My 13-year-old raced through The Hunger Games books, my almost nine-year-old is working his way through C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia and my five-year-old is obsessed with Pixar's summer blockbuster Brave. What do all three of these things have in common? Archery!
Archery is the hot sport of this summer (it's in the Olympics, too!). So if your kids have a yen to pick up a bow and arrow and make like Katniss, Susan or Merida, we know exactly where they should turn.
Urban Park Rangers – Citywide
Throughout the summer, trained Urban Park Rangers give FREE archery lessons for children ages 8 and up in select NYC parks, including Willowbrook Park in Staten Island, Brooklyn's Salt Marsh Nature Center and Marine Park, and Van Cortlandt Park and Crotona Park in the Bronx. These classes are intermittent so they're not a good fit for kids who want to train seriously. However, it's a great introduction if your aspiring archer just wants to try it out. All equipment is provided. To see a list of upcoming archery lessons, check the Parks Department's online calendar.
Queens Archery – Flushing
170-20 39th Avenue between 170th and 171st Streets
Part of Big Apple Archery, the Junior Olympic Archery Development Program accepts children ages 8 to 18 with a serious interest in learning the sport on a competitive level. If you want to try it on your own, their is a fee per hour including equipment rental, and your fist visit includes a free lesson (actually, considering that you've just been handed a potentially deadly weapon, it's kind of insisted upon). Afterward, archers of all ages are welcome to continue honing and testing their skills during weekday practice hours and at the open Target Tournaments every Sunday and Thursday.
Pro Line Archery Lanes – Ozone Park
95-11 101 Avenue between Woodhaven Avenue and 95th Street
While this Junior Olympic Development Youth Program is also only open to children ages 8 to 18, Pro Line allows even younger kids to give archery a try. No equipment purchase or membership is necessary to start, though those who wish to compete down the line will need to join USA Archery. Private practice sessions are held on Saturday mornings. Kids under 16 can shoot for only a small session fee. There is also a fully stocked Pro Shop on the premises.
Victory Archers – Staten Island
283 St. Mary's Avenue near Fletcher Street
An affordable junior membership gets your kid access to the club's 12, 20-foot-long indoor lanes, league shooting events and tournaments. Safety courses are available as are private lessons.
Center Shot Archers – Bushwick
1137 Herkimer Street near Saratoga Avenue
Founded by Larry Brown, a former coach of Columbia University's women's archery team, the Center Shot Archers are dedicated to bringing the sport to NYC's inner-city youth and taking them all the way to the Olympics. Lessons are held every Saturday at I.S. 271 beginning in the fall. Coach Brown's ultimate goal is to bring archery programs to every public school in New York City. Though he isn't quite there yet, he's launched 12 after-school programs so far. If your child's school is interested, contact him via the website.
Overall, archery is more physically taxing than it seems, and you may leave your first lesson sore in the shoulders and hands, as well as bruised along your arms where you've accidentally hit yourself with the taut string. Guards and finger tabs are recommended.
For additional information about archery for kids, visit Team USA's website.