Thursday, July 21, 2016

Two Arrows Are Not Better Than One

One arrow?  Hah!  Try six at the same time!
You can actually shoot multiple arrows from a single bow, but that’s where Hollywood and reality diverge.  Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves make it seem as easy as taking the "Multi-Shot" feat from Dungeons & Dragons.  There are three main problems with this: power, accuracy and training.

A bow stores potential energy in the limbs when it is drawn by the archer.  That energy is transferred out of the limbs, through the string, and into the arrows, which, being lighter and (hopefully) aerodynamic (see what I did there?) fly off and gravely injure or kill the bad guy on the other side.  But a bow can only store so much potential energy.  An archer can’t dial that energy up or down.  Shooting more than one arrow at the same time will split the potential energy between the two.  In the best case scenario, each arrow now only has half the punch it normally would (and probably less).  Where one arrow has a chance of hitting a target, punching through any layers of cloth or armor, and actually doing damage, two arrows—at best—halves that chance (probably more).

Accuracy is also completely messed with when you nock two arrows to your string.  Two (or more) arrows released at the same time will effect each other and spin at different rates, making aiming both arrows impossible.  An archer who wants to achieve any measure of accuracy with this trick will more likely have to sight one arrow, and just hope for the best for the other.  Anything beyond 15-20 yards and the arrows are going to be wildly off any standard trajectory, and they’ll start to lose any force whatsoever.  Check out this “amazing” shot and note that they archer takes about five to six short steps back from his target.

Ok, so we lose power and we lose accuracy, which means that any archer would have to spend a ridiculous amount of time to learn how to shoot more than one arrow.  The range of the bow is now effectively halved (at least) and a lot of effort is being placed into what is
Hit me, Tauriel, one more time!
essentially a trick shot.  Obviously, an archer’s time is easily better spent training for the accuracy and power of a single arrow.  There are precious few combat situations that come to mind where cutting the power and range of your arrows will play out any better than quickly and accurately shooting one arrow after another.

The upshot (if you don’t mind) is that there are precious few life-or-death situations these days for a trained archer.  On the other hand, there are many chances to show off in an exhibition or a friendly practice session. A number of show archers have mastered this technique to awe and amaze audiences.  It certainly is amazing to watch!  But it’s doubtful that an archer, who used the trained skills in combat, would want to devote any amount of time to learning how to wow people rather than kill them.  

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