Exploring Michigan 4-H Shooting Sports: Archery

Learn more about archery in Michigan 4-H Shooting Sports. Rules and policy are included to help increase success and fun.

A Michigan 4-H Shooting Sports archery participant.
A Michigan 4-H Shooting Sports archery participant.

Archery is a very popular shooting sport, appealing to a wide range of ages and easily enjoyed in various locations. It is one of several disciplines within the Michigan 4-H Shooting Sports program. Archery can be done using a compound bow, recurve bow or a long bow. It can also be done with or without sights and with or without a release.

The archery rules in 4-H shooting sports specify that a 4-H participant may not engage in archery until the age of seven and must be under direct 1:1 supervision with an adult until age nine. Any volunteer or parent approved by a certified 4-H instructor may provide this instruction. Archery members may not participate in competitive events until the age of nine. All archers are required to use an arm guard and a hip quiver for all shooting activities. The rules are implemented to insure a safe and successful experience for all.

Many bows are used within the archery program but most commonly, compound bows are used. Bow type and style is a personal preference. The advantage to using a compound bow is the draw weight is reduced at full draw, making it easier to stabilize and aim. There are many good introductory bows available. As an archer improves with experience and ability, a more advanced bow may be desired. Any type of arrow with a target or bullet-shaped point may be used. However, wooden arrows are not permitted with compound bows.

Sights may be attached to the bow for the purpose of aiming and include pin and lighted sights. Prism, lens, magnifying or electronic devices, including laser or beam sights, are not allowed. A three- or four-pin sight is most common with the pins set for accuracy at selected distances. Bowmarks are singular marks on the bow and are considered to be sights.

A release is a manual trigger aid for use with compound bows only. A release may allow for a smoother release of the bow string and help eliminate human error where the fingers contact the bow string. Automatic, hydraulic or resistance activated releases are prohibited for use in 4-H.

The 4-H archery discipline is split between target archery and 3-D shooting. Target archery is shot at a traditional ringed target with a bulls-eye. Scores are determined by the corresponding rings, with the higher score in the center of the target. Alternatively. 3-D archery is shot at animal targets such as elk, bear and turkey; one the more popular 3-D targets is the wolverine! Scores are determined by location within the vital area (lung, liver, double lung).

Given these archery conditions, the “Michigan 4-H State Tournament” categorizes competition in the following manner:

  • Unsighted divisions: Compound, long or recurve bows without sights or bowmarks and no release.
  • Sighted divisions: Compound, long or recurve bows with any type of fixed sights (sights, bowmarks) and no release.
  • Open divisions: Compound bows with release aids.

Archery is an excellent opportunity for youth to enjoy shooting sports and get involved in a lifelong learning activity that is family-orientated. Consider getting involved as a participant or as a volunteer. Please visit the Michigan 4-H Shooting Sports website for a more thorough copy of archery rules. Michigan 4-H is a program of Michigan State University Extension, which encourages participation in new experiences that are safe and expose youth to science involvement with 4-H Science: Asking Questions and Discovering Answers. Please contact Nick Baumgart baumga75@anr.msu.edu for ideas on spending time outdoors with youth.

MSU Extension and the Michigan 4-H Youth Development program helps to create a community excited about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). 4-H STEM programming seeks to increase science literacy, introducing youth to the experiential learning process that helps them to build problem-solving, critical-thinking and decision-making skills. Youth who participate in 4-H STEM are better equipped with critical life skills necessary for future success. To learn more about the positive impact of Michigan 4-H youth in STEM literacy programs read our 2015 Impact Report: Building Science Literacy and Future STEM Professionals.”

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