The Hunger Games book trilogy and movie, featuring a futuristic, bow-wielding heroine named Katniss Everdeen, hooked Elizabeth Kinson, 13, on archery. For Mia Smith, 7, it was the archer Merida in the animated movie Brave.
Elizabeth, who lives in Burbank, Calif., is “kind of channeling Katniss,” says her dad, Darryl Kinson, who also has taken up the sport. “It’s pretty empowering,” he says.
His daughter says the first time she picked up a bow, “everything felt right. It felt like I was supposed to do this.” She’s taking lessons and says, “I am willing to dedicate all my life to archery to become the best.”
Archery associations, clubs and shops across the nation say the sport is experiencing a surge of interest led by young girls that also includes boys, women and men. They expect even more attention after archery competitions at the Summer Olympic Games in London.
Affiliate clubs of USA Archery, which fields the Olympic team, “are overwhelmed with new archers — especially young women — wanting to try the sport,” says USA Archery spokeswoman Teresa Iaconi. The organization doesn’t track participation by gender, but she says its youth divisions are now its largest.
Bruce Cull, president of the National Field Archery Assocation, says membership is up about 5% this year, largely driven by younger archers. “Hollywood has had a huge impact on archery,” he says. “Young girls see the appeal because they see somebody cool doing it.”
Boys enthusiastic, too
Van Webster, director of instruction for the Pasadena Roving Archers, a non-profit California club that offers free lessons for first-timers, says it’s a good sport for youngsters because it’s safe and easy to learn.
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