Looking for a fall activity? Try archery!

Give archery a try when looking for a new activity to try this fall. It’s easy, affordable and fun!

The crisp air of autumn brings about a different type of activity level than the warm days of summer. Jackets and hats are normal attire and warm drinks help keep people outside longer than they perhaps desire. During this time of year, it is a good idea to provide outdoor leisure activities to motivate youth to be outside or provide indoor activities that also keep youth active.

According to Michigan State University Extension, one activity that fits well in the fall repertoire is archery. Aside from being fun and exciting, this sport can be practiced in numerous locations, can be done by anyone and does not take a great deal of investment.

Archery has grown to be a very popular shooting sports activity. It is the most popular discipline within the Michigan 4-H Shooting Sports program based on number of enrolled participants.  Movies such as “The Hunger Games” and “The Hobbit” have contributed greatly to the sport’s appeal but very few youth archers develop the skill level of a Katniss! But, with some proper instruction and practice, young archers can develop considerable accuracy and success. 

The first step to archery is selecting the proper equipment. Basically, a new archer has three choices for bows. A compound bow is most popular since the draw weight at full draw is significantly reduced due to pulleys or cams. Compound bows range in draw weight and have as much as 80 percent let off at full draw. Recurves remain popular due to their simplicity but do not offer any let-off in the draw weight.  Long bows are more common than in previous years and provide a more traditional “purist” approach to archery. There are also three choices for arrows-- wood, aluminum and carbon. Wood arrows are almost obsolete and don’t perform as well as other choices. They do, however, offer an inexpensive option with reasonably favorable results.  Aluminum arrows have been the standard for many years and offer archers an inexpensive, lightweight and durable arrow. Carbon arrows have replaced aluminum as the preferred choice because they are lighter, travel faster and flatter compared to aluminum. They are however considerably more expensive.

Safety precautions and steps should be followed to ensure a positive and successful experience.  Make sure the range you shoot at has proper targets; a variety of acceptable targets exist

ranging from straw bales, polystyrene and foam core. The main safety focus is to ensure the target material is thick enough to stop an arrow from penetrating through. The area behind the target should have a backstop or at least enough space that there is no danger of hitting anything unintentional. One of the basic rules of shooting is “know your target and beyond”!  

There are additional supplies that an archer can use to enhance their experience. Various pieces of equipment may make shooting easier while others can offer some level of comfort to the shooter. Finger tabs can help ease the stress on fingers while pulling on a string. Mechanical trigger releases provide no impact on fingers and eliminate significant error upon release. Arm guards help protect an archer’s arm from getting hit by the bow string upon release. Many devices are available for bows that improve stability, quietness and efficiency as well. That being said, a beginning archer should start with basic equipment and progress to additional equipment that suits his/her needs.

The Michigan 4-H Shooting Sports program offers various competitive categories of archery. Two divisions are available within the Michigan 4-H Shooting Sports program, target shooting and 3-D, which involve shooting at various animal statues. Competitive categories are based on the equipment being used. Archers have a choice of competing in open, sighted or unsighted.  The open division involves the use of a mechanical trigger release. Sighted category uses sights mounted to the bow for aiming while the unsighted category requires archers to instinctive shoot without the aid of sights.

As exciting as archery is, the main focus of the Michigan 4-H Shooting Sports program is youth development, which is universal  in all 4-H programs.  Shooting Sports works to develop life skills and positive character traits to help youth become responsible, productive and contributing members in society. Contact your local Michigan 4-H county staff to locate a shooting sports club or program near you.

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