The Suddenly Popular Practice of Archery

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On the subject of most popular sports archery isn’t typically the first thing that comes to mind. But thanks to pop culture icons and fictional characters like Katniss Everdeen from the Hunger Games or Oliver Queen from CW’s The Arrow, archery is enjoying a new surge in popularity.

Film viewers who see characters like The Avenger’s Hawk Eye or the Hobbit’s Legolas become inspired to visit archery ranges and are encouraged by trainers to improve their accuracy and skill by practicing daily.

Although the popular media that created the fascination with archery might fall out of the lime light as early as next fall, the interest in archery has a good chance of surviving for many years. That’s because it’s not just adults taking up bows and arrows. Spend a few hours at an archery range and you’re likely to see more kids practicing than anyone else.  A strong youth presence is a vital life line for any sport or activity.

Imagine an elementary school age kid with a bow and arrow. Better yet imagine 20 of them; that might sound like the beginning of a disaster waiting to happen but for Smith Point Archery in Bayshore that is a typical weekend. The range and store hosts birthday parties at which all the guests are given a lesson in safe and fun archery practice.

“They can shoot as long as they can hold a bow and follow instructions” said a volunteer working at Smith Point Archery. The birthday party guests are given recurve bows and aluminum tipped arrows (that’s right, real arrows). They typically host 2 parties a month, but the range is open and visited by enthusiasts young and old daily.

Craig Wagner who has worked at Smith Point Archery for 13 years marked the change in the public’s attitude to archery. “On average 50 people come to the store, some to buy, some to shoot. There are days when we get more and other days when we get less.”

“It’s gone up lot in the last couple of years. Various movies like hunger games have brought in a lot of kids and women. We used to be mostly men and hunters.”

The only downside of having Hollywood inspire archers is that they might take up the hobby with Hollywood degrees of expectations, but Wagner didn’t seem too worried about that.

“The girl who played Katniss [Jennifer Lawrence] took professional lessons. How she shot the bow is very realistic” said Wagner.  “The scene where she puts a rock on a string and shoots it to make the deer move is totally Hollywood, that doesn’t really work.”

The jump from film archery to the actual practice means that fans will have to decide on their preferred equipment. With the exception of CW’s the Arrow most fictional archers popular today sport a simple more traditional recurve bow.

“There are a lot of people getting into archery with a recurve. But the compound bow, because of the hunting population is more popular” said Wagner.

“I was a rifle hunter, then I wanted to hunt Long island, you have to be a bow hunter to hunt long island for deer so I took up archery and then fell in love with it’ Said Wagner. “No longer do I hunt with a rifle.”

“It’s more challenging; it requires a discipline that’s not required with rifle hunting” said Wagner about hunting with a bow. “You have to be very stealthy about when you move and how you take a shot, there is a certain amount of precision required to get that clean kill. It’s a lot more intense than rifle shooting, that’s what I like about it.”

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