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Hunger Games and Olympics spawn new generation of archery fans

The Hunger Games heroine, Katniss –  and the coming Olympics – have created a boom in the archery business, as all across the country a new generation of young archery enthusiasts polish their prowess with the bow and arrow.

By The Associated Press / April 24, 2012

The Hunger Games trilogy and movie and the coming Olympics have filled archery ranges – not to mention schools and backyards – with young people taking up the bow and arrow. Their model: the 16-year-old Hunger Games heroine and archery ace Katniss.

Charles Sykes / AP

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In schools and backyards, for their birthdays and out with their dads, kids are gaga for archery four weeks into the box office run of "The Hunger Games" and less than 100 days before the London Olympics.

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"All of a sudden sales of bows have, like, tripled," said Paul Haines, a salesman at the Ramsey Outdoor store in Paramus, N.J.

A manager there made a sign for the hunting department: "Quality bows for serious archers and girls who saw the movie," he said.

Archery ranges around the country have enjoyed a steady uptick among kids of both sexes since the movie began cleaning up at the box office March 23, though heroine Katniss – a deadly shot with an arrow – seems to resonate more with girls.

"Katniss is so inspiring," said Gabby Lee, who asked for archery lessons for her 12th birthday in February after reading the wildly popular book trilogy by Suzanne Collins.

"I'm not very sportsy," she offers, but now she belongs to a youth archery league near her Hasbrouck Heights, N.J., home. "It feels really good because I'm usually the girl who sits and reads."

While some young archers have been doing it for years, motivated by generations of hunters in their families, the parents of others love it for its focus, independence and because they, too, have kids not drawn to more typical team or contact sports.

At 7, Christa Mattessich is too young for the gruesome dystopian world that thrusts 16-year-old Katniss and her fellow child tributes into the arena for a battle to the death, a battle Katniss wins thanks to the archery skills she honed while hunting game in the woods of her native District 12.

But Christa loves archery just as much and has been shooting for about two years at the same range as Gabby, Targeteers Archery in Saddle Brook, N.J., said dad Anthony Mattessich in Oakland.

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