PSE’s Jared Bloomgren on How to get youth into Archery/Bowhunting.
By Jared Bloomgren
Getting a youth started in archery and/or bowhunting is something that I take to heart. It is up to us that love this sport today to help keep it going into the future. They are the ones that hold the key to archery and bowhunting’s future. I cherish getting the opportunity to teach youngsters and novices alike more about our sport that I am addicted to!
For a part time job I work as an Archery Expert at a local sporting goods store and I am in a unique position that lets me help others get into the sport of archery and bowhunting. I help all ages alike, novices and veterans with everything that they are looking for insight on. I very much enjoy helping all that I can with everything that is in me. I especially like to help youngsters get acquainted with their newfound love for archery!
I take a very subtle approach with a child just getting into archery. I do not want to overwhelm them and scare them or make them any more nervous than they already are. I like to introduce myself and explain my job to them just before asking them what they know about archery and bow and arrows. I get some pretty interesting responses at times! Other times it is amazing what some kids know about archery. Some children have parents that are into archery and they know quite a little, some kids do not have that type of influence in their life and they are looking for someone to guide and teach them, and some have talked their parents into letting them try it. At any rate I like each situation about the same!
Take my children for example. My almost 3-year-old daughter Emmalynn has her first bow that I started her on almost a year ago. I didn’t have to try to get here into archery. She simply wanted to because I was doing it. I bought her a small bow and she likes to shoot it when I am shooting mine. Sure her attention span is very short and may only shoot a couple of arrows at a time but it is great each and every time regardless! I let her decide when and how much she wants to shoot. That way she can determine what she gets out of it. If you push archery and any other sport onto a child you chance the unthinkable of happening…they lose the drive, their want, or any interest in wanting anything to do with it. Don’t chance it! Take a slow approach at it and take your time with them. Allow them to choose how involved they are at first. Trust me, they will want to shoot more as time goes on and as comfort levels grow!
This last spring I was able to take my daughter spring turkey hunting. I remember the first time out and I worried it would be too much for her. I picked her up her favorite meal, a McDonalds Cheeseburger Happy Meal with chocolate milk! This helped break up the long sits as she would enjoy her meal when we got to a point where she was able to eat it. Sometimes it was when I was setting up the blind and decoys or when we were sitting in the blind or even when walking into our set up with her and the blind on my back as ketchup dripped down my neck! All very unforgettable! I wasn’t concerned about killing a gobbler, I was more concerned about teaching her a few things about hunting. I will also never forget the walk on our way out of our first evening hunt. Emmalynn was struggling to keep up with my slow pace as she decided she wanted to walk. No complaints from me as it lessened my load! She picked nearly every dandelion along the way and blew them at me and laughed with excitement each time! Priceless! Suddenly she seemed very concerned as she grabbed my pant leg and I thought, “She has had too much and she is gonna say she wants to go home.” Instead she looked at me with her beautiful big blue eyes and said, “Daddy, can I come back huntin with you again someday?!” I instantly felt week knees and emotions overcome me. “How bout tomorrow Daddy?!” I very unforgettable moment! I felt like I had taken the biggest trophy of a lifetime! I felt very successful in my raising of my child!
I felt extreme success on that day unlike any hunt I have ever been on. I knew right then what my father meant about hunting with his boys. I felt a connection like never before and I was overwhelmed beyond recognition! Emmalynn and I were able to get our first gobbler together a couple of weeks later and that was just icing on our cake!!!
Jared “J-Rod” Bloomgren is a hardcore Do-It-Yourself bowhunter who strives to better himself each year in the outdoor community. As a professional hunter, freelance writer and photographer, he likes to relive his outdoor adventures through written expression and photography making the reader feel as if they were along on the hunt. He attributes much of his success to the vital education he has learned from the various big game animals that he hunts. He is quoted as saying, “In each and every hunt, success or defeat, I learn something from every outing and that I can put in my arsenal of knowledge to use at a later date, a later date that will again put my wits against that of my prey.”