New Study from Geena Davis Institute finds Archery Catches Fire Thanks to Inspiring Hollywood Images

Study Finds Fictional Characters Inspire Future Archers and Drive Sports’ Remarkable Growth, Especially with Girls

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Jennie Peters

LOS ANGELES, Calif. (August 4, 2016) – Today, Geena Davis and her Institute on Gender in Media announced research findings from a new study, which surveyed members of USA Archery to examine the role entertainment media plays in archery, now the fastest growing sport in the United States. The study’s key finding is that fictional archers in films and television programs have inspired young people to take up archery, especially girls:

  • 7-in-10 girls say that Katnisss from the Hunger Games and Princess Merida from Brave influenced their decision to take up archery. Nearly half (48.5%) of female respondents under 18 say Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games had “a lot” or “some” influence on their decision to take up archery, while one-third (36.4%) say they were influenced by Princess Merida from Brave. (Some girls report that both characters inspired them to start archery.)
  • Across age groups and genders, many say that fictional archers in film and television influenced them to take up the sport. Robin Hood (23.2%) was the fictional archer most mentioned as having “a lot” or “some” influence, followed by Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games (14.9%), Legolas from The Lord of the Rings franchise (14.1%), Princess Merida from Disney’s animated film Brave (11.9%), Hawkeye from The Avengers franchise (9.4%), and Green Arrow from the Arrowtelevision series (8.9%).
  • When asked about archery role models, respondents were just as likely to mention fictional archers as real life archers. The top five real life role models mentioned were Brady Ellison (29.4%), Khatuna Lorig (22.9%), Fred Bear (19.1%), Howard Hill (15.2%) and Reo Wilde (14.1%). The most admired fictional archers mentioned were Robin Hood (23.2%), Katniss Everdeen (19.7%), Green Arrow (15.1%), Princess Merida (10.4%), and Legolas (9.6%). (Nearly one-in-ten archers (8.3%) mentioned Geena Davis as an archery role model.)

“Our study is the first to examine whether archers in popular film and television programs inspire people to take up the sport,” said Geena Davis. “Both The Hunger Games and Brave were released in 2012; participation in archery rose 86% from 2013 to 2014, with women’s participation increasing 105% during that period of time! It’s not surprising to me that Hollywood’s depiction of inspiring female archers has contributed to the sport’s phenomenal growth — it’s another demonstration of the powerful impact fictional characters can have on girls’ aspirations.  As I always say, if she can see it, she can be it.”

“We have seen unprecedented growth in archery in the last few years, especially
among young women in the 14 to 16 age group,” said Don Rabska, vice president of Easton Foundation. “I believe we can attribute much of this archery growth to movies like Brave and The Hunger Games, where Hollywood has made the intelligent choice of creating films with girls as the heroes. This positive shift has been an enormous success, not only at the box office, but in energizing young women to go out and do physical activities that they would not likely have done previously.”

Dr. Caroline Heldman, Associate Professor at Occidental College in Los Angeles, California, conducted this study. Additional findings and detailed methodology in full report.