Kids get first taste of archery at Willow River Rod and Gun Club
Interest of parents with young families was the impetus behind a new program offered at the Willow River Rod and Gun Club over the winter.
Twenty kids between the ages of two and 10 learned the basics of archery through the kids instructional archery league.
The idea sprouted during the December Rod and Gun Club meeting. Club members Matt Ostertage and Dan Munson inquired about the club hosting something instructional for kids interested in archery.
"Matt and Dan both have young families and a passion for all things archery," said Rod and Gun Club president Brian Headlee. "They both do a fantastic job at making archery a family affair and decided to use their talents and expand their family."
Headlee said one of the cores of the club's mission statement is to involve youth activities. The idea was embraced and other members got involved as dates for the classes were set.
Class sizes ranged from four to 12 kids, with 20 different kids participating during the winter. Ages of the kids ranged from 2 to 10 years old. The class sizes were kept at this manageable size. This made sure there was equipment available for all the kids and they had lanes to shoot without any waiting.
Headlee said non-members were allowed to enter their kids in the course and approximately 50 percent of the kids were children of non-members.
"I think the majority of non-members that participated will become members and shoot in the summer league," Headlee said. "They wanted to see if archery was a sport their kids would like to try."
The kids showed enthusiasm for their new sport and that led to quick progress.
"We were able to take kids who had never drawn a bow before and have them hitting the paper target from six yards within three rounds," Headlee said. "By the end of the league, accuracy had improved quite a bit and the kids moved back to hitting targets consistently from 10 yards."
The instructors helped the youngest students get started. The instructors would draw back the bow, then led the kids set their aim and pull the trigger on the release.
The goal of introducing archery to new people even reached the parents, with several moms trying the sport for the first time.
Headlee said the instructors would like to keep the same class size for future classes. He said as these kids grow, the club could incorporate a youth league and purchase more youth equipment.
Headlee said the class would not have been possible if not for the efforts of Ostertage and Munson and the parents who helped out on a nightly basis.