Tag Archives: hunger games

back to katniss

25 March, 2015


“In every class, I ask them what makes them want to do archery and at least one will say Hunger Games or the little ones its ‘I want to be Merida in Brave’,” Ms Norman said.

So is quoted an archery coach in Victoria, Australia, and you can read the full article and watch the video here:


“Archery Victoria’s president Irene Norman said its membership had shot up over the past four years from 777 members in 2010 to 1740 in February this year as it rode a wave of popular culture references that was drawing new members every week…  It is not just little girls and teenagers either. Ms Norman said there were women in their 30s who came to archery clubs wearing Mockingjay pins.

“Sometimes I have to explain they won’t be able to get the effect they want if they use the same type of bow as in The Hunger Games,” she said.”

So it appears the ‘Katniss Effect’ is still packing them in to beginners courses around the world. This article is just one in a long line of similar newspaper and media features in the last couple of years, from the New York Times (twice) to NPR to the Guardian and the Telegraph amongst many others. It’s almost become a cliche – the interest in and take-up of archery, especially recurve and especially among teenage girls, has gone through the roof – what’s more interesting is that it seems to be sustained.

Jennifer Lawrence with US Olympic archer Khatuna Lorig, who trained her for the role. Photo: ESPN

Jennifer Lawrence with US Olympic archer Khatuna Lorig, who trained her for the role. Photo: ESPN

The main problem for archery as a community is sustaining all that enthusiasm and interest when the fantasy meets the reality, probably via a battered Samick Polaris in a chilly sports hall. Some are directly engaging with this, such as the publicity work of Archery 360 for the ATA, but it may well be on the ground that people really needs nurturing. Often, people’s entire experience and future in target archery hinges on the personality of the local club secretary or archery shop staff –  who might just be having a bad day, or (in the USA) may be busy explaining the penetration capabilities of scary-looking broadheads to a guy dressed in camo instead.

Everywhere, the image of the sport needs modernising.  There needs to be an ever-simpler and clearer path to welcome a wider demographic to the sport from the groundswell of interest which, with another film due in November and Rio on the horizon, seems set to continue.

The entertainment in the film and the various others is just that – it’s not the sport – but it can take people places. I’ve mentioned several times on this blog why I think the ‘Katniss Effect’ is a good thing (with plenty of reservations about the posters, and I’m not the only one). I personally know someone who took up archery after watching the film only a couple of years ago, and last December made the cut in women’s recurve at the UK Indoor National Championship besting several current UK internationals in the process. It’s entirely possible that the Olympic champion at Tokyo 2020 (or even sooner?) will owe that original spark of interest to a movie.


girls with bows pt. 27

26 March, 2014

Hasbro bow

Interesting article in the New York Times this week entitled Today’s Girls Love Pink Bows as Playthings, but These Shoot, about the rise of weapon toys for girls in the brave new Katniss / Merida world. As the writer slightly wearily points out, “it’s the same type of toy that has been marketed to boys for years, except these are mostly purple and pink.” Several manufacturers have brought or are bringing out versions of their ‘boys’ toys for girls, including Hasbro and Zing with its Air Huntress line.

The Nerf Rebelle isn’t even really a bow, of course – it’s more like a vertical toy crossbow. There is also an actual crossbow and a multi-barrel sci-fi gun, all firing soft ‘nerf’ slugs. You can get an extensive, dissembling insight into how these things are actually marketed at the blog My Last Dart:



The Air Huntress is essentially a pink version of the same toy for boys. You can even see the two side by side here:

From the NYT:

Barbie, ever pretty in pink, has naturally gotten into the act with a Katniss doll that slings a bow and arrow in authentic brown. The action figure shelves at toy stores now display a Black Widow figure (modeled after Scarlett Johansson) alongside the new Captain America…. All of this is enough to make parents’ — particularly mothers’ — heads spin, even as they reach for their wallets. While the segregation of girls’ and boys’ toys in aisles divided between pink and camouflage remains an irritant, some also now wonder whether their daughters should adopt the same war games that they tolerate rather uneasily among their sons. The Rebelle line was introduced last summer, and a dozen more of the toys are on the way this year.

“Basically, I’m a total hypocrite because it’s a weapon and it’s pink, but they really enjoy it and it’s something they play together,” said Robin Chwatko, whose 3-year-old daughter got a Nerf Rebelle a few months ago after coveting her 5-year-old brother’s Zing bow.

Sharon Lamb, a child psychologist and play therapist who teaches counseling psychology at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, says toys that stimulate aggression are healthy for children.

“I don’t see this as making girls more aggressive, but instead as letting girls know that their aggressive impulses are acceptable and they should be able to play them out,” she said.

But, she added, “What I don’t like is the stereotyped girlifying of this. Do they have to be in pink? Why can’t they be rebels and have to be re-BELLES? Why do they need to look sexy when aggressing, defending the weak or fighting off bad guys?” … At Zing, which started out making toys marketed only to boys, the idea for its Air Huntress line bubbled up from customers on sites like Facebook and Amazon — as well as employees who had read “The Hunger Games”.

Clearly, not much has changed in the toy world, or the retail sector in general, where ‘shrink it and pink it‘ remains the mantra for selling to American women. The manufacturers are, of course, merely responding to the cultural changes and their focus groups, and they aren’t going to start challenging stereotypes anytime soon. The actual benefits of actual archery for kids – discipline, control, confidence, strength – remain elusive with these plastic weapons. The difficult made easy. Still, for someone somewhere this might be a gateway to the real thing, and that’s still good.





oh, katniss

22 March, 2014

Well, the DVD of Catching Fire is coming out, and I took this picture of one of the posters on the London Underground:


…and she’s still doing that looping-her-finger-round-the-arrow thing in the publicity shot. Ouch. Of course, in the actual filming almost all the arrows are CGI’d on afterwards, because it’s too dangerous to actually fire arrows around on the set. Stage bows often use rubber bands instead of actual strings – which is probably the reason she can hold at full draw on her fingertips (above). Obviously the arrow was falling off the rest. But they could have put a clicker on for the publicity shot. Or, hell, a bit of tape would have held the arrow in place. Yes, it’s an improvement on the poster where she’s got her fingertip over the end of the arrow:


And the well used publicity shot from the first film, which looks more like an M.C. Escher painting every time I see it. I mean, is the arrow superglued to the back of her hand or something? And her bow arm angle versus the arrow is very strange…


I should stress that a) I liked the films (although the last act of Catching Fire really dragged) and b) they’ve done a ton for archery. My problem with most of the bad archery in ads and film is that it’s basically as easy to get it right as it is to get it wrong, and the general public recognise when something is authentic. Why get the publicity shots so wrong? I mean, they paid for Khatuna Lorig to train her how to shoot properly, right? That’s Hollywood for you though – get the headline story, and then… ah, whatever.

(ba ba ba ba) fashion

5 December, 2012

Following on from last week’s NYT article about the archery ‘explosion’ in the US – which appears to be replicated in many other countries – someone alerted me to what Louis Vuitton has been up to. For the last seven years LV has been the world’s most valuable luxury brand, and it appears that someone there has been noticing which way the wind is blowing.

Borche plume bleue_non opt_PJ

Broche plume verte_non opt_PJ

From the pitch… “LV releases a pair of archery-themed accessories to complement their men’s Fall/Winter 2012 runway collection. The feather pendant decorating the brooch comes in two color combinations and resembles arrow fletches, imparting a seasonal outdoors feel to whichever garment they accompany. In addition to a silver arrow-shaped pin, the brooch features a Louis Vuitton logo bangle attached to the pendant. The brooch pins are now available for purchase at Louis Vuitton outlets.” 

But that’s not all. At LV’s Boston store, amongst others, someone has been building arrow based window displays in order to sell, um, handbags.



pictures from The Savvy Bostonian. 

Does it stop there? Hell no. Hermès has been sticking archery on the runway recently – as, naturally, the perfect accessories to accompany a decidedly Robin Hood-ish winter collection.


Not to mention a variety of Olympics themed / tagged daftness, flogging beauty products and accessories. Google Images is now full of models/actresses/whatever wanging bows, posing dramatically with compounds against moody skies, and, famously, shooting sighted recurves as if they were barebows…



As to what to make of all this, meh. Archery has been sexed-up this year – rather against its will – by a now familiar combination of films, TV and the Olympics coverage. The fashion world of course has no interest whatsoever in archery as a sport. If, say, fencing had been similarly treated, you’d be seeing sabre brooches and models badly wielding foils on the runway (actually fashion runways are a bit like fencing pistes… this could work…).

On one hand, the aesthetics of archery is a big thing for me. I think bows (particularly recurves) are beautiful things both in use and in their own right; and that’s one of the things I wanted to bring to this archery blog. I can understand why someone would want a piece of that. And if it brings more people into archery, or indeed any sport, all the better. Everyone has to find some route in. It’s not like people don’t quickly find out that ‘being Katniss’ is difficult. On the other hand, it trivialises and reduces an ancient tradition and a modern sport into something – anything – to flog handbags and monograms with.

Still, maybe I could pull off one of those brooches…