else. If you want to get your child or a young friend of yours into archery, the best time to start is when they are young.
Kent Colgrove from Full Draw Archery in Omaha, Nebraska spends a lot of time getting kids involved in archery. He believes getting a youngster started when they are between five and seven years old is an ideal time. “We have groups of kids come into our shop from churches, YMCA and schools that are relatively young,” said Colgrove. “If you get a kid started in archery when they are young, chances are they will stay with thesport their entire life.” Many parents make the mistake of waiting until a child is old enough to hunt before getting them into archery and by then most kids are participating in other sports and don’t have the time for archery. “There are many great bows available today that are built for kids and young hunters which makes getting them started in the sport fun and easy. The Mission Archery line is popular in the shop because kids can start out with a Mission Menace or a Craze and use it for years. Both bows have a wide range of weight and draw length adjustability. Gone are the days when parents have to buy a new bow for their child every time they grow a bit.” Another bow option if you want to start a child out young is the Genesis bow. “Some kids are too small for the Mission Menace or Craze. If that is the case, we start them out with a Genesis and movethem up to a Mission bow when they get a little older,” Colgrove explained. The important thing to remember when getting a kid involved in archery is to make sure they have fun with the sport. “When kids come in, we try to get them shooting as quickly as we can. After they understand basic safety, we want them to start shooting and have fun. We don’t worry about them being accurate; we just want them to start shooting arrows. Kids are used to a fast-paced life and if you bore them with details, they won’t be interested in archery.” Many bowhunting parents want to start kids shooting withfancy sights and rests and are concerned with speed. Colgrove suggests worrying about those things later. “A simple rest is often all that is needed. In many cases, a sight isn’t even needed right away. Kids don’t need to shoot much weight or be able to hit small dots; they just need to have fun,” Colgrove said. John Schaffer from Schaffer Performance Archery in Minnesota owns an archery pro shop and manufactures the Opposition bow sight and rest. Schaffer is obsessed with archery and bowhunting. When he is introducing kids to bowhunting or archery, he lets the kids set the pace. “I believe adults push kids too hard and try to force them to shoot their bows all the time. That can burn a kid out. I have a rule with my kids that every time I go shoot my bow I ask them to come and shoot with me. If they come, that’s great; if they say no, it’s fine. I try to keep things fun for them.” Colgrove and Schaffer said that many kids begin shooting a Mission bow for fun but eventually many of the kids decide to take up bowhunting when they are old enough to hunt. Keeping hunting fun is important. “I love hunting big game animals as much as the next guy but I don’t think most kids have the patience to sit in a treestand for hours on end waiting for abuck to walk by. That’s why I had my kids tag along on turkey hunts with me long before they could hunt. My daughter wasn’t even in Kindergarten when she tagged along on her first turkey hunt and watched me harvest a nice Tom,” Schaffer said. Other outdoor activities to consider is small game hunting or bowfishing. In the early fall, squirrels are everywhere in the woods. Hunting them with a bow doesn’t require kids to sit still or be quiet. They can follow you as you fling arrows at squirrels. If they are old enough, they can participate. Bowfishing is another great archery sport that you can get kids involved in. Many people are bowfishing with Mission bows. Bowfishing is fast paced, can be done at night or during the day and if youmiss it, isn’t a big deal because carp are in almost every lake and river system. Another shot opportunity will likely pop up in the next five minutes. Another option for young archers is a formal archery class or archery league. “We offer an archery course where kids can come into our shop and shoot once a week for several weeks,” Colgrove said. “After a couple months of shotting, many of the kids want to continue shooting so they start shooting with their parents, join a league or begin bowhunting.” Kent Colgrove and John Schaffer are big fans of the Mission Archery bow line for kids and adults. “The Menace and the Craze are great bows for kids and young adults. However, they have great bows for adults as well. The new Venture from Mission Archery is a great bow for bowhunting and perfect for beginning and seasoned archers alike,” Schaffer explained. The new Venture from Mission Archery received a Best BuyAward from Outdoor Life Magazine this year. Mission Archery offers bows forlittle kids, big kids and adults. With Mission Archery, it is possible to start out with one bow, shoot it for many years and then upgrade to a faster model years later. Getting kids started in the great sport of archery and bowhunting can be extremely rewarding. Hopefully some of the above tips will help you help that youngster you’re introducing to the sport and surely you can find the perfect Mission bow for them or you by visiting your local Mission retailer.