[via Gentlemen’s Essentials]
“In every class, I ask them what makes them want to do archery and at least one will say Hunger Games or the little ones its ‘I want to be Merida in Brave’,” Ms Norman said.
So is quoted an archery coach in Victoria, Australia, and you can read the full article and watch the video here:
“Archery Victoria’s president Irene Norman said its membership had shot up over the past four years from 777 members in 2010 to 1740 in February this year as it rode a wave of popular culture references that was drawing new members every week… It is not just little girls and teenagers either. Ms Norman said there were women in their 30s who came to archery clubs wearing Mockingjay pins.
“Sometimes I have to explain they won’t be able to get the effect they want if they use the same type of bow as in The Hunger Games,” she said.”
So it appears the ‘Katniss Effect’ is still packing them in to beginners courses around the world. This article is just one in a long line of similar newspaper and media features in the last couple of years, from the New York Times (twice) to NPR to the Guardian and the Telegraph amongst many others. It’s almost become a cliche – the interest in and take-up of archery, especially recurve and especially among teenage girls, has gone through the roof – what’s more interesting is that it seems to be sustained.
The main problem for archery as a community is sustaining all that enthusiasm and interest when the fantasy meets the reality, probably via a battered Samick Polaris in a chilly sports hall. Some are directly engaging with this, such as the publicity work of Archery 360 for the ATA, but it may well be on the ground that people really needs nurturing. Often, people’s entire experience and future in target archery hinges on the personality of the local club secretary or archery shop staff – who might just be having a bad day, or (in the USA) may be busy explaining the penetration capabilities of scary-looking broadheads to a guy dressed in camo instead.
Everywhere, the image of the sport needs modernising. There needs to be an ever-simpler and clearer path to welcome a wider demographic to the sport from the groundswell of interest which, with another film due in November and Rio on the horizon, seems set to continue.
The entertainment in the film and the various others is just that – it’s not the sport – but it can take people places. I’ve mentioned several times on this blog why I think the ‘Katniss Effect’ is a good thing (with plenty of reservations about the posters, and I’m not the only one). I personally know someone who took up archery after watching the film only a couple of years ago, and last December made the cut in women’s recurve at the UK Indoor National Championship besting several current UK internationals in the process. It’s entirely possible that the Olympic champion at Tokyo 2020 (or even sooner?) will owe that original spark of interest to a movie.
The hardest archery tournament in the world. The Korea Archery Association have finished their yearly recurve selection tournament in Donghae City, a brutal week involving six 70m rounds and three days of head to head shooting – and apparently in miserably cold and rainy conditions, too. The top eight, in order, in each gender are:
1. Kim Woojin (2011 world champion), who absolutely dominated the men’s division.
2. Lee Woo Seok (2014 Youth Olympics champion)
3. Shin Jae Hun (promising Korean cadet in 2008, fallen off the international radar for a few years)
4. Im Dong Hyun (what hasn’t he won?)
5. Oh Jin Hyuk (2012 Olympic champ, amongst much else)
6. Lee Seungyun (2013 world champion) – had the top 70m score with 695.
7. Ku Bonchan (brought home silverware last year)
8. Lee Seung Shin (seems to be new on the block)
1. Ki Bo Bae (2012 Olympic champion)
2. Jeon Sungeun (Team LH pro, Bangkok 2014 indoor champion, 2013 WA Youth champion, 2013 Vegas shoot champ too)
3. Chang Hye Jin (Team LH pro, 2014 Antalya individual champion, 2014 Asian Games team gold)
4. Choi Mi Seon (20 years old, and on the Guangzhou University team – that’s all I’ve got)
5. Heung Soo Nam (Cheongju City Hall team)
6. Lee Tuk Young (2006 and 2014 Asian Games team gold medallist)
7. Kang Chae Young (was a cadet in 2011)
8. Park Mi Kyung (last seen on the international stage in 2003!)
Archers who didn’t make the cut include veterans Yun Ok Hee and Joo Hyun Jung (who has apparently retired), and perhaps most surprisingly, Jung Dasomi, last year’s Asian Games individual champion. There are further warmup tournaments next month which may narrow down the eight to a front-line four that will likely contest the big events.
The biggest story of all is the triumphant return of Ki Bo Bae, likely to the head of the team, after failing to make the 2014 squad due to a shoulder injury. She had maintained considerable form, managing to shoot a 1391 FITA last year for her pro team – even though a TV news piece at the end of last year hinted she might be retiring from international archery. Also, Im Dong Hyun, who was slightly in the wilderness in 2014, has achieved a truly staggering 13th consecutive selection for the national team.
It’s an interesting mix of familiar faces, veterans and youngsters; the real ones to watch might be the young wunderkinds Choi Mi Seon, who was leading the ranking round for two days, and Youth Olympic champion Lee Woo Seok (who, rumour has it, scored 710 for a 70m round earlier this year). If they deliver this season, who would actually bet against an Olympic medal next year?
EDIT: and here they all are (via the KAA)
“No matter how rock steady you are the dot moves… it really does. The question is, does yours move as little as the best in the game, or more? Either way the goal should be to trust your shot, shoot through the movement and not try and overdrive it or overcontrol it. Get it in the middle, let it float there, execute… it’ll be good.”
There’s something else here – this video looks and sounds amazing. Calm and elegant. Zen. Relaxing. I could watch it for hours.
(Hmmm. via here)
Did you know that some of the first coins of all, and the first thought to have borne royal or imperial likenesses were of Darius the Great, ruler of Persia in the 5th century BC, and they depicted him as an archer?
The coins played a major part in making the modern world. Via Wikipedia:
“Darius introduced a new universal currency, the daric sometime before 500 BCE, which came in gold and silver versions. The gold daric had a standard weight of 8.4 grams with a purity of 95.83%, and it bore the image of the Persian king or a great warrior armed with a bow and arrow. Darius used the coinage system as a transnational currency to regulate trade and commerce throughout his empire. The daric was also recognized beyond the borders of the empire, in places such as Celtic Central Europe and Eastern Europe… Trade goods such as textiles, carpets, tools and metal objects began to travel throughout Asia, Europe and Africa. Their use ended with Alexander the Great‘s invasion in 330 BC when they were melted down and recoined as coins of Alexander. “
“In ancient times, the coin was actually nicknamed “the archer”. For instance, the Spartan king Agesilaus II remarked that he had been driven out of Asia by “ten thousand archers”, referring to the bribes distributed by the Persian King.“
Just watched this documentary from the early 2000s about Bhutan featuring archer Tshering Chhoden, who competed for the Himalayan nation in the Olympics. It might be the only country in the world where archery is the national sport, but it takes serious dedication to be an archer in a region where the selection competition might be a terrifying 20-hour bus journey away.
Tshering had an interesting Olympic career, which you can read about here (no spoilers). The film also covers a traditional archery competition in a nation where literally every village has an archery field. Most archers compete hit-or-miss at a distance of about 145 meters (476 feet) – interestingly, the same standard distance as Korean traditional archery.
Archery, luck, tradition and religion are closely intertwined in Bhutan. I’m willing to bet your local county tournament doesn’t involve specially composed songs sung by everyone’s wives, ritual magic involving menstrual blood, or a ban on sex the night before. The star of the film is really the extraordinary country and its culture, poised on the precipice of modernity – although it’s reassuring to see that rude jokes and playing cards for cash are cultural universals, amongst much else. Enjoy.
FYI: this seems to be a re-voiceovered version of a German documentary called Die Bogenschützin von Bhutan (The Archer Of Bhutan) – with a barely-edited English translation, and the credits stripped off for some reason. Anyway, enjoy.
More on Bhutanese archery: this article on the national championships from the New York Times in 2013.
Bow and arrow from the Solomon Islands circa 1920s. Both are covered with elaborately plaited cane, which at least suggests that they were status symbols rather than efficient hunting weapons. That arrow reminds me of a multi-stage rocket…
These are 19th century Aboriginal Australian arrowheads knapped from scavenged glass.
From an article on another museum’s website: “Since first contact, Australian Aboriginal people have ingeniously adapted discarded European goods from campsites, shipwrecks and rubbish to their own ends. Salvaged clear, green and brown bottle glass was often used for knife blades, spearheads and arrowheads because it could be flaked using a large pebble, in much the same way as quartz, from which most traditional blades were made…. a sharp stick or animal bone was used to ‘pressure flake’ very fine, serrated edges.”
Away from archery, possibly the greatest treasure of the MAA is one of the Star Carr red-deer headresses which looks like something out of True Detective; 9,500 years old and looking probably as strange and terrifying as it did then. The human need for ritual and magical thinking goes back a long way.