The bow and arrow is a projectile weapon that predates recorded history and is common to most cultures. Archery is the art, practice, or skill of using the weapon. Katniss Everdeen learned her archery skills from her father and uses a bow to hunt for food in the woods outside of District 12. The bow also becomes her weapon of choice in the arena during the 74th Hunger Games and 75th Hunger Games. Gale Hawthorne is also a skilled archer, who learned his skills from Katniss.
Depending on the culture, time period, and available resources, bows may be made of many different materials; these include wood (usually ash or yew), fiberglass, metal, animal horn, and carbon fiber components. The bowstring can also be made of varying materials, including animal gut or linen coated in beeswax. When strung, the bow becomes a flexible arc.
A bow's power is referred to as its draw weight, which is measured by the pounds of pressure it takes to pull the string back to the point where the arrow is released. The arrows are straight pieces of material (wood, carbon fiber, or light metal); the arrowheads are typically and pointed and sharp (made of metal, stone, or animal bone); and the arrows' ends are fletched with feathers - or material shaped like feathers - to help keep them straight in flight. The arrows are stored in a container called a quiver, which the archer wears over their shoulder - where it rests on their back - or around their waist.
There have been many types of bows throughout history, but certain types are more famous than others:
- Longbows are the simplest type of bow, consisting of a single curve, with rounded or "D"-shaped limbs, and traditionally made from a single piece of wood (this type of construction was known as a "self bow"). As their name implies, longbows tend to be longer than other types- since the body of the bow has only one curve, it needs extra length to gain enough energy to launch the arrow, and to avoid the bow itself being damaged when the built-up energy is released.
- A flatbow is similar in construction to a longbow, but may be shorter in length and has flattened limbs rather than rounded ones. In the films, the homemade bow that Katniss hunts with appears to be a version of a flatbow.
- A composite bow is a bow made of more than one material- historically, the favored materials for this type of bow were wood, animal horn, and sinew. Composite bows were typically shorter than longbows, but the inclusion of animal horn made the weapon strong enough to launch arrows great distances without the bow shattering from the release of energy. In that same vein, composite bows were typically recurve in design - having two forward curves at the end of each limb and with the tips of the limbs pointing away from the archer - which gave the smaller weapon incredible power for its size.
- Compound bows are a modern version of the bow and arrow that use additional features - such as sites and guides - to allow the archer more accuracy. Each limb of the bow may also be tipped by a wheel and series of pulleys - known as cams - to allow the bow to store more energy, while at the same time reducing the draw weight. Based on descriptions, the military-grade bow that Gale uses in Mockingjay seems to be a version of a compound bow (though there is no exact comparison).
The Hunger Games
Katniss stored the bow that her father made for her in a hollowed-out log just outside the boundary of District 12. Due to the extreme restrictions on owning weapons, it would have been too risky to keep in her house or anywhere else that unsympathetic Peacekeepers might have found it.
During her private training session, Katniss put on an impressive display of her archery skills, but the gamemakers were too focused on their food and drink to pay her any attention. Enraged, Katniss used the bow to shoot an apple out of the mouth of a roasted pig on the buffet table, shocking the gamemakers back to attention and earning a training score of 11 (the highest of any tribute).
Glimmer initially claimed the bow and arrow from the Cornucopia during the opening bloodbath. Katniss, while trapped in a tree by the career pack, dropped a tracker jacker nest on the careers, including Glimmer. After Glimmer was stung to death by the tracker jackers, Katniss was able to recover the bow and arrows despite the hallucinations she was experiencing due to the tracker jacker venom. Katniss proceeded to then use her new bow as her main weapon, using her skills to destroy the careers' supply store, kill multiple other tributes including Marvel and Cato, and hunt for food.
After Katniss became a victor, she continued to hunt daily despite her wealth in order to provide for Gale's family, because he had begun to work in the mines and refused to accept any money from her. The only time they were able to hunt together was on Sundays.
When Katniss was in the Training Center, she decided to go to the archery range for "some sanity." The trainer Tax tossed fake birds high into the air for her to hit. When she shoots down five in one round, she realizes that she has gained the attention of most of the victors, who are regarding her with "everything from envy to hatred to admiration."
In the 75th Hunger Games, numerous bows and quivers were supplied at the Cornucopia. When Katniss obtained her bow, she briefly faced off against Finnick Odair, who was poised to attack her with his trident, before they quickly became allies. Katniss fired and missed at Enobaria, but hit Gloss in the calf. Brutus deflected her first arrow with his flotation belt and submerged himself before she could fire a second shot.
Katniss later aims at Finnick but realizes that he is not her enemy and fires an arrow with Beetee's wire wrapped around it into the force field, causing lighting to travel along the wire into the field and destroy it.
After Katniss joins the rebellion, Beetee designs a special, custom-made military-grade bow for her in District 13. This bow was designed to fit in with her mockingjay costume that Cinna had designed, and was fully functional. To Katniss, it seems like a living weapon as when activated by the sound of her voice, the bow emits a slight hum that can be felt. When she tells it "Good night," it shuts down and reverts to being a regular bow. The bow fires regular, explosive, and incendiary arrows distinguished by the colors of their shafts that Katniss was able to shoot accurately from over 100 yards away. Gale was also equipped with a standard military bow that was equipped with various gadgets and scopes. Although both were later trained in firearms use, they carried the bows as special weapon after joining Squad 451, a sharpshooter unit. Katniss later uses her bow to assassinate President Alma Coin.
Following her return to District 12, Katniss attempts to hunt after being snapped out of her lethargy by Peeta's eventual return and planting of primrose bushes outside her house. She is too weak after her inactivity on her first attempt, but eventually is able to resume.
- Katniss Everdeen
- Gale Hawthorne
- Mr. Everdeen
Katniss has tried to teach Prim, Peeta, and Haymitch how to shoot at various times, although none of them were any good. During the 75th Hunger Games, she gave an hour of archery lessons to Finnick Odair in exchange for an hour of trident instruction.
- The Hunger Games, chapter 1
- Catching Fire, Chapter 16
- Mockingjay, Chapter 5
- Bow and arrow on Wikipedia