Bull’s Eye: Just a Little Bit in Love with Archery

I have never been good at sports.  Never.  My brothers used to play basketball and football with me but I never caught on.  The games normally ended with my getting hit in the face with the ball and going inside.  And like any good little sister, I normally cried.  In PE class, I just didn’t get it.  Even in youth group, I was always among the last to be chosen on a team.  Sports just isn’t my thing.

On the other hand, I love archery.  There are few things I like more than taking my bow and three flimsy arrows outside and spending an hour shooting at my own makeshift target.  Am I any good?  Mmm….no.  But it’s nonetheless enjoyable.  I love the precision–the calmness–the quiet of the sport.  (Though I’ve done it with friends and that’s fun too.  Nothing like having heart to hearts while piercing an Animal Cracker’s box with blunt-headed arrows.)  In addition to the quiet atmosphere, I enjoy the workout.  Yes, archery can give you a workout.  My own bow is a 15 lb. draw, which means that each time I pull back an arrow I am doing 15 lbs. worth of work.  Not exactly a Jillian Michaels workout, but it’s something.  Besides all that, archery is just fun.

And I’m not the only one who enjoys archery.  A fictional hero with a bow and arrow is always intriguing.  Yet, sadly, archery isn’t a popular sport.  We laud it in the exploits of onscreen actors like Orlando Bloom sliding down the steps at Helm’s Deep shooting nasty Orc warriors, but few people actually become involved in archery.  Perhaps it isn’t very practical for most people.  I myself haven’t been able to do any at our new house since we’ve moved.  We are now much closer to our neighbors…and their small children and their big dogs…than we were at our old house.

Nonetheless, archers are some of the coolest characters in books and movies.  And here, in no particular order, is just a sample of the greatest fictional archers:

Robin Hood:  What list of great archers could leave off this semi-historical, mostly fictional hero immortalized by Errol Flynn in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938).  He’s got a great smile, a sense of justice, and green tights.  If you are looking for a romping collection of Robin Hood stories, you can check out the ever amusing books of collected tales by Howard Pyle.

Artemis:  This Greek mythological goddess can be interesting at times and even laudable in Homer’s tale ofTheIliad.  Her fierce and warlike persona are a welcome change to Aphrodite’s scheming.  However, Artemis’ Roman alter-ego, Diana, is slightly freaky and mean and weird.  Not gonna’ lie.

Susan and Lucy Pevensie:  Any Narnia fan knows that Lucy actually does more in battle than Susan, but Susan has the awesome bow from Father Christmas.  In the movies especially Susan gets to do most of the archery.  And since these sisters are two of the most well-loved in all children’s literature, they deserve a place on the list of great fictional archers.

Legolas:  Let’s be honest, how many girls never gave archery a second thought until The Fellowship of the Ring came out?  Legolas, despite his lack of lines, is a pretty cool character.  I had a hard time liking him though because two dear friends absolutely adored him merely because of Orlando Bloom.  However, I grew to tolerate him because he was an archer.  And yes, I confess that he is cool in the book too.

Murtagh:  I confess.  I’ve only read the first Eragon book.  But Murtagh is still pretty cool in it.  Yah, I know he kinda’ goes bad later and yet kinda’ doesn’t.  I don’t really know how that works, but he’s a good archer as is Eragon himself.

The Black Arrow:  This mysterious hero created by Robert Louis Stevenson is a very intriguing character, but hardly as interesting as the two main characters of the book, Richard and Joanna.  It’s a good book–The Black Arrow–you should check it out.  It lags a little in the last third, but it’s worth it.

And I’m sure I’m forgetting some really good ones.  And there are three new archers coming to the big screen this summer:  Katniss in Hunger Games, Hawkeye in The Avengers, and Merida in Pixar’s Brave.  I don’t know whether they will live up to the precedent set by other great fictional archers, but perhaps they will give a boost to my favorite sport just in time for the summer Olympics.

Have a happy archery-filled summer.

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