“Some kids are not so much into team sports and archery is something that gets them outside and having fun,” she says. “They can do it individually or together right in the backyard.”
Ben Morrill, 14, of Columbia, had wanted to learn more about archery ever since his neighbor got a bow and target two years ago.
“It just looks really cool and it’s something you can do in the backyard or in the woods,” he says. “It’s harder than it looks, though. It takes a lot more strength than I thought to pull back the bow string, but it’s a lot of fun.”
A few schools in Howard County have archery equipment, which is how Alex Rennich, 14, of Elkridge was introduced to the sport.
“I did it in P.E. and I really like it,” she says. Before a recent class, her father, Mike Rennich, talked to the instructors about what type of bow would be best to buy for his daughter.
“There aren’t too many activities that the whole family can do together, but archery is one of them,” he says. “We have a big backyard and going out there to shoot is something that’s easy to schedule when we’re home together.”
Medicus says that while archery is prohibited on parkland in Howard County, there are no laws restricting it in the yards of residents, as long as there is adequate room to shoot safely and there are no homeowners association rules against it. But if you want to practice shooting at an authentic range, you’ll have to look outside Howard County.
“There are no public archery facilities in Howard County. The closest are in Westminster, Sykesville and Anne Arundel County,” he says. “We’d love to see a facility here in the future, but those things take time.”
There are no archery pro shops either. The closest is Bass Pro Shops in Arundel Mills, where those interested in archery can find beginner equipment starting at around $30.
Classes for kids as young as 9, as well as parent and child together, resume in the spring.
“I think next spring we’re going to start earlier since we’ve had such interest,” Medicus says, adding that he hopes even more families will be interested in checking it out. “There’s a misconception that archery is just guys in camo in the woods hunting, but there’s so much more than that. Some do pursue hunting, but target archery is a huge sport that is growing all the time.
“We just want interested kids to sign up, come out and have fun in the classes,” he says. “We’ll give them what they need for a good foundation, and they can grow from there.”
Fun facts about archery
• A toxophilite is a student or lover of archery.
• A quiver is the bag that holds the arrows, while the fletching is the feathers on the end of an arrow.
• Compared to other popular sports, shooting sports have some of lowest occurrences of injury. Archery’s injury rate is 0.1 percent, which is slightly lower than paintball and trap and skeet shooting.
• Historians believe people have been using bows and arrows for at least 25,000 years, possibly longer, based on arrowheads discovered in Africa.
• Archery was first included as an Olympic sport in the 1900 games. It was discontinued in 1924 due to a lack of international rules, but it was reintroduced in 1972 for the Munich games.
• When competing in the Olympics, archers must engrave their initials on each arrow.
• Just because you’re right-handed doesn’t mean you’ll be shooting with your right hand. In archery, archers shoot according to the dominant eye. Some right-handed folk are actually left-eye dominant – and vice versa – and pull the bowstring back with the left hand. If you try to shoot with your nondominant eye, it will throw your aim off.
• The distance between an Olympic archer and the target is 70 meters (about 76 yards).
• Men constitute about 66 percent of the archery population.
• USA Archery membership has increased from 279 clubs in 2010 to 540 clubs in 2012.
Sources: American Sports Data, World Archery Center, World Archery Federation, USA Archery