I think we can all agree that Katniss Everdeen is a certified badass and a great role model, not only for young females, but kids of all ages. She cares about her family (volunteering in place of your little sister in an all-out killing spree takes a lot of love and guts). And she has her priorities straight, for example choosing to focus on saving Panem before figuring out her love life. She also has quite a variety of skill sets, ranging from archery to negotiation. On top of everything else, she becomes a symbol of rebellion and hope – all at the age of 16!
OK, so maybe your kids won’t end up being a symbol of rebellion against the government, but you can definitely teach them some of Katniss’ wicked-awesome skills, as long as you don’t mind getting down and dirty. Fair warning: If you’re against your kid playing with weapons of any sort, this might not be the fictional character for you.
Sweet, let’s get started!
Those Archery Skills
If you’ve ever read or seen The Hunger Games, then you’re aware that Katniss knows her way around a bow and has proven she can be lethal with it. She spent a lot of time hunting in the woods with her father, and he was the one who taught her how to make and use a bow and arrow. Now you can teach your child how to properly use a bow and arrow as well. If your youngster is about 3 to 5 years old, you might want to start them out with this archery bow and arrow set.
The arrows have a rubber suction cup at the end, so kids can’t really hurt themselves, and though it may not compare to an actual archery set, it can give children a feel for what it takes to hit the mark. If your kid is older, 8 or older, you can get them this Bear Archery Scout Youth set instead.
Now the thing to remember about archery is that 1) it takes time and practice, so be prepared for some frustration, and 2) its not just picking up the bow and firing arrows right away. There are safety precautions you have to take, not so much with the kiddie set, but definitely with the Scout set. After releasing the arrow, the string rebounds and sometimes hits your wrist or thumb in the process, causing some bruising. Professional archers wear protective gear like an arm brace and finger tab to prevent being hit by the bow string. The Bear Archery Scout set already comes with an arm guard and finger tab, so you don’t have to worry about buying them separately.
After putting on your gear, you’ll need to practice your technique and form. If you’re right handed, more than likely you’ll hold the bow with your left and draw the string back with your right and vice versa. I say more than likely because it’s really about how comfortable you are when holding the bow. When standing, your feet are about shoulder length apart and your body is perpendicular to the target. Again, this all comes down to personal preference as well.
Next comes loading and shooting. When you load, make sure your arrow is pointed to the ground at an angle. Place the shaft of the arrow on the arrow rest and attach the back of the arrow to the bow string using the nock, the notch located at the end of the arrow that locks on the string. Hold the arrow in place using three fingers, one above the arrow and two below, and as you raise the bow, pull the string back. Aim and release. This is usually done in one fluid motion, but don’t worry if your child is clumsy at it, that’s what practice is for. The more your kid practices, the better he or she will become, but be prepared for some frustration. Like other sports, archery requires patience and skills that are developed over time.
Oh, the Outdoors
Katniss had a vast knowledge of the woods, again something passed on to her by her father. She knew about the different types of plants, berries and animals in the woods outside her District. She even taught Gale everything she knew after they formed an alliance. It’s quite a lot to take in, but you can start small by taking your little one just outside your house and identifying the flowers and trees that grow in your yard.
You can check out books from your library on animals and plants, and use them the next time you take your child to the park or, if they’re a little older, on a hike. A hike would be preferable because you never know what plants, insects or animals you’ll see or run into. Just make sure you cover up in long sleeves and pants. It would suck to cut the lesson short just because a tick decides to latch onto your child’s arm or leg. Nom nom.
If your kid is older, thinking around 12 to 15, and you want them to learn more about wilderness survival, turn on your TV and tune into one of those survival shows. I’m not even kidding. You can actually learn a lot of useful tips about surviving the outdoors and different climate conditions as well. From starting a fire to purifying salt water, there a number of things you can do to survive depending on the type of situation you’re in. Two shows I would recommend would be Dual Survival and Man vs. Wild.
This is a little gross, so watch at your own peril …
Take notes and maybe practice some of the easier tactics in your backyard. Maybe the next time you go camping, you can do it hardcore “out in the woods” style, instead of going to a campground. Pretty much anything you can do to expose your child to the outdoors will benefit them and expand their knowledge of the nature around them.
Katniss neither cared much about her appearance nor what anyone thought of her. However, when she would go out hunting, she always wore brown or black colors, and put her hair into a braid. With her hair tied back, she didn’t have to worry too much about her hair getting caught in something and causing a ruckus, thus scaring away her prey.
As for the dark colors, it’s easier to blend in the woods with brown, dark green or black clothing. If you notice she also wears long sleeves and pants (even in a post apocalyptic world, ticks still exist – there’s just no getting rid of them I guess), but long clothing is also useful in preventing scratches from thorns and rubbing up against poison ivy.
Katniss’ outfits are simple to mimic, except for her oh-my-gosh-she’s-on-fire-oh-wait-no dress. Fiery attire aside, all you really need to complete her look are a black shirt, cargo pants (no jeans!), a brown leather jacket and boots. If you have a girl, you can braid her hair from one side to the other and have it hanging down one shoulder.
You can do this to your boy if he has long hair too, but it might be best to leave this one feature for the girls.
That’s about it. Give it some time and before you know it, your kid will be a badass archer/wilderness expert just like Katniss. Just remember, a lot of this stuff could be dangerous, so make sure you keep a close eye on your child while they practice shooting arrows and always accompany them on hikes. Bring first aid kits and wear protective clothing and gear when doing anything outdoorsy. But most of all: Have fun!