Archery Facts: Celebrity Edition

Welcome to the latest installment of our “facts about archery” series! Here, we’ll talk about famous folks who love to bowsling. Archery isn't just for us regular folks who like to go to the range together, and everyone from actors to athletes loves to shoot some arrows. We’ll start with one of our personal heroes:

Captain Kirk, Intergalactic Bowslinger

Our first fun fact may be our favorite: William Shatner, the dude who played Captain Kirk on the original Star Trek, was (and maybe still is?) an archery enthusiast. For proof, please see Exhibit A, wherein a shirtless Shatner sports a back quiver and inspects a gnarly-looking broadhead, all while resting his recurve on a motorcycle:

They don’t really make that kind of cool anymore, honestly, and at some point it would be fun to be 10% as cool as Captain Kirk on a motorcycle grinning at a broadhead in the middle of the desert.

Believe it or not, Captain Kirk had a hand in the compound bow revolution that started in the 1960s. As you can read in our “Archery Facts: History Edition” post, Holless Wilbur Allen invented the compound bow in 1966, and pretty much changed archery forever. BUT—a fantastic invention is pretty much worthless until you can get people to pay attention to it, so when Holless Wilbur Allen got his compound bow patent in 1969 and partnered with Tom Jennings to manufacture them, they needed to figure out a marketing campaign.

Enter archery enthusiast and man-about-town William Shatner. Tom Jennings got Shatner to go on a bowhunting trip on Santa Catalina Island, and reported the trip in the November/December 1968 issue of BOW & ARROW magazine. The article reads like a story straight out of Adventure Tales, and it’s kind of surreal—imagine bow hunting for boars, with Captain James Tiberius Kirk, using a new-fangled bow that would change archery for the rest of history. And, to make things even weirder, now consider that Catalina Island is the same island that hosts the Catalina Wine Mixer in the Will Ferrell movie Stepbrothers. Pretty random.

By the way, if you want to read the article in that issue of BOW & ARROW magazine, jump over to this post on VINTAGE ROOT AND SHAKESPEARE ARCHERY for screenshots of the original article (and if you haven’t visited VINTAGE ROOT AND SHAKESPEARE ARCHERY, please do so—it’s an absolute treasure. Keep up the amazing work, guys!)

Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice

William Shatner isn’t the only celebrity who’s into archery, though. We assume Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games) is a fan, as is Jeremy Renner (Clint Barton, aka Hawkeye, from The Avengers), but we don’t really have any proof of that.

We do, however, have proof that Oscar-winning Actress Geena Davis is a big fan of archery.

Younger readers may not remember Geena Davis, but this is her, winning an Oscar for Thelma and Louise (or maybe this is from when she won Best Supporting Actress for The Accidental Tourist—we’re not quite sure):

Photo Credit: Alan Light

If those films don’t ring a bell, you may remember her from Beetlejuice, which is—oh, man—30 years old, but still has a pretty strong cult following:

If you haven’t seen it, give it a whirl. It’s a lot of fun. Probably not great for kids, though.

Anyway, Geena Davis is the real deal when it comes to archery, and she actually made it all the way to the U.S. Women's Archery Championship in 1999. That’s pretty impressive—to make it in hyper-competitive Hollywood, and then compete at a national level for archery. She placed 24th, which doesn’t sound that impressive, but come on—24th in the United States for archery? Most of us would take that. Most of us would settle for 240th in the United States for archery. In fact, most of us would actually settle for 240th in Wyoming for archery, and they’re the least-populated state we’ve got.

Anyway, this is all to say, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice.

The Most Famous Celebrity Archer of All…

Geena Davis is a celebrity and a great archer, but the most famous celebrity archer would be, of course, Leonardo DiCaprio, who nabbed the bronze medal at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro:

Just kidding. That’s Olympic archer Brady Ellison. But you probably already knew that

Now This is the Story All About How / My Life Got Flipped Right Upside Down…

If you’re in your 30s or 40s or maybe even your 50s, you can probably recite the rest of those lyrics in your head: “In West Philadelphia, born and raised, on the playground was where I spent most of my days…” Those lyrics are pretty unforgettable, and here’s a fun fan theory: Will Smith, aka, The Fresh Prince, actually got shot in that playground (“got in one little fight and my mom got scared”), died, and went to heaven (which is the mansion in Belle Aire, with safety, a loving family, etc.). It’s creepy, but it kind of makes sense, if you think about it.

Anyway, you may be waiting for us to tell you that Will Smith is a fantastic archer, but that’s not the case (not that we know, anyway). Here’s his daughter, Willow, at the range—and her form is pretty decent! Nice to see, too, that the range she’s practicing at is pretty down-to-earth.

There’s a lot of us who are pretty old-school, and our feathers get ruffled when we see somebody become famous for not really doing anything (looking at you, Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian, etc etc etc ad nauseum), but that’s not really the case with Willow Smith—she’s not trying to be famous; she’s just a kid with a Twitter account, showing off her love for archery. Anyone who’s an advocate for archery is someone we’d like to support. Go Willow!

Bo Knows Bows

Whenever you hear a top-tier athlete get asked how they achieved their success, they’ll usually say something along the lines of, “Practice. Lots and lots of practice.” And—it’s hard to argue with, right? You never hear a professional baseball player say, “You know what? I only started playing baseball a couple of weeks ago. It’s all pretty new to me, really.” People who reach the upper echelons of their game spend a lifetime honing their skills, and it’s pretty much a universally-understood fact that you need to dedicate everything you’ve got to your athletic goals.

That’s why Bo Jackson is so incredible. He played college football at Auburn and won the Heisman Trophy. He also played baseball at Auburn… and also ran track, and qualified for the 100-meter dash in the NCAA final. He then played in the NFL and was named an All-Star, and played major league baseball… and was named an All-Star. When you consider that many people spend their entire lives trying to master a single sport, it’s almost mind-boggling that he reached the pinnacle of two sports, and he’s widely considered to be one of the best athletes of all time.

Add to all that… bowhunter! Here’s Bo with bow:

If we’ve got one criticism for Bo, it would be, “Bowhunting is easier in appropriate clothing.” If you’re wearing a three-piece suit and tie, you’re making things harder than they need to be. Appropriate hunting gear can really be a game-changer.

Although, if Bo is as good at bowhunting as he is at, well, everything else, he could probably sidle up to the edge of the woods in a three-piece suit, scan his surroundings, and big game will fall at his feet and say, “Please. Make it quick.”

Celebrities: They’re Just Like Us!

It’s a pretty common thing for people to say, “I like so-and-so. He’s a great actor, and he seems like a normal guy.” And while there may be a couple of celebrities who are honest-to-goodness normal people, they’re probably pretty rare. Think about it: how normal would you be, if you had incredible wealth, people cheering your name wherever you went, and assistants and agents waiting on your every whim? You’d probably turn into a brat. Under those conditions, we’d become a tyrant in a matter of weeks, maybe even days. Actually, many of us act like that after we get a few random compliments, so it kind of makes sense that so many celebrities act so weird. At any rate, those conditions do not create a reasonable, relatable, normal person.

That said, Chris Pratt really does look like a pretty normal guy:

If you close your eyes and squint, you could mistake him for someone at your local range on 3D night.

Not only is Chris Pratt a huge star—Guardians of the Galaxy, Jurassic World, and Avengers: Infinity War made over THREE BILLION DOLLARS at the box office—but he’s from pretty humble origins. He was born in the town of Virginia, Minnesota (yes, you read that right) and he grew up hunting and fishing with his family and friends. He’s even a proponent of “The Game Plan,” his wild-game-only, low-fat, high-protein diet. As tired as it may sound, Chris Pratt does really seem like the kind of guy you could have a beer with.

Who Else?

We actually found a few other celebrities who are into archery (Hugh Jackman, Blake Shelton, Norman Reedus, Eliza Dushku, and Eva Longoria), but we’ll write about those guys in a future post. For now, if you see Chris Pratt at the range, please tell him we send our best.