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Now that a crop of summer blockbusters have featured arrow-toting heroes, archery’s popularity is on the rise. Once a somewhat obscure event, characters in novels, comic books, and recent films, most notably Katniss of The Hunger Games, have ignited interest in this challenging sport. Not only are more viewers watching the Olympic event, but more people are taking archery up for themselves.
Archery has been everywhere in pop culture recently. Disney’s Brave features Merida, a Scottish princess with such great bow skills that she can beat her potential suitors in an archery competition. Clint Barton, a.k.a. Hawkeye, is the sharp (arrow) shooter from this summer’s The Avengers and Marvel comic books. The CW has a new show based on DC Comics’ Green Arrow, simply called Arrow, that will premiere this fall. In The Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen takes up a bow and arrow to hunt for food both for in family and for survival in the title games. Katniss even has a connection to one of the athletes in this year’s Olympics.
American archer Khatluna Lorig trained Jennifer Lawrence in archery for her role as Katniss in the first movie of the Hunger Games trilogy. Lawrence learned to shoot in just 15 days and Lorig described her as “a good student.” Like Katniss, Lorig is surviving through the Olympic competition and has made it to the eighth round. In each round, archers compete against one other person and shoot three rounds of three arrows, head-to-head, with a 20-second time limit for each arrow. Each match is a best of five, which the Miami Herald compares to tennis.
Loring says, “Absolutely there has been more attention to our sport since Hunger Games came out … Hollywood is bringing archery out to the open more, and a lot of kids are loving it.” USA Archery noticed a surge in popularity in the weeks following the release of The Hunger Games back in March. The group has seen an increase in Twitter followers, Facebook fans, website traffic, and membership. The organization even sent a letter to the trilogy’s author, Suzanne Collins, to thank her for popularizing the sport again and for their 20 percent increase in membership.
The New York Sports Club, a gym in New York City, has even developed a class called “Train Like a Tribute,” where gym members work out with Hunger Games-themed exercises and perform archery moves. Even Groupon has hopped on the archery craze; I jumped on the bandwagon, convincing my husband to sign up for an archery class with me using a Groupon I purchased. While I have yet to take up the bow and arrow, I expect to fall in love. Lorig said, “It’s a fun sport. Anybody can do it. Age doesn’t matter. That’s the beauty of it.” Sounds good to me. It’s not as easy as it looks ,though. The Miami Herald notes that the bows the Olympians use have a draw weight between 38 and 50 pounds, and that the bulls’ eye is tiny from a distance.
If you want to handle a quiver of arrows like Legolas, Merida, Hawkeye, the Green Arrow, Katniss Everdeen, or Olympian Khatluna Lorig, you can find out how at USA Archery’s site. Their site even has a button promoting the connection to the Hunger Games. Become a toxophilite – a student or lover of archery – before the trend dies out!