'Hunger Games' & 'Brave': Creating a New Generation of Archers?

“I so totally want to take archery lessons now, like right now.” Those were the words I heard from a teenage girl while leaving a screening of the Hunger Games. It is undeniable that Katniss Everdeen looks totally awesome shooting her arrows in the film. It’s tough, old school, and a bit quirky quiver and all.  So are young women really heading to their closest archery ranges to take up the sport? Yes, yes they are…

The New York Daily News reports that two of the indoor archery ranges in Queens have seen a “75% spike in traffic,” in the last four months, since buzz about the movie starting getting louder. And it’s not just happening in Queens; it’s happening everywhere.

I contacted Jim MacQuarrie,  who when he’s not writing for Geek Dad, is an archery instructor, to ask him if this is trend he has noticed. He has indeed seen first hand the archery interest awakened due to the Hunger Games. “At  least a few of my girls came as a result of reading the books,” he says.

This new interest in archery is a subject that the media has really jumped on. “With all the recent news stories, our numbers are rapidly increasing,” MacQuarrie stated. “We’ve had reporters from ABC, CBS, NBC, the LA Times, and public radio do stories about our range, one of our coaches was interviewed in Vanity Fair, and of course my articles are out there. Archery is a ‘thing’ now.”

And girls will be a whole lot more of them interested in archery come this June. That is when the new Pixar film Brave comes out. Merida, the heroine of the film, happens to be an accomplished archer as well. And apparently Pixar captured the sport with perfect detail. MacQuarrie notes in his piece, “New Brave Trailer Nails the Archery,” that,  “Everything (Merida) does is exactly right, starting with her struggle with the dress; proper archery form involves the large muscles of the back pulling the shoulder blades together. But that’s just the beginning. If you watch closely, you’ll notice that when she draws the arrow back, her hand presses firmly against her cheek, and after she releases, it stays there. Also, when she draws, the fingers on her bow hand are completely relaxed, only closing around the bow after she’s at full draw.”

With two strong female leads in what is (and probably will be) two huge movies of 2012, both being masters at the bow and arrow, you can only assume that the numbers of girls trying out archery will grow. And the age span may be vast. Little girls who fall in love with Merida will want to try it, and the preteen, teen and adults who adore the Hunger Games will want to try it.

And it turns out according to MacQuarrie it’s a sport that girls excel at.  ”Girls tend to do better at it than boys, at least as beginners, for a number of reasons. Girls tend to listen better and are more willing to follow directions. Boys tend to argue that their way is better.” He made note of another aspect, “girls, especially those with dance, gymnastics, or martial arts experience, tend to have better body awareness at a younger age, meaning they can feel when the form is right, where boys just want to fling arrows and don’t care about the form.” He added that,  “It’s really the sport for kids who hate sports. It’s you against the target, and nobody is going to tackle, block, tag, chase or knock you down.  The adrenaline rush of feeling a perfect shot and watching it go exactly where you intended is pretty cool, too.”

Have you known any young women or girls taking up, or showing an interest in archery due to the Hunger Games? My own 6-year-old is anxious to try it, just from watching the trailers for Brave.

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