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My son has gone to several summer camps where archery was one of the special once-a-week activities (YMCA and similar type day camps). He enjoyed it. He seemed to have learned the basics of technique and safety in those camps.

Half a year ago we bought him an archery set and a separate, big padded target. Here's what the bow looks like:

archery set

He enjoys practicing in our yard and has been using it with good safety consciousness. He has never had the fantasy of bow hunting -- perhaps because we don't know anyone who does this, perhaps because of the context in which he learned to do archery.

We live in the suburbs of a college town. There are some bow hunting enthusiasts in our area, but we don't happen to be personally acquainted with any.

Recently I was chatting with the mechanic who keeps my ancient Toyotas going. He lives waay out in the country, and he said my son should be attending archery classes, which are held at sporting and hunting stores. I would just as soon avoid those places, because my son does have fantasies of going deer hunting with firearms, but I am uncomfortable with firearms (for personal reasons that I won't get into here), and I'm afraid going to such a store on a weekly basis would inflame his interest in deer hunting and it would become an obsession. (He has OCD.)

Another thing is that, although my son hasn't stopped to think about this yet, the truth is that he would find the blood and the death of the deer EXTREMELY distressing. (He has heightened reactions to blood, and death, due to his OCD.)

Can we continue the way we've been doing, or do we really need to take him to archery classes?

  • I don't know anything about archery, but I was with friends with someone who took archery classes and attended one. It was a safe environment with multiple wooden bullseye targets. So, archery classes would help him safely while educating him beyond the classes your YMCA offers. – user527 Sep 28 '15 at 15:10
  • That said, I'm not sure your concern lies with the archery classes themselves or the thought of your son getting involved with bow hunting, deer hunting with firearms, and seeing dead deer. – user527 Sep 28 '15 at 15:11
  • @edmastermind29 - Can you help me with an answer to the question Can we continue the way we've been doing? If he enjoys shooting at the large bull's eye target, can we just continue with that status quo? Or do we really need to do the classes for some reason (if so, what??)? Thanks in advance. – aparente001 Sep 29 '15 at 4:18
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    If your son is enjoying with what he is currently doing, then keep doing what you're doing. One possible con in taking lessons is that it may take the fun away. Several professional golfers have never had a golf lesson, but they're doing fine. I hope this helps in some way, but I'm nowhere near a definitive source for your specific question. – user527 Sep 29 '15 at 13:30
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    @mastermind_ed - Would you mind putting your "if your son is enjoying" contribution in an answer so I can accept it? – aparente001 Nov 7 '15 at 1:52
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Your son doesn't need archery classes. But you need to read up on safety guidelines and share these with you son. This becomes more of an issue if your son has friends practicing with him - it is pretty hard for someone to get hurt alone while practicing archery (or hurt badly).

As far as the YMCA classes... I would ask for thorough proof that the person giving the class has serious knowledge of archery. Most YMCA classes consist of them hiring a teenager and the teenager going over their class "sheet". There is just as good of a chance that your son will get worse habits rather than better habits while going through a generic Y class. I would either pay extra for a pro - who may make you son a lot better (while preaching correct safety) or do nothing. And this pro will probably give your son more tips in 20 mins than a Y kid in 20 lessons - and this extra knowledge will make your son happy. I would start with your local ranges and ask if they know of any pros/experienced shooters that offer classes.

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You have more choices than you think. There are many who participate in competitive archery, for example, and don't have any interest in hunting. You can probably find clubs and/or classes in your area, and eventually competitions.

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    Agreed. Courses not run by hunting stores are probably available, and probably the best bet. – TRiG Nov 15 '15 at 4:19
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I was with friends with someone who took archery classes and accepted an invitation to attend one. It was a safe environment (ie, safety was actively practiced and emphasized) with multiple wooden bullseye targets. From what I observed with my friend, archery classes would help your son safely while educating him beyond the classes your YMCA offers.

On a more general note, if your son is enjoying what he is currently doing, then keep doing what you're doing. One possible con in taking lessons is that it may take the fun away. For example, several professional golfers have never had a golf lesson, but they're doing fine.

Note: I don't know anything about archery. I hope this helps in some way, but I'm nowhere near a definitive source for your specific question.

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  • Thanks for writing an answer, but -- hmm. Your last paragraph makes me think maybe a bounty is needed for this question. Care to set one for me? My rep on this site is a bit skimpy for bounty setting. – aparente001 Nov 7 '15 at 2:39
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    I would have been glad to provide a bounty from the beginning...but because I provided this answer at your request (which is a regurgitation of everything I stated in comments...explicitly), the least I can provide as a bounty is 100 rep. The rep isn't the issue, but I have helped others in the past using 50 rep, and I don't want to reset or contradict this standard. – user527 Nov 9 '15 at 17:55
  • What you said about 50, 100, and so on, is a bit complicated for me! I suggested a bounty because of your last paragraph. I'm hoping to hear from some folks who are knowledgeable about archery (and youth). – aparente001 Nov 9 '15 at 18:17

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