You knew it was coming from the moment Merida took her first arrow from her quiver. Your child wants to learn about archery. Or at the very least, wants an archery set of some sort. Oh, that clever product placement. Between The Hunger Games and Brave, every girl from age 5-18 has been marketed to and now wants to shoot her own arrows. With the 2012 Summer Olympic Games upon us, now may be the perfect time to research the sport of archery.

Archery and Ages

Isn't it dangerous, you ask? Yes and no. Just because shooting is involved doesn't mean there are more accidents. As always, safety and great instructions are going to go a long way into making this a safe past time, sport, hobby, or fleeting film-fueled interest.

For those under 5 years of age, stick with the play archery sets with suction cup arrows. You can opt for an official Brave set (though it will dent your pocket or purse at nearly $50). Check your local dollar store for a set in the toy aisle, but if you're looking for a toy to last the rest of the summer, avoid the plastic, cheaply-made, under-$10 sets.

Tips for Buying Bows and Arrows

This brings us to real sets. Most parents and consumers seem to weigh in on the old adage 'you get what you pay for.'

  • This type of toy will be immediately put to the test — treat it as if you are looking more for a sporting good than a toy.
  • The main difference between the toy and the real thing is the arrows. The toys have suction cups on the end and real arrows have an actual arrow.
  • Consider your child's size and the weight she can lift. Check out this YouTube video from Sean's Outdoor Adventures for great explanations and details for different types:
  • A good starter set will set you back $30-50 — but go this route if you think your child might have a sustained interest in archery. The Economy Archery Package from Bear has gotten a good deal of positive reviews from a variety of parents. There's always pink camo, too.

Safety

Not unlike firearm safety, there are safety rules that really must be understood before children begin to use bows and arrows. Even the language should change. If you buy the toy suction cup kind, then the children are, indeed, playing'with a toy. But if you are buying an actual set, then it isn't a toy. Make sure your children kids understand this.

Check out Livestrong for good tips on archery safety. Top of the list is to make sure that no one is in the line of fire. It's a safe sport provided the participants are serious and take precautions.

It's great that feminist heroines in current films have inspired American girls to want to learn about defending themselves and learn what, essentially, is becoming a lost art and skill. These little girls just need some safety tips and they'll be good to go. Now, firing arrows by horseback might be a slightly more complicated matter.