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Sports Then and Now




How “The Hunger Games” Helped Archery as a Sport

Posted on September 01, 2016 by Scott Huntington

When you hear the word archer, some of the names you think about are Robin Hood, Legolas and the Green Arrow. However, credit for making archery cool in the U.S. goes to a different archer.

After the 2012 release of “The Hunger Games” showed audiences the heroics of Katniss Everdeen, portrayed by Jennifer Lawrence, the popularity of archery in the United States soared. Children dressed up as little archers for Halloween. Young adults started reading again, starting with the book series for the movie.

It wasn’t just that Katniss Everdeen was an archer – archers have been portrayed in movies before. Robin Hood is a legendary thief, Legolas is a somewhat magical elf and the Green Arrow is a superhero.

What made Katniss so cool is how ordinary she was outside of her skill with a bow and arrow. She was just a regular teenager from the poorest district in her country, and out of nowhere, she won an annual, deadly competition. Katniss gave archery a new coolness it hadn’t quite experienced before.

The influence of “The Hunger Games” has reached near and far throughout the country, making archery something of a phenomenon.

The Olympics

“The Hunger Games” was released in the U.S. in March of 2012, just four months before the Olympic Games were to be hosted in London. That meant four months for American audiences to soak in the excitement and grit at the thought of defending oneself in the woods with nothing but a bow and arrow.

When the games began, something unusual happened. Archery was the one of the most viewed events during the first week of the games.

In fact, archery events drew in an average of 1.5 million viewers during that time period. The U.S. men’s basketball squad didn’t draw that many viewers in the first week.

All of a sudden, audiences wanted to see the skill Katniss Everdeen employed so effortlessly on display in the real world.

It certainly helps that the U.S. has turned out to be pretty good at archery, coming in just behind South Korea in gold and total medals won since 1972.

Club Membership

People didn’t just play dress-up after seeing “The Hunger Games” – many decided they wanted to become real archers. So many people decided to pick up a bow, the number of archery clubs has nearly doubled in America since 2011.

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Kids and adults alike have been taking a new interest in archery, and the clubs haven’t been able to keep up. They are so short on instructors that USA Archery moved its certification process online to speed it up.

USA Archery also reported that its membership jumped 105 percent over two years, from 4,185 in November 2011 to 8,589 in November 2013.

Retail Sales

To take archery classes, you need a bow and arrow. While some ranges might provide the equipment, it just feels better to have your own bow, one whose grip you really know.

Katniss may have made it work with a good old-fashioned wooden bow, but the sale of high-quality archery gear in outdoor shops has skyrocketed since 2012. Numerous reports of retailers running out of archery supplies flooded in with the release each new “Hunger Games” title.

Compound bows became the most popular, especially since they’re easy to start out with and have different weights and draw lengths for different ages. For example, a 10 year old child would have a 20-30 lb bow, and a 15 year old would have a 50-60 lb bow. Compound bows usually have an adjustable draw weight of 10 lbs, so there’s some room for growth.

Everyone wanted to learn how to shoot like Katniss Everdeen, and they were willing to pay in order to do so. “The Hunger Games” has made archery cool again, and movie fans and sports fanatics alike are in on the game.

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