The box office isn’t the only place drawing crowds thanks to the release of the second “Hunger Games” film.
The sport of archery is also getting a bump in participation, and those involved with the sport both nationally and close to home say blockbuster movies like “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” play a big part in sparking interest in young people.
According to USA Archery, the national governing body for the Olympic sport, the organization’s membership more than doubled within the past two years, growing from 4,185 in November 2011 to 8,589 in November 2013.
“We definitely attribute much of this growth to ‘The Hunger Games’ films, along with movies like ‘Brave’ and ‘The Avengers,’” USA Archery CEO Denise Parker, a three-time Olympian and Olympic bronze medalist in the sport, said in a statement.
This film-inspired growth has also been the experience of archery clubs in Maryland.
“It’s like every time a movie comes out we see an influx,” said Veronica Miglin, member of the Anne Arundel Archers club.
While Miglin noticed some minimal drop off in the gap between the two “Hunger Games” movies, nationally, growth in archery participation has held steady.
“We just kind of brace ourselves [for movie releases],” Miglin said.
The Anne Arundel Archers club teaches archery classes, and this year, both the spring and fall courses filled up within a day, Miglin said. Now her inbox is flooded with emails from parents hoping to squeeze an enthusiastic child into classes.
Vicki Clem, president of the Mayberry Archers in Maryland, says the spike in those interested in archery is something she embraces.
“If the sport’s going to continue to thrive we need to get more young people involved, and if that’s what these movies are doing then I’m glad,” Clem said. “Whatever it is, I’m glad to see more young people involved.”
Both Clem and Miglin say the increasing interest in archery is split equally between boys and girls, at least at the local level.
Nationally, however, the increasing number of women and girls interested in the sport is significant.
USA Archery has seen a 130 percent increase in female membership between November 2011 and November 2013, with a 65 percent increase within the past year alone.
“Given that archery was also the most-watched sport during NBC’s first week of Olympic Games coverage, we’re hopeful that people who see and try the sport will find out what archery fans already know: it’s an awesome sport, fun and challenging, and one that you can enjoy year-round and for the rest of your life,” Parker said in a statement.
Miglin and Clem agree.
“It’s definitely a social sport,” Miglin said.
She said she has had a number of parents tell her how good the sport is for their son or daughter. Miglin said these parents confided stories about how hard it was for their child to make friends and how archery changed that.
“That’s something I’m proud of,” Miglin said.
She said while competition in archery is primarily against yourself, much like golf, it is also a great way to make friends.
For these same reasons, Clem calls it an ideal sport for families.
“You can all compete against your own sex, your own age group, your own style,” Clem said, “Everybody can do their own thing but they do it together.”
For more information about the sport you can visit U.S. Archery online.