My friend Jay Barrs and I started shooting bows in high school in Montrose, Colo., when we were 15 years old. He picked up a target recurve bow and started winning archery tournaments, and I shot my first buck with a compound bow that year. When we graduated, he went to Arizona State University on an archery scholarship, and I took my first guiding job-and my first bull elkwith a bow. By 1988, I owned and operated one of the most successful archery outfitting operations in the country, and Jay won a gold medal in Men's Archery in the Summer Olympics. You just never know where taking up a fun shooting sport like archery can take you.
It doesn't take long to learn to shoot a bow accurately but it's important that your instructor is someone who understands archery fundamentals and can make sure you begin with the proper form and technique. As an Olympic archery coach once told me, “Practice doesn't make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect." Get started the right way and you'll enjoy the sport for the rest of your life-whether you decide to shoot targets in the backyard or put game meat on the table. Along the way, you'll find that archery enhances your eye-hand coordination, develops self-discipline and builds self-esteem. And it's a sport you can enjoy alongside your family and friends while still achieving your individual shooting goals.
Here are a few photos to show you how easy it can be. I spent time with my two new nephews, Andrew and Joey Mehall, and their brand new Mission bows-the Craze and the Menace-in their backyard in Maryland. In no time they were sticking their Easton arrows into their whitetail buck target and having a blast!