Archery is the practice of shooting a bow and arrows. In ancient times, children were encouraged -- and often required -- to take up archery in order to train them to eventually serve in the armies of the day. These days, archery isn't used for national defense, but it's still a fun sport for kids. Archery -- both for target shooting and hunting -- is popular throughout Michigan.
Archery in Michigan Schools
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has an educational archery program for children from fourth to 12th grade in more than 500 schools throughout the state, usually as part of the schools' physical education programs. Check with your local school system to see whether they offer sport archery. If not, suggest that they start. The DNR provides the curriculum and offers the free training classes to help physical education teachers familiarize themselves with teaching sport archery.
Archery in Michigan Camps
Many Michigan children's and teens' camps have archery programs. Chooseacamp.com lists more than 40 Michigan camps offering archery as part of their programs. Many of the local YMCA/YWCA centers throughout the state also offer sport archery programs. Summer camp is an ideal place to have your kids try archery to see whether they like it before you invest money in a bow, arrows and the other equipment needed for your child to participate in sport archery.
Local Archery Clubs for Kids
The Michigan Archers' Association's website lists more than 50 local archery clubs throughout Michigan. Many of these clubs, including the Bay City Bowmen, the Detroit Archers and the Flint Bowmen, offer archery lessons for kids. Most of them provide opportunities for kids to participate in competitive sports archery events. This includes both flint shoots and "3D shoots," in which participants shoot at three-dimensional targets shaped like deer, moose, bear, turkey and other wildlife native to the area. 3D shoots usually happen in wilderness environments and are generally fun family events. If you can't find an affiliated archery club nearby, check with your local archery, outdoors or sporting goods store. They will often have information about the nearest sports archery opportunities for kids.
Archery at Home
Regardless of whether you have sports archery opportunities nearby, you can set up an archery range for your kids at home. You need an area at least 10 yards -- and preferably 20 to 40 yards -- long. Choose an area where wayward arrows aren't going to hurt anyone or anything. If you don't have such an area, you can construct a backstop behind the target area using 1/2-inch plywood or bales of straw. A variety of archery targets are available at sporting goods stores, ranging from paper targets that can be attached to straw bales to durable standalone "self-healing" targets that can be used for several years before needing to be replaced.
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