Over the past several years, Youth Archery has seen tremendous growth, with aspects of the sport appealing to Introverted and Extroverted Kids. The most significant barrier to entry isn’t an issue of skill but the difficulty of knowing where to begin.

In this article, we aim to cover Youth Archery Basics and answer many of the common questions you may have as an Archery Parent. When you finish reading, you’ll know what to expect when your child flings their first arrow and how to help them progress in the lifelong sport of archery.

Youth Archery Basics

Youth Archery Basics: Experience Archery

Many kids experience archery for the first time in Middle School as part of NASP (National Archery in the Schools). The program is woven into the physical education curriculum, allowing kids to learn the basics of archery in a safe and structured environment.

Some schools take archery to the next level and promote after-school clubs and teams. These programs dive deeper and focus on improving fundamentals beyond surface-level exposure to the sport.

Outside the school system, kids may get their first exposure to archery in a scouts program. The Boy Scouts of America and the Girls Scouts of the USA often include archery instruction as part of their program.

Youth Archery Basics: Free Classes

One of the most rewarding aspects of being a member of an Archery Club is seeing a club give back to the community. Here in Southeast Pennsylvania, several clubs host free archery clinics for kids within the community. The club aims to promote the sport by exposing kids to archery and providing all necessary equipment and instruction to make it accessible regardless of income level.

While these group classes are free, the hosting club incurs the costs to purchase and maintain the equipment. While donations are not required, they are appreciated. If you can spare a couple of dollars, please consider donating at the end of class.

If you are interested in your child attending a Free Youth Archery Class, we recommend contacting clubs in your area to see what is available. Not all classes are free, as they require a lot of resources and volunteers to operate.

Youth Archery Basics: Low-Cost Classes

Hosting a Youth Archery Class is an expensive endeavor for an Archery Club or Community Organization. Equipment, maintenance, certifications, and range rentals can quickly add up to several thousand dollars. To offset this cost, many Archery Clubs and Community Organizations charge a small fee to attend.

Here in Southeast Pennsylvania, these fees range from $10 to $25 per session. Sessions are held in groups and typically last an hour. Instructors will have all the necessary state and federal background checks to work with children. Additionally, they will often hold an Archery Coaching Certification from USA Archery.

We recommend using the USA Archery Coach Locator to find a Low-Cost Youth Archery Program in your area. In our experience, Level 1 Coaches often volunteer at Archery Clubs and Community Organizations offering Youth Archery Classes. They may be able to point you toward a class that meets your child’s needs.

Youth Archery Basics: Formal Instruction

After your child has their first experience with Archery, they may want to become more involved in the sport. There are a variety of options to choose from for more formal training. These range from competition teams at your local archery club to time spent with a private coach. Before you determine which path to take, it is important to take a little time and reflect on your child’s interests.

Does your child enjoy one form of archery over another? For example, would they rather shoot 3D Archery or Target Archery? If they enjoy shooting at foam animals, exploring S3DA may be the best option for them. JOAD may be a more suitable option if they prefer bullseye target shooting. If they enjoy a variety of shooting styles, a local Club Class or Youth Archery Team might be best for them.

Regardless of their preference, this is a great time to explore the finer points of archery through formal training.

Club Teams

When a local archery club hosts a Youth Class, they sometimes take it further and build a Youth Archery Team. Students who show an aptitude for the sport may be approached about joining a competitive team where they will receive coaching and attend tournaments together. Archers are typically required to provide their own equipment as teams are geared toward youth archers who are invested in the sport and determined to improve their skills.

If a Club Team sounds like something your child may be interested in, contact archery clubs in your area and see what they offer. Ask about any associated fees and their shooting style (Target, 3D, or Both).


NASP (National Archery in the Schools Program) was established in 2001. Over more than twenty years, the program has seen massive success, with more than nine thousand schools participating across the United States. NASP prides itself on being a different kind of team sport that doesn’t discriminate based on popularity, athletic skill, gender, size, or academic ability.


S3DA (Scholastic 3D Archery) is a Youth Archery Program that serves as the next step for students exposed to archery in the NSAP Program. While a portion of the program includes Target Archery, the focus of the program is 3D Archery with safe and ethical bowhunting practices.

Since the inception of S3DA in 2012, it has gained significant success with programs spread across the United States. Local, State, and National Tournaments occur throughout the year, allowing archers to compete in a family-friendly environment.


JOAD (Junior Olympic Archery Development) is a USA Archery program designed to teach kids how to enjoy archery – be it recreational shooting or formal competition. Thanks to the program’s massive success, it has been used as a talent pool for Collegiate Archery and Team USA in the Olympics.

JOAD Clubs are available throughout the United States, one of the most notable being held at Lancaster Archery Supply in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Youth Archery Basics: Equipment

Purchasing Archery Equipment for Kids can be tricky. As a child grows, their physical strength and size will determine which equipment is necessary. It is very possible that what you purchase now will be outgrown in as little as one to two years. To simplify your options, we’ve created three recommendation groups.

  • Young Children: Ages 5 to 8
  • Children: Ages 8 to 12
  • Teens: Ages 13 to 18

Archery Equipment for Young Children

A common question among parents is: When should a child begin shooting a bow? This question is difficult to answer because maturity tends to be a deciding factor. Safety is the most important aspect of teaching a child to shoot a bow, and they must be able to focus and not place themselves in a dangerous situation.

If a child is old enough to understand and follow basic range commands, they are likely old enough for archery. What we consider to be the youngest age group for Youth Archery is between 5 and 8 years old. Unfortunately, this is the most challenging age for purchasing equipment due to physical limitations.

Youth Bows for Young Children

Compound Youth Bows are a great option for young children because they offer a mechanical advantage and provide adjustability. A Youth Compound Bow can be adjusted for draw weight and draw length. They can also be equipped with a sight.

Several options are available, but we feel a Genesis Mini is the best choice for a young archer new to the sport. The Genesis Mini features a dynamic draw length of 14 to 25 inches with a 0% let-off cam system. This means the string can be pulled back to any length within its range, and the draw weight will remain the same. The draw weight is adjustable between 6 to 12 pounds.

Another excellent feature of the Genesis Mini is its low mass weight of 2 pounds. This means small children with limited strength can comfortably hold the bow at full draw. The Genesis Mini is available in various colors on Amazon as a left or right-handed bow.

Youth Arrows for Young Children

As a young archery learns to shoot a bow, arrows will inevitably miss the target. They may bounce off a concrete floor, hit a rock, or even be stepped on. For this reason, using a durable arrow is essential. The toughest arrows on the market are fiberglass safety arrows – they can take substantial abuse and remain shootable for years.

Fiberglass safety arrows come with a blunted point. This prevents injury if your child accidentally pokes themselves, but it may pose problems with targets. Blunted arrows will easily penetrate hay bails and foam targets designed for low-poundage bows. However, they will not penetrate woven bag-style targets and will bounce off of 3D targets.

Depending on your child’s shooting, they may be better suited with a standard Carbon or Aluminum arrow with a field point. These are great choices for young archers if taught proper arrow handling. We recommend the Easton Genesis V2 Arrows or Carbon Express Predator II 2040.

Youth Archery Accessories for Young Children

In my experience teaching kids about Archery, I have found that it is best to keep it as simple as possible when they are young. For this reason, we don’t recommend Archery Accessories outside of a simple hip quiver. Boys tend to gravitate towards back quivers because they look cool but aren’t practical when shooting with others on a line. Pulling an arrow up and over their heads can be dangerous to those on either side.

We recommend the Easton Range Lite Hip Quiver. A specialty belt isn’t required – an inexpensive Walmart belt will suffice.

Archery Equipment for Children

When a child reaches the age of between 8 and 12, their physical strength and size become less of a restriction. This opens up the opportunity to use bows with more features and variable draw length and weight. While more costly than a Genesis Mini or Genesis Original, these bows can be utilized for years and grow with your child.

Youth Bows

When a child is introduced to Archery at a young age, they often learn on the Genesis Mini. This is a fantastic bow for young children, and the natural progression is to step up to a Genesis Original or Genesis Gen-X. While both bows are a solid choice for a Youth Archer, we feel better options are available (unless they are shooting NASP Tournaments).

Youth Bows with adjustable draw lengths and higher adjustable draw weights make for a bow that can be used longer and grow with your child. This bow style also allows for mechanical arrow rests, sights, and release aids. They can also be outfitted with stabilizers when your child is ready.

The Diamond Prism is a bow that ticks all boxes with an adjustable draw length of 18 to 30 inches and a draw weight range of 5 to 55 pounds. It is available in both left and right-handed models with several color options. While we would love for you to use our Diamond Prism Amazon Affiliate Link to make your purchase, you would be better suited purchasing this bow from a local Pro Shop and having it set up for your child.

If your child has a short draw length, they may be better suited with a Diamond Atomic. While it allows for a 12″ to 24″ Draw Length Adjustment, it is limited to a maximum draw weight of 29 pounds. This could be too light for a 12-year-old child who shoots often.

Youth Arrows

Arrow selection becomes more important as your child begins shooting a heavier draw weight. When an arrow is released from the string, it is stressed and flexes. It must flex and bend in a particular range for the proper flight. Too much or too little flex will prevent the arrow from stabilizing before it hits the target.

The arrow spine will not be critical at a draw weight of less than 25 pounds. We recommend a full-length Carbon Express Predator II 2040 Arrow with a 100 Grain Field Tip. When shooting over 25 pounds, you would be best served by selecting an arrow with the appropriate spine. See the Black Eagle Arrow Sizing Chart for more information.

While you may be tempted to pick up arrows in the sporting goods section of Walmart, pay close attention to the weight range on the arrow. An adult hunting arrow will be far too stiff for a child’s bow.

Youth Archery Accessories

In my experience, teaching a child to shoot a bow is best when the process is simple. Trying to incorporate too many steps can lead to frustration. When a child becomes frustrated, archery stops being fun.

My process has been to start with a bare bow (no accessories). Allow the child to shoot as much as needed to feel comfortable. This process may take several days or even weeks. Be patient and only add an accessory when the child is comfortable. Once they can shoot the bare bow consistently, I add an accessory and repeat the process. Below is a list of accessories and the order in which I add them.

  • Step 1: Bare Bow (No Accessories)
  • Step 2: Kisser Button
  • Step 3: Wrist Release
  • Step 4: Peep Sight
  • Step 5: Pin Sight

An additional accessory that we recommend is a hip quiver. We recommend the Easton Range Lite Hip Quiver. A specialty belt isn’t required – an inexpensive Walmart belt will suffice.

Archery Equipment for Teens

Teenagers are perhaps the easiest group of children to purchase archery equipment for. They are often tall enough and strong enough to shoot most of the Beginner Setups on the market (Bows with a draw weight range between 15 and 70 pounds). Additionally, many of these bows are offered in RTH (Ready to Hunt) packages, which include all the accessories needed to get out and start shooting.

Bows for Teens

When children reach their teenage years, they often experience growth spurts. A bow that fits them perfectly one month might be too small a few months later. For this reason, it makes sense to outfit them with a bow capable of growing with them.

This can be achieved with interchangeable or adjustable cam modules. Adjustable (rotating) modules are great for DIY Adjustments as they do not require a bow press. Refer to your owner’s manual for the adjustment process. It is often as simple as removing a couple of screws and rotating the module; however, the draw length markings vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.

Several excellent bows on the market allow for massive adjustability. As a general rule, if you buy a bow from one of the big-name brands, you shouldn’t go wrong. Some popular offerings are listed below.

Arrows for Teens

Arrow selection isn’t critical when Youth Archers are young and shooting low draw weights. As long as the arrow comes out of the bow moderately well, things will be fine. Using the correct arrow spine is essential as your child ages and begins shooting heavier draw weights. Arrow Spine is a stiffness measurement, and all arrows require the proper amount of flex as they leave the bowstring (See Archer’s Paradox).

To determine the proper Arrow Spine – see the Black Eagle Arrow Sizing Chart. This will allow you to choose the appropriate arrow spine based on your child’s Draw Weight and Arrow Length (Arrows should extend past the arrow rest by at least 1″ at full draw). Your local Archery Pro Shop can help you select an arrow and cut them to length for you.

My Kids (Ages 6 and 13) shoot Carbon Express Predator II Arrows. The Stowe Archers Youth Program has also been shooting the Predator II Arrow for several years, and they have held up to a lot punishment. They are an excellent option if you are in the market for a budget-friendly arrow.

Archery Accessories for Teens

All bows recommended in the Bows for Teens section are sold in RTH (Ready to Hunt) packages. These include an arrow rest, sight, stabilizer, and bow quiver. The only other accessory that is required is a release. This accessory hooks into a loop on the string and allows for a consistent release that doesn’t rely on letting go of the string with your fingers. Many releases are on the market, but we find wrist strap releases the simplest to operate.

Another accessory that is highly recommended is a hip quiver. While a bow quiver works fine, hip quivers are preferred for Target Archery. They often include pockets for carrying scorecards, a pencil, and miscellaneous tools such as an Allen wrench set for adjustments.

Youth Archery Basics: Draw Length

Draw Length is a measurement from the bow’s grip to the anchor point on your face. Determining your draw length is critical to proper form and consistency. If you purchase a bow from a local Archery Shop, they typically perform this service while setting up your new bow. If you are setting up a bow for your child, an approximate draw length can be determined by their height (see chart below) or by measuring their wingspan (Arms spread apart – measured from finger tip to finger tip) divided by 2.5.

Draw Length By Height

When I bought my daughter her first serious bow, she was six years old, and I wanted it to be a surprise. I went to my local Archery Shop and purchased a Bear Cruzer Lite. The salesman was a friend from Stowe Archers and explained that they would be happy to set the bow up for me and explained that if I knew how tall my daughter was, they could estimate her draw length, and I could fine-tune it later.

This was how I learned there is a rough calculation to determine draw length based on height. You take the height (in inches), subtract 15, and divide that number by 2. As an example, if your child were 3′-8″ Tall, the calculation would look like this (44 – 15) / 2 = 14.50

To save you from running the calculations, I have included a chart below that covers heights between 3′-6″ and 6′-2″. Remember that this is a rough approximation, and it will get you in the ballpark. Trial and error will be required to get the proper draw length for your child.

Height (Ft-In)Height (In)Approximate Draw Length (In)

Youth Archery Basics: Traditional Archery

While reading this article, you may have noticed that Traditional Archery was not discussed. Virtually all of my archery experience has been with Compound Bows, and I do not feel comfortable advising you on the available choices and setups. I don’t want to steer you away from Traditional Archery – it is a wonderful option for those who want a more primitive experience.

Traditional Archery utilizes a Longbow or Recurve Bow that is not adjustable like a compound bow. If your child is interested in shooting this type of bow, we advise you to visit your local Archery Shop and discuss available options.

Get out and Shoot

At this point, you should know everything you need to know to introduce your child to archery. We encourage you to take your child shooting and join in the fun. Archery is a fantastic sport for the entire family! Don’t forget to drop us a line at ArcheryCompass@Gmail.Com and let us know how it went!

More on Youth Archery

Does Youth Archery sound like something you’d like to learn more about? At Archery Compass, we aim to be a resource for the Archery Community. Below is a breakdown of our recent Youth Archery Blog Posts. Be sure to check them out and share them with your friends!