Jennifer Lawrence’s blockbuster Hollywood exploits first ignited Heather Hughes’ Hunger for archery.
Southport star Hughes, 20, has enjoyed a thrilling career with a bow in hand but was first inspired to take up the sport in box office circumstances.
Hughes, who competes for Nethermoss Archers, watched the first Hunger Games film as an 11-year-old and decided to take to the range adjacent to her dad Peter’s cricket club.
Globetrotting international appearances in Greece and Italy have followed and Hughes, who wants to compete for Scotland at next summer’s Commonwealth Games, says she’ll always be grateful for Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and co’s primal exploits on the big screen.
She said: “I started archery when I was 11 – I watched the Hunger Games and just thought ‘I want to try that.’
“That’s what got me into it initially – my dad used to play cricket and the archery club was opposite the cricket field.
“After I watched the film, I read the books and became interested in shooting, so I had to have a go.
“I did, and it just carried on – from small competitions to much bigger competitions.
“I’ve always really liked films and stories in general. The visibility of archery in popular culture is good to see – it’s not as mainstream as football and cricket, but it’s good to see it in the public eye.
“It would be good to see others trying the sport and getting more people interested through the Olympics and the Commonwealth Games.
“What I love so much about archery is that you’re able to go to the field, shoot arrows and make good friends that last a lot of years – it has so many benefits.”
Hughes’ arrow-firing career is powered by an innovative partnership between Entain – owner of Ladbrokes and Coral – and leading sports charity SportsAid.
The funding enables her access to training, travel and equipment as Hughes plots a route to next summer’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
The Merseyside ace is balancing her career with a degree in English and Film at Ormskirk’s Edge Hill University after studying at Southport’s Christ the King High School.
Life in lockdown was a juggling act and Hughes admits the injection of Entain funding has helped to significantly ease the strain.
“Entain and SportsAid’s funding has helped a lot in terms of helping me carry on without having to worry about finances,” Hughes added.
“Especially after the coronavirus pandemic. It’s put a lot of strain on people financially, so the funding has really helped.”