Archery hits the mark with young film fans
By Emily McFarlan firstname.lastname@example.org July 15, 2012 8:48PM
After her grandfather took nine-year-old Madeline Moeller of Elgin to see the animated movie "Brave", it sparked an interest in archery. Daughter to Elgin councilwoman Anna Moeller, Madeline is enthusiastic about learning archery and begged her dad for a bow and arrow for weeks before her birthday. July 12, 2012 | Michael Smart~Sun-Times Media
Where to shoot
Indoor archery range, featuring free instruction with $6-an-hour range fee 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday evenings.
661 S. Eighth St. (Illinois Route 31), West Dundee
McGraw Wildlife Foundation
Outdoor archery range for members only.
14N322 Illinois Route 25, Dundee Township
Private club with indoor and outdoor ranges.
28278 Lukens Road, Sycamore
Blackwell Forest Preserve
Outdoor archery range, currently relocated to St. James Farm in Warrenville while under construction.
Butterfield and Winfield roads, Warrenville
Silver Springs State Park
Outdoor archery range may be used when hunting is not taking place.
13608 Fox Road, Yorkville
To find an archery club near you, visit usarchery.org or email email@example.com.
Updated: August 17, 2012 6:42AM
ELGIN — It was, quite possibly, the coolest birthday present ever: The curve of the green plastic bow; the nearly instantaneous twang as Madeline Moeller’s fingers released the taught string, the whiz of the arrow through the air, the thud as it hit the grass in her Elgin backyard; the deadly point.
It was the bow and arrows for which Madeline had begged her dad for weeks after seeing the movie “Brave,” the bow and arrows Marc Moeller didn’t tell his wife, Elgin City Councilwoman Anna Moeller, he had bought for the girl’s ninth birthday in late June.
Madeline’s eyes popped out of her head when she opened the present, she said. She, her 6-year-old sister Eleanor and her friends spent an hour straight shooting and chasing the arrows across the yard — “part of the game,” Anna Moeller said.
“Everyone thinks it’s cool. My friends have said, ‘I want a bow and arrow now,’” Madeline said.
And it’s not just Madeline and her friends.
USA Archery said it’s seen a “huge increase” in interest headed into the 2012 Summer Olympics, which begin next Friday in London. So have area stores that carry archery equipment, like Buck Stop in West Dundee, Dick’s Sporting Goods in Algonquin and Cabela’s in Hoffman Estates.
“Hunting around here has always been popular,” said Kaarin Mull, who owns Buck Stop with her husband, Pete Mull.
“But now that ‘The Hunger Games’ and that Pixar movie ‘Brave’ have come out, it has been nuts. We’re getting them in as little as 7 and 8 years old. They want to shoot because that little redhead in ‘Brave’ shoots.”
Both movies, released this year, feature female archers as their heroines.
In “The Hunger Games,” it’s Katniss Everdeen, hunting with a bow and arrow to provide for her family, then to survive the televised teenage fight-to-the-death that is the Hunger Games. In “Brave,” it’s Princess Merida, relying on her bravery and archery skills to undo a curse.
Madeline hasn’t read “The Hunger Games” trilogy by Suzanne Collins or seen the movie, she said. But she saw “Brave” with her grandparents and said that’s what “inspired” her.
“I liked how she showed that even a girl can be so strong. She also showed how fun archery could be,” she said.
“The Hunger Games” and “Brave” definitely have brought archery “to the forefront of pop culture,” USA Archery spokeswoman Teresa Iaconi said in an email to The Courier-News. In fact, Iaconi said, actress Jennifer Lawrence’s archery coach for her role as Katniss is “The Hunger Games” was Khatuna Lorig, a U.S. team member and four-time Olympian.
And, she said, “The U.S. currently has the number one world-ranked athletes and teams in six of eight categories, including superstar Brady Ellison, increasing the country’s hopes for a gold medal performance in London and making the sport more popular than ever.”
Just this year, she said, individual membership in USA Archery has increased nearly 20 percent, from 4,185 members in December to 5,048 in June. And the National Target Championships and Easton JOAD Nationals in late June had 537 participants — numbers she said the organization has not seen since 2001.
In that time, its youth-adult numbers have seen “almost a complete reversal,” Iaconi said. The organization counted 180 adults in 2012 and 383 in 2001; 357 youth in 2012 in 2012 and 171 in 2001, she said. Its youth divisions now are its largest, and 15- to 17-year-olds have been the largest group the past two years at national competitions, she said.
Area archery stores said much of their interest also is coming from youth.
Cabela’s in Hoffman Estates can’t keep simple recurve bows on its shelves, particularly lightweight bows, sized for a “middle school girl,” according to employee Kevin Petray.
And Buck Stop has seen its sales double since it opened about a year ago in the Century Plaza shopping center off Illinois Route 31 in West Dundee, Kaarin Mull said. The Tuesday- and Wednesday-night instruction this summer at its indoor range has been so “inundated” with beginning archers, she said, the store is considering adding a children’s class on Thursday afternoons.
“I don’t think we could have started at a better moment,” she said.
‘This one moment’
On Wednesday night, three beginning archers joined instructor Brad Lasater of Elgin in the archery range at Buck Stop. Lasater, like Kaarin Mull, picked up a bow and arrow after he married into the sport, he said.
Pete Mull has been shooting for more than 30 years, though, he said. He got his first bow and arrow when he was 10, although his archery career temporarily was set back when his parents took it away after he took aim at his cousins, his wife said.
“What’s not to love?” Pete Mull said. “It’s got all the appeal golf has. It’s challenging in so many ways, whether you’re a hunter or you’re (a target shooter) like Brad. You’re constantly pushing yourself to be better.”
And, Kaarin Mull said, “It’s a good family sport.”
Madeline said she wanted to try the sport as much because her dad had had a bow and arrows as a kid, too, as she did because Princess Merida had one. He showed her how to lean with the bow and place the notch of the arrow into the string, she said.
Plus, she’d done Tae Kwon Do and soccer and swimming. This was “different” — and, she said, her eyes glittering, “I’ve never tried a weapon before.”
So far, the 9-year-old said, archery is “much more fun than I hoped it would be.”
“I like it because it feels like no one else is around you. You have this one moment. It’s fun to shoot it because you feel like a whole different person when you do it.”