by Brad Christian
One of my greatest desires for my daughters is that they will realize and appreciate the peace, humility, wonder and perspective that only the natural world provides. For me, I came to experience this through archery. My love for the bow and bowhunting changed how I live, what I eat, how I conserve, and even what I do for a living. So, from the beginning of our daughters’ lives, my wife and I committed to ushering them into the outdoors through archery.
But waxing poetic about the wonders of the wilderness isn’t the way to get kids stoked about archery—that’s my adult perspective talking. To make it exciting, it has to be fun. Kids have a really short attention span; it’s just a fact of life. They’re seeing the world for the first time and every single thing they encounter has the possibility of being extraordinary. Naturally, they move on quickly to “see what’s behind the next door.”
Our focus is on empowering our kids. As parents, it’s our responsibility to lead and keep them safe. But leading doesn’t mean controlling or making them follow us around. When our daughters were still in diapers, they were running around the yard shooting suction cup arrows—having fun while learning something new. Now, I look at my daughters and often think, “How can I get out of your way and let your awesomely creative brain go and be awesomely you?” Archery, if you let it, can allow your kids to unlock their creativity. How?
We go to Michaels and buy the most random stuff so they can build their own targets.
We hang a giant piñata in our backyard so they have to shoot it to get the candy.
Every time they bring helium balloons home from a birthday party, we have a contest to see who can hang theirs in the weirdest place and try to pop it.
We freeze stuff in ice and they try and shoot it out.
It’s about letting their imaginations propel them forward. But none of this is possible without an adult willing to invest.
Most Americans will bounce a basketball in their lifetime because basketball is played everywhere. You will encounter basketball whether you like it or not. In this day in age, it’s a lot less likely you’ll find yourself saying, “So there I was and everyone took aim with a bow,” which is why programs like N.A.S.P. (National Archery in the Schools Program) are so rad. I was fortunate to come into this lifestyle through my family, but not all kids have that opportunity. We all have the chance to inspire and empower way beyond our own children.
I can’t tell you that I have all of this figured out. I’ve made a pile of mistakes along the way. But what I can tell you is that we are incredibly intentional with how we navigate our lives while also allowing our daughters to be themselves. We believe a life lived in connection to the outdoors is a healthy life, and our avenue to engage is archery.