Archery offers older children the chance to enhance their eye-hand coordination, strengthen their upper body, develop self-discipline and enhance self-esteem. Archery allows preteens and teens to work together as a team and still achieve individual goals. According to Arrow Sport Insight, the Consumer Product Safety Commission rates archery as safe as tennis or bowling, with fewer than 1 in 1,000 injuries. Teaching children archery means teaching them how to safely handle their equipment.
Familiarize the child with the archery equipment. Show the child the bow, arrow and target. Point out the fletching, or feathers, on the back end of the arrow. These keep the arrow flying straight. Show the nock of the arrow so that the child knows how to place the arrow on the string. Look at the bow. In the center front is the bow grip just below the arrow rest. The bow grip is a slightly narrower spot designed to fit your hand. Just above the grip is a small shelf that supports the arrow called the arrow rest.
Explore the archery range. Show the child the shooting line. Watch as other archers shoot safely and retrieve their arrows from the target.
Try several bows to find the right size and strength for your child. Bows come in a wide range of heights. As a general rule, the longer the bow, the harder it is to pull. However, different materials also contribute to the strength of the bow. As the child grows and her arm gets stronger, she will need to move to a stronger bow.
Show the child how to string the bow safely. Place the loop on one end of the arm of the bow. Step through the bow, pushing down on the top arm. Slip the loop on the other end of the bowstring onto the bow.
Place an armguard on the child's bow arm. This prevents the bowstring from bruising the child's arm as it snaps back into place. The elbow of the bow arm should be turned away from the body, keeping the arm safe from the bowstring. As the child learns the proper stance, the armguard protects his arm.
Show the child the proper stance. The child stands so that the left leg is forward as the left hand holds the bow. The child holds the arrow behind the fletching and nocks the arrow onto the bowstring. Rest the front of the arrow on the arrow rest of the bow.
Work with the child on the proper draw. The left arm, holding the bow, bends slightly at the elbow, which is facing away from the body. The hand is straight with the bow resting between the thumb and forefinger. Three fingers hold the arrow, nocked on the bowstring with the back tip of the arrow between the second and third fingers. The forearm lies parallel to the ground. Pull the bowstring back until the thumb of the draw hand lies next to the child's ear. It takes many practice sessions to achieve a consistent draw.
Set aside time every week to practice with the child.