There's always that one special bowhunter we all looked up to as a kid, whether it was a family member or a close friend. Many, however, owe their love of archery to a fictional character, one whose bravado and skills with a bow in hand made the sport all the more enticing — and if we could shake their hands, surely we would.
And the trend continues today, with movies like The Hunger Games and The Avengers introducing a whole new generation to archery and bowhunting — and in some cases, the stars themselves come out in support of hunting. Maybe they're not your cup of tea, but you can't help but admit these movie characters are doing archery and bowhunting a big favor when they prompt a kid to turn to his dad and say, "I want to do that!"
So in honor of all the silver-screen stories that inspired us, here are eight of our favorite movie archers of all time.
3. Hawkeye (The Avengers)
Agent Clint Barton, aka Hawkeye, serves the espionage agency faithfully as an expert archer in The Avengers
. Though turned by the film's antagonist, Loki, Hawkeye is eventually redeemed and — though presumed to be outmatched by some of the more powerful members of the Avengers — proves to be exceptionally helpful in the film's climax.
Favorite Movie Moment: During an alien siege on New York, Hawkeye fires an arrow at a swiftly moving Loki, who catches the arrow before it can connect — but Hawkeye gets the last laugh, as the explosive broadhead sends Loki reeling.
2. Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games)
If any character is to be credited for a boom in youth archery, it's Katniss Everdeen. The heroine of The Hunger Games
and its sequel, Catching Fire
, is immediately shown wielding a bow at the beginning of the first film, stalking a deer in the woods under threat of arrest. She later picks up a bow and arrow to defend herself in the Hunger Games, where she proves herself to be a serious threat.
Favorite Movie Moment: While displaying her talent in order to gain the attention of potential sponsors in the first film, Katniss becomes impatient with their disinterest in her abilities. So to gain their attention, she shoots an apple out of a sponsors hand, sarcastically curtsies and saunters away. Now THAT is some good aim.
1. Robin Hood
The quintessential archer, many a daring bowhunter at the range has tried to replicate Robin of Locksley's famous feat of splitting an arrow in two with his own arrow. When people think of archery, they think of Errol Flynn in one of his defining roles
, or Kevin Costner's mulleted Prince of Thieves
, or Cary Elwes' hilarious adaptation
. Whatever the case, all the romanticized views of bowhunting and archery are owed to the legend of Robin Hood, a most skilled archer and bowhunter who fought the forces of tyranny to give back to the oppressed. What's more admirable than that?
Favorite Movie Moment: It's been shown over and over again, and it's the feat he's most famous for. While competing at an archery competition set up by Prince John to capture him, Robin Hood shows up the best archer by splitting his arrow in two with his own shot.
8. The Na'vi (Avatar)
The Na'vi people in the 2009 film Avatar
are hunter-gatherers who rely on their archery skills for hunting and self-defense. In fact, hunting is an important part of the Pandoran clan culture, as the Na'vi live in large ancient trees in typically inhabitable areas. Adolescents get the honor of making a bow from the wood of the sacred "Hometree" once they become a man.
Favorite Movie Moment: The film's heroine, Neytiri, uses her bow to take down the film's cold-blooded villain before he can kill the main character, Jake Sully. Talk about some quick thinking.
7. Abigail Whistler (Blade: Trinity)
This vampire-hunting Nightstalker from Blade: Trinity
demonstrates how archers rely on more than their marksmanship ability alone to take down prey. Just like any successful bowhunter, Abigail Whistler stalks vampires with her agility, stealth and stamina. Whistler uses her expert archer skills to rescue Blade and subsequently slay Asher Talos with an arrow while freeing Hannibal from hoards of vampires. She also wields special high-tech UVA arrows, which double as vampire-thrashing swords.
Favorite Movie Moment: How about that broadhead that drills through a solid door to connect with a vampire and vaporize him? A broadhead that eliminates all obstacles in the way — talk about a fantasy.
6. Lewis (Deliverance)
director John Boorman couldn't have picked a better actor than Burt Reynolds to play the role of Lewis, an experienced outdoorsman who leads his work buddies on a backwoods canoe trip in northern Georgia. While intending to use his bow to catch the boys some dinner, Lewis is forced to use it for more lethal purposes when their vacation takes a sudden turn.
Favorite Movie Moment: "Squeeeal like a pig!" 'Nuff said.
No list of Best Movie Archers is complete without the likes of John Rambo. While he's notoriously deadly with any weapon in his hand, he also has expert bowhunting abilities. In Rambo's most recent big screen appearance in 2008, he slays five villains in one scene with long distance shots from his modified compound bow.
Favorite Movie Moment: By far, Rambo's coolest bow kill came in the second installment of the series, Rambo: First Blood Part II, when Rambo uses an explosive broadhead to dispatch an enemy soldier. Certainly not appropriate for hunting, but definitely memorable.
4. Legolas (The Lord of the Rings)
The Elven archer in The Lord of the Rings
series, played by Orlando Bloom, is certainly handy to have around in battle — especially with a bow and arrow in hand. Working through a quiver in the time it takes you to line up a shot, Legolas' masterful archery makes for some of the more memorable scenes throughout the series.
Favorite Movie Moment: In the triology's final installment, Return of the King, Legolas scales an overgrown pachyderm while taking down the enemy soldiers riding it. Then, he arrows the massive beast and rides down it Fred Flintstone style — all the while keeping a tally of his kills. Talk about big game hunting.