How The Hunger Games made archery hot again
Thanks to sharpshooting heroine Katniss, bows and arrows are back in style — among women, for a change
The Hunger Games burned up the box office for a second week in a row, bringing in another $61.1 million and pushing its domestic take over $250 million. Even so, the movie has arguably done more for archery than it's done for Hollywood, says Andy Grimm in the Chicago Tribune. Ever since trailers first introduced audiences to the film's arrow-slinging heroine Katniss Everdeen (played by Jennifer Lawrence) last August, more young women have started showing up at archery ranges. Here's a look at how The Hunger Games is reinvigorating the medieval pastime:
How does The Hunger Games make archery look appealing?
The story's courageous, resourceful protagonist, Katniss, uses her bow and arrow in a dystopian death-match against other teenagers, and, though she's essentially murdering people, she undeniably "looks totally awesome shooting her arrows," says Sunny Chanel in Babble. As an inspiring role model, says Grimm, she's a "compelling draw to the sport for impressionable kids."
Is there concrete evidence that more kids are taking up archery?
There's a lot of anecdotal proof — New York City's two archery ranges are reporting as much as 75 percent boosts in traffic since The Hunger Games buzz started, Chicago-area ranges say they're overflowing, and archery instructor/dad-blogger Jim MacQuarrie tells Babble's Chanel that, based on media interest in his classes, "archery is 'a thing' now." But there's some quantitative evidence, too: The Archery Trade Association has seen a 20 percent increase in equipment sales over the past year, and traffic to USA Archery's website shot up 30 percent in January and February.
And this is all thanks to Katniss?
Not all of it, says Grimm. There is definitely a "Katniss factor," but it's also the fruit of USA Archery's recent marketing efforts, which predate the 2008 release of Suzanne Collins' first Hunger Games book. And Katniss isn't the only recent bow-and-arrow hero at the movies: Orlando Bloom's elven Legolas in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and the blue-skinned heroes of Avatar all shot arrows in front of huge audiences. (Less inspiring: The psychopathic teen archer who slaughters his school classmates in the little-seen indie, We Need to Talk About Kevin.)
What do seasoned archers think of the newbies pouring in?
Some, like Jack Denley, a regular at Pro Line Archery in New York's Queens borough, have mixed feelings. On the one hand, he tells the New York Daily News, "you've got to get there early to get a spot now," but at the same time "it's exciting to see the young kids getting involved."
Will interest flag when The Hunger Games leaves theaters?
Maybe not. At least two big-screen archers are set to make a splash this summer, Hawkeye in The Avengers and Princess Merida in the Disney-Pixar movie Brave. Real-life archery aces will compete at the Summer Olympics in London, among them, top-ranked U.S. female archer Khatuna Lorig, who coached Lawrence for The Hunger Games. "Once you start shooting, you're gonna like it," Lorig tells NPR.
Have other Hollywood hits started crazes before?
Sure. After Harry Potter hit the big screen, fans were inspired "to start playing quidditch, a fake sport," says Doug Barry in Jezebel. Baseball gained new fans after classics like The Natural and Field of Dreams hit theaters, and archery has enjoyed past boomlets, thanks to a variety of Robin Hoods— from Errol Flynn in the 1930s to Kevin Costner in the 1990s. "But that was all young men coming in." For female archery, Lawrence is "the best ambassador we have," Khatuna Lorig tells NPR.