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Archery Safety for Kids

by Jaimie Zinski

Fewer than one in every 1,000 people participating in archery suffers an injury, according to a study conducted by the National Safety Council. Compared to the number of injuries suffered in football or soccer, which is 10 to 25 per 1,000 participants, the archery number is very modest. However, inherent dangers are associated with children learning to shoot a bow and arrow.

Dressing for the Range

Dress your children in appropriate clothing that won't become tangled or impair their shooting ability and range. For example, avoid dressing your child in anything that could drape over the bow, such as a scarf, hoods or any loose-fitting attire. Instead, dress your child in comfortable, weather-appropriate attire.

Choosing and Inspecting the Equipment

Before shooting, teach your child how to properly inspect and maintain his equipment, including the bow and arrows. Provide your child with an age-appropriate bow that is recommended for his height and weight. Instruct your child to draw back the bow. If he's having difficulty drawing the bow and holding it taut for 30 seconds, the draw weight is too much. Once you find the correct bow, have the string replaced professionally or perform this fix yourself if it's frayed or damaged. Also, inspect the arrows to ensure they're not damaged and are the correct size for your child's bow. Ideally, the arrow's point should sit 1 inch beyond the bow when it's drawn. Improper arrow length will lead to difficulty with shooting and accuracy.

Safety at the Range

Follow the range's rules concerning the shooting and recovery of an arrow. Typically, ranges expect archers to aim, shoot and retrieve their arrow before allowing anyone else to shoot at the target. Instruct your child to stand at least 6 feet behind the shooting line while waiting his turn to avoid injuring himself or the archer at the line. While on the line preparing to shoot, instruct your child to pay attention to anyone behind or in front of the target. Only allow your child to shoot once the area is secure. Instruct your child to only retrieve the arrow when permitted and to watch for any other archers in the area before doing so. Finally, teach your child shooting a bow without an arrow can damage the equipment and it's never acceptable to point a bow at an unauthorized target, including an animal or another person.

Basic Archery Safety

No matter his experience, never leave a child unattended at the range or practicing at home. It's also dangerous to shoot an arrow straight in the air because it's almost impossible to estimate where it will land. Place the target at a realistic distance for your child. Placing it too far away could cause the arrow to become lost or damaged if it hits the ground. Finally, when your child is retrieving an arrow from the target, instruct him to always look and walk, never run, especially if the arrow fell short of the target. Stepping on an arrow jutting from the ground will not only break it, it can also injure your child.

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