Lars Andersen: a new level of archery
DO I HIT EVERYHING?
I use a LOT of time practicing, and every time I set out to learn a new skill, a new trick or how to handle a new type of bow or arrow, it takes a long time, with plenty of misses. When I got the idea of grabbing an arrow in flight and firing before I landed, it took me months to learn. For a long time, arrows flew everywhere!
But there’s no trick in the video that I haven’t done many times (except for splitting the arrow in flight – after I’d done that once I finished the video). The one with hitting the blade I’ve only done three times, though. All that running hurt my knees.
ON MY BOWS AND POWER
Many people talk about how what I do is only possible because I use bows that are less powerful than English longbows. They are correct. I’m 50 years old, and have been doing archery for only ten years. I’ll never be able to shoot really fast with 100 lbs+ war bows. I tried, but it just produced injuries. Had I started at age 10, it would have been a different story.
There is also a tendency from critics to assume that bows were always fired against plate armour (as at Crecy in 1346 and Agincourt in 1415). This was very much the exception. Many opponents had little or no armour at all, and Stone Age findings show that many animals were taken down by multiple shots. Also, in 1923 Saxton T Pope examined a number of historical museum bows from around the world. His conclusion was that most only had a tensile strength of 45-50 pounds.
THE CHAINMAIL TEST
Around 04:22 I penetrate chainmail. The arrows had bodkin tips, and the chainmail is riveted. However, while the gambeson is thick, it’s not as thick as some I’ve seen elsewhere. But one reason the arrows penetrate is that I sharpen not only the tip itself, but also the edges of the bodkin tip.
SHOOTING ON THE RIGHT SIDE
There are archery traditions alive today which shoot the arrow on the right side of the bow, as I do. However, the places where most people come into contact with archery (Hollywood, The Olympics, archery clubs) do it left around the bow.
THE BACK QUIVER
Is it a myth? Yes and no. Some archers definitely slung their quivers on their backs for when they were marching, just like soldiers did with shields. We also can’t rule out that some archers – who didn’t care what arrow they picked from the quiver or who didn’t need to move rapidly – had quivers on their backs, but we can rule out that this was a general thing as Hollywood makes it out to be.
THE THREE LEVELS OF ARROW HANDLING
The first level of arrow handling is having the arrows in a quiver, and drawing them one at a time. It’s easy, and it’s intuitive. Progressing from there to holding arrows in the bow hand takes practice, but it can be learned.
There are some drawbacks, however. Arab Archery (the book) says that it’s less useful, because the arrows vibrate when shooting with powerful bows, causing imprecise shots.
The third level, keeping the arrows in the draw hand, provides a several benefits, but it requires that one is able to draw and shoot in one single movement without thinking. And that takes a LOT of practice.
THE ULTIMATE TRICK TOOK 14 TAKES
At first, I didn’t think it was possible. You don’t have time to aim or think, but can only do it if your reactions are completely instinctive. First of all, you need to be convinced that you WILL hit it, so you can “feel” the incoming arrow and fire at it instead of just flinching away.
I was also in doubt whether it was smart to show this, because I don’t want anyone to get hurt trying to copy the trick. I trained for years with soft boffer arrows and spent a LONG time before I tried it even the first time. And the arrow fired at me was not fired with a very powerful bow, though it was definitely dangerous enough!
It was a light bamboo arrow with a metal tip, and the arrow I shot back was a heavier aluminum arrow. That the arrow split was just pure luck, and I’m not certain I could repeat it without first training for a long time. I believe it split because it hit just behind the head and made the shafts fluctuate against each other, causing the bamboo shaft to split lengthwise.
I hope to try it again using a proper high-speed camera!
Thank you for watching my videos and for reading.
I will remove rude and dumb comments.
I will also remove dumb “archery experts” comments.
– Lars Andersen, January 2015