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Archery a popular “Hunger Games” offshoot in Placer County area

Bow fans have many Placer County, area archery options
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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AUBURN CA - A hit in movie theaters and with readers, “The Hunger Games” is creating a hunger for archery that can be sated in the Placer County area. Placer County, El Dorado County and Nevada County all have archery ranges for newcomers to the sport to try out bows and arrows to emulate “Hunger Games” character Katniss Everdeen. The film came out in late March and earned $152.5 million in North America during its first week to become the biggest non-sequel debut ever. The film is a science-fiction-action adventure tale that features a 16-year-old girl battling other teens for survival. For Everdeen, played by Jennifer Lawrence (an Academy Award nominee for “Winter’s Bone”), the weapon of choice is a bow and arrow. Lawrence is seen hunting for game as well as protecting herself from fellow “Hunger Games” competitors. Across the county, archery has become a new, cool sport to look into. Lisa Pole, archery instructor at Rocklin’s Wilderness Archery, said she’s noticed a big increase in interest. “It looks easy in a movie and any time archery is featured, it spikes,” Pole said. It happened with “Lord of the Rings” and again when the “Narnia” tales were released as movies, she said. Pole added that “The Hunger Games” bow use might not be the most realistic to appear on the screen but that’s to be expected. “It seems more girls are interested this time than boys,” Pole said. “I haven’t seen the movie but the style of draw isn’t conducive to the time frame. It’s a movie.” Pole said she’s concerned that youths get instruction as well as a bow and arrows from mom and dad. “I worry because I teach kids all the time the proper way to draw and safety measures so they don’t hit a friend, a dog or a cat,” Pole said. “If they don’t get a good instructional foundation, they can also destroy their shoulders.” And archery isn’t easy for some. “Some are naturals and others really struggle,” Pole said. Some of the options for target shooting locally include the Nevada County Sportsmen’s Range, near Nevada City, the Maya Archers location in Roseville, and El Dorado Hills Archery Range in El Dorado County. Tom Grube, president of the El Dorado Hills group, said that even without “The Hunger Games” movie coming out in late March, archery has been strong, with classes filling fast and often having a waiting list. Grube said that the club has about 200 family and individual memberships, with probably 400 shooters actively participating. About 10 percent of the total are women, with some extremely active, including one woman who recently shot an elk on a hunting trip, he said. The bow as a trendy accessory has its precedents. Who can forget Sylvester Stallone and his headband as he used a bow in “Rambo.” Veteran archer Pat Norris of Norris Archery in Nevada County said that the bow Stallone used in the movie was already popular. “I sold 35 Rambo bows that year and only one person said it was because they saw the movie,” Norris said. “All the rest were because it was a good bow.” The Associated Press reported that archery ranges around the country have become a destination for youthful archer wannabes who have seen “The Hunger Games.” Placer County is no exception. Carlos Rodriguez, president of Roseville’s Maya Archers club, said “The Hunger Games” grabbed the attention of young women and he’s noticed more are taking part. “But there were already plenty of female archers who have an interest and love to hunt,” Rodriguez said. “Now women and girls are wondering what archery is all about and how to get started. Once they get to know how to shoot a bow, they really enjoy it.” For Rodriguez, the offshoot of “The Hunger Games” is that people are gravitating to a sport that is as much fun for its social opportunities as it is for its skill-building. “You get to meet a lot of nice people to shoot with,” Rodriguez said. And if the world is ever sent topsy-turvy and “The Hunger Games” becomes a reality, they’ll be ready.