I heard from another parent that family vacations are not actual vacations, they’re just keeping kids alive in another place with no routines and an abundance of snacks. I laughed but also felt seen. With young kids, going to the grocery store can be a marathon in and of itself. Between the loading and unloading of the kids and groceries, the negotiations of who gets to drive the cart, and all our favorite, the constant requests for foods not on our grocery list. Most of the time, doing anything with small children is hard. Doing mundane and necessary things (like getting groceries) is hard. So, it can feel impossible to share things we’re passionate about with our kids when we’re just trying to not forget the eggs. But let me be a word of encouragement that it’s important to share with our kids what makes us come alive. They need to see it as much as we need to feel it. For our family, the shooting sports is how we like to play. We have a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old, so we’ve focused on shooting our bows this year because it’s quiet and gets us outside. It’s been fun to watch our little ones learn and progress and get excited for the next time on the range.
Here are three simple tips that we’ve learned to help get our family involved in archery:
- Involve them from the start. On the range shouldn’t be the first time they see a bow or an arrow. Let them help you wax your bow string or help change the field tips on your arrows. These are prime opportunities to start talking about safety and responsibility.
- Check your expectations. This is both for desired outcomes and timing. Keep having fun while they’re having fun, but there may be a point where they get bored, or tired, or hungry and that’s a great time to take a break or stop. Also, if you need to sight in your bow or do some drills, this may not be the time. They are the priority and making sure they have a positive experience should be goal number one.
- Buy them their own equipment. My 3-year-old has a Bass Pro Shops toy bow (SLG2, Inc could receive a commission if you purchase this item from this link) with arrows that have suction cups on the end of them. He also has his own binoculars and fanny pack for his “tools”. He can now recite to you that “we only shoot animals and targets, we don’t shoot people”. Even though we know it’s a toy, we want to instill in him the sense of responsibility that comes with shooting.
- Bring all the snacks. Everything is more fun with snacks, especially special snacks. It’s nice to get out of the mundane and make their experience special. It also doesn’t hurt if their belly is full, or yours either.
Remember, as you start this journey of introducing your kids to the shooting sports, follow their lead.
It’s important not to force them into your hobby but to share the excitement of your passions. Keep it fun and if you can, start as early as possible. Both my kids were on the archery range before they could walk! Shooting bows is a great way to spend time outside together as a family and building skills and memories that will last a lifetime.