Honestly, there are lots of articles out there on getting kids into archery, but I found few that focused on getting them started young at a low price point. This isn’t as comprehensive or well researched as most of my articles, but I wanted to share some quick findings from trying 2 kits with my boys.
Barnett Lil’ Banshee Compound Bow Set
The first set I bought was the Barnett Lil’ Banshee. It’s a simple compound bow that comes with a target, or just with the bow. I wanted a target that the kids could use, so I got the one with the target. It comes in at an 18 lb pull, which I thought would be do-able for my 6 year old but apparently not. The finger rollers kept the arrow nicely centered and meant that we didn’t have to use the crappy finger tabs that came with the set, and the single pin sight was great, but ultimately it was just too much for him to pull. The target. . .I’m iffy on. Arrows from either the Barnett or the Bear bows both pierce the target, so you can’t lean it up against anything nice, and the arrows push white strings of foam out the back with every shot. I got this target because I needed something indoors for the kids to do while it’s -30 outside and while this target does the job, it’s not as good as a DIY poly shooting bag or many other types of targets. It did come with a tough cardboard target glued to the face, and the kids have got tons of use out of it.
Bear 1st Shot Bow and Arrow
The Bear 1st Shot Bow and Arrow is a lot more cheaply constructed and with 8-12 lbs of draw weight, seems to give some flexibility in age. In practice, it gave a ton of flexibility. Try: easy enough for my 6 year old to pull and use, AND easy enough for my 3 year old as well. I bought the Lil’ Banshee because I figured this bow would be too easy for my 6 year old (the picture of the kid on the package is like 3 or 4) but it turns out he loved it and the chasm between a 12 pound pull and an 18 pound pull is huge for a 6 year old. This bow set comes with 2 arrows, a crappy quiver, crappy finger tab, crappy armguard, and a target. We use the bow, the arrows, and that’s it. It’d be nice to have a nock on the string to make placing the arrows a little easier, and that’s something I might add later on, but just as a simple bow, both my boys are loving it. **Edit: ran some floss on top of and below where the arrow would nock so that it better seats the arrow. Much easier now.**
Other Bow Sets
There are much nicer bows out there for kids to start on. I’d love to have got a nicer compound with a whisker biscuit and a proper adjustable pin sight, but I wanted to have my boys walk before they ran. 6 is still a bit young for archery and it’s only for fun right now. If he gets more serious about it, I guess I’ll know what to get him for Christmas. Until then, they can both practice with the more basic bows and have fun.