With a pair of four-year olds at home, I tend to pay much closer attention to youth archery gear than I ever have in the past. Just how manufacturers are catering to the junior crowd was on my mind earlier this month as I took in the Archery Trade Association Show in Louisville.
While some of the fervor over Hollywood's fleeting romance with archery has died down, the youth movement hasn't. In fact, it seems that we are brining youngsters into the archery fold more now than ever. That is a good thing.
What's even better about this movement is that we are seeing honest innovation in the products meant for our kids, not just rebranded, and resized adult products. This means that not only do we have more options for youngsters, we've also got much higher quality equipment to choose from.
Following are eight products that are perfect for youth archery.
Carbomask | Camo Face Paint
Carbomask isn't really a youth archery product. At least I hope not, because I use it every time I hunt. It is the best face paint on the market and they now offer a new color - Huntress Pink. The reason I've included Carbomask in this article is simply because of how much my little girls love the process of helping me put my face paint on.
And now, they've got a color they want to wear every single time we go into the woods for any reason. Carbomask isn't oil based, so it spreads well, dries quickly, and cleans off easily.
For years I wore facemasks, or used oil-based face paint, and for years I hated both options. Now, I keep tubes of Carbomask in my truck and my pack. Problem solved. Of all of the new products I tried out last fall, this is easily my favorite.
Morrell Targets | Youth Deluxe GX Field Point Target
The NASP has introduced a ton of kids to youth archery, and plenty of those kids have picked up their own bows and started shooting at home. This is where Morrell's new Youth Deluxe target comes into play.
It is designed for bows under 40 pounds of draw weight, is 100-percent weatherproof, and features a full 80-centimeter target on the front side (four bulls-eyes on the back side). This is an excellent target for fostering a beginner's shooting confidence.
3D Shooters | 3-Target Value Pack
Kids get bored quickly, and quite frankly, so do a lot of adults. If you've got a touch of ADD, or have a few kids looking to have some more fun at the range, look no further than the 3-Target Value Pack from 3D Shooters. Take aim at a bunny, a muskrat, or a prairie dog with this value pack that retails for only $100.
Constructed of high-density foam, these targets are designed to withstand arrows shot from bows up to 70 pounds. I honestly can't think of a better deal on targets that are more perfect for youth archery.
Diamond Archery | Prism
Any kid that shows a serious interest in flinging arrows would be ecstatic to own a Prism from Diamond Archery. These bows are highly adjustable in both draw length (18-30 inches) and draw weight (five-55 pounds). They tip the scales at only 3.2 pounds, measure 31 inches between axles, and are offered in finishes ranging from Mossy Oak camo to green, orange, purple and blue.
For $349, you get the bow of your choice, and all of the accessories necessary to be shooting tight groups right out of the box. Better yet, these bows are the perfect option to begin on backyard targets and end on game animals in the field.
Tru-Fire | Spark Relase
A smaller strap design, which accommodates wrists measuring as little as 4.5 inches in circumference, make the Spark a great choice for young shooters. It also features adjustable trigger travel, a five-ounce trigger break, and Tru-Fire's patented Foldback ring design that allows users the option to stash away the release head when not shooting.
Further adjustment is available with release head (3/8-inch) and one of my personal favorite aspects of this release is that it is made right here in the U.S.A.
Rage | SS-85
The new Rage SS-85 is designed for two factions of bowhunters - speed freaks and those shooting low poundage bows. If chronograph readings are so important to you that knocking head weight down is a necessity, maybe it's time to pick up golf or perhaps badminton.
The other faction can make good use of these heads, which feature .035-inch thick blades, a 1.5-inch cutting diameter, and in-flight diameter of .75 inches. I firmly believe that turkeys are the ideal starter animal (after squirrels and bunnies) for youth archery and the Rage SS-85 is ideal for birds ranging from puny Jakes to boss toms.
Buck Wear | Animal Hoodies
If you've got a future hunter in the family that can barely walk or still puts dangerous things in his mouth on a regular basis, you've got check out the Buck Wear Animal Hoodies.
Nothing screams living the lifestyle like putting a Deer Face or Bear Face Hoodie on your little boy or girl. The garments are made from 80-percent cotton and 20-percent polyester, and are both comfortable and warm. Animal Hoodies are available in 2T, 3T and 4T sizes.
LaCrosse | Lil' Alpha Lite
One of the things I've noticed about the footwear designed for youth archery is that a lot of it sucks. My little girls and I have a pretty serious frog-catching thing going on from spring through summer, and I've bought them several pairs of knee-highs. Most don't fit very well at all, and that is a deal-breaker after about five minutes of stumbling around.
Thankfully, LaCrosse has addressed this market with their new Lil' Alpha Lite boots, which are designed just like the adult versions. This makes me happy, because I wear LaCrosse boots a lot when hunting, scouting, and hanging stands and they are my favorite.
Lil' Alphas are are designed for support and durability, are easy to put on and take off, and feature serious outsoles for better overall traction. They are available in black, Realtree camo, and my girls' favorite - purple.
Drake's Adventures | Trick or Treat
It's no secret that our kids have plenty of distractions that keep them from spending time in the outdoors. Whether it's television, video games or school friends that don't understand hunting, fishing or fresh air. But, what if there were a way to introduce the great outdoors to young children in a manner that was captivating, and encouraged them to spend time chasing God's elusive creatures?
Thanks to Drake's Adventures, there is.
Drake's Adventures is a series of interactive books authored by Keith Beam, and illustrated by outstanding artist Steve Karras. This book series depicts what the child can, and hopefully will, experience during a hunting trip. The first book in the Drake's Adventures series is entitled Spring Thunder. This well illustrated volume allows the reader to join the lead character, whose name is Drake, on his very first turkey hunt — but that's not all.
All through Drake's hunt the reader can experience the real sounds of a turkey hunting adventure. From a owl hoot, box call, friction call, purr, gobble, etc., at the press of a button the story comes to life.
The second book in the series is entitled Trick of Treat. In this volume, Drake and his father get serious about deer tactics. On Halloween Drake and his father set up the deer decoys and make some serious "rut magic" happen. "Feel the hair rise as a smaller buck turns tail and bounds away, just to have the best buck on their farm come in with his hair bristled and ready for battle."
It's this kind of story that will encourage the next generation to go afield. And unlike a pair of boots or new bow, Drake's Adventures can't be worn or shot, but it's a product that's guaranteed to help recruit another young hunter.