Olympics and ‘The Hunger Games’ fuel higher interest in archery

By Corene Brisendine

Archery hit a bull’s-eye this year. Its popularity has soared as several movies featuring the sport hit the big screen recently. The most notable of these is “The Hunger Games,” which came out of DVD this week, and stars Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen, a bow-hunting survivalist. “Brave,” Disney’s new animated film, also features a young girl who is skilled in archery. Even “Snow White and the Huntsman” has a bowman or two running about.

Another draw for archery this year was the summer Olympics. NBC reported that 219.4 million people watched the summer Olympics, and archery drew 1.5 million, beating out basketball, according to The New York Times.

And there’s connection between Hollywood and the London games: U.S. Olympic archer Khatuna Lorig trained Jennifer Lawrence in archery for her role in “The Hunger Games.”

With “The Hunger Games” out on DVD, and archery ousting basketball as a popular Olympic sport, it is no wonder why people in Manhattan are also joining in the hunt.

Jim Shipman, owner of Kaw Valley Archery said he hasn’t seen much of an increase from movie-goers, but Olympic archery seems to have drawn customers.

“I think the Olympics had a bigger impact,” he said.

One area Shipman said he has seen a large increase in is bow fishing — which is basically shooting fish with a bow and arrow.

He said last year the company sold 60 fish arrows, but this year it has sold more than 130. A fish arrow is a solid fiberglass arrow, while a hunting arrow is made of carbon, aluminum, cedar or poplar.

USD 383 officials said increased interest has led local schools to expand and upgrade the archery programs in Manhattan schools. Last year, Amanda Arnold and Woodrow Wilson elementary schools offered archery through a Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism initiative, Archery in Schools, which promotes student education in shooting sports. This year, all the other elementary schools are offering it, too, as part of their physical education classes.

According to the department’s website, “The focus of the program is to provide international style target archery training in fourth-12th grade physical education classes.”

The department offers a certification in instruction and up to $1,300 toward the purchase of an archery instructional kit that includes all the equipment necessary to teach students how to shoot.

“This particular program has provided compound bows and equipment, which are safer and easier for the kids to use,” said Lon Ostrom, elementary physical education teacher.

Carol Adams, executive director of USD 383, said that all the elementary physical education teachers have completed the training by the state wildlife department. As a result, all the equipment for all the schools in the district were provided by the state free of charge.

Even though the schools have responded to the demand, kids and adults have other opportunities to hone their skills. An area 4-H archery program offers classes every winter, Shipman said. And a local adult archery club also hosts tournaments for participants as far away as Nebraska.

So whether your idol is Katniss Everdeen or Khatuna Lorig, there are plenty of ways to become a bow-and-arrow pro.

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