Four things about archery they get wrong in the movies
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Four things about archery they get wrong in the movies

August 14, 2019

Bows! Yes, I was going to say a bit more about bows and how they are portrayed in films. Here are a few things they get wrong about bows in films. Thing number 1: they use the word “Fire!” In several films I’ve come across this, I know for certain that Aragorn shouts “Fire!” in the absolutely laughable sequence of the Siege of Helm’s Deep Yeah yeah, the orcs they’d take pikes to a siege because they’re just the thing for a siege, aren’t they? When you get up to a castle, you can just…poke it with your pike until it gives in! Anyway, that’s a bit of a sideline. He shouts, “FIRE!” at all the archers. I mean, what does “FIRE!” mean to an ancient archer? It means: “Oh! There’s a fire somewhere! Woah, Okay! Quick, someone get us a bucket of sand! Where? Where’s the fire? What’s going on? Fire! No, he meant “Shoot!”, or “Loose!”, or “Release!”, or something but he didn’t mean “Fire!”. The word “Fire!” belongs to the age of FIRE-arms. They were using bows! There’s no gunpowder, there’s no flash in the pan, there’s no detonation. Wrong word! Okay, so don’t use the word “Fire!” Another thing they get wrong is this really quite alarming creaking noise. The Lord of the Rings movies did this particularly, but I’ve seen this in loads of other movies as well. As they draw the bow, there’s this really loud “CREAK!” [GUTTERAL CREAK] noise. If your bow makes that sound, stop using that bow! Because that bow is definitely on the way out! It may break at any moment, and that would be very dangerous for you! And not at all dangerous for the enemy. So, that’s another thing they get wrong. Another thing they get wrong is they use, for understandable reasons, very low-poundage bows. But what they’ve got to do is teach the actors to pretend that it’s a high-poundage bow. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen an actor holding the arrow on the string with his fingers either side of the arrow like that, He’s drawing it like that, with a bent arm, and goes: “ping!” “ping!” No! No, that’s not going to work at all! Okay, if you’ve got a war bow, a bow that’s going to do someone a serious amount of harm, you can’t just hold the arrow either side and pinch it back. No, no, you’ve got to get round that string somehow either with your fingers or if you’re using a thumb ring, you’ve got a ring with a little sort of hook on your thumb, you’ve got to get round that string somehow and draw the bow back, And your front arm is not going to be bent, okay? It’s not going to be bent. You’re going to push the bow away from you like that, with a straight arm, and quite often, you’ll push the bow upwards or downwards, and bend it into place using the muscles largely on your back. It’s quite a different movement, quite a different stance from the “ping!” that you see in films. So that’s another bug-bear of mine. What else… There was another thing… while I was at it… Oh yes! I remember now! Now film makers are very used to making films with guns, “I point a gun at you! You see, I’m pointing a gun at you!” There’s tension in this scene, And a character can be pointing a gun at another character for quite a long time, and having a conversation, and “will he shoot? Will he not shoot? What’s he going to do?” “Will the other guy make a break for it? What’s going to happen?” You can do that with a gun. So they try and do it with bows, but it doesn’t work with a bow! Again, with a proper bow that’s actually got a hefty bit of poundage to it, you’ve got your bow here and you don’t want to be holding it for long because if you do… you’re going to be juddering all over the place and you’re not going to hit a thing. And you’re using up an awful lot of energy which would be very useful for, you know, maybe shooting again later possibly! So as a commander, you don’t get everyone to draw and then hold them there, you know, in tremendous tension. “Ooh, when’s it going to be?” And then shout, “Loose!” No, you know, there’s not going to be a great pause between the draw and the release But in films quite often in the middle of a battle, one side will all draw their bows and then hold their bows for no reason whatsoever! The enemy might not even be moving! But the film maker thinks: “oh, this is going to build up tension!” Yeah right! I’m sorry, I’ve ranted enough for now.

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  1. And then there are the Oerlikon Bows. Batteries of bows mounted on a ship or a wagon that can release a volley of arrows. Small bows, even smaller arrows – that just can hammer the tip through a wooden table.

  2. Well go figure a fictious movie about fictious time, place and people isn't real. Mmmmm. And how do you know what kind of bows they used in the battle for middle earth have you been there. GET OVER IT ITS A MOVIE…

  3. there's just something satisfactory about shouting "fire". Is there a video criticizing the apparent ineffectiveness of armour in this movie? Or Jackson's total disregard of good old Archimedes (Dragons sinking into molten gold, Gollum sinking into molten stone, Isildur floating down the river face-down in his chain-mail coat)?

  4. Drizzle? Do you mean that point where you're not sure if it's a light rain, or a heavy fog?
    All good observations, btw.

  5. I have to say I did this while playing a role playing game. The moment a suspicious individual came within sight my character would draw their bow. I've seen the error of my ways later.

  6. Another stupid element of using a bow in the movies is the way the Director has the actors, serving as archers, hold the arrows in a cocked bow only inches from the face of someone they've just captured. I guess they do it because it looks more menacing, but the arrow wouldn't even clear the bow and generate much penetrating power if it only has to travel 6 inches before it strikes an opponents face. I guess that's the medieval version of "keep 'em covered"! And why shoot an arrow at a bony skull instead of the more fleshy torso or legs? They do the same thing with pistols in the movies! Why shoot someone in the head from 6 inches away and have all that blood and gore splash all over your hand. Plus, it also gives the opponent more of a chance to take the gun or bow away if your holding it within arms reach. I noticed them doing this sort of stuff several times in the LOTR and Hobbit movies. Stupid!

  7. I agree with all that. It bugs me how the movies have people standing in the rain with no intent to get out of it ,when you know that snow in that area.

  8. Pistols that keep going "click" after the slide is locked open. You can't even pull the trigger with the slide open.
    Now do a video on things Hollywood gets wrong about guns and "silencers."

  9. The Orcs carried the pikes as a matter of course. They would hardly discard them because the battle circumstances had changed. In fact you see them use them as spears later on in the battle. I do, however share your annoyance of the use of the command 'FIRE'. That was the first thing drummed into me by my Archery Tutor.

  10. In the name of accuracy, pick your elbow up when you draw
    Also, bent arm when drawing is actually desirable, less forearm welts and string deflection that way.

  11. One would think that British film makers could do "drizzle". I was over there for a month a couple of years ago and it seemed like it was always drizzling wherever I went.

  12. Judging by the comments, I'd say "Thou shalt not criticize recent fantasy movies, lest you incur the wrath of the believers."

  13. Exactly right, in Game of Thrones they did this…. Draw…. And like a minute later loose! Pure horseshit. Draw the bow aim and Fire Within 4 seconds General Lee for traditional archery. Maybe a couple more seconds for Olympic style shooting back tension. And those bows are fairly light poundage 35 40 lbs. The medieval bows or more like a hundred and fifty pounds.

  14. I always understood the shout for archer's was "loose" as in Let Go ? I'm waiting for frozen driving rain that comes in horizontally, in a film. It gets in your eyes so painfully you can barely open them.

  15. dunno dude, the number of people I know or know of that can draw a 100 pound english long bow is under 20..

    these days people need cocking helpers to draw a 100 pound crossbow back,, lol

  16. #4 – shout out to Larry Olivier.
    Perhaps film's greatest volley of archery as the Battle of Agincourt opens in the 1944 Herry V.
    Larry (as Henry) keeps his archers at full draw for what seems like an age before signaling to loose.

  17. Well, there was apoint in time where gun powder overlapped the use of a bow and they would have used the term "fire".. they only get it wrong in movies "older" than gum powder use. Also, they may have said that when using fire arrows….just a thought

  18. You Motherland BASTARDS stole our cricket ICC World Cup. I say "Colonial Long Bows, Maori Hakas to the fore…arm patu, kotiate and long bows…hold…hold (well, not hold)…RELEASE!"

  19. No, aragorn said release arrows in elvish "leitho i philim" or so, it was a random officer to shouts fire

  20. Very good analysis. Also, it explains why so many people can't understand why single shot smooth bore muskets very quickly replaced bows and arrows in warfare and why Native Americans clamored fro flintlock muskets over their bows and arrows. Any bow strong enough to compete with a firearm is going to be a bow which was very difficult to shoot well.

  21. Going back in history, archers usually had the arrow resting on the right side of the bow (if they were right handed). The reason was they often held other arrows (either hand, depending on when and where) so they could quickly get off multiple shots. Another big mistake is they didn't use a shoulder quiver; at least military archers. Again, for shooting multiple arrows quickly. The rest was seldom on the bow, and the arrow was shot off the top of the hand. Regarding the actors for the LOTR movies, the main characters (especially Orlando Bloom as Legolas) had training by a traditional archery expert. Bloom became a very good instinctive archer. Many others, but this isn't my channel.

  22. The English Longbow or Warbow isn't designed to be held at the full draw for more than a couple of seconds – do that too many times and the limbs break! Professional archers would calculate the aiming point as they were nocking and drawing and then loose as soon as they reached full draw.
    The 'Fire" command in LOTR Helm's Deep always spoiled the scene for me too (but at least the Orcs weren't using obviously modern motorised landing craft covered in plywood in The Return of the King, unlike the Froggies in Russel Crowe's Robin Hood!)

  23. The other thing they do is have the arrow pressed up against someone like a gun. Now I'm sure that would be unpleasant, but I'm not at all sure it would do much actual damage, and it would be very easy to knock to one side.

  24. I like how the often draw their war bow and then enter into an elaborate conversation with their foe at their own leisure, without the mentioned signs of fatigue.

  25. You seam to make alot of since, but also kind of nitpicky. I watch movies for the entertainment value. But i am a gun lover so i know what you mean.

  26. Any comment on how many fingers are used to draw the string? Here in the "Modern" US people from Parks & Recreation demand we use three (3) fingers.

    Sorry, the English removed TWO (2) fingers of the enemy archers they captured. That's why in England it is "abusive" to display two fingers w/ back of hand towards the person being "insulted". That gesture informed/informs the English that they lost the fight. It is an insult, the enemy still has all his fingers and will/can draw a bow pointed at the English!

    But that "fact" is forgotten and people think the two finger salute means "PEACE".

    So why are the parks and rec people demanding three fingers to draw a bow? INSURANCE COMPANIES think modern people are to weak to draw a bow string!

    Last time I stopped at a park the bow required only a 25 pound draw…

    Historically the draw was what, 35 pounds plus???

    The so-called

  27. Hollywood also always gets the anchor point wrong. When shooting with fingers, one must anchor with the tip of the index finger at the corner of your mouth. This creates a consistent anchor point with every shot. Hollywood archers always anchor far away from the face so they can have that two minute conversation before they shoot the enemy. Hollywood gets ERVERYTHING wrong; climbing, hunting, surfing etc. If you know anything about what Hollywood is filming you will see how they screwed up every time. BTW, Tom Cruise movies are the worst offenders!

  28. You are so right! You should be an adviser to the numb nutts directors of these drivelly excuses for movies.

  29. In the book LOTR Weapons and Warfare, the pikes of the Uruk Hai were equipped with a hook believed to have helped aid with the raising of the ladders. Given they were fighting "the horselords" the pikes were also to help in fending off any calvary charge. Excellent book for any LOTR fan.

  30. It would be so interesting to see a medieval movie that focused on being truly authentic in its battles. I think that would be far more interesting than what we see in movies normally.

  31. If this guy thinks the bow arm should be locked straight when shooting….then he's watched too many movies.

  32. "We're vastly outnumbered by the bad guys,but that's OK cos they're really bad shots" – Every Action Film EVER.

  33. In the LotR and GoT special troop there are never NOT USED pikes as the best antihorse weapon. I hate this…

  34. Bravo. Right on all counts.

    I have seen the draw done correctly all of once, I think (& don't ask what film it was).

    I'd also love to see a film where the weather actually matters. Try using a bow in any kind of rain.

    That's quite aside the continuous stupidity of direct fire. How often did actual archers even see their intended targets? (At Crecy, frex, wasn't it something like 5000 archers in barrage fire?) To much exposure to Errol Flynn's Robin Hood, methinks…

  35. Another thing that bugged me was the old Robin Hood TV series. During the"Robin Hood , Robin Hood, riding through the glen etc" opening credits, he fires an arrow which goes soaring over Sherwood forest to stick quivering in a tree! I learnt at an early age making my boyhood bows that as the arrow leaves the bow it whips (archer's paradox) and the further it goes the less it whips. That arrow was shot from somewhere just behind the camera, not a couple of hundred yards away. Also, message arrows. A message would arrive by arrow (on paper!) and when Friar Tuck (or whoever ) untied the string around it, it was patently obvious it could not have been shot from a bow! (Once again, probably thrown by someone from behind the camera) That message would have to have been so tightly whipped to the arrow it would have taken a couple of minutes just to untangle it!

  36. Actually, Mr. Lindybeige, there have been historical instances of armies bearing pikes in sieges. When Alexander the Great besieged Pellium, his army entered a valley with a river to their left and hills encompassing the valley around them, which were held by the Illyrians, so it became a siege within a siege. Alexander surprisingly had his army doing drills. In doing these drills, the Macedonians swung their pikes back in forth like a well-oiled machine, creating a loud whooshing noise, followed by a loud war cry. It was so unexpected that it drove the majority of them off the hills, which gave Alexander the advantage he needed to eventually win the Balkan Campaign.

  37. You forgot the move when they give a small female/young boy or any other relatively weak person a bow, as if drawing a bow doesn't require as much strength as holding/fighting with a sword. The character easily and effortlessly draws the bow, holds it for 5 min while giving a speech/trying to intimidate and then releases, killing a perfectly armored foe. Shooting the enemy straight through the breastplate.

  38. For me it is berets that look like a cow pat on the head, or when they say "Over and Out"! It is either over, or out. Never both. Or when soldiers enter a room and all you can hear is cocking weapons that the filmmaker has dubbed over the film. dumb dumb dumb.

  39. 1 minute and 6 seconds to say "loose" . . . . could you hear us shouting at the screen ? no? not even a little bit?
    Oh and actors are crap at heavy all over. watch westerns to bank robberies – maybe a good one was Kellys Heroes / / / / Gold is really light so it seems. won't knacker a truck or or a spine though. Lucky eh.

  40. They also have this notion that bows can be used for close quarter combat. As if it's an smg or a shotgun.

  41. They are Uruk-Hai not orks, Aragorn did not shout “fire”, the Uruk-Hai also used swords and shields. The pikes were because they were fighting the Rohirrim, you know horse riders. Get your facts straight before criticizing the movie.

  42. Your bow arm shouldn't be too bent but it definitely shouldn't be locked when you draw, it grants a much greater chance of the string hitting your arm as you loose and an arm guard only covers your forearm. This can actually be very painful

  43. I love your content, but I have one problem with this. when drawing back a bow. don't put the inside of your arm in. if its bent to much you will slap the inside of your arm and rip the skin off. it hurts… trust me… I know… also add fire arrows to this list

  44. Damn them! Using inaccurate depictions and phrasing in a fantasy movie with orcs and dragons. Damn them all to hell!

  45. how about the Bows being vulnerable to Rain or water / during helms deep it's raining
    Although there are ways to waterproof them and I believe elves might have something to protect their bows against water

  46. My archery irritant is when they string their recurved bows on the wrong side, or use so short a string the bow is a semicircle before they even draw the bow.

  47. Anyone else just want to be entertained without having the movie dissected. Do you tell how magic tricks are done also ?

  48. Reminds me of the first time I and my American brothers watched a British film of a modern capital ship in battle.

    It was a very good movie with warships confronting each other with cannon. But then we heard, "Ready, Aim….SHOOOOT!!!!"

    The British commander said it and we couldn't stop laughing.

    It's only beause so many American naval pictures use almost the same terminology, but end with a better word — FIRE!!

    The command "Fire!" requires a deep, guttural, committed, masculine voice.

    It's much more warlike and manly than "Shoot!" which almost implies a falsetto.

  49. That's right, because for long drawn out dramatic conversation, they've invented the crossbow. ▪☆☆☆¤

  50. Hate to do this to a great channel, but my inner love of Tolkien had to say something. The Uruk Hai brought pikes to a siege to defend against the rohirrim, and their horses. They assumes that Rohan would use their strength in horses against them, so Saruman armed them with pikes as well as their swords. Lindybeige debunked.

  51. Thanks Lindy, it's about time someone put it right. It really gets my goat that these movies have to be so Damm PC. As for the damsels just picking up a bow and shooting it . well if a woman has to do it get some body builder to do it . Make it real. The term artistic license should be just that .If some dope of a director uses his artistic license to the point of being rediculas, then take it away and shut it down. To many good films based on the truth are ruined by the artistic license being miss used. . IE. The black guy on the underground in darkest hour. What a crock. I know that you probably won't believe this but when I went to see this movie in the picture house, when that part was over I saw five yes five people get up and leave. I'd paid good money and stayed. However I have not given it a good review to anyone who asks.

  52. Well they didnt say anything. Try telling a whole army to fire. They are not going to hear you.
    They used flags which signaled range and direction.
    Archers fought in triangles not assault lines. They fought arrowhead formation. The arrowhead could fire left and right and concentrated firepower. The stripes on military uniforms represent those formations today.
    Eg. Agincourt. 6000 archers fired 3 rounds per minute for aprox 5 minutes. The rest of the battle was hand to hand for 2 hours. Archers fighting with thier tools.

  53. My biggest pet peeve in gun scenes is when someone has been aiming a semiautomatic pistol at someone for a long time and THEN gets angry and chambers the bullet like, "now I'm f*cking serious". What the hell were they going to do before that?? SO stupid!

  54. I think….

    A lot of bows used in movies are short bows, which are mechanically different from long bows, string propulsion versus shaft propulsion, i believe

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