Archery hits the mark with young film fans (Sun-Times Media

by Emily McFarlan Miller

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.

For the rest of the story (and a list of places to practice archery in the Chicago area), read Archery hits the mark with young film fans (Sun-Times Media).

Photo credit: Michael Smart for Sun-Times Media.