By Luke Strommen

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 recall lining up with a dozen or so other boys and girls and freeing an arrow towards some targets – the vibrant yellow, green, and red colors of those fiberglass bows and arrow fletching all lined up made for a great sight 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?

There has been a spike in the interest of archery among young children and teens over the last few years as reported by local archery clubs and shops around the entire country, and archery ranges have been experiencing dramatic increases in attendance and requests for lessons. Parents are asking around: How do I get my kid started in archery?

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 that might be interested in getting their kids started in archery.

Archery is an easy recreational sport that will get the entire family outdoors for some wholesome fun. It can be quietly done (except for the laughter and cheers!) in your backyard (check local laws), the arrows are reusable, and it’s relatively cheap to do. With archery you are never too young (or too old!) to get started; I started all three of my daughters when they were two years old! I spoil my girls and they graduated larger bows on their 5th birthdays. Of course, my old fiberglass Red Bears are thrown into the mix as well. These are nearly indestructible and perfect for kids. Keep in mind that at a young age, you may not know if your child is left- or right-handed; a double-shelved bow such as the fiberglass Bear Archery Goblin, Crusader, and Titan can be shot right- or left-handed and range from $18 to $60. They’re fun starter sets that have replaced the older Red Bears I grew up with. My oldest daughter was given a Bear Archery Bullseye X ($84) for her 11th birthday. It’s a perfect fit and a smaller version of a modern adult recurve bow. This particular bow comes in 3 sizes to suit any adventurer from around 11-years-old to beginning adults. Visit www. beararcheryproducts.com for information and then check out www.rosecityarchery.com , an authorized Bear Archery dealer, to get this shipped right to your door with free shipping. Jerry at Rose City Archery carries bows, arrows, and more for the young squirts and can keep them outfitted with all the necessities as they grow. Heck, get a bow and some arrows for yourself and share the fun with your kid! Rose City Archery has been around since 1932 and not only offers excellent online support, but real people will answer your phone call and help you through the process (541-572-6408).

Mike Mecredy, a custom bowyer, shared some advice with me about getting kids into archery and keeping them interested: “Keep it fun and don’t get too wrapped up into proper form just yet. Let them just shoot . . . get in an open place where they can see how far it’ll go! They realize fast that if they get to their anchor point at full draw, the bow will have more power. Use targets that are fun to shoot at – 3D, balloons, and paper picture targets. Invent games like tic-tac-toe with duct tape and a hay bale, but keep it friendly. Don’t be too critical about their performance . . . if they think they are messing up they won’t want to stick with it, so always encourage them. If you want your kids to love the sport, buy them a bow, not an XBOX . . . and archery on a Wii isn’t really archery; it is not a substitute.”

I couldn’t agree more with Mike. It is obvious that in this day and age kids have their heads buried in video games, texting on their devices, and walking around like zombies while unaware of their surroundings. Archery is a great sport to get them outside, be physically active, and have a pile of fun while they engage on a more natural level with their peers or family.

Trad Gang is an online traditional archery community with an array of forums on all topics, classifieds, archives of information, and lists of local and state archery clubs, such as The Montana Bowhunters Association.

Use the resources listed below and you’ll be well on your way to some great memories. Stick with a recurve or longbow type bow with your kids. They are simple and provide the fundamental skills and building blocks that will lay the foundation for any future archery path they choose to take, even if later they decide to try a compound.

Shoot straight, Shoot often, and most of all, Shoot for fun!

For more information visit Trad Gang at tradgang.com and The Montana Bowhunters Association at mtba.org. And for some cool archery content, check out Luke on Twitter, @LukeStrommen.