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In the Hunger Games movies, Katniss uses a bow as her primary weapon. Not considering her actual shots (hitting her targets), does Katniss show how to properly use, hold, and handle a bow? Did Jennifer Lawrence have to learn how to handle a bow for this part, or did they simply just say, "Here, hold this fancy bow and pretend to use it"?

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    FWIW, you don't hand a bow to someone and tell them to pretend to use it because if you do they will almost inevitably at some point release the string with no arrow. Unless it's essentially a fake bow, with no strength, there's a reasonable chance that when they do this the limbs shatter and they end up with a handful (and possibly a faceful) of splinters. – Steve Jessop Nov 24 '15 at 20:11
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    Related: Merida from the animated movie Brave is said to display impeccable archery technique. Of course, it's easier when you can just give the character the technique you want instead of teaching a real person to do it perfectly. – TylerH Nov 25 '15 at 16:16
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    @TylerH I might disagree, as you only have to teach a person once, but a character has to be animated for every single scene. Quite possibly just as hard – veryRandomMe Nov 25 '15 at 17:16
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    @NᴏᴠɪᴄᴇIɴDɪsɢᴜɪsᴇ if they are animating via computer, they just build models and they just re-position as needed, not that difficult, while a person may mess up, and have to stop shooting to correct a posture ect. – Himarm Nov 25 '15 at 17:20
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    @NᴏᴠɪᴄᴇIɴDɪsɢᴜɪsᴇ as you're well aware, 3d modeling and animation provides plenty of control and automation with keyframes and different nodes that can be moved to precisely where you want it, and you have the benefit of freezing time and making adjustments on the fly. In real life, you can't freeze a shot while someone is drawing their bow back and adjust their elbow up two inches and then re-start the shot from there. If there's a mistake, they have to re-do the entire shot. Not to mention humans aren't in perfect control of their bodies, so it's not so easy as just "teaching them once". – TylerH Nov 25 '15 at 17:25
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+100

Jennifer Lawrence was trained by Olympic archer Khatuna Lorig.

From this article:

To prepare for her role as "Hunger Games" heroine Katniss Everdeen, Lawrence trained with professional archer and Olympian Khatuna Lorig to learn how to properly shoot with a bow and arrow.

"She was lovely," Lorig told the Associated Press. "We had a great time coaching and working together."

Given her connection to the film, Lorig was one of six Olympians featured in a recent Glamour spread. The Olympic archer, together with a few of her fellow female archers, will also grace the cover of an upcoming special-edition "Hunger Games" DVD.

Katniss's archery performance is mostly genuine, but she should hold her bow differently and she might be unrealistically fast.

A detailed rundown of her skills can be found in this article from a professional archery website. They go through various aspects of Lawrence's shooting and give it a verdict "Real or Not Real" (a Mockingjay in-joke):

We know Jennifer Lawrence’s original archery coach was Khatuna Lorig, a five-time Olympian and Olympic medalist who clearly taught her how to shoot well. However, we also know Hollywood takes liberties with shooting form. So, are Katniss’ archery techniques real? Do they line up with the steps of shooting that USA Archery teaches? Let’s take a look.

Stance

The “Catching Fire” archery simulator scene shows Katniss’ feet slightly angled toward the target, with her front foot slightly behind her rear foot, giving her an open stance. Verdict? Real.

Nock

Katniss nocks her arrows – meaning that she fastens them safely onto the bowstring – superfast. We’re not sure if she double-checks to ensure whether the arrow is correctly aligned, or if the arrow is snapped onto the bowstring (nocked) in the correct place. Verdict: Undecided.

Hook and Grip

Katniss has her knuckles curled around the bowstring, which is not correct; the back of her hand should be flat and relaxed, and the bowstring placed closer to the first joint of her index, middle and ring fingers. Her grip – the hand that holds the bow – also shows a finger on the arrow, which isn’t safe. We’d change this part of her archery techniques. Verdict: Not real.

Posture (Set)

Jennifer Lawrence has beautiful red-carpet posture, and it shows when she’s in character, too. Her Katniss has a flat back, low shoulders and she usually appears to be in good alignment. Verdict: Real.

Raise Bow (Setup)

In archery, setup is the act of raising the bow. Katniss raises that bow fast, but then delivers a knockout punch. We’d tell her to slow down, but otherwise, Katniss’ setup is a good start. Verdict: Real.

Draw

We’d love to see Katniss raise the bow and draw the bowstring back more slowly, with a smoother motion. That would help her to keep her upper body in better alignment, and give her a stronger shot. Verdict: Real … but needs work.

Anchor

With a longbow (the bow type Katniss shoots), archers usually pull the bowstring back to at or above the corner of the mouth. This is called the “anchor point.” Katniss uses the under-the-chin anchor point commonly used by Olympic recurve archers, and we often see her drawing the bowstring past her anchor point, which is a no-no. Verdict: Not real.

Transfer

Once she’s reached her anchor point, we see Katniss pulling her elbow just a little farther back, transferring the bow’s weight into her back muscles before she shoots. Verdict: Real.

Aim

We can’t be certain when Katniss starts aiming, but top archers do not aim until they have fully drawn, anchored, and transferred the bow’s weight into their backs. Once they’re fully aligned, they aim for two to three seconds. Verdict: Real…we think.

Release and Follow Through

Coach Khatuna Lorig said she worked on this with Lawrence, and it shows. Katniss keeps her draw hand near her face and neck as she releases the bowstring, and follows through with strong back muscles. Verdict: Real.

Overall? Lawrence’s Katniss is the real archery deal. We would encourage her to slow down when possible because resting between shots is essential for strength and good shooting. But who are we to argue with a woman who shoots explosive arrows into the sky?

And from this interview with Van Webster, the Pasadena Roving Archers director of instruction:

As a coach, in what ways would you improve her technique?

It’s hard to tell from the short clips, but the bottom line is there is too much movement.

Would anyone realistically be able to shoot as accurately as she does with that much movement?

There are people that can shoot that well, but not with the kind of movement portrayed in the film. All of that is computer-generated. We had the same problem in Avatar. The director wanted to use a shooting technique that was not one that would work in an environment where you were trying to produce accuracy. But it looked good visually.

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    "There are people that can shoot that well, but not with the kind of movement portrayed in the film." Ahem: youtube.com/watch?v=BEG-ly9tQGk ;-P People can do some pretty crazy stuff. Edit: Heh, didn't even see the other answer to this question. Guess I should have known someone else would mention Lars Anderson. – Ajedi32 Nov 25 '15 at 17:23
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    I think this answer can be summed up "Real technique, but abnormally fast". – Bobson Nov 25 '15 at 20:12
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    Talk about overkill. It doesn't take that much practice to shoot an arrow if you don't have to hit anything. – Mast Nov 25 '15 at 21:20
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    @Bobson Worth noting that in actual combat, a quick shot may prove more valuable than a slow, well aimed shot. A miss still threatens an opponent, while standing there lining up can make you an easy kill. – jpmc26 Nov 26 '15 at 3:49
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    @Mast even to an untrained observer, someone who shoots a bow without any sort of proper technique is surprisingly noticeable. When you see someone using something resembling proper technique it looks a lot better even with minimal effort invested. Personally I applaud the trend of movies making the effort to at least approach proper technique when it comes to fighting. – Cronax Nov 26 '15 at 9:57
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NO.

Yes, Jennifer Lawrence was apparently trained by Olympic level archers. So I'm sure she had very good technique, based on actual archers.

However - all of her training was precisely Olympic-style archery, aka target archery.
Katniss would not be shooting at a stationary target, nor would she be standing very still for very long (I admit I am guessing, as I have not seen much of the movies).

As Lars Anderson points out in this fascinating video, so-called "War archery" is quite a bit different - and looks mostly different from what Katniss - and most other Hollywood archer characters - tend to do.

(See also some verification of his claims here).

Perhaps the only thing she got genuinely correct was keeping both eyes wide open, instead of squinting with one eye, as is often done in target archery.

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    Lars Andersen does trick archery using a low-powered bow; the video involves up to a dozen takes of some of the moves. Most of his "war archery" techniques would be impractical or utterly impossible in a combat situation with a decently powerful bow. – Mark Nov 24 '15 at 21:25
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    I think the real problem is we are so far removed from actual wartime use of the bow that we have only Hollywood movies to go by, and we know how accurate THOSE are :P It's basically saying "Is Katniss shooting a bow like a movie actor should?" well yeah, of course... – Nelson Nov 25 '15 at 6:55
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    @Nelson yeah. Or alternatively, like stationary olympic athletes in peacetime. :-) – AviD Nov 25 '15 at 9:29
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    Sure, it may be reasonable to say, that her archery is heavily based on competitive target shooting, and that may not be the proper technique. But comparing her to a battle archery isn't useful either. Katniss didn't originally train as a battle archer. Remember her primary reason for learning archery was hunting for food. We probably shouldn't try to judge her technique on some the standards of war archery. – Zoredache Nov 25 '15 at 19:29
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    This is a good discussion of the Lars Anderson video, and his "historical" claims: youtube.com/watch?v=rDbqz_07dW4 – Peter Nov 26 '15 at 13:06
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Jennifer Lawrence was trained by an Olympic athlete.

The Daily Beast explains

Khatuna Lorig has a cornucopia of accomplishments to be proud of: she’s mastered the sport of archery, competed in five Olympic Games, and won a silver and a bronze medal. But despite all of this, the achievement most likely to garner squeals of delight from strangers is the fact that she is responsible for teaching Jennifer Lawrence how to shoot a bow and arrow in The Hunger Games.

Lorig, an archer from Georgia (the country) who competed for three different countries at four different Olympic Games, was making the transition from medal winner to archery coach when she was asked to teach the then-21-year-old rising starlet the sport she’s spent her whole life perfecting.

  • This is all true, however, he form in the above images is certainly below part with a myriad of mistakes. – MrDobilina Dec 8 '15 at 14:50
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Lars Anderson is an amazing archer, but the idea that archers ever had wildwest style close rage rapid fire shootouts is nonsense. Mongol and Turkish archers all carried swords and other weapons for close combat. Also, their bows were of military draw weight, from 70 to 110lbs, so until Lars can replicate his feats with bows this powerful he's just an amazing stunt archer.

Another misconception about military archery is that aim was particularly significant. The idea of military archery was to lay a continuous barrage of arrows into a body of men; aim was confined to distance and general direction. By the time aiming range was reached a wise archer would have picked up his sword, ax or club. In a military scenario the ability to pull a strong bow quickly was much more important than hitting bullseyes.

Katniss's style should have been based on Howard Hill's or modern primitive (I know) archer, Ryan Gill's.

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