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Hunger Games revives Swedish archery clubs

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Hunger Games revives Swedish archery clubs
The Hunger Games (L) and scenes from the Stockholm Archery Club. Photos: TT, Ann Törnkvist
06:52 CET+01:00
Swedish archery clubs have seen an upswing in membership numbers in past years, with young teenage girls - many inspired by bow-slinging heroine Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games - helping to revive the dying sport.

The aesthetic and mental appeal of archery has been transmitted to a new generation of archers, part of an upswing that the Stockholm Archery Club said became very clear when the first of The Hunger Games trilogy made it to the Swedish silver screen in 2012.

The tale of Katniss Everdeen, who teaches herself to hunt to feed her family in a poor and repressed district of a repressive state, sees the strong young woman turn her archery skills into survival gear when she is threwn into the arena with other children.

Swedish teenage girls now make up most of the club's new membership, which has reached roughly 150 archers. While the sport has previously been a bit of a "lad's dominion" (gubbvälde), treasurer Kicki Priklonsky said that many girls have what it takes to excel at the sport. 

"Girls don't throw their golf clubs in the pond after a failed swing, so to speak," noted Priklonsky. "You have to do exactly the same thing a million times. In the ways that the female personality is still different to boys', women are often more patient."

The Stockholm Archery Club trains in the picturesque Norra Djurgården park in Stockholm in the summers, allowing youngster outdoor time while also offering mental respite from the pressures of everyday life. The same holds true for adults.

"If you are thinking about your job, you'll notice that arrow isn't sitting where it should once you've shot," Priklonsky said. "If you want any kind of decent result, you need to turn your thoughts off." 

Archers, however, will always have their thoughts turned on when it comes to Hollywood depictions of archery. A common mistake is when the archer does not pull the bowstring back all the way until the hand rests on his or her cheek properly. Priklonsky's 13-year-old son, who picked up a bow and arrow long before Katniss Everdeen invaded movie posters bow ablaze, said actress Jennifer Lawrence wielded her weapon correctly.

And hopefully, so will the new generation of archers, who have helped revive a sport which was experiencing dwindling membership numbers. Across Sweden, membership figures in the clubs were up by 20 percent in 2013 compared to the year prior. Young teens made up the bulk of new recruits, and of them, the majority have been girls. 

"It's an age old thing, the need to aim and hit something," Priklonsky said. "You'll see the youngest child pick up a rock and want to throw it at something." 

 

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