Take a bow-and arrow

Courtney Rubin

The archery instructor Patricia Gonsalves aims to please, so these days it's out with the bull's-eyes, in with the squirrels' eyes.

"A couple of years ago, if I ever even put up an animal target, all the girls would go, 'Eww, that's so gross,'" said Gonsalves, of Vancouver, who spends hours hand-painting her squirrels. "Now I do, and they're like: 'Cool. Can you shoot an apple out of a pig's mouth like Katniss did?'"

Katniss, of course, is Katniss Everdeen, the bow-wielding heroine of The Hunger Games trilogy. The 16-year-old warrior, played by Jennifer Lawrence, is such a good shot that she hits squirrels in the eye—and she is the major cause of waiting lists for archery lessons from coast to coast.

At Gonsalves' school, Academie Duello, classes can fill up within 24 hours of the booking window's opening, and the waiting list is so long children are waiting for six months. Lutherville-Timonium Recreation Council in suburban Baltimore has a waiting list of more than 100 children, according to coach, Ted Light.

And on Staten Island in New York, the Victory Archers is besieged with Girl Scout troops "all talking Katniss," said Joe Strcich, the club's secretary-treasurer.

Archery has enjoyed blips in popularity from films in the past—The Lord of the Rings trilogy and Robin Hood films are frequently cite—but nothing as big or sustained as the current surge. Nor have films ever resonated much with girls, who now turn up for lessons in variations of Katniss' side-braid hairstyle.

"Katniss has helped give archery a hip factor it's just never had before," said Teresa Iaconi, the spokeswoman for USA Archery, which fields the Olympic team. "No disrespect to Kevin Costner"—the star of 1991's Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, she added, "but he was an old guy in tights."

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