Bows and Arrows on the Big
Screen: Did They Get
It Right? Bows and Arrows on the Big Screen: Did They Get It Right?

So you’ve seen archery at the movies, but did you see talented archers or just great actors with fair archery skills? If you’re new to the sport, it can be tough to distinguish Olympic gold medalists from those who received only basic archery coaching.

Check out our review of three famous archers who recently graced the silver screen:

Katniss Everdeen in “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”

Jennifer Lawrence had a leg up on her archery competitors in this blockbuster film. She was coached by Khatuna Lorig, a five-time archery Olympian known as a fierce competitor with strong technique. But did Lawrence’s 15 sessions with Lorig pay off? We think yes. Lawrence’s Katniss establishes a solid anchor point, meaning she draws the bowstring to the same place under her chin each time. When she releases the bowstring, her draw hand stays close to her jaw and moves back for a solid follow-through. Still, we’ll nitpick: Katniss draws the string to a point under her chin, an anchor point most often used by Olympic-style archers using a sight. For a longbow without a sight – Katniss’ bow of choice – we recommend anchoring in the corner of the mouth or side of the face. Even so, with that famous apple shot, Katniss Everdeen started an archery revolution, making her Hollywood’s toxophilite queen.

Princess Merida in “Brave”

Again, an archery background seems to pay dividends. Rumor has it that at least one of the film’s directors took part in USA Archery’s Junior Olympic Archery Development (JOAD) program. We believe it, because Princess Merida boasts the most technically perfect shooting form we’ve seen outside of the Olympic Games. When this fired-up princess shoots for her own hand in marriage, she makes several improbable shots, including a remarkable “Robin Hood” – shooting one arrow into another. She does so with flawless technique: a perfect anchor point, a strong release, and perfect follow-through. In archery, small details matter. Watch the video and note the director even got the arrow’s flight path correct during the slow-motion sequence right before Princess Merida nails that arrow-splitting Robin Hood.

Hawkeye in “The Avengers”

Jeremy Renner does a great job making archery look cool in this film, but how about his technique? We saw a few flaws in his shooting form, but besides shooting his bow sideways while falling off a building, Renner’s Hawkeye delivers a perfectly respectable archery performance. A couple of takeaways for newbie archers: Note Hawkeye’s bow-arm position. It’s hyperextended while shooting, which could lead to a nasty arm bruise. Always rotate and straighten your bow-side elbow. Speaking of elbows, we agree with GeekDad that Hawkeye’s draw-side elbow is high. It should point slightly upward; just enough that the elbow position feels natural and comfortable. This allows you to pull the bow with your back muscles. Despite these small flaws, Hawkeye delivers a cool archery performance under pressure, making “The Avengers” well worth watching for bow-and-arrow fans.

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