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T-Arch-Child-art - 9/9/98


"Teaching Archery to Children" by Magnus Malleus, O.L.


NOTE: See also the files: arch-shoots-msg, arch-supplies-msg, archery-books-msg,

arrows-msg, bowstrings-msg, bow-making-msg, teaching-msg, Teach-in-SCA-art.





This article was submitted to me by the author for inclusion in this set

of files, called StefanŐs Florilegium.


These files are available on the Internet at:



Copyright to the contents of this file remains with the author.


While the author will likely give permission for this work to be

reprinted in SCA type publications, please check with the author first

or check for any permissions granted at the end of this file.


                               Thank you,

                                    Mark S. Harris

                                    AKA:  Stefan li Rous

                                         stefan at florilegium.org



Teaching Archery to Children

by Magnus Malleus, O.L.


So you want to teach children archery. Lets talk safety.


As someone who used to compete in collegiate and tournament

archery in the 60's and early 70's and who was an NAA trained

instructor who taught various summer camps' counselors and

YMCA archery classes I have a little advice.


Children aren't adults, and an archery class is more than one.

Start with a short safety class. Show them how. Some will watch.

Remember the short attention spans. Don't take too long.

Explain the rules, and explain how, but they need to shoot soon.


Explain how you are going to use a whistle When they can shoot

and that it means Stop too. Medievalists can make a wooden one.


Having more than one adult supervising is a very good idea.


Show them how to nock and shelf the arrows. Some will do better

with tabs, some will do better with gloves. Explain how to

sight, what an anchor point is, aiming over the arrow, and

how to stand. Demonstrate. Then help them try it.


Shoot on a whistle, make them ALL put down the bows and WALK to

the target at the same time together. Look for the one you missed.


** DON'T leave extra arrows behind when you go forward. **


Teach them to watch for arrows sticking up in the grass in

front of them as they go forward.


Demonstrate how to pull arrows from the target (eyes, also a

reason not to run_to_the target). One child to a target at a

time. Two children can mean one is jerking arrows out of the

target while one is standing impatiently behind. Teach them to

pull out the arrows with their thumb towards the target, not

the bottom of their fist, that breaks and bends arrows, but

it's natural to them. They should stand to the side of the

arrows when pulling them. This must be taught. Arrows can

come out with sizable force. Even at the one pulling them.


They must ALL walk back together as well, you don't want any

used as targets for any overenthusiastic who ran back early.

Look for the one you missed. Then shoot again. Use the whistle.


Arrow lengths are extremely important. Too long is far safer than

too short. They can overdraw and shatter the shaft behind the bow

on release, possibly into an arm. Adults have done this.


Check the draw lengths of the children with the arrows. Some will

overdraw in front of their chests. An arrow should be longer than

they can reach the tip of with both hands placing the nock at their

chest center. Ideally all arrows will be longer than the class

requires. Short arrows can be used by the wrong child.


Teach them to rotate their bow elbow to the outside. It prevents

bruising. Keep extra long armguards for some. Some arms overbend

naturally to the inside.


Watch them as they shoot. Try to coach each one as you can.

Some will need you to check for dominant eyes. Have them hold both

hands out in front of them and make a small window, then bring their

hands back to their face while they are looking at something.

That will tell you which is their dominant eye. In some cases it

actually helps to use some cheap eyepatches from the drugstore to

correct the cross dominant problem. They're happier if they can

actually learn to hit something.


In order to help them shoot I taught some of them to use a

simple sight constructed with surgical tape and headed pins.

The tape is simply stuck to the back of the bow and the pin in it.

Point of aim can be difficult for them to grasp or teach to them.

This isn't the Interkingdom Archery Rounds. Use what you can.


If you can afford it, do like I did and provide all the equipment

but the targets yourself. Then you know it is safer because you

will check it yourself. Expect some losses. Keep a repair kit.


Once I took over a YMCA class that had been overseen by two young

teens in an underprivileged neighborhood. The first thing I did was

to sit them down and give a safety talk. We shot the first round

and several of them ran at the targets. I went forward to stop them

in time. While showing some of them how to pull out arrows safely

I happened to turn around and three of them were at full draw right

at the rest of us. Familiarity bred carelessness. There had been

no real supervision before. Dumb luck had protected them I guess.


After that there were a few changes. Expect the unexpected.

Some children are going to be different than you might expect.


One I knew, but never taught, actually shot his brother in the

back trying to kill him, and almost succeeded. This was at home.


As wonderful a sport as it is, some children simply will not safely

handle archery gear around others. I HAD to learn to exclude some.

I was enthusiastic too. Some parents don't teach discipline.

Some children are unusual. Safety comes first. Teach it.


Magnus Malleus, O.L.

magnusm at ncsu.edu



Copyright 1997, Robert M. Howe, P.O.Box 5764, Raleigh, NC 27650.

Permission granted to re-use in newsletters, or email lists within the

re-enactor/recreation community, but NOT on any open newsgroups

including the Rialto. If republished the author would like to receive

a copy of the item it is published in as a courtesy. Republication

for profit restricted without prior arrangement. It is given freely.


If this article is reprinted in a publication, I would appreciate a notice in

the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also

appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being

reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.


<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org