At this point, it’s pretty much common knowledge in the archery community that The Hunger Games and other pop culture phenomena caused a huge increase in archery participation, particularly in the younger demographics. The Hunger Games in particular seemed to be a massive driving factor. In 2011, a year before the first film, youth membership in USA Archery was at a stagnate 974. Three years and three Hunger Games movies later, USA Archery reported youth membership exploding to 4,535 members. This is more than a 300-percent increase, seemingly all thanks to our fierce and formidable bow-and-arrow-wielding heroine.
Kids love to emulate the things that fascinate them in media. When a new Star Wars comes out, they’re pretending to fight with lightsabers. When a new Avengers come out they’re taking turns being Iron Man or the Hulk. The difference with archery is that they can go to a range and actually shoot a bow instead of just pretending. And the act of actually doing instead of pretending has the potential to impact them to a further extent. Pop culture has planted that seed but it’s up to us to nurture it. Programs like JOAD (Junior Olympic Archery Development) are powerful tools for enriching young minds with a passion for this sport.
The bottom line is this: Pop culture got the ball rolling, but it’s still up to the individuals in this industry to ensure that interest continues to thrive. Archery is fun, and it can be addictive. Although archery’s legacy dates back to the dawn of man, and we will always have a connection to it, we just need a little spark to ignite a new generation of passionate archers. So marathon The Hunger Games, put up posters of Hawkeye, reach out to local schools with deals for kids and let’s see how much more we can grow.