Media Tips Title 24

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Archery's media appeal by AJ Smith/Millar September 2008


Archery has several characteristics that make the sport ideal for news coverage. That includes weekly and daily print publications, as well as radio and television.

Check out this list of reasons why archery is not only inherently suited for media coverage, but viewer/reader/listener consumption too:


A broad appeal: Archery can be enjoyed by everyone – men, women and kids, both able–bodied and AWAD.


The fascination factor:  Because the sport is relatively low–profile in North America, few people have seen modern–day competitive archers in action. As a result, most people will drop what they're doing to watch TV footage of arrows flying toward the target. Politicians would kill for that kind of reaction!


Easy does it: The core concept of archery is relatively simple to understand. The idea is to shoot all your arrows as close to the center of the scoring area as possible. Even if viewers don't understand how equipment classifications, age divisions, or distances factor into the competition, they can still follow along – especially during match play tournaments.


Match play: Match play, also known as the Olympic Round or elimination round, was designed in the 1990s to make archery more interesting for spectators, especially TV viewers.  TV stations have started experimenting with a “split screen” approach to covering live match play tournaments (i.e. – the archer's face is featured on the left side of the screen, while the target is featured on the right, allowing the viewer to know the score the second the arrow hits the target).


This technique is catching on, particularly at European TV stations, as a great way to cover elimination rounds.


An easy assignment for camera operators/editors:  Most TV news editors/camera operators find archery simple to shoot and edit. This is because archers perform the exact same action repeatedly – nock the arrow, draw back, aim, and release.


This pattern can be captured on camera quickly and later edited into a “sequence”. The camera operator will collect a series of close-up, medium and wide shots. (For example: A medium shot of an archer pulling back; a close-up of the string meeting the archer's face/releasing; a medium shot of an arrow hitting the target.)


These individual shots can be pieced easily together into a series, or sequence, in an editing programme to create the illusion of the archer executing a single, fluid shot.


Listen up!: In TV and radio pieces, interesting/distinct sounds are important. From the “twang” of a bowstring to the “rainfall” of hundreds of arrows hitting the bales during competition, archery gives reporters the chance to incorporate great sound into news pieces.


Colours of the rainbow: When newspaper editors are choosing a front-page picture, they're looking for a captivating photo with great colour. Few activities incorporate as much colour as archery. A FITA face has yellow, red, and blue, besides black and white. Couple that with some green grass and perhaps a brightly-painted bow, and the archery picture becomes a top contender for the front page, or any colour page.


Of course, colour is important in television too. It's a feast for the eyes!


A world of eye-catchers:  Archery photos tend to contain key “eye-catchers” – specific compositions of shapes and angles – that good photographers try to incorporate into their photos. One such composition trick is the “leading line”, where a line, or a row of semi-uniform objects, begins somewhere in the middle of the photo and trails towards a corner.


A line of shooters at full draw provides an excellent opportunity to incorporate a leading line into a picture; so does a row of 20 target bales. The arrow itself can provide a leading line. Talented photographers will be able to spot dozens of leading lines in an archery environment and use them to take an eye-catching picture that editors will love.


Above, we mentioned that a colourful target face is a great selling point for the sport. Even in a black-and-white picture, the multiple circles on a target provide a series of shapes that are eye-catching, too.


In addition, the arc of a bow, or the string coming to rest at an archer's face, create some great angles for a photographer to work with.  Composition tricks aside, archery provides an endless supply of photo opportunities. From the expression on an athlete's face at full draw, to a parent looking anxiously through their binoculars at their child's target, there are so many chances to capture great photos/TV visuals.


It's all in your head: Many folks are interested to learn about a sport that, as most archers will argue, is approximately 90 percent psychological and 10 percent physical.


Reporters tend to be curious about an archer's “head game” – i.e., “How do you handle pressure?” “What tricks help you focus?”  These questions can inspire great interview conversations that, in turn, result in an interesting profile article/broadcast feature piece.


The nerd's paradise: There are a lot of technology lovers out there, and equipment is a big part of archery! From bows to arrows to accessories, the technological aspect of the sport will interest many a news consumer.


History, mystery and popular culture:  Archery is pretty cool! The sport enjoys an association with legendary figures, like Robin Hood, and historical events, such the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, during which the archers of the outnumbered English played a key role in defeating the French troops.


Films that incorporate archery, such as The Lord of the Rings and Chronicles of Narnia, seem to re-new public interest in the ancient sport.  The public definitely maintains a grassroots, organic interest in the sport.


Many people have always wanted to shoot, but don't know how to get involved.  As FCA President Roger Murray reminds us, so many kids create a rudimentary bow in their back yards by tying a string to each end of a stick! The FCA encourages its membership to cultivate a lasting relationship with their local media outlets, to promote the sport and to reach out to everyone who wanted to get involved with archery, but never knew how.