What Is The Best Age To Start Archery?

What Is The Best Age To Start Archery?

If you are reading this article, you are likely doing so because you cannot stand to torture your child any longer. You have seen their face light up with excitement every time an arrow is loosed by their favourite hero – obviously Hawkeye from Avengers.

You tried to shelter them from the glorious and elegant bows displayed in hunting outfitters, wrapped in camo but still easy to spot. You’ve decided it is time to set your fears aside and get them shooting, but are they the right age to start archery?

As a general rule, the best age to start archery is around 8 years old. Kids between 8-10 years old can be taught archery basics as a hobby. Older kids, around 10-12 years old, can start pursuing archery more seriously.

But there’s a lot more to starting your kid with archery. In this post, we’ll consider the different considerations you should make, detail how to get your kid started with archery and how to pick a bow for your child.

Let’s go.

When to start archery?

A good age to start archery is 8 years old. This does not mean you should invest your child fully at this age with all the best gear, archery clubs and competitions – the worlds youngest archer is 5 years old, but she was born in a room with bows all around her.

At a young age, archery has to be kept as fun as possible. This is a time for introductory lessons with basic youth bows that are less likely to cause serious harm. Most clubs start accepting kids at 8 years old. If it becomes a passion and they want to take it seriously, 10-12 is a suitable age.

You cannot always base your child’s ability on their age. There are many factors to take into consideration when getting them involved. If you give them the tools to flourish when they are young, you never know how it could turn out.

How to get a kid started with archery?

Before you put a bow in their hands you need to decide if they are ready for the responsibility of owning a potentially deadly weapon. They have to be able to take commands and have enough maturity to understand the harm that can come from misuse. Some of the common commands you will hear; “Knock your arrow”, “draw”, “aim” and “please do not shoot at your sister again.”

Ultimately you will know if your child is responsible enough, and won’t wreak havoc on the neighbours.

Being mature is just the first part – that is useless if they do not have the physical capabilities to handle a bow. You may have to test this with an actual youth bow. Many retailers allow you to test the draw weight but be warned; if you dry fire a bow with no arrow it is very likely to turn one bow into two pieces that almost look like a bow.

When your child picks up a bow for the first time, look out for some of these details:

  • Can they pull their draw hand to to the side of their face while keeping the bow hand straight?
  • When doing this action, is there any sway, or shaking in their arms?
  • Do they lose balance?
  • This is a good opportunity to see how conscious they are of where they are pointing the bow.  

They should be able to hold the bow fully extended without losing their form for at least 20-30 seconds. If they are unable to do so, this does not mean they cannot start. It may take a bit more practise and guidance but they will get there. Just be careful it doesn’t sour their experience of the sport.

Archery is an excellent learning experience and a great deal of fun. Be sure to keep it light-hearted or you may turn them away from it permanently. Also, keep in mind your child will have a weapon that can be turned on you…

Choosing the right archery equipment for a kid

When you walk into an archery shop with your child, they will naturally pick the most expensive bow with all the accessories. Obviously, the budget-friendly, less kitted out bow will be your best bet. But there are some factors you should consider when choosing archery equipment for your kid.

Eye dominance

The world does not always cater to left-handed people. The last thing you want is to order a bow online only to discover your child will have to hold it upside down. A left-handed person generally holds the bow with their right hand and draws back with the left. Check with any retailer whether the bow is right, left, or ambidextrous.

Many people forget the next step; which eye is more dominant? I am sure you don’t want arrows flying too far left or right of the target.

The steps to checking eye dominance for archery:

  • Get the little one to hold their arms straight out in front of them, forming a diamond shape with their hands.
  • Place a target in the centre of the diamond, more than 3 metres away.
  • As if they were aiming down sights through the diamond, get them to alternate closing their left and right eye.
  • If the target stays in view with their left eye closed, they are right eye dominant – and vice versa.

You should ignore your child’s hand dominance, and pick a bow based on their eye dominance.

Draw weight

The next thing you want to establish is the draw length and draw weight.

In general, the ideal draw weight for an absolute beginner 6-8 years old is 8-16 lbs. Every child is different and this is best checked with an actual bow.

Take into consideration the number of shots your youngster is going to want to take. The draw weight mustn’t be so tough that he has to take a break after ten shots.

If you want to learn more about draw weight, you can read my detailed draw weight article. It lists everything you need to know.

Draw length

Draw length is easily acquired with a measuring tape.

Measure the span of your child’s arms from fingertip to fingertip and divide this number by 2.5  – that will be the ideal draw length.

You can also test this when they draw a bow. The string should almost touch their lips and the bow hand should be straight with a slight bend at the elbow. Make sure their back is upright and their shoulders are not hunched over.

Not sure what draw length is? Read more about it in my previous article about finding your ideal draw length.

Best youth bow for a child

As for the bow itself, there are many options on the market that perform well. Take a look at both recurve and compound bows.

Compound bows have a pulley system that clicks into place when fully drawn, easing the strain on your back and shoulders. Recurve bows are more difficult to keep fully drawn but will promote better posture and form for beginners.

I would recommend any of the Bear Archery youth bow sets. These are great value for money and often include little accessories to get started.

I actually created an entire recommendation and buyer’s guide article for the best compound bows for kids. Make sure to give it a read.


Archery is often overlooked for more active sports but doesn’t underestimate the benefits it can provide. It is a great form of meditation and will instil a greater sense of confidence, focus and determination in your young one.

Starting them early with the basics will give them a head start in many areas of their life. Archery requires clearing the mind of all distractions while maintaining focus on both the target and individual form.

If you are still unsure after reading this, go to a range and test some bows out yourself – you will not regret it.