Now that you’ve caught the archery bug thanks to The Hunger Games, are you ready to fire an arrow like Katniss did?

Jennifer Lawrence was trained by an Olympic archery master. She practiced hours and hours a day just to get the form right.

You’ll need to practice, too. Maybe it won’t be hours a day. After all, Katniss was able to shoot an apple out of a pig’s mouth and a squirrel right in the eye. Let’s start with being able to hit a target 15 yards away.

Here are the step-by-step instructions, complete with screen shots from the movie so you can see exactly how she did it.

Step 1: Get your stance. You need good balance to fire an arrow like Katniss does. That starts with a good stance so that by the time you draw your arrow you won’t be wobbling. An open stance is the best one to use.

Draw an imaginary line in front of you that is parallel to the target. We’ll call that line the shooting line.

Stand with your body sideways and in line with the target, as if you could draw a straight line between you and the bulls eye. If you are holding the bow in your right hand, your right foot should be parallel to the shooting line. Your left foot should be beneath your left shoulder and pointed slightly away from the firing line.

Step 2: Nock the arrow. To notch an arrow, put the end of the arrow between your index finger and forefinger. The arrow has a little “notch” on it. Line it up with the drawstring and put it on the drawstring until you hear a click.  Most arrows have two fletchings (where feathers would ordinarily be) of one color and another “odd” colored one. The odd colored one should be pointed away from the bow. Once you’ve nocked the arrow, you can pull it back just enough to where front of the arrow shaft is on the rest, but keep your bow pointed down.

Katniss nocks an arrow

Katniss nocks an arrow

Katniss didn’t use any accessories to notch her arrow when she was in the arena. She used her bare fingers.  But when she was out in the woods, Katniss used fingertabs. If you plan to fire a lot of arrows, you could consider buying finger tabs or gloves to help prevent wear and tear.

Step 3: Hook your fingers. Now that your arrow is nocked, you can hook your fingers onto the drawstring. Katniss was really good at doing this in a smooth motion. All you have to do is keep a little pressure on the arrow with your index finger and middle finger. Take the first knuckle groove of your middle finger and ring finger and hook them onto the drawstring. Your pinkie finger should be relaxed and separate.

Katniss hooks fingers onto the drawstring

Katniss hooks her fingers onto the drawstring

Step 4: Draw the bow to your anchor point.  You are almost ready to fire a bow like Katniss! With your bow hand, hold the grip with your thumb pointing towards the target and the meaty part resting on the grip. The rest of your fingers should be relaxed, and the back of your hand should be at a 45 degree angle.

Katniss brings the arrow to her anchor point

Katniss brings the arrow to her anchor point

Raise the bow to shoulder height and pull the drawstring back until the arrow is just under your chin, but not too close. Also make sure that your elbow is turned away from the drawstring.

Katniss was pretty consistent with your anchor point throughout the movie. This is where you will hold the arrow until you are ready to fire.

With a perfect draw, the bow, bowstring, draw-hand and elbow will form one straight line with your shoulders low.

Step 5: Aim and fire!Lean back just a little bit on your heels so that the weight of your draw is now on your back and not your arms. If you have a target site on your bow, it’s just a matter of lining it up onto the target and firing. If not, you have to eyeball it as best as you can.


Katniss aims her arrow

Katniss aims her arrow

Now take a deep breath. Slowly release it through your mouth halfway. Once you hit that halfway point, release your fingertips and let your draw hand go back but not drop. It is important to do this and NOT pluck the drawstring unless you want a nasty sting on your cheek or forearm.


Let’s watch it all in action:


If all goes well, your arrow will fly straight across. Maybe you’ll hit the target, maybe you won’t. Katniss probably didn’t hit the target her first few times. But don’t give up. Just keep practicing with a target set 15 yards out.


Soon enough you’ll be able to shoot an apple out of a pig’s mouth.

Do you want more tips? Check out this Comprehensive Archer’s Guide