Archery is enjoying a popularity revival - find out where you can join in
What is it about Katniss Everdeen that makes teens want to release their inner wild, reach for their bows, arrows and quivers and head for the forest? Youngsters are flocking to one of the world’s oldest hunting traditions and it has got everything to do with The Hunger Games.
The next instalment in the series, Mockingjay Part One, debuted in cinemas across the UAE last week and it will certainly lead to another surge of interest in the sport – the capital’s ranges are readying themselves for an onslaught of keen learners.
Abu Dhabi Archery opened to the public last month. Nasser Ihsanullah, manager and instructor at the range, cannot say for sure if The Hunger Games has had anything to do with archery’s surge in popularity, but he does say, ‘I have so many young people interested in the sport, many more than expected. I plan to offer more classes to kids than we initially thought were necessary.
‘I wouldn’t be surprised if Katniss were the inspiration for kids. Epic movies are the reason I became interested in archery,’ Nasser adds. ‘When I was younger, I loved movies that involved larger-than-life battle scenes. Legolas, the elven archer from The Lord of the Rings trilogy, sparked my curiosity in the sport just as Katniss has for youngsters today.’
Archery ranges around the world have enjoyed a steady uptake in business from both kids and adults since the movie took the box office by storm in 2012. Though heroine and lethal archer Katniss still resonates more with women.
‘Part of the appeal is that it’s an individual sport,’ Nasser explains. ‘People of any size or shape can participate to any degree they want. Success doesn’t necessarily go to the fastest or the fittest, and there’s no sitting on the sidelines in archery, everyone participates.’
And, the benefits go far beyond the range. ‘The focus and discipline that kids have to cultivate to be successful in archery often translates into their studies,’ he says.
Nasser says that he is proud to offer another archery range for the capital. ‘There is a demand for it,’ he says. ‘When I was growing up here, there were no ranges. I am happy to provide instruction for kids who want to try it out. My dream is that Abu Dhabi Archery will create local Olympic-level archers in the future.’ The UAE doesn’t have an Olympic archery team at present, something Nasser intends to address.
So, as Katniss tackles her newest challenges on the big screen, local archery ranges should expect to see another wave of people interested in the sport. Get involved. Abu Dhabi Archery, Al Ghazal Golf Club, near Abu Dhabi International Airport, Abu Dhabi, www.alghazalgolf.ae, email@example.com (050 721 3230).
Where to try archery in and around Dubai
Jebel Ali Shooting Club Learn the discipline of archery at this nine-metre-long outdoor range. A well-trained team of assistants will help you hit the target. Dhs100 per 30 minutes (non-members, including unlimited arrows). Wed-Mon 1pm-8.45pm (closed Tuesdays). www.jaresortshotels.com (04 814 5300).
Dubai Archers This club has target ranges from ten to 90 meters with an area specifically for beginners. The club also provides entry-level fibreglass and wooden bows plus finger tabs and arm guards to get you started. Dhs95 for beginner lessons (including basic tuition and equipment rental). Fri 8.30am-11.30am, phone to book classes on Thursday evening. Sharjah Wanderers Golf Club, near Sharjah International Airport, www.dubaiarchers.com (050 588 0951).
Al Maha Desert Resort For a luxurious archery experience head to this resort. Visitors can take part in traditional sporting activities, from archery, camel riding, falconry and dune bashing. Day package includes lunch and use of the pool. Dhs950 (day package). Daily, 10am-6pm. Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, www.al-maha.com (04 832 9900).