If your son or daughter shows an interest in archery at an early age, you’re probably a bow hunter, and chances are this makes you a proud parent. Nothing is more gratifying than connecting with your kids on a level you understand, especially when you have a world of wisdom to share. But a little precaution might be in order before you rush out and drain your credit card outfitting your kid.
Little guys and gals might lose enthusiasm quickly if they feel overwhelmed or just uncomfortable–particularly if their bow is too heavy, unwieldy, or if the draw weight is too difficult to pull back, or the draw length itself is incorrect. Remember, they’re just starting out. The basic rules of archery apply to everyone, and kids will have a lot more fun and display an honest willingness to learn when they are outfitted correctly.
- Draw Length. Possibly the most important step in determining what bow will be the best match is in knowing an individual’s draw length. The traditional way to measure this is quite simple: Have the child being fitted stretch out both arms to either side. Palms should face out and fingers should be extended. Then use a measuring tape (straight across the chest) to measure the distance from fingertip to fingertip. Divide this by two and a half to get the proper draw length. For example: an average adult archer’s outstretched arms reach about 72 inches, so the draw length would be 28.8 inches.
- Draw Weight. For kids, draw weight really depends on the age and physical fitness of the individual. A small child (under 80 pounds) may be limited to a draw weight of 15 pounds or under, while an older teenager might be able to pull up to 30 pounds. Again, it depends on the individual.
- Bow Weight. Basically, is a bow light enough for the child to wield it? If a bow is too heavy, or even too light, accuracy and fun go out with the wind.
- Grip. The bow should fit the hand; the bow should be easy to control in order to prevent sideways torque. The palm should conform comfortably around the bow grip.
Remember, this is supposed to be fun. While you may favor a compound bow, a kid might find it burdensome and may do better with a recurve bow. Regardless, the most important thing is to outfit them with a bow that fits. Try several out; let your child decide what feels best in their hands–then you can haggle with them about brands and cost.
Also make sure your kids learn bow safety, and that they are wearing armguards and finger protection. When they have a bow that fits they will shoot better, gain confidence, and have a more pleasant experience. Before you know it they will be in the woods with you, hunting turkey or that elusive trophy buck.