We spoke with Brad Christian about his background in archery, and how he's taking the opportunity to introduce his daughters to the sport.
Brad Christian's perspective on parenting is the kind we all hope to have. He's able to look back at his childhood, and apply those memories to the way he's raising his own children.
We got a hold of Brad at his home in Montana, during a break from his multi-faceted job as Sitka's Brand Director, a talented filmmaker, and a collaborator and pro staff member of Mathews and Genesis® Archery.
On top of those responsibilities, he's also a dad to two daughters, ages seven and nine. We wanted to find out why it's so important to pass down the tradition of archery to his kids. Why were his girls "shooting by the time they were crawling," as he put it.
"My dad had an old bow in the garage, and I remember taking it outside and drawing it back, sending an arrow, and just being shocked at how far it went," he said. "I was like, 'Whoa, I better rethink this!' I spent the next hour looking for those arrows, I really didn't anticipate how far they'd go."
After that it was his grandpa that really planted the seed and invested in his passion for archery.
"He was passionate about me appreciating and experiencing the outdoors," said Brad. "In my age now, I understand that passion. Now I realize what a gift he was giving me."
Above all, Brad said it really came down to one thing: "It was just fun,. That's the pure and simple. Being able to launch arrows is just about the most fun you can have."
So how does he share that fun with his kids? Well, he has got some help. The National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP®) has been around since 2002 and has introduced the bow and arrow to 18 million students in over 14,000 schools across the United States.
"There's more kids enrolled in NASP than Little League," he pointed out. "It's a program that's really awesome because archery typically requires a mentor. It's not something you do on accident."
But it's not up to school organizations alone, and there's a good amount of advice he can share when it comes to personally introducing your kids to archery.
One major rule of thumb is to avoid "pushing it." He mentioned how easy it is to lose a kid's interest, especially these days, and recommended keeping things short, simple, and interactive.
For example, Brad said, any time his family winds up with a balloon, it inevitably finds its way to the backyard as an archery target. It's become a tradition, and his girls anticipate bursting them whenever they come across one. It's engrained in their minds: "Oh, that will be fun to pop with my bow!"
He also advised a way to set up your child for archery success. Buying a bow that doesn't fit their body, or isn't chosen with their input, is "just going to make it un-fun," he said. He enthusiastically suggested the Genesis Build-a-Bow feature, which lets you completely customize just about every piece of the bow.
"I started the girls off with the Genesis Mini, and then moved them on, but both bows are not draw length-specific," he said. "You're not having to buy them a new bow constantly. It continues to grow with them."
When it came down to it, the suggestions Brad shared were (by design) pretty basic. There's no need to complicate things.
"Involve them in the process, have fun together, and get them the right equipment," he said. "But be short. Go have fun and get out of there! Leave them wanting more."
As we wrapped up our conversation, Brad reflected a bit on how learning archery at a young age was able to give him something special, and he's more than determined to pass it down.
"I refer to it in my own mind as a gift," he said. "What it's afforded me is the opportunity to discover other areas of my passion, like storytelling, within archery. Had it not been for that introduction, and somebody caring enough about ushering me into something they're passionate about, I wouldn't have it. I can't imagine where I'd be."
You can follow Brad and his bow-inspired adventures on Instagram @bradschristian.