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Archery Lessons for Kids in Toronto

So your kids want to learn archery eh?

And you live in good ol' Toronto, Canada? Even better because this city has many excellent people and places where you can learn archery.

But the problem is do they cater to kids?

The truth is most places that teach archery do NOT cater to kids - or worse, have no experience teaching kids.

So what are your options?

#1. Personal Trainer / Sports Instructor.

I have been teaching archery for 3 years now and I have loads of experience teaching archery to children as young as 10. I provide all the equipment, and instead of being a glorified babysitter I actually do teach your kids how to do archery - which at times is a bit like trying to teach them patience and concentration skills, since archery does require a lot of patience and concentration. A difficult task to teach children, but one which I have been doing quite well.

I teach "Traditional Archery" which is really a method of aiming used by many of the great archers of history. Tried and true techniques to gain accuracy and power in your shots. And it isn't beyond the ability of children to learn if they have a degree of patience.

There are a few other sports trainers in Toronto who provide private lessons for archery - including former Olympian Joan McDonald who coaches Olympic archery (which is expensive and not ideal for kids just learning archery).

The problem with teaching kids archery is that they lose / break arrows a lot. So it becomes expensive to be constantly be buying new archery equipment. (If I was teaching Olympic archery instead of Traditional archery I would need to dramatically raise my prices.)

Another problem is that your kids probably want to shoot a bow similar to the girl Katniss in the Hunger Games or Merida's bow in the Disney movie Brave. (Both are traditional wooden recurves, which fortunately is what I teach and what the kids are looking for.)



#2. Find a place that teaches archery.

Well there you have several options. They include:

Scouts Canada... No seriously, enroll your kid in Scouts. They have their own private archery range in north-west of the GTA. They don't do archery all year round, but each scout group usually does it once per year. However this might not be enough. The first time I did archery myself was in scouts when I was about 10 years old. I was hooked after that.

Don't expect their bows to be spectacular however. When I learned archery in scouts they gave us compound bows we could barely pull. Many Scouts groups use cheap fibreglass bows that are shoddy at best.

Note! You don't have to be a boy to enroll in scouts. Girls are equally welcome, but rare since most girls join Girl Guides instead (which sometimes offers archery too, but less often).



The Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre, located near the Ontario Science Centre, they teach Japanese Kyudo on Saturday mornings and Monday evenings. All the basic equipment for beginners is provided by the JCCC. Monthly fee is $50 which is pretty reasonable. However Kyudo is a whole process similar to Japanese Tea Ceremony. It isn't ideal for kids with low patience. Lastly Japanese yumi bows are really big. I don't know if they even have bows small enough for kids at the JCCC so that might not be your best option. More research required.

Hart House / University of Toronto... It is really a club meant for University of Toronto students, but they do have a waiting list for non-students to join. There is no age rule on their website, but they are probably expecting you to be an adult. Besides you will also need to buy your own equipment. So probably not a good place for kids to learn archery.

The Toronto School of Archery, which operates out of an Etobicoke community centre and an East York church gymnasium. You have to sign up for a minimum of 4 lessons and they are geared towards Olympic archery - which means really expensive equipment. (Getting your kid into Olympic archery is a sizable investment.)

Casa Loma, 1 Austin Terrace, Toronto. They do offer archery lessons ... but according to the Casa Loma website it is only for adults. Hmm. I guess they don't cater to kids.

YMCA Day Camp Archery Toronto
#3. Archery Day Camps in Toronto / GTA.

If you are looking summer day camps that provide archery lessons for kids they are few and far between - and often fully booked by March of each year. That means if you want to enroll your kids in a day camp that provides archery lessons that you really need to book really far in advance.

The day camps that provide archery as part of their activities in Toronto are...

Humriva Day Camp (Humber River)

Claireville Day Camp (Steeles and 427)

Mooredale Day Camp (Rosedale)

Toronto YMCA (various locations)

If you know of any more day camps in Toronto that provide archery please email me at cardiotrek {atsymbol} gmail dot com so I can add it to the list. Or just leave a comment below.

Advice on choosing a day camp. Honestly, ask what kind of bows the camp uses? Longbows, recurve, compound? What is it made of? What is the company brand? If they don't know it is probably a bad sign, but ask if they could find out for you.

#4. Summer Camps outside the GTA.

There is a lot of summer camps where kids can go for a week or two and do archery. Many of them are north of Barrie, in the direction of Algonquin Park. Just a few hours drive north of Toronto and they have less enrollment in comparison to day camps in the city.

There are many others east of Toronto as well. The camps are basically a dime a dozen, but it does mean sending your kid away for a week or so and making the trip to pick them up. However having a week alone without the kids might seem like heaven to some parents.

#5. Teach Your Kids Yourself.

Ah, the old Do-It-Yourself approach! Well then I have some advice for you.

More is more, and it gets expensive. This is not a less is more sport when it comes to teaching kids. Archery tends to be expensive sport, especially for beginners who lose and break a lot of arrows. And children break and lose arrows more than adult beginners.

With probably zero training yourself you will be trying to teach your kid how to do archery. This is a bit like the blind leading the blind, and this will lead to a lot of lost and damaged arrows. Thus I have a number of tips for you.

1) Buy lots of cheap arrows. Fibreglass and wooden arrows are very cheap and ideal for kids learning. By lots I mean 10 or more because you are going to lose them anyway.

2) Find a safe place to practice where your kids won't hurt anyone or even pose a danger to anyone. Failure to do this could result in legal repercussions as doing archery in your backyard is "reckless endangerment" and can lead to criminal charges.

3) Make sure that your kids understand that they can only do archery when you are watching them. Parental supervision at all times must be respected otherwise the archery equipment gets locked in a closet.

4) If you do intend to do archery at home your basement or garage is your best option. Make sure you clear any breakables out of the way. If you have a relative who owns a farm however that would much better.

5) Make a trip to the Toronto Public Archery Range at E.T. Seton Park in Toronto. It is just south of the Ontario Science Centre. It is an ideal location to practice and one of very few free archery ranges in all of North America.

6) Buy a decent bow for your kids size. The little kids bows from Canadian Tire are designed for 5 to 8 year olds. If your kid is 9 or older they are going to need a better starter bow. I recommend a Ragim Matrix bow, 18 lbs to start. Cost is approx. $130 + tax if you buy or order one from Tent City in North York, Toronto. Arrows are $70 for 10, plus you will also need an arrow-rest, fingergloves and an arm bracer. Expect to spend about $300 to $350 on equipment.

7) Make sure you know if your kid is Right Eye Dominant or Left Eye Dominant.

8) Read everything you can about archery form, archery aiming techniques, etc. I have lots of that information here in my archery section of this website. You will be trying to teach your kid to do archery with no experience yourself so it will help if you have lots of helpful information at your disposal.

9) Brace for complaining. Honestly. Kids trying to learn archery with no one to coach them on what to do are going to make lots of mistakes. Even adults make mistakes and it is my job as an archery coach to get them to unlearn their bad habits and learn good habits that will make them a better archer. Kids are slower at picking up these good habits because they lack patience and need to be taught patience during the learning process. Without someone to properly coach them they will complain about the quality of their shots constantly because they don't understand what they are doing wrong - which is why having a coach is important for archery because they can recognize all the mistakes you are making.

10) Try to have fun. Honestly, isn't that the point? Try to motivate the kids by giving them a fun target to shoot at. Make the target a dragon, a zombie or even a Donald Duck poster. So long as they are feeling more motivated to hit the zombie in the nose.

BONUS! Learn archery yourself and you will be better equipped to try and teach your kids. If you live in Toronto let me know if you need archery lessons.

3 comments:

  1. I've been looking for somewhere to teach my 6 year old who is desperate to learn. Unfortunately all the clubs I've found appear to have a minimum age of 8 and won't make any exceptions even for private lessons. We live in an apartment building, so no basement or garage. Do you have any suggestions?

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    Replies
    1. I recommend Boy Scouts / Girl Guides, Summer / Day Camps ( see http://www.archerytoronto.ca/Toronto-Archery-Camps.html ), or you might want to learn archery yourself and then teach your 6 year old yourself in a safe manner. The last option might be your best choice.

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    2. For teaching your kids yourself the recommended location would be the Toronto Archery Range: http://www.archerytoronto.ca/Toronto-Archery-Range.html

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