Stoking the Fire

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.

Stoking the Fire 1

Be creative. Keep it fun. Build a bowhunter for life.

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.

Stoking the Fire 2

Building bowhunters takes an investment on our part.

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.

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Comments

  1. John Torchick says:

    Good article! Keeping the kids interested with “games” will be more interesting than shooting at a bullseye target all the time. A 3D target will offer some realistic shots plus educate them on making an ethical shot to harvest game. Several of my grandkids are interested in archery. The younger ones shoot Nerf arrows. The wife and I took the plunge and bought two Genesis bows- one was only used one season and had a lot of things included. The other is new, purchased at the Eastern National Tournament in Louisville. A supply of NASP arrows was purchased, too. The TWRA has an outing for HE instructors and families. We are getting ready for the archery tournament! The used bow is set at maximum draw weight for the adults. The other will be set for the younger kids. Does your local schools have an NASP program? You can go to the website and find the state coordinator, http://www.naspschools.org. There is a section listing sanctioned tournaments for NASP schools. Home school kids can participate under the stated rules. If you have a chance to attend one of the tournaments, it is a blast, watching kids of all sizes and ages compete.

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