How The Hunger Games Will Promote Archery in 2012

Katniss Everdeen. If you recognize this name, you are probably either a teenager or you have teenagers in your house. If not, allow me to explain who she is — and why you should care.

Katniss is a fictional character — the protagonist of the immensely popular teen novels of The Hunger Games trilogy. More recently and more to the point, she was played by actress Jennifer Lawrence in a blockbuster film by the same name. You have probably seen the ads and perhaps the film.

What this character represents is an unlikely champion of the sport of archery — and a driving force behind what will no doubt be an increase in youth participation in archery this year.

You see, in this film (and books), archery is portrayed as an exciting, valuable, even life-saving skill. This young protagonist uses archery like a futuristic Robin Hood, William Tell or Diana Greek Goddess of the hunt; at first, hunting for subsistence, then second, for surviving a dystopian tournament of blood. We’ll focus on the first aspect for the sake of my arguments…

Simply put, The Hunger Games may make archery cool with kids again, and perhaps even with more adults too — considering that after the film’s opening weekend 56 per cent of the moviegoers were over 25. However, I know from experience that the older we get the less influenced by external forces we are and the more we simply “make up our own mind.” In short, adults don’t need an on-screen archery hero; kids do.

Many parents out there already have children participating in archery — but if you’re a parent who has had any difficulty convincing your child that a real bow and arrow is going to be more fun than an Xbox, take your teen to see The Hunger Games. Then pose the question, “Would you like to learn to shoot like Katniss?”

(Again, we’ll disregard the whole “tournament of blood” aspect for the sake of this argument…)

I bet the answer will be a resounding yes. Kids imitate — and with a pro-archery role model in popular film, this imitation could culminate into the lifelong love of a valuable outdoor sport. At times, youth need be concretely reminded that actually participating in something is much more fun than virtually participating in it.

In fact, unlike so many other examples in pop culture, The Hunger Games actually portrays bowhunting as a whole in a very positive light: as a productive method of subsistence hunting, a point of pride for the eagle-eyed Katniss and even goes so far as to tout outdoor skills as vital for youth to learn. (Further, experienced archers will be quite impressed with the actress’ archery form. It’s pretty darn good — due to the fact that US Olympic Gold Medal archer Khatuna Lorig was her trainer.)

Granted, if The Hunger Games was the only archery-themed pop-phenom rearing up this year, there may be no net effect in terms of sport participation. But it is not.

This summer, in the soon-to-be blockbuster film The Avengers, we’ll see a superhero named Hawkeye helping to save the world with a bow and arrow. Also, an upcoming animated film, The Brave — from the Oscar-winning studios of Pixar — features a protagonist who fights off evil with a bow-and-arrow. This trifecta of influence will be impossible to ignore. (I’ve personally spoken to archery shop owners who agree.)

Archery is great because it is so accessible. No special licence for bow-ownership is required. Youth target bows can be relatively inexpensive and the best part is that youth will get to emulate their on-screen heroes in a very real way, yet also in a productive and supervised way. That’s pretty cool — for everyone involved.

As the kids say — in 2012, archery is gonna blow up.

 

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