Eye on Extension: Archery puts kids on target for success

VALLEY — A young person straddles the shooting line, nocks an arrow with care, and adjusts their grip on the bow and bowstring. They then raise and extend the bow, focusing on the target. Next they’ll draw and anchor the bowstring. Then they’ll take aim, release the bowstring in a smooth motion, and follow through on their shot. Finally they relax and analyze their results.

Once a youth finishes with one arrow, they make adjustments for their next shot. This whole process, of shooting one arrow with care, can take 2 minutes or more from start to finish. Throughout the act, youth need to balance concentration with relaxation. It takes intense focus.

The time put into each shot in practice and competition helps build consistency. The payoff of seeing improvement in accuracy or precision, or of hitting a bullseye, can be incredibly rewarding for those involved.

Archery has been offered as a 4-H project for over 25 years. It’s one of the most popular projects in the state, with participants in nearly every county. That’s because archery is fun, and with proper coaching and safety, youth can see success and progress quickly.

In 4-H we approach archery through a youth development lens. Our coaches are trained to teach marksmanship and safety, while also teaching ethics, teamwork, goal setting, problem solving and many other life skills. Studies of 4-H archery participants show they build confidence, focus, self-esteem and resiliency through their participation in the program. In short, participating in archery can really put kids on target for success.

Archery might be a good fit for your child or family. It’s a sport that’s open to people of all ages and ability levels, and it’s great for strengthening family relationships. Plus it’s a relatively affordable sport, as kids can start with an inexpensive starter bow, and then work their way up from there. It’s also convenient, since there are a number of indoor and outdoor archery ranges, as well as knowledgeable outfitters, in the area.

We’re currently recruiting new adult volunteers to serve as 4-H archery instructors in the San Luis Valley. Do you enjoy archery and want to share your enthusiasm with local youth? Contact us to learn about upcoming 4-H shooting sports leader trainings. These three-day trainings provide the foundations for any adult to provide safe and fun archery instruction, grounded in positive youth development. Email [email protected] or call 719-852-7381 to learn more.

Amy Henschen is the 4-H Youth Development Agent for Colorado State University Extension. To find out more about Extension and the 4-H program visit http://sanluisvalley.colostate.edu or call 719-852-7381. Extension programs are available to all without discrimination.