T-Arch-Child-art - 9/9/98
"Teaching Archery to Children" by Magnus Malleus, O.L.
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.
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.