The earliest people known to have used bows and arrows were the ancient Egyptians, who began using the tools at least 5,000 years ago for hunting and warfare purposes. Archery probably dates to the Stone Age, around 20,000 years ago.
An enormous resurgence in the interest in archery has taken place in modern times. Much of the credit is given to Fred Bear, one of the world’s great archers. Modern bow hunting seasons began in the United States after WWII. The archery industry has grown by leaps and bounds, especially after the introduction of compound bows and crossbows for hunting purposes.
Archery is now the fastest growing sport in the United States, largely due to a great influx of kids, primarily girls and women in the last two years. This sudden explosion in interest is credited to two films, The Hunger Games and Brave. Both depicted teenage girls wielding bows.
A recent Archery Trade Association survey indicated that approximately 8 percent of U.S. residents participated in archery in 2012. That amounts to one in every 12.5 people, 88.9 million. The majority, 55 percent, participated only in target archery, while 35% participated in both target shooting and hunting. The ATA survey only included those over 18.
Similar growth is reported around the world. Archery was the most watched sport shown on Cable TV during the 2012 Olympics.
Beyond the influence of Pop culture and movies on archery, other factors are involved. The National Archery in the Schools Program began as a joint venture between the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, The Department of Education and Mathews Archery in 2001. Changing lives one arrow at a time, NASP looks for ways to improve student motivation, attention, behavior, attendance and focus as well as teach a life long skill and connect students with wild things and wild places in the process.
The 2014 National Archery in the Schools National Championships were held in Madison, Wisconsin with 2,400 student archers and families from 198 schools, 28 states, 2 Canadian provinces and South Africa attending. Tens of thousands more students participate across the country at their local schools.
So why the big surge in interest in archery? A combination of forces seem to have influenced the growth over the last several decades. Essentially, archery is a part of who we are as a human race. It is a part of our ancient history and in modern times has grown to a fantasy world stigma. From Genghis Kahn to Robin Hood, from Rambo to Avatar, our world is full of archery heroes. “Lord of the Rings,” “For Your Eyes Only,” “Prince of Persia,” “Troy,” and many other movies have romanticized archery. And beautiful people like Kevin Costner, Christian Slater, Brad Pitt, Jennifer Lawrence and Kelly Macdonald set the stage for fan fantasies to begin.
Regardless of the sources for inspiration, interest in archery is at an all time high. It has never been easier to get involved. To start your child in archery, contact your local school officials.
By Bill Cooper, outdoor writer
Posted Nov. 27, 2014 @ 12:01 am