FAMILY FUN: Become the next Robin Hood

Laura Churchill Duke
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Alex Churchill, five, from Kentville loves archery. “I found it exciting when I hit the target”. From his expression, that’s easy to see!. Submitted

Archery is an ancient practice and is common in cultures around the world either as a form of hunting or weaponry. I once attended an archery ceremony in Japan where the arrows were blessed by Shinto priests before being shot in order to drive out the evil forces for the coming year.

The tradition of archery is still alive and well in the Valley – although now as a sport activity!

Archery is a great activity for children to learn.

“Archery is an individual sport that teaches us to focus and to rely on ourselves for results,” says JoAnne Spencer, vice-president of the Annapolis Valley Shooting Sports Club (AVSSC) in Canaan.  

Gordon Porter, leader of the Northeast Kings Archery Club, agrees. Archery is a great way to teach concentration, stillness and hand-eye co-ordination, he says, and it can also be a wonderful boost to self-confidence.

“Not only that, but it’s just plain fun,” he says.

Parents Danielle DeGraaf and Anthony Sherrard of Centreville first introduced their boys, eight-year-old Dominic and five-year-old Joshua, to archery as a way to keep them busy and introduce them to something new. DeGraaf practised archery herself for several years in junior high school with Porter. Now they are regular attendees at the Sunday afternoon drop-in sessions at the North Kings Educational Centre (NKEC) in Canning.

It is recommended children be nine or 10 years old when they try archery independently. Any child below this age must be directly supervised by their parents. Children as young as four have tried archery while supervised. Parents should be aware that their child must be able to abide by the safety rules of the club. If they are able to follow safety rules, they are at a good age to try archery!

“We recommend that the parents learn the basic archery skills along with their children,” says Porter.

To get your children ready to try archery, Porter recommends watching the movie Brave with them.

“The archery contest is a wonderful example of the correct way to shoot an arrow,” he explains.

Heather and Craig Churchill, Kentville, say their boys, ages five and eight, were so excited to try real bows and arrows.

“The activity really fuelled their imaginations for later creative play!” says Heather.

Children love going. “I liked using a real bow and arrow and pretending to be an old-fashioned hunter,” added eight-year-old Sam Churchill.

There are a few places in the Valley where you can try archery. A full list can be found on the Valley Family Fun website. There are clubs in Middleton, Greenwood, Canaan and Canning.

The AVSSC has a drop-in program for all ages Sundays and Wednesdays at 6 p.m. for $3 per person. Every Sunday afternoon from 1-3 p.m. during the school year, there is also a drop-in session at NKEC for $3 per person. Archers should go to the middle-school entrance.

The Greenwood Archery Club, meanwhile, offers practice two nights a week and a youth training program called CanBow. All equipment is provided.

Throughout the activity, there is plenty of assistance, for adults and children alike, to help establish the proper technique.

“The events are well organized,” says Heather. They are set up with the proper-sized gear and equipment and safety structure and routine is clearly explained. “The organizer was extremely friendly and helpful with finding just the right size bows for our boys.”

If you haven’t done so yet, stop into one of the drop-in sessions to give it a shot. However, be forewarned: archery is an addictive sport.

Spencer cautions, “You will most likely fall in love right along with your child.”

For information on the NKEC club, call 582-7745.

Laura Churchill Duke ( has tried archery several times with her family. With her red curly hair, she’s sure she will be mistaken for Merida in Brave - maybe with a little more practice!

Organizations: Annapolis Valley Shooting Sports Club, North Kings Educational Centre, Valley Family Fun Greenwood Archery Club

Geographic location: Canaan, Japan, Canning Kings Kentville Middleton

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