Monday, January 18, 2016
My Daughter the Archer
Years ago, my dad showed me how much fun shooting a long bow could be. Some of my favorite memories of early archery are of him stringing my bow and allowing my brother and I to fling arrows at straw bales. My daughter has shown a keen interest for a couple years. She had her little suction cup bow that she outgrew rather quickly and I knew it was time she graduated to a real bow. For Christmas, I got her a new recurve bow and arrow set that I knew she could use for many years. She couldn't wait to shoot it, but with busy weekends and school, the earliest we could do it was this weekend. It was go time.
Before she could begin shooting, I needed to go through the new rules associated with a real bow. As with any seven year-old, staying focused when you are that excited is difficult at best. To make it fun, I asked her if she would like to make her own target. An immediate, 'Yes! With a heart in the center!' was the response I got. So, out came a large piece of cardboard and a Sharpie. I drew the circle and allowed her to make whatever center she wanted. The heart was perfect.
As a dad, I urge caution to all the other dads out there when teaching your children. Be patient. I have learned the hard way in the past and after listening to my wife, seeing the disappointment on my daughters face, and reviewing my 'teaching' methods, I made some adjustments. As this was going to be new for her, I wanted her to have fun. The only thing I was strict about was safety. Other than that, I wanted her to shoot at the target, have fun, and have fun. Yes, I repeated myself, but it's true. The reason I bought her the bow was to be able to shoot with me and have fun. The best part - I was patient.
The arm guard was adjusted to her forearm, and the leather finger protector was placed on her right hand. It was overly large for her hands, but I wanted her to get a feel for it. Then, instead of telling her to draw, aim, open fingers...I simply helped her draw the bow and shoot. We repeated this five or six times before her independence took over. I was proud to see her wanting to do it herself. Did the first dozen arrows hit the 'heart' where she wanted? No. To be honest, I didn't care and neither did she. I saw the smile, heard the laugh, and saw the look of accomplishment in her eyes. Success! She was having fun and so was I.
She set the bow down for a couple hours and wanted to play. Later that afternoon, I picked it up and began shooting. Almost immediately she wanted back in the game. Like her dad, she wanted nothing to do with the finger protector. She wanted to shoot with her fingers. After two or three shots with me guiding her, she took over. The best part of the entire outing can be summed up in this nine-second video.
The best part was when she looked into my eyes and said, 'Now I'm an archer!' I could not stop smiling and right back to her said, "You are darn right you are! Great job, Munchkin!" I have a feeling we will be shooting a lot this year.