by Johnathan Karch
Going to archery shoots is great fun for the whole family. It’s a great time to get in some practice with your bow and arrow, and enjoy the company of others who share your love of archery. I recently took my wife and three girls to an outdoor shoot for the first time.
My girls are Bella (6), Alexa (4), and Maggie (1). The main difference between shooting with other adults and shooting with kids is time. What I thought we could do in three hours took four. What I did not figure on was the additional time it takes at each target. I have shot with plenty of larger groups, but we all shot from the same yardage/stake. When shooting with the family you need to take into account that ladies have a different stake to shoot from and so do kids. It may not seem like it takes that long to walk up to the next stake, but it adds up target after target. What worked for us was creating an order of shooters and sticking to it: Dad, mom, Bella, then Alexa. That way the kids did not fight and everyone was on the same page with what was going on. You should teach shooting safety before you are on the range, not your first time out. Make certain your kids know how to act, and know the “do’s” and “don’ts” of shooting. That also saves time when on the range, as other groups of shooters can pile up behind you if you are going too slow. We let a few single shooters by-pass us, as that is the polite thing to do.
We used a baby carrier backpack to carry our youngest daughter, Maggie. Though this made it a bit harder for me to shoot, the hills and rough ground of an archery range would have made using a stroller all but impossible. I saw it as an opportunity to practice shooting with a hunting pack on, as the weight felt roughly the same. I highly recommend one for those with small kids.
My oldest girl (6 years old) was all about shooting and did great. She even got a few heart shots. My middle girl, Alexa, is only four years old and did enjoy the first 20 targets or so, but got tired after that. She did not shoot after that, but we turned the rest of the course into a nature hike for her, which she did seem to enjoy. Our baby Maggie loved the ride on dad’s back, and we packed plenty of ‘diaper bag’ supplies in the pack to be ready. The nice thing with the baby carrier is she could sleep without a lot of discomfort, but she never did. She was too excited and enjoyed the entire time we shot.
My wife was happy that we were all doing something together. We did not lose any arrows and only one broke when being pulled out of a log backstop. I call that a good day.
The advice I would have for other families is to enjoy the family time. We did score our shooting to let the girls see how good they did at the end, which really brought smiles to their faces. I got more joy from watching my girls show good shooting form than I did hitting a bull’s-eye. For baby care I packed like I would for anytime going out with Maggie: diapers, wipes, baby powder, etc. For the girls, I took extra arrows (which they didn’t need), and some extra water as everyone is miserable when a kid is thirsty.
Good luck on your next family adventure. Be sure to share your family shooting fun on the 3Rivers Archery Facebook page!
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Ashley IN 46705