The Ottumwa Courier

November 21, 2013

Is archery 'catching fire?'

By MATT MILNER
Courier staff writer

---- — AGENCY — It’s nothing new for pop culture trends to originate in film. It’s a little more unusual to see the Iowa Department of Natural Resources cheering it on.

“Catching Fire,” the second film in the Hunger Games series, opens today. The signature weapon for Katniss Everdeen, the story’s heroine, is a bow. In the movies, and the books they’re based on, hunting is a way for Katniss to supplement her food supply, have items for bartering in her community and, once the games start, to stay alive.

The popularity of the series has been a boon for archery, according to the IDNR. It’s helping drive interest in the sport and particularly helping to draw girls.

For Tad Wheeler, owner of Whitetail Archery in Agency, the story is a little different. Most people who use a bow in southeast Iowa aren’t casual or target shooters. They’re hunting.

“There’s a lot of different types of archery. This is kind of hunting archery around here,” he said.

But he’s happy to see people getting interested in archery, regardless of what kind they pursue. A lot of area archers start young, at age 5 or even earlier. It’s a family thing in most cases. Someone in the family hunts, which creates the interest at an early age.

The schools help, too. The Archery in Schools program isn’t in Ottumwa, but Fairfield, Blakesburg, Eddyville and Cardinal all participate. Schools aren’t having students hunt in their buildings, obviously, but they are getting bows in the hands of their charges. Not everyone takes it further.

“Sometimes that’s all it is,” Wheeler said.

Wheeler said his clients see a comparatively welcoming state for hunting. Bow hunting has a longer season than firearms and bow hunters can be out during the peak of the rutting season. That’s an advantage because, during that season, “deer are completely stupid.”

Back to the movies, is the impact in this area the same as the IDNR points to statewide?

“It’s not that big an impact in our area,” Wheeler said.

But, for those who are into the movies but haven’t gotten into archery, there’s some incentive this time. The IDNR is pairing with the Iowa Bowhunters Association on a giveaway. Keep your ticket after seeing the movie at any Iowa theater from today until Dec. 31.

Entry forms will be available online. Check out the archery information at http://www.iowadnr.gov for details. One winner will win a Matthews Genesis bow valued at $200.