2020 has been tough for many people. School and work went online, and social and sporting events were canceled. Social circles shrank. With little outside interaction, life can be lonely. One bright spot is the increased time families spend together. Families are getting outside more than ever to hike, bike, camp, and try anything else that delivers safe fun.
Archery is an excellent activity for the entire family. You can shoot in the backyard or nearby range. It’s one of the safest sports and can be enjoyed indoors, too. Archery is also great exercise with many mental benefits. To further increase the fun, your family can play several games while competing and sharpening your skills. Consider some options the next time you grab your gear.
Popping balloons is a simple and surprisingly awesome way to spend time with your bow. Younger kids especially enjoy the gratifying “pop” of hitting their targets. You can enjoy this game a bunch of ways. You can blow up the balloons with air, or fill them with flour, paint, glitter or colored water. Then tape or pin the balloons to a target face.
Some archers play the game as a time trial, with archers taking turns at the line. A person with a stopwatch says “Go!” and times how long it takes to pop all the balloons. The fastest archer wins. You can also start all archers at the same time, and the first to pop all the balloons wins. This game helps archers learn to aim and shoot under pressure. It’s also a great way to get younger kids into archery.
Shoot the Fruit
The next time you clean out your fridge, don’t toss old fruit into the compost or garbage. Take it to the archery range, and turn it into a friendly competition. Line up or hang fruits of different shapes and sizes from melons to kiwis. It’s fun to challenge yourself with options. Assign point values to each fruit. The larger the fruit, the lower the points. Hold a shoot-off with the family.
Test your long-distance shooting skills to see who earns the “Robin Hood” title. Start from a short distance, like 10 yards. Each archer takes turns shooting at the bull’s-eye, and a miss means elimination. Archers who make the shot move on. Move away from the target in 5- to 10-yard increments. The last archer to hit the target at the farthest distance wins. This is an excellent way to boost long-distance shooting skills under pressure.
P-I-G or H-O-R-S-E
This is a popular game on the basketball court, but it’s also fun on the range. You’ll need a target with rings or places to aim. The first archer shoots at a specific area on the target from a chosen distance and position (sitting, kneeling, etc.). The next shooter must make the exact shot from the same distance/position. Each miss “earns” a letter. The next archer in line then picks a distance and spot on the target. The first archer to complete the word loses.
Try this take on bowling by using your bow instead of a bowling ball. Stack six solo cups in a pyramid. Make sure it’s in front of a target to catch your arrows. The player steps up to the line, and slings an arrow to knock down as many cups as possible. You can play this a couple of ways. As in bowling, each player takes two shots, and receives a point for each cup still standing. Go 10 rounds. At the end, the archer with the fewest points wins. If you want a quicker game, each archer shoots until all cups are down, and the archer shooting the fewest arrows wins.
This game is best for adults and older children who know what makes a good poker hand. Grab a card deck that you won’t mind shooting full of holes. Tape or use target pins to post the cards to a target. Take turns shooting individual cards. No one can shoot cards already hit. If they do, it’s a miss. After five rounds, archers collect their poker hand. The player with the best hand wins.
This game is fun for all ages. Post pairs of cards to the target, arranging them randomly. Archers take turns shooting. Each card that’s hit belongs to that archer. The second arrow to hit a card doesn’t count. Once all cards are spoken for, total the score after awarding archers a point for each pair of cards. The highest score wins.
This is another family favorite. Make your own targets by drawing a tic-tac-toe board. Instead of X’s and O’s, this game uses two sets of arrows from two archers. Take turns shooting at the squares. The first archer to get three arrows in a row vertically, diagonally or horizontally wins.
These fun games for your family are just the start. Plenty more are out there. If you need targets or ideas on how to set up a backyard range, visit an archery shop. Many shops have a range or information about nearby ranges.