The kids shoot in the local archery JOAD  (Junior Olympic Archery Development) program at Lakeside Archery in Yarmouth here in Maine. Steve Dunsmoor who runs the program does a great job of keeping it fun for the kids and takes a no pressure approach to teaching them. They practice archery with other kids their age, which I think helps as they can see that not everyone shoots perfect all the time, they get to share their success and their challenges, as they learn the sport.

Dakota shooting a compound bow at 20 yards in the indoor range at Lakeside Archery.

Shooting downrange

The kids shoot both recurve and compound bows, below is Alistair shooting a recurve bow.

Shooting a recurve bow at 10 yards

Every 3 weeks the kids get to qualify and have the opportunity to move up a level, when they do they are given certificate which they can present at any other JOAD program and not have to start again from zero. They are also given a JOAD star pin, most kids wear their pins proudly on their quivers or somewhere on their gear.

JOAD Star Pins

They can progress up through the levels all the way to the Olympic recurve team. I think that JOAD has been great for our kids, it is a solo endeavor where in some sense you compete against yourself, yet they are in a group atmosphere with their peers, so they’re in it together. There are JOAD programs all over the country, many archery pro shops/ranges have them or will know where to go.


My journey into archery starts with my father who as a young man was deeply involved in archery and bowhunting, and although I was not yet around during that part of his life. These things have a way of emerging within us decades later and for no apparent reason, one of life’s neat little tricks.

Among some of the bows that my father used were a longbow, a Hoyt recurve, a Drake recurve and a shorter 50 lb “Tox” recurve hunting bow.

The 1st picture shows dad with his 45 lb recurve Drake bow, and a nice buck in New Jersey, circa 1958. You can tell he is right proud! The 2nd shows dad him with his longbow and a marmot. He also ventured into bowfishing.

The fish are carp which are still one of the big gamefish for folks who are into bowfishing. The bow is his hunting Tox, notice the bowfishing attachment at the front of the bow. You can also see the shortness of the Tox in this picture, meant for navigating through the woods and brush in search of quarry.

I got interested in archery just a scant few months ago, when it struck me how archery could fit so well in our lives. We could do it together as a family or as a solo feed the soul sport, just for relaxation in the backyard or to beat the winter blah’s at the local archery range, plus with it’s long history it is just plain cool to be counted as part of the archery brotherhood, so guess what I got for Christmas? – I’ll leave that for my next entry!