Archery hits the bull’s-eye with kids

May 2, 2012

In schools and back yards, for their birthdays and out with their dads, kids have caught the archery bug, in part because of the hit books and movie “The Hunger Games.” And bull’s-eye fever might just heat up with the Summer Olympics in England.

“All of a sudden, sales of bows have, like, tripled,” said Paul Haines, a salesman at one of the Ramsey Outdoor stores in New Jersey.

A manager there made a sign for the hunting department: “Quality bows for serious archers and girls who saw the movie.”

Archery ranges around the country have seen a lot more interest among kids of both sexes since the movie was released in March, although heroine Katniss — a deadly shot with an arrow — seems more popular with girls.

“Katniss is so inspiring,” said Gabby Lee, who asked for archery lessons for her 12th birthday in February after reading the wildly popular trilogy by Suzanne Collins.

“I’m not very sportsy,” she said, but now she belongs to a youth archery league near her New Jersey home. “It feels really good because I’m usually the girl who sits and reads.”

At 7 years old, Christa Mattessich is too young for “The Hunger Games” books and movies, but she loves archery and has been shooting for about two years.

Abbey Fitzpatrick of Sandy Creek, New York, who turned 11 last month, got her own bow for her birthday. “It’s black. It really looks like Katniss’s bow,” Abbey said. “She was so brave and very heroic in the games.”

Like more than 2 million kids in the United States and other countries, Abbey did archery in gym class this year as part of the National Archery in the Schools Program, which trains teachers in the sport and offers discounts on equipment.

“There’s a lot of buzz among young people about archery right now,” said Roy Grimes, the organization’s president.

The Olympics could bring even more interest in the sport. “We’re thrilled with the awareness and the excitement that ‘The Hunger Games’ has brought to the sport of archery,” said Denise Parker, who runs the program that trains U.S. Olympic archers.

“We’re already receiving feedback from our youth clubs that interest in archery programs in their areas is up significantly,” she said.

Alexis Fleming, 14, of Manor, Pennsylvania, has Olympic dreams. She has participated in the Junior Olympic Archery Development program.

“I like the fact you can ignore the world around you and just focus on where the arrow is going to go,” she said.

Between “The Hunger Games” and the Olympics, there could be another archery boost with the Pixar movie “Brave,” which will be in theaters next month. The fantasy in 3-D computer animation features another young, stubborn archer, Merida, who brings chaos to her kingdom in Scotland.

Associated Press

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