In addition to my upcoming open water fishing rituals, turkey season and other outdoor activities when the snow finally leaves us, I teach the sport of bowhunting and archery.
For the last 15-plus years each spring, myself and several members of the Whitetail bowhunters club in Johnsonville, host an annual six week archery program for kids.
The program is simple. Teach and recruit kids to take up shooting bows and arrows in a safe and responsible manner, while having a lot of fun in the process. We start them as young as five years old on up to age 18 and we do it at no cost. We provide all the gear needed which includes bows, arrrows, finger tabs, arm guards and even a couple of string releases. Kids are welcomed to bring their own gear, but archery equipment is expensive and we accomodate as many kids as we can. A lot of the equipment we provide was donated by the Sheboygan County Conservation Association, by parents and by the club.
The beauty of this program and others like it is that we teach the discipline needed to learn basic shooting skills. Being an athlete isn't neccesary. We also offer every kid a chance to 'get in the game,' all while helping them find out just how cool shooting sports are.
Many of the kids return year after year and often these kids will go on to other archery programs like the ones the 4-H club has to offer and the Junior Oympic Archery Development (JOAD) both of which the Whitetail Bowhunters club has a large role in Sheboygan Cunty.
But our annual kids program is often where these kids get started. We run two classes each Saturday for kids ages five to 11 with the second class running for 12 to 18 year olds. The younger kids get the basics down on thier form and safety. They have a lot of fun shooting at both animal targets, bullseye targets and time balloons.
The older kids are generally more experienced, with a few rookies coming in, and quickly learn what to do. Archery isn't like a lot of sports where looking at a playbook is required, or physical conditioning is needed. By the end of the six weeks, kids grow more confident in their shooting abilities. Many of them go on to become bowhunters.
Last weekend I enjoyed teaching some boys from my church, Christian Life Assembly of God. The Royal Rangers (much like the Boy Scouts) came out to earn their archery merits. Two of the kids had never shot a bow before, and the others had very limited experience. Within the two hour session, they all shot relatively well and even the two that never had held a bow had their form down. One was even shooting with a release!
It looks like most of them are going to be having a future in archery whether in target shooting or bowhunting. In both scenarios parents often grab a bow and throw a few arrows themselves, since most of them have never shot a bow. You don't often find family participation at a ball park.
We as parents and shooters of bows and guns owe it to our kids to try and pass a love for these activities on to the next generation. Buy a kid a bow and arrow set and take them shooting.
If you live in or around Sheboygan County, and would like to have a kid take part in one of the programs offered like the archery program for kids, 4-H, or the JOAD, call the club at 920-467-3144 for more information.