Archery is an individual sport, but it’s easily shared with loved ones. Parents and children can even practice side by side while competing separately. And if parents don’t shoot archery, they can still bond with their kids by encouraging their passion for the sport, and cheering them on at tournaments.
Scholastic 3D Archery is a program that promotes conservation and helps youngsters compete in tournaments across the country to hone their skills and possibly earn scholarships. We talked with some of the young archers and their parents at the Texas S3DA championship to hear their thoughts on S3DA, how it brought them together as families, and how it introduced them to their growing archery family.
Michael Rey said his son Tripp took up the sport because his uncle shoots for Leading Edge Archery in Boerne, Texas, where the championships were held. Tripp practiced with his uncle in the backyard, and eventually reached the tournament circuit. He began in late fall with the Junior Olympic Archery Development program at Leading Edge, which led the Reys to the S3DA organization.
After that initial spark, Tripp grew interested in archery’s mental games, and the challenge of perfecting the shot. “I think he liked the repetitive nature of it, and its competitive version,” Rey said. “It was both the athleticism and the accuracy.”
Parents can practice mental focus with their kids, even if they don’t shoot archery. Everyone needs to use mental focus daily, not just during practice.
Rey advises families to get started in archery through a local shop, just like they did. “We were here as a family with everybody last night,” Rey said. “We ended up hanging out and relaxing. It was a great Friday evening event.”
Natasha Leininger shoots for Leading Edge Archery in the high school division, and enjoys practicing with her sisters. “It’s something we share in common,” she said. “We can have fun and talk about it at home.”
She also said S3DA opened many other doors. “It’s been great to connect with a bunch of other archers who might share the same passion,” Leininger said. When parents and their kids attend tournaments together, the youths meet archers their own age, and the parents connect and sometimes share tips.
Leininger advises fellow archers to find a shop where they can practice, and go from there. “Find a team, find a JOAD program, and get involved,” she said. “Shoot as much as you can, and fall in love with it.”
Among her many other achievements, this year’s S3DA championship was Leininger’s third such feat. Her day ended in even more excitement by signing a letter of intent with Liberty University for an archery scholarship. Ben Summers, Liberty’s archery coach and chair of the Archery Trade Association’s Board of Directors, called to congratulate the team’s newest member.
Noah Hughs, 11, has been shooting archery for three years. His interest began with a birthday bow from a friend, and he’s been working to improve ever since. Noah and his parents plan to practice together more often. “When I run out of tournaments, they’re going to start shooting with me for a little bit,” Noah said.
His dad might have no other choice. “He has all of my equipment,” said Keith Hughs, Noah’s father. “It’s a good way to unwind and have some family-friendly competition. He’s pretty competitive, so it’s fun to shoot with him. He’ll give me tips on what I’m doing wrong.”
Noah tells aspiring archers it’s OK if it takes time to improve. “You might not be good right off the bat, but if you psych yourself up, you’ll eventually get there,” he said.
Brooke Sears, 14, started shooting three years ago after being inspired by comic-book heroes. “My favorite superhero was the Green Arrow,” Brooke said. “I saw him shoot a bow, and I was like, ‘Wow, that seems really cool and fun.’”
That intrigue led her all the way to a state championship. She enjoys shooting for S3DA because it showcase her archery skills while making friends. “It’s a great opportunity to show everyone what you are, and the community is really supportive,” Brooke said.
Brooke’s father shoots 3D archery, and they practice together in their yard. “Sometimes we’ll have little competitions for candy,” Brooke said. She’s also interested in bowhunting, and hopes to try it this fall. She’s most looking forward to spending time with her dad and possibly “shooting a big one.”
Brooke said aspiring archers should know the archery community has their back. “It’s a really nice opportunity to meet friends, and the community is very supportive,” Brooke said. “Everyone is really nice and kind, and everybody will be there to help you get started.”
And because archery is a sport all ages enjoy, children can practice at their own pace with their parents beside them as they grow comfortable with it. Practicing with a parent who knows the sport can help kids quickly master the basics while keeping a sense of independence. Parents and children do not compete against each other in SD3A tournaments, so parents can cheer on their child while practicing with them. And if parents don’t shoot archery, it’s an opportunity for youths to teach them while practicing leadership skills.
Interested in trying archery? Visit an archery shop to get started.