David Boggs, my friend and outdoor videographer, called me wondering if there was anything that could be done to celebrate the release of Catching Fire. We hashed out an idea to be present at local theaters for the opening weekend. David, along with the staff and instructors from Girt’s Archery and Backwater Legacies executed these events reported these results…
“3 central Indiana theaters allowed us to set up an archery display, booth, and experience for the opening of Hunger Games: Catching Fire. The theater chains were Diana, Regal, and United Artists. The booth consisted of a 60″ flat screen TV that was playing a DVD showing a brief promo for all the different archery sports and archery exhibition shooting As well as pictures that showed archery is for everyone from 8 to 80. At one location we set up the SAFE Archery experience with the hovering ping pong balls. The various types of equipment Arrows, points and heads, bows etc. were on display. We passed out informational fliers that listed all the archery pro shops within a 30 mile radius. During the 3 day event, 1500 fliers were handed out and Within 6 days, after having been featured on numerous social media websites, this promotion went viral and other shops across the country followed our lead. Local Boy scouts, Girl scouts, and 4-H chapters all report higher than usual interest in their shooting programs. 30 days later sales were up about 23% for the 5 local shops that I could get ahold of. However, interest in training and classes were up 200% with some locations having waiting lists. All Shops in a 40 mile radius reported almost all archery classes were full to near full. Classes are usually 20-30 individuals, and all scheduled upcoming classes up to September were full as well. 96% of the classes were made up of youth (under 18). Interestingly the majority were female (approx. 63%) and were 10-16 yrs. of age. Young boys were slightly up and there seems to be 4 to 6 adult women in each class. When asked how they got interested in archery about 40% say Legolas, Arrow, Hunger Games, Avengers, etc. and the remaining 60% say personal interests, friends or family”.
These are just a couple of examples of the grassroots activism that is attempting to reach these new demographics and make the sport available to all comers. As Dave alludes to, social media as well as dedicated coaches and volunteers can take things to unprecedented levels, IF and only if we are willing to think outside the box and take action in order to reach out to these new old demographics.
There are many folks in Hollywood that enjoy archery and they work throughout the entertainment industry. Some you have probably seen, others you may watch every week, and still more you will never see unless you frame advance the credits. The photos with this article are of my personal experiences sharing archery with actors , actresses, models, and behind the camera folks, but there are some who enjoy archery regularly that might surprise you. Frank Stallone, Stana Katic, Harry Humphries, and Geena Davis and Erik Estrada just to name a few. However, there is, or was, one actress who was bold enough to proclaim her enjoyment of bowhunting in front of the world via “Jimmy Kimmel Live”, even shooting her bow on the show. Eliza Dushku subsequently received the full force of PETA’s wrath while the sporting community remained virtually silent and several months later stated that she would no longer talk about it. I have no idea if she walked away from the sport or just went silent, but either way it is a tragic failure of our side and should never happen again… to ANYONE who wants to enjoy our sport. I’ll leave the Google searching for you to do on your own since it’s too late now to reverse the damage.
In closing, I say thank you Hollywood for opening such a great sport up to millions of new shooters of all ages. I also say to archers, bowhunters, coaches and pro-shop owners don’t be afraid to reach out, embrace the opportunities before you and shine like a red carpet premier.