“Hunger Games” fires up Denver kids to take up archery
posted by: Amber Johnson
If 2011 was the year of the vampire, 2012 is the year of the archer — and the trials of “Hunger Games” she-ro Katniss Everdeen are just the tip of the proverbial arrow.
Across the country and throughout the state, archery — long a family hobby for hunters of all ages and genders — is hitting a new sweet spot at the nexus of teen empowerment, youth athletics and weekend outings.
The book trilogy and first movie about a teen in a post-apocalyptic outdoor death match is helping to catapult this quietly blooming pastime to a full-blown, undodgeable phenomenon.
Another mega-blockbuster, “Marvel’s The Avengers,” opened Friday with Jeremy Renner as Marvel’s bow-wielding hero, Hawkeye. In June, Pixar releases “Brave,” the animated tale of a young ace archer who shoots her way to a (hopefully) happy ending.
In July, the sport is will draw special attention as four-time Olympian Khatuna Lorig, Jennifer Lawrence’s personal archery coach for “The Hunger Games,” competes for Olympic gold.
And to fill the superhero void left by Smallville’s cancellation, the CW is currently developing “The Arrow,” a weekly series based on D.C. Comic’s seminal bowman The Green Arrow.
To Phil Mendoza, owner of No Limits Archery in Denver, this modern Agincourt is a boon not only for his business, but for archery itself.
“I’m from Kentucky, and there, thousands of kids shoot. It’s incorporated into schools. It teaches a lot of things, like responsibility. In that way, Colorado is a little behind. I hope this interest helps things here.”
Mendoza has little doubt that “girl on fire” Katniss Everdeen has sparked a rise in archery fever. “Our Friday night youth program doubled in the weeks following the movie’s release,” he says. Almost all the parents who brought their kids mentioned “Hunger Games” as a reason for the interest.
Longmont’s Archery in the Wild owner, Boyd Wild, says that since “Games” hit theaters, “I can barely keep up with demand. But that’s a good problem to have.”
Stewart King, owner of Rocky Mountain Archery in Fort Collins and Junior Olympic Archery Development coach, has also seen increased traffic and interest at his Fort Collins store. As a coach, he’s heard references to the film and noticed the trilogy’s mocking jay symbol popping up around competitions.
His daughter, Samantha, started shooting as soon as she could hold a bow safely on her own, and joined the Junior Olympic program when she was six. Now an 18-year-old senior at Rocky Mountain High School who also helps out with the business, she’s noticed a fresh appreciation for her sport.
“Yeah, it’s neat. People at school will say, ‘Oh, you do archery? I read a book about that.’ And at the shop, I’ve noticed a lot more newbies, especially young girls.”
Samantha Taylor, 13, attends Crestview Middle School in Highlands Ranch and has been shooting for about a year. She wore a hand-drawn mocking jay on her leg at a recent tournament.
“I thought if I put it on my leg, people might be intimidated because they think I’m as good as Katniss,” she said.
After shooting for about a year with Bear Creek Archery’s Englewood Junior Olympic archery program, Samantha has some advice for others contemplating taking up the bow.
“Check it out first. Make sure you like it before you make an investment. You can join a team or just go to random shoots and have fun.”
By Dameon Merkl