My three kids had learned archery at summer camp and each of them mentioned separately how much they liked it so I posted a few months back about finding an archery class near us to try out. My son decided to do an archery party for his 9th birthday and that was the perfect opportunity to check it out.
The archery place has 13 shooting stations, very tightly spaced together, with the targets set much further back than the targets at camp.
Putting 13 boys with bows and arrows practically shoulder to shoulder did make me a little nervous!
But our archery place is all about safety. We started off with a detailed lesson on the safety rules. There were particular commands our instructor would give to let us know that it was safe to shoot, and a different one to allow anyone on the shooting range to retrieve the arrows. The boys had to repeat the commands before they were handed equipment: bow, three matching arrows, a wrist guard and a quiver.
To figure out which bow and quiver to get — right handed or left handed — our instructor did an eye test to check for eye dominance.
We made a tiny circle using both hands that we looked through. When he looked through the other side, he told us if we were left eye or right eye dominant. It turns out that eye dominance has nothing to do with if you are right handed or left handed. Some kids in our party who were right handed but left eye dominant did NOT like holding the bow from their weak arm.
Eye Dominance Test:
- Extend your arms in front of you with your palms facing away.
- Bring your hands together, forming a small hole by crossing the thumbs and fore fingers.
- Choose a small object about 15-20 feet away from you. With both eyes open, focus on the object as you look through the small hole.
- Close one eye and then the other. When you close one eye, the object will be stationary. When you close the other eye, the object should disappear from the hole or jump to one side.
- If the object does not move when you cover one eye, then that eye is dominant. The eye that sees the object and does not move is the dominant eye.
I am right handed but left eye dominant. This makes sense because my eyes both have poor vision but my right eye is much worse than my left. It did feel a little weird to shoot holding the bow with my right arm, and pulling back with my left arm. The bow felt a little wobbly.
We learned how to place the arrow onto the bow, using your free hand (the one not holding the bow) to remove the arrow from the quiver at the base of the arrow, pointy side up. You don’t want to accidentally stab anyone, including yourself.
Next, you place the arrow onto the bow. It sounds easier than it is. The arrow needs to snap into place on the bow string, with the odd feather facing out. You kind of need to tilt the bow slightly so the arrow doesn’t fall off. You place one finger above, and two fingers below the arrow. Then you hold the bow straight out and pull back with your opposite hand, with your thumb just under your chin, aim carefully, and release.
The hardest part is pulling the string all the way back so that your thumb is resting on your chin. I felt like if I let go, the string would twang my face. It’s not true but it made me tweak my release so my aim was off by one target to the left. I did the cheaty thing that I do when I am not swinging well in golf. I just aim off target to the right to compensate.
The boys were learned quickly. It was amazing how much they improved from the beginning of the party to the final rounds. The finale was trying to pop a balloon placed on each target. Small cash prizes and candy were offered to anyone who could pop their balloon but no one was able to do it. It’s HARD to hit the target! My husband came close with arrows nestled above and below his balloon.
On one side of the shooting range was a display of Robin Hood arrows. A Robin Hood is an arrow that is shot into another arrow in the Bull’s Eye. This is a good example because you can see the first arrow splintering by the peircing of the second arrow.
A Little John is the same arrow hitting an arrow on the target but not in the bull’s eye. It’s like hitting a hole in one in golf!
All in all, the archery party was a big success. Although about half of the kids had done archery before, it didn’t seem to matter and all the boys liked working on a new skill. Or maybe it was just that this was a novel birthday party experience.
Have you or your kids tried archery? What did you think of it?
p.s. I found some interesting links on archery and kids that I wanted to share:
Texas school uses archery to teach math concepts like perimenter and area
Why Archery Makes Kids Better Students
Archery Teaches Students to Be Fit for Life
Archery, it’s not just for outlaws anymore! (Or Elves in The Hobbit!)