Alright, for those of you who do not know, I am an archery nut. I've had all kinds of toy bows since I was seven when I first saw Disney's Robin Hood (the one where he is a fox). I finally got a real bow when I was nineteen as a Christmas present from my parents. It was a compound bow and I've been hooked since.
Now there are plenty of errors rookies make in terms of proper technique and I am most certainly not exempt from that. I am no where near the greatest archer but I have at least corrected my improper style and use of it and no longer make mistakes in terms of my form.
That is what I am going to discuss in this thread, the incorrect form of the characters in comics who are supposed to be among the best of their respective universes. I'll compare and contrast what they are doing wrong with images and explanations of how their simple mistakes , which as superheroes they should be able to measure to.
First up, arrow placement!
This is the most basic thing to learn, which side of the bow the arrow goes on before firing. If you are a right handed archer you will you draw the bow string with your right hand. The arrow rest of the right handed bow will be on the left side of the bow above where you hold the actual bow with your left hand. It is the opposite for a left handed person using a left handed bow obviously. The arrow rest usually looks like this,
This is how it looks done right,
Now lets see how the archers of comics do it,
Now I should probably explain why the arrow rest being on the correct side for you hand orientation. You see when you loose the arrow the arrow actually warps around your bow and continues to in the air. When you hold the bow in your left hand and pull the bow string with the right, which would be the only option left I assume unless you have an extra arm growing out of your chest and are a member of the Adams family.... and I have that awful Adams Family Values theme song stuck in my head now so I have to hate you, you fictional three armed mutant construct of my own imagination. Anyway, where was I? Oh right, the importance of arrow placement in correlation to how the arrow will fly. When the string is released the arrow is flung forward by the string and it is pushing the arrow from the back which causes the rear of the arrow to actually be traveling faster then the front at first. This causes it to warp even before it has completely left the string and when released by the right hand the back of the arrow is pushed to the left, and like I said the back is moving faster than the front at this point so the arrow bends even when it is still nocked on the string. The way in which the arrow bends makes it so the front of the arrow is actually pushed to the right which allows for a more accurate shot. The opposite happens when you are shooting with the left hand, the back will veer right and front goes left so a left handed bows' arrow rest is on the right
This is because your right hand and left hand are not lined up evenly. If you are right handed where the arrow is nocked to the string will be slightly to the right of the arrows tip, and that is why the arrow being on the correct side of the bow is so important. If you are right handed and the arrow is on the right side of the bow the rear of the arrow is still pushed left and the front still goes right because of the way the arrow bends, so doing this makes your shot veer way right.
Now for another simple mistake, String Grip!
The word grip is a bit miss leading in how a bow string is held at tension when drawn back. You are really just using the tips of three fingers on your shooting hand not passing the first knuckles of each like so,
As you see, the fingers you use are your ring, middle, and index. One finger above the arrow the other two below. Some people manage to pull the the with just the index and middle, but not me.
So you've seen how someone who is so not a pro does it. Lets see how the comic pros do it!
Ok I think what they are doing wrong is pretty self explanatory, I will comment the if Hawkeye was using a string release he sort of has the right type of grip... sort of.
Now onto... EPIC POSES!
So sometimes there is embellishment in the type of stances an archer would take or how they aim the bow, lets take a look shall we!
Now some of these pictures raise another topic I'd like to discuss,
Multiple arrows shot at once.
It's actually doable. I watched a guy do it at a Renaissance fair. He was able to shoot three arrows at once all hitting something slightly larger than the size a softball together. And there is where the actual multiple arrows at once differs from the fictional. You can totally fire up to three arrows at once and hit a target accurately with enough practice, it's the idea of hitting multiple targets with multiple arrows at once that becomes fiction. When shooting more than one arrow at a time it's damn near (if not completely) impossible to accurately hit your three separate marks that are in separate places. This is because you are going to have three arrows at different points on the string and only one of those points is at the optimum spot for an accurate shot. Obviously the string is farthest back at one point, which is where you nock your arrow, and that spot will give the arrow placed there more power than anywhere else on the string, this spot is also at the center of the string at the center of the bow and it is that sweet spot on the bow string that gives the best shot. Having other arrows on the string complicates things, when practicing multiple shots the goal is not actually to hit different points on the target but to get them to hit together at the same spot.
Most of these things are simple rookie mistakes that these expert archers are making. Now they have been depicted in comics with correct form, the current Hawkeye, as well as the current Green Arrow titles have many examples of proper form within their pages.
Still given most of the images I've seen of these two famously skilled comic archers, I'd say that they need to go back and train more with the casual level classes. However they do seem to almost always hit their marks... hmm maybe I should start going by their shooting stances and style.... I'll let you know how it goes!