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11 Things Movies And TV Get Wrong About Archery

Updated October 12, 2020 10.8k votes 2.1k voters 489.2k views11 items

List RulesVote up the archery tropes that miss the mark.

There's nothing more breathtaking than our favorite film and TV characters facing a wave of sharp-edged projectiles, and it's even more anxiety-inducing if they're on fire. Of course, fire arrows weren't really the fixture of ancient warfare Hollywood would have you believe.

In fact, when it comes to art imitating life, on-screen archery often gets the short end of the stick. It's not just archery mistakes or bad archery seen in movies; many of the most common archery tropes are just plain wrong. Check out these arrow tropes that totally miss the mark. For these instances of real life archery vs. the movies, vote up the ones that are the most unrealistic.

  • 1

    Bows Creak When They're Drawn

    Bows Creak When They're Drawn
    Photo: Robin Hood / Lionsgate

    Trope: Bows make a loud, creaky sound when they're drawn.

    Why Is This Inaccurate? Bows aren't the only weapons that get this treatment in Hollywood. You may have noticed that guns and swords also make some stock sounds when they show up on screen, either a "click" or "shing," respectively.

    Most archers will tell you: if your bow is creaking, there's something wrong with it. As author and archer J.W. Elliot writes,

    BOWS DON'T CREAK! Why would they? When wood is bent it makes no sound until, or unless, it is stressed to the breaking point. Strings don't creak either. They are almost always waxed to keep moisture out and wax simply doesn't creak.

    Notable Offenders: Robin Hood, Kingdom of Heaven, Lord of the Rings

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  • 2

    You Can Simply Pull Arrows Out Of Your Body

    You Can Simply Pull Arrows Out Of Your Body
    Photo: Troy / Warner Bros.

    Trope: Arrows are easy to pull out of the body.

    Why Is It Inaccurate? Imagine you're a French soldier fighting against the English at the Battle of Agincourt (1415). Suddenly, you're struck by a pointy triangle of metal that was launched from an English longbow with at least 100 pounds of force.

    Fortunately for you, the arrow didn't hit any major organs. Unfortunately, the metal tip has embedded itself in your humerus. Even if you could muster the strength and leverage to rip the arrow out of your arm bone, the pain would make it nearly impossible.

    Now, supposing you did, somehow, get that arrow out? Many arrow tips were barbed, so there's a good chance it would take pieces of you with it. You might also just rip out the shaft, leaving the arrow tip (and splinters) behind.

    And in the unlikely event you did manage to get the whole thing out? Now you have an infection to worry about.

    Notable Offenders: Troy, The Road Warrior, Heroes, Xena: Warrior Princess

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  • 3

    Arrows Always Fly Straight And True

    Arrows Always Fly Straight And True
    Photo: Rambo III / TriStar Pictures

    Trope: Once released, an arrow flies in a straight, horizontal line - no matter how far away the target is.

    Why Is It Inaccurate? For starters, because of gravity

    Arrows fly at a slower speed than bullets, and are also heavier. Their trajectory is affected by a number of factors, including wind, the length and weight of the arrow, what its fletching is made of and how that fletching is designed, and of course the archer's own skill.

    Notable Offenders: Gladiator, Rambo III, The Hunger Games, any version of Robin Hood

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  • 4

    Archers Can Hold Their Bowstrings Indefinitely

    Archers Can Hold Their Bowstrings Indefinitely
    Photo: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers / New Line Cinema

    Trope: Archers can pull their bowstrings and engage in long, heated conversations - or even longer, dramatic pauses - before they let fly.

    Why Is This Inaccurate? Every bow has what is called a "draw weight," or the amount of force required to draw back the bowstring. Olympic athletes in 2018 were drawing an average of 48-50 pounds per arrow, while medieval longbow archers allegedly drew 100 pounds or more.

    Either way, that's a lot of weight to just be casually holding in place. When pro archer Carla Companion rated the CW show Arrow for its authenticity, she gave Stephen Amell's hero, Green Arrow, fairly good marks for his form. The one thing she found unrealistic? How long he keeps his bow drawn. As she explains:

    The only thing I see wrong is that he keeps it drawn forever, with ease, while facing someone else at gunpoint. To have the... power that the bow must have, that would be incredibly difficult to do. 

    Notable Offenders: The Avengers, The Lord of the Rings, Army of Darkness, Arrow

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