Should Scouters capitalize on archery interest inspired by ‘The Hunger Games’?

Thanks to The Hunger Games, archery is cool again. Your move, Scout leaders.

In the megahit film and book, the character Katniss Everdeen (above) uses a bow and arrow to hunt for food.

And she does it in style.

Sounds like a great opportunity for Scouters to get their troop excited about Archery merit badge, right?

Turns out it’s not that simple.

As the movie (and book) progresses, the teenage heroine must turn that same bow and arrow on humans as she’s forced to fight for her survival.

So that’s the rub: How can Boy Scout or Venturing leaders capitalize on this new enthusiasm for archery without drawing attention to the violence in the PG-13 movie?

Or maybe the question is, should Scouters mention The Hunger Games at all?

Of course, these are questions only you and your fellow leaders can answer. But to help you weigh both sides, I asked our Facebook fans for their opinion.

Here are some of their responses:

Let them do the heavy lifting
“You don’t have to tie them together at all. If the kids are interested for that reason they will make the connection themselves.”
Iain A.

Talk it out
“I think that the violence (which is a naturally occurring thing to many) could easily be turned into a teaching tool for citizenship and the importance thereof. [Baden-Powell] really wanted Scouting to be a thing to connect all people and bring common sense to the future leaders. The dystopian society that Katniss is in is a great example of what happens when there is the lack of that common sense. Either way it is a conversation of Boy Scouts, not Cubs.”
John V.

A tool, not a weapon
“It’s the same as with knives or firearms. You have to teach it as a tool or a sport, not as a weapon of violence.”
Troop 777

Keep the aim on archery
“Why mention the movie? If kids are watching the movie and interested in Archery, focus on the interest (and skill) — [focus on] the archery.”
Charlene F.

More food for thought
“The violence in the movie (an moreso in the book) presents an opportunity to discuss violence on many levels — if you care to go that direction. In the story, the children are forced into a situation that the protagonist (and most “tributes” from the Districts) does not look forward to. She would rather use her tools (archery and other outdoorsy knowledge) to feed her friends and family. Violence is forced on them for the entertainment of others (those in the Capital). I see this as a great way to foster that discussion. If you choose to.”
Wade G.

Which came first?
“My boys are very excited about learning this new skill. But they don’t seem to be into it because of The Hunger Games or the violence you speak of. They simply think it is cool and have since before the movie was thought about.”
Serena S.

Get your facts straight
“Why not just teach them that The Hunger Games just a movie and not real life? If they are old enough for archery they should know the difference between fiction and nonfiction.”
Lori C.

Real-world lessons
“I’m an archery instructor and have already seen a big increase in interest in archery, especially in Boy Scouts. So much so that I’ve been asked to become an Archery merit badge counselor to help some boys get their badge. I always intended to become a counselor for it, but my own boys are still Cubs so I wasn’t in any rush. With the movie out I’m becoming one earlier than I’d planned so I can pass on the tradition of archery while interest is high. And I agree that you don’t necessarily need to talk about the movie much, if they are interested in it because of the movie (or books) then they will make their own connections.”
Melody S.

Safety reminder

Before Scouts pick up a bow and arrow, they’re told the safety rules of archery. In fact, explaining these precautions is first in the list of Archery merit badge requirements.

And it’s been that way for a while. Archery is one of the BSA’s original 57 merit badges, part of Scouting since 1911. I interpret that to mean the BSA has sharpened its safety standards during the past 100 years.

What do you think?

How will you approach this issue? Which (if any) of the comments above do you agree with? Leave your thought below.


Photo by Murray Close/Lions Gate Entertainment

About Bryan Wendell 2913 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.