Few sports can be enjoyed by both 6-year-olds and their adult parents. Even fewer also foster participation from all walks of life and ability levels.
Archery, however, meets both those criteria.
"The nice thing about archery is that you don't have to be extremely athletic to participate," Kirk McBride said.
McBride is the current vice president of the Juneau Archery Club and has been involved with the club for about five years. He believes that kids are one of the keys to keeping the club going. In order to educate, empower and excite kids of all ages, the club started Friday Night Kids Night years ago. And since, the club has shown kids as young as six that archery is a great sport, regardless of experience or athletic ability.
"When the parents see how much fun the kids are having, they'll often join in," he said. "It's a family activity, as well."
In December, the club officially moved into the new Juneau Hunter Education Shooting Complex on Montana Creek Road, and members say they've seen the weekly Friday event pick up.
Amy Perov, a club board member, said each Friday they always get the "regulars," but lately they've been seeing some new faces .
"The kids really like to come," she said. "We'll put balloons on the targets, if they hit a balloon they get 10 cents and a piece of candy. ... It teaches discipline and skill."
McBride said the club was initially concerned about the longer commute to the new location, but he believes the incentives weigh heavy in the club's favor.
"We have volunteer instructors, all certified through the National Archery in the Schools Program" on hand to help anyone who needs it, he said. "If the kids are shooting in the schools, they have the same commands, safety, range rules, technique tips and (they too) want to have fun."
The NAS promotes student education, physical education and participation in archery and is a joint venture between the state departments of education and wildlife.
The club also has equipment such as bows, arrows, arm guards and targets for use at no additional charge. Participants can also bring their own equipment, as long as it's in good working order and certified.
McBride said the new space is a welcome contrast from the rainy days that come with spring.
"It's a great place to shoot," he said. "It's warm, dry and well lit."
And as a motivator for youth, the club is planning an incentive-based program to reward youngsters who excel in ability and follow the rules, he said. Future shoots may feature large, colorful, three-dimensional dinosaur targets.
"Kids Night" happens every Friday night from 6-9 p.m. Cost for the participation in the event is $1 for 45 minutes of shooting time and youth must be accompanied by an adult.
For more information go online to the club's Web site at juneauarchery.com.
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