From Dave Richey...
Your children need you. For many reasons, but one that is near and dear to my heart is to teach them about archery and bow hunting.
Some schools are becoming more involved in target archery, and as a natural extension of that sport, to help children learn about the hunters role in society, why hunting is the preferred way to reduce deer numbers, and to learn the disciplines of being a conservationist and hunter.
Many parents think hunting is solely an adult pastime, and predominately for males. Frankly, that is not true.
Women who take up bow hunting are the fastest growing segment of the minorities. Studies show that more women are coming into the sport by the year. They grow tired of their husband heading off to the woods, and have made a determined effort to learn to hunt.
There are two other segments of society that bow hunting must touch—minorities such as African-Americans, Asians and Latinos, and children. Other studies show that two major groups—African-Americans and Native Americans—belong to the two least interested groups to become involved in archery or bow hunting.
Those who are deeply involved in hunter education believe that if children are not exposed to archery and fishing before they are nine or 10 years old, they probably will never become involved. It’s sad but true.
The children of this generation are beset by many different activities. We know full well about their seeming addiction to television, video games and talking on cell phones. The latter seems to be a status symbol for kids these days, and I can remember 30-35 years ago when my kids were young. They were always on the phone. Back then it was our phone; now it is their phone.
So the problem rests with the parents in determining how to get their boys and girls involved in shooting a bow, and as their age and skills develop, into bow hunting. Sadly, very few parents wish to buy their child a bow that fits them. Instead, they try to make do with one of their older and heavier bows, and it seldom works well.
Fitting a child with a bow is different than outfitting an adult. For one thing, the bows are much smaller and the draw weight is much less than for an adult bow. But, it’s possible to shoot and kill a deer by shooting razor-sharp broadheads on properly spined arrows from a 25-pound draw weight bow. I know several women who pull only 25 to 35 ponds, and they kill deer every year because they can shoot straight and their broadheads are very sharp.
There is a somewhat natural progression for children from target archery to bow hunting. Some never make that jump, and that is fine. Bow hunting doesn’t have to appeal to everyone which is why I don’t bowl or golf.
Getting children involved is difficult and time consuming, and it’s up to the parents to make it fun for kids. An overly critical parent, filled with negative comments, can drive a child away from shooting a bow. The obvious thing is for the child to learn to shoot properly, and to be able to hit the target at 10 to 15 yards. Once they can hit the target on a regular basis, encourage them to hit the bulls-eye, and once they can do that, back them up to 20 yards. Shooting a bow accurately must become a constant challenge.
There are numerous challenges to overcome to become a consistently good shot while bow hunting or shooting targets. Consistency breeds confidence, and confidence makes children more susceptible to continuing to shoot a bow while hunting or target shooting.
I know many people who shoot targets who never hunt, and their joy comes from shooting well-placed arrows. I also know many hunters who shoot targets only enough to become deadly shots.
In the long run, if parents don’t encourage their children in shooting a bow, some day in the future there will be fewer bow manufacturers around to pay the excise tax that is returned to each state (based on hunting license sales) that pay for hunter education and fund many wildlife programs.
This is a complex issue, but it all hinges on parents getting their children involved. If you don’t do it now, who will be your hunting buddy when you get older?
Sadly, it won’t be your kid.
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Friday, August 1, 2008
From Dave Richey...