'The Hunger Games' Sparks Archery's 'Pop Culture Moment'

"The Hunger Games" Katniss Everdeen is leading the sport into the spotlight.

March 27, 2012, 11:38 AM

March 28, 2012 — -- On movie posters all over the world, "The Hunger Games" heroine Katniss Everdeen poses in her signature move—bow flexed with the string resting ominously on her face, eyes steely and an arrow pointing straight at you.

And, now, it seems her fierce signature move has rubbed off on Katniss wannabes everywhere, in the form of newfound interest in the sport of archery.

"There's been a massive uptick in interest, especially in the past two to three weeks with the opening of "The Hunger Games," Teresa Iaconi, spokeswoman for USA Archery, told ABCNews.com. "As the books gained popularity and people started hearing the movie was coming out, interest started to soar."

In the movie, Jennifer Lawrence's Katniss Everdeen uses her archery expertise to dominate the Hunger Games, a violent competition in which children and teens are forced by the government to compete against one another in a fight to the death.

In addition to "The Hunger Games," a slew of upcoming movies and TV shows feature characters who glamorize the age-old sport of archery, giving it a new edge.

The upcoming superhero movie "Avengers" features the character of Hawkeye, a sharp-shooting archer. "Brave," a forthcoming Disney-Pixar animated movie, centers around a red-headed princess named Merida whose archery skills help her battle an evil lord. And the CW has announced a new TV show about "Green Arrow," one of DC Comics' heroes.

"Archery is definitely having its pop culture moment," Iaconi said. "I have a feeling it's the next big thing."

USA Archery has seen a dramatic increase in their number ofTwitter followers, Facebook fans and visits to their website.

In New York, the New York Sports Club has introduced a fitness class called "Train Like a Tribute" and gyms across the country have rolled out similarly themed classes, many of which include archery exercises.

"I think what's really happening is that with "The Hunger Games" books, Suzanne Collins has really made archery popular again," Iaconi said. "Young men, and especially young women, have a hero in Katniss Everdeen and, by the way, she shoots a bow and she's cool."

No one knows this better than Khatuna Lorig, the four-time archery Olympian and London Olympics hopeful who trained Jennifer Lawrence with a bow and arrow in preparation for her role as Katniss Everdeen.

When Lorig, who lives in Los Angeles, got a phone call asking if she would coach an actress for an upcoming movie, she agreed without knowing any details.

"They didn't mention the name or anything in particular about her," Lorig told ABCNews.com. "When I met her, I said, 'What's this movie you're doing?'"

Lawrence told her about the books and Lorig Googled the series and her new student.

"I thought, 'Oh my gosh. I'm working with a star," said Lorig, who is originally from the country of Georgia. She and her 19-year-old son, also an archer, started reading the books and were immediately hooked.

Lawrence trained with Lorig, 38, and her son for 15 one-hour sessions.

"She did pretty good," Lorig said. "She got snapped with the string once on the arm, but she's strong. She won't quit easily."

Lorig described her trainee as "down to earth" and a "good person." Lawrence has spoken gratefully about her Olympian trainer in several interviews for the movie.

"She's a happy person, very funny," Lorig said of Lawrence. "She'll make you feel like you're a friend of hers for a very long time."

Lorig recalled telling Lawrence that when she went to see the movie, she'd tell people that the movie star was her student.

But Lorig said Lawrence snapped back at her, "'What are you talking about? You're a four-time Olympian. I'll see you in London and tell everyone, that's my coach!"

The coach was thrilled when she got to see her student on the big screen and gave Lawrence her seal of approval.

"I love it. It felt like I was part of the movie. Every time she'd throw the bow back, I was like, oh my gosh. I had the eyes of a coach," Lorig said. "I think she did an awesome job. She looks very close to a professional kind of archer."

Lorig's only complaint: she was hoping for a "more futuristic bow" than those Katniss uses in the film, but she said that was a small qualm. She'd love be involved with the next two movies and hopes to be even more hands-on.

"I would love to be part of the movie set so I can direct her better, make it look even more professional."

Lorig laughs at the idea of being a celebrity in the sport of archery and has turned her focus to making the U.S. team for this summer's London Olympics. She is pleased with the attention the movie has brought to her sport.

"Kings and queens played this sport and I would like to see this sport have more people be interested," she said. "It's a fun sport. Anybody can do it. Age doesn't matter. That's the beauty of it."

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