The Promotion of Bad Archery

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Archery is trending in movies and TV series these days, and this is something that a lot of archery clubs are really excited about! Movies such as the Hunger Games and the Hobbit have sparked the interest for many young people to take up archery, but many of them arrive at archery courses only to learn that their heroes are actually doing it wrong.

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It was this very picture that was released not long ago that triggered me to write this blog post, because once again the heroine Katniss Everdeen is promoting bad archery. Ok, we can ignore her pose for this. It is a poster after all and it is meant to be an in-action shot. But what bothers me is her finger (once again) wrapping over her fully drawn arrow.

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It is certainly not the first time we see Katniss do this very mistake, and it bothers me so much because Jennifer Lawrence has received proper archery training from Khatuna Lorig, five-time Olympic archery winner. So why does she keep placing her finger over that arrow every single time?

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For those of you who don’t know, placing your finger over the arrow does nothing for you at all. You lose your concentration when you remove it before you release the arrow, most likely causing you to miss, and if you don’t remove it, you are hindering the arrow. The fletching will also cut your fingers, so it is not recommended at all.

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Now the “Girl on Fire” certainly isn’t the only sinner that has appeared on the big screen. In the Hobbit trilogy, the fans were excited to see Legolas return with his amazing bow skills. But this time he wasn’t the only archer. Bard the Bowman, the killer of the dragon Smaug from the books, and the character Tauriel who was created for the movies are both bow-wielding fighters who appear in the trilogy. And they are both helping to promote bad archery.

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Now Bard, (portrayed by Luke Evans) is not the worst of the two. But it is his choice to draw the string “upside-down” that makes me question his technique. Evans claims it helped him draw the longbow all the way back, but I have shot a longbow myself and I can confirm that it does not help you any more than pulling it the “correct” way. He is shooting a longbow after all and should not need to alter the technique in order to shoot better.

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It is Tauriel (portrayed by Evangeline Lily) that really bothers me. One of the first promo pictures we saw of her is the one above. I posted this picture in 2013 in an attempt to demonstrate proper archery techniques compared to the one seen in the shot. It has been argued that because the bow Tauriel shoots resembles the Mongolian Horsebow (which I also shoot), it is correct to place the arrow on the right side of the bow. However, if she were to do this, she would have to use the  Mongolian draw instead of the Mediterranean draw.

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It should also be mentioned that Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) did not demonstrate a correct technique either in the extended edition of the Desolation of Smaug.

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Luckilly, the characters of Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and Kili (Aidan Turner) was there to save the movies with proper archery techniques!

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Also going to mention Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) in the Avengers and Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) from Avatar:

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A lot of these wrongs have been done in promo pictures for the movie, and are often the pictures used to show the character as an archer. This saddens me a lot, because it does nothing but promote bad archery techniques.

We are holding a beginner’s class in archery next week and I can almost guarantee I will have to tell at least one of the beginners to remove their finger from the arrow. Just because Katniss does it doesn’t mean it is correct.

I keep hoping that Hollywood will soon catch on and realise that they are in fact promoting bad archery, but judging from the new Mockingjay poster, we still have a long way to go.

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3 thoughts on “The Promotion of Bad Archery

  1. Adam

    I really appreciate that you wrote this, I too have been really bothered by the portrayal of archery in those movies. I hope that your blog post helps inform others that are new to archery.

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  2. Jonathan Udbye

    the reason for this is in the last picture of Jennifer Lawrence where the arrow has slipped because she has to hold a pose with a bow. The draw of the bow they use for such shoots are of course very low but it still has to be one since it would not look as good without. Ad to this the pure weight of the bow and arrow and hold it up drawn for a minute or two whilst they get lights and angles, lower and repeat in a new pose again and again.

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  3. I am a bow maker, so my problem is not really how shot as much as the horrible props movies try to pass as working bows, and the leathery sound they make when bending. Or worse still, when in any historic movie, like the Vikings, in lack of any research, prop designers always go for the Mongolian recurve. I don’t get it, however, I will defend J-Law here. Remember never to criticise anyone’s style from a movie promo poster. You’ll find that all the billboard photos were from the one photo shoot, where the photographer told her to pose a certain way. Perhaps he felt safer with a finger Ho,ding the arrow facing him 🙂 the same goes for the recent photo of Christian Bale and hi backwards strung Mongolian bow. The photo was taken as he taught wth an unstrung bow, someone later photoshopped a string in it. And took all the blame. Don’t get hung up too much over the movies I say. You have a good style of critique though. Ide love to see you try your hand at some of the academics whose theories are bull! 😛 I look forward to reading more from you – check out my site too, I have quite a bit on how I built a medieval bowmakers workshop in. Viking longhouse in Norway – stay in touch – Stephen

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