Matthew Ebner – You may wonder when the right time, or age, to start archery is. It is as soon as you have an interest in archery. You should give it a try no matter what your age is, when you are very young, or possibly, later in life as an adult. If you begin archery when you are a young child, there are many introductory programs such as NASP® available to youth, and they provide great opportunities for beginners to give archery a try.
Children sometimes learn new skills easier because their prefrontal cortex of the brain, where memory is stored, is not fully developed. When starting archery at a young age, it is important to be old enough to understand the safety aspects of the sport and be responsible with your equipment. An advantage to starting young is the many years of experience you can gain and the possible archery opportunities in school.
If you are an older youth or an adult and just beginning archery, I believe you will find very supportive archers, clubs, and organizations willing to help you get started and a lot of opportunities for practice and competition. Being older, the ability to concentrate might come easier to you. Concentration is a big part of the sport! You may have more equipment options available to you depending on your size and strength.
Shooting archery is a great exercise and can help you get stronger, stay stronger, and can be a very positive thing for your physical and mental health no matter what age you are. Every time you pull your bow back you are using many muscles throughout your body. You walk a lot while shooting, whether it is from the shooting line to the target to pull your arrows, or at a 3-D shoot where you could be hiking mountains. This exercise is so beneficial to archers at any age.
One of the best parts about the sport of archery is that it really does include participants of all ages and physical capabilities. Many competitive tournaments have classes dividing archers into groups based on their age and equipment type, so you can shoot with your peers, while also visiting with older and younger archers. Sometimes I will shoot with groups of all ages, equipment, and abilities. I recently shot at a large tournament and had a much younger archer on my target, and it was great to help her as she needed it. I have had the opportunity to shoot with archers a lot younger than me and also some that have already retired from their careers and are grandparents. Since archery has no age requirement or limit, one of my favorite things to do is shoot my bow with my younger brother and parents. We can travel around to tournaments and participate together, and this is something you see often.
If you have an interest in archery, no matter how young or old you are, I encourage you to give it a try! You might just find your new favorite hobby and sport.
-Matthew Ebner is a 2022 student contributor. Watch for his future submissions.-