Q&A What to Do With Too Many Kids and Too Much Time?

Kim Hannah of Chicago emailed another question, one similar to her last one: “What are some good ways to keep kids engaged in archery beyond the initial appeal of shooting something? A lot of the kids at the park were super excited at the beginning, but then they started getting bored with it. My solution would be to not make them come to the class twice a week (which the park does), but sometimes the park doesn’t have enough staff for the kids to be elsewhere.”

This is a tough one. If you have kids coming for a strictly recreational archery class, twice a week for an eight-week session, then you have to come up with 16 fun things to do . . . at a minimum.

I am sure you have many things of this nature already, the foremost almost everyone does is shooting at balloons. But even shooting balloons seems to lag if done too often. So, what to do?

I want to eventually create a list of such activities to be posted on our website (www.ArcheryEducationResources.com) but I don’t have that done yet. One good source of such ideas is the Texas State Archery Association website, specifically: www.texasarchery.org/Documents/funshoot/funshootideas.htm 

Here are a couple of their ideas (one good, the other bad):

Speed Shoot
Last shoot of the day it’s good to do a Speed Shoot.
How many arrows as you can shoot in 30 seconds? Four carefully aimed vs. seven random shots is usually close. Note I would add to this that “if you completely miss your target, you are done” to discourage silliness or deliberate outrageous behavior.

William Tell
Get a cheap foam wig stand and put an apple on it’s head. Small crab apples for Compounds, Big Cookers for kids. First to shoot apple wins. If you get a head shot – you’re out. Note This is a truly horrible idea that could lead to kids putting apples on their little sister’s heads, etc. I do not recommend this.

I gave you two examples, so that you could see that, whatever the sources (and the TSAA is a really good one), you must discriminate the good from the bad.

Another source is the book “Archery (Backyard Games)” by Steven Boga. If you look, you will find quite a few things to do.

Of course, I would be remiss to not mention Archery Focus magazine as a good source of such ideas (I know, I know, I am the Editor; that doesn’t make it wrong!). I suggest:
“JOAD Games” by Jim Coombe (in Vol 10, No 6)
“Want to Play a Game?” by Tim Scronce (in Vol 10, No 4)
“Some Archery Games” by Cécile Lafaurie (in Vol 7, No 4)

One of my favorites is a bit on the dangerous side, but if you have the space, you can do it safely. I have even done it in an adaptive PE class, and that is:

Flight Shooting
See how far you can shoot an arrow.

Note Obviously you need to test your bows and arrows to see how far they will shoot at the maximum. Also obviously, you need a really secure field (really, really) to do this in. You can have contests for the farthest arrow. You can have a contest for “closest to the flag/stick” where you put a stick or a stick with a flag on it at some distance reachable by all (this is called “wand shooting” and has a long history). I have never found any student young or old who didn’t enjoy this.

There are many more possibilities: team competitions; have them shoot arrows until they hit the gold and then run around the field and then shoot again until they hit the gold . . . for time (a mini-biathlon); etc.

Make a list of all of the activities you find, test, and approve and keep them handy in a notebook, because my experience is that no matter how much you prepare, there will be days in which your class whips through what you prepared and you have half of your class left with nothing planned.

Again, I would appreciate all you coaches out there chiming in with your favorites. I will give you credit when I put together the list, so add your name and home city/state with your comment.

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