Katniss Everdeen, the reluctant leader of the revolution in “The Hunger Games,” has changed bows as often as she’s changed wardrobes. (Kidding!)
But seriously, Jennifer Lawrence’s popular character and expert archer has switched bows several times during the series. Those changes started with “The Hunger Games,” when she shot two different bows. In “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” Jennifer Lawrence sported a Hoyt Buffalo. And the mystery of the “Mockingjay” bow has been solved: J-Law is shooting a Savannah bow from Martin Archery’s Damon Howatt line.
Lance Irving, Chief Sales & Marketing Officer at Martin Archery, says the bow is lightweight, easy to use and – in his opinion – has the right look and feel for the blockbuster hit.
“We are extremely honored to have one of our most popular traditional bows selected by the ‘Hunger Games’ team. From what we understand, they wanted to go for a different look and feel as well as have Ms. Lawrence’s input from a shootability standpoint in the final installment of the movie and our Savannah checked all the boxes,” stated Irving.
Katniss’ Bows: An Evolution Fit for a Revolution
Katniss Everdeen’s first bow, a longbow, appears in the beginning of “The Hunger Games” as she hunts squirrels with Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth). Katniss’ longbow is made of wood, and appears to have additional material on its top limb. We asked Olympian John Magera, a dedicated barebow shooter, what it might be.
“It appears they tried to re-create a fairly common repair you see on many Native American bows,” Magera said. “When a limb developed a crack, the Native American [archer] would wrap that part of the limb with sinew – tendon from a mammal – to keep it from breaking. That’s my best guess. If I were in her shoes in the movie, and my limb started to crack, I’d do the same thing, so it’s somewhat realistic.”
As the movie progresses, Katniss gets her next bow from the Cornucopia of Doom (OK, perhaps a little dramatic), which turns out to be a whitish-gray recurve bow. Again, Katniss shoots barebow-style: just the bow, an arrow and the bowstring. We presume she has some kind of a rest to hold the arrow in place, or perhaps she’s shooting off a felt or fur pad on the bow shelf, which would make sense for a barebow archer.
In “Catching Fire,” however, our reluctant revolutionary makes another equipment change, this time to the Hoyt Buffalo and Easton X-7 Eclipse arrows.
Mike Luper, vice president of sales and marketing for Hoyt, explained: “The Hoyt Buffalo… already had a movie history, since Hawkeye shot it in ‘The Avengers’ movie. The movie’s director, prop master and actress all had input in selecting the bow for ’Catching Fire.’
“The Hoyt Buffalo was built to be a high-end hunting bow for anyone who wanted to shoot a lightweight traditional bow that was easy to carry and had classic traditional lines,” Luper continued.
“The limb-pocket system reduced the load on the riser by 40 percent, a unique design Hoyt introduced three or four years ago. For 2014, the Buffalo bow will be offered with a silver riser and black limbs, just like the one Katniss shoots in ‘The Hunger Games.’”
So why the change for “Mockingjay?” Apparently, it all came down to what the props crew needed.
Martin became involved with the movie when the prop house called looking for quality traditional bows. Martin reportedly sent a few bows for consideration, including an extremely customized Savannah, with a draw weight of less than 18 pounds. The appeal of the light poundage was the ability for the prop shop to short-string the bow in order to use the lighter limbs to create different aesthetics.
In many parts of the movie, viewers will see the bow having a very long brace height which helps the bow achieve the look of a recurve/longbow hybrid. It’s noted, however, that users shouldn’t try that trick at home: Martin Archery recommends using the standard string length to safely achieve maximum efficiency and performance.
This is not the first time a Martin Archery bow has been used on a big stage. A Damon Howatt Hunter was used to help light the Olympic torch at the 1992 Barcelona games. Additionally, Martin Archery bows have been used in films and shows such as Rambo IV, Dukes of Hazzard and Killing Season.
“Martin is happy to help contribute to the ‘Hunger Games’ series and hopes that the continued featuring of bows in popular culture will drive further growth in the archery industry by drawing people of all ages and from all demographics to this great sport,” concluded Irving.
If we read Suzanne Collins’ “Mockingjay” book, we know that Beetee Latier – District 3 tribute and brilliant scientist – crafted a bow just for Katniss, with a fairly nondescript appearance but very special capabilities: it communicates nonverbally with her. Is this the very same bow that Katniss uses to take out a Capitol hovercraft with explosive arrows? Find out at a theater near you.