Sword vs arrow challenge – Can I beat the archer at least once?
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Sword vs arrow challenge – Can I beat the archer at least once?

August 11, 2019

(Skall groans in pain) Skall (Voiceover): Sorry to disappoint you. I wasn’t shot with a real pointy arrow. I’m still alive and well, and shall continue to haunt the interwebs. It looked pretty real though, didn’t it? The padded tip struck right underneath the bib of the fencing mask which then covered it and got it stuck. Before we get to the action there is something to point out: This is not a scientific experiment, and is not intended to prove anything. It’s merely a challenge that I wanted to try out of curiosity, and for your entertainment. I will give you my conclusion later, but don’t take it as any more than an opinion based on personal experience There is some 960 FPS slow-motion footage, but I decided to put it at the end of the video because it has a horrible flickering effect due to the lights in that room. You may still find it interesting, but I’ll put an actual epilepsy warning before it. Yeah, it’s that bad. Our local HEMA instructor offered to help with this test. Thanks, Erik! Thanks for gleefully shooting at me, you bastard. Seriously though, it was all in good fun I took three of my arrows whose tips had snapped clean off, filed them smooth, and covered them with tape, a 5 cent coin, dense closed cell foam, soft foam, and a layer of cloth. The bow used is Cara’s 45-pound Scythian horse bow made by Grozer in Hungary Erik: Three. Two. One. Skall: What struck me immediately (aside from the arrow) is just how difficult it is to get the timing right. Moving quickly alone doesn’t do it. There is enough time to strike, but it’s extremely hard to judge the distance of the arrow as it’s flying in a straight line at my face. Erik: Three. Two. One. Skall: One thing I really underestimated is how much the natural flinching reflex gets in the way. I try to focus on the form and keep my movements clean and controlled, but having an arrow in my face made that extremely challenging. You can see how my head jerks and my footwork suffers from the “Oh crap!” response. Erik: Three. Two. One. Skall: This one was really close. If I had sidestepped in the opposite direction, I would have gotten it. By the way, it’s *dramatically* easier to dodge an arrow than it is to try to cut it out of the air. And you can tell that when sidestepping my form is less wonky because I’m more confident. Erik: Three. Two. One. Erik: Three. Two. One. Skall: This is the arrow with the least padding. Yep. It hurt. Erik: Three. Two. One. Skall: Here I anticipated too much when trying to get the timing right. I moved too soon. Erik: Three. Two. One. Almost! Skall: Didn’t get it straight on but made enough contact to deflect it so that the arrow shaft hit me and not the point. Erik: Three. Two. One. NICE! Skall: Finally! it took a lot of attempts. I included most of them in the video, with the exception of two or three missed shots and three failed attempts which just didn’t look good. Erik: Three. Two. One. That one broke! Skall: I kid you not. These two clips are in order. I really got it twice in a row. I did get better, but keep in mind: This was in response to a fixed pattern. If I was suddenly shot at by an arrow without knowing exactly when it would be released, that would be significantly more difficult. Erik: Three. Two. One. Three. Two. One. Nicely done! Skall: Here I figured, might as well strike over the blunt spine of the blade because it would actually be better to knock it aside rather than cut it, because if you cut it cleanly in half, the point might still keep going for you Erik: Three. Two. One. Three. Two. One. Skall: Again. Horrible flinching. Erik: Three. Two. One. (Skall groans in pain) (Erik laughs)
Skall: That was painful! Erik: Three. Two. One. Nice dodge! Three. Two. One. It’s done! Skall: For this one I tried to parry rather than strike it, which might be more effective but unfortunately that was the last arrow. At that time, the other two had already broken and now that one went, too. So that was the end of the test. Okay, on to the conclusion. I’m going to show the slow-mo footage now So if you have problems with strongly flickering video you might want to open another tab and only listen to the audio So, is it possible to reliably cut an arrow out of the air if you don’t have superhuman senses and reaction time? Maybe. I’ve seen some extraordinary physical performances. However, you need to keep in mind that the velocities of these arrows is limited. The draw weight of the bow is only 45 pounds, whereas war bows tend to be at 80 pounds and up. Some even at 120 and more. And the padding makes the arrow both heavier and less aerodynamic, plus I saw the bow being drawn and got a signal. If the archer releases without warning it would be incredibly hard. Well, let us know what you think. I hope you enjoyed this little test and thanks for watching

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  1. I think you’d have better chance with a skinnier longer sword of your choosing, because with arrows having all the weight at the tip you’d only have to tap it out of the way with a quick swipe rather than a baseball like bat swing, could be worth trying, I’d say small shield and skinny single handed sword although a uncommon combination for this would probs work better! Pleas give argument for and agents my theory all for fun obviously

  2. You should start while moving or shuffling a bit. Starting from a stsndstill makes you alot slower because you have to overcome inertia. When fighting a bowman you wouldnt stand still right? Atleast wiggle thr sword a bit!

  3. I think perhaps in a unique situation, with a unique individual who had spent the entirety of their life training, it might be possible to do it for perhaps half a moment before needing to actually engage the shooters

  4. I think you've shown it looks very possible. With minimal training in doing it, you managed to deflect several arrows. I don't know that the countdown would be extremely helpful in preparing you to deflect. Maybe you should try again without the warning… For science reasons…

  5. If these where real arrows (non padded) how much do you think it would change the speed of the arrows (due to change in aerodynamics)

  6. Try using an eastern-style sword. Much lighter and made for lightning-quick movement, even from the draw position.

  7. remove your headgear so you can see clearly and don't blink coz that will increase your reaction time and make sure to breathe properly.

  8. ahahahahaaaaaaaaaaahahahaahahahahaahahahahaahaha
    BRO, SHIELD, NO?????????????????????????????????????

  9. I would recommend either using a shield or trying to dodge the arrow over trying to hit it with your sword. while you can get a lucky deflection every once in a while an actual soldier would be dead long before they mastered this. Using a shield is the equivalent of cheating and dont need explaining, sure the arrow might penetrate the shield, but the shield will still take some of the force, and even then its better to be hit in your arm than your face or torso. Dodging in a 1v1 will give you a pretty good shot at closing the distance before you die, ofc the further you are the more shots you will have to succesfully dodge, also dont just charge at him as that will make it hard for you to control your movement sideways, the further he is the more reaction time you have, but the time between his shot and until he pulls for the next one is your time to go for him. still, unless he is so close he can only fire 2-3 arrows ill give the odds to the archer.

  10. I wonder if somehow blocking / statically deflecting the arrow would be more effective than trying to actively strike it out of the way?

  11. I'm pretty sure it's doable to be able to consistently bat aside or cut 1 or 2 arrows, but god help you if you're getting shot at by more, or 2 at the same time. There is a guy who managed to train his reaction speed and accuracy to the point where he could cut bullets in midair consistently in a controlled environment (of course he used pellets, not real bullets, but that's still pretty damn crazy), if you have that kind of accuracy and reaction speed or anything even close to it, arrows aren't going to be a real problem anymore unless there are too many at once.

    A baseball machine might be an effective method to train for it.

  12. I remember that one scene in the Lord of the Rings Fellowship of the Ring when Aragorn deflects a knife being thrown to him by the Orc Captain. That scene was 100% real, and it wasn’t intended that way. The actor inside the roc captain couldn’t see clearly through his costume, and while intending to miss the throwing knife, he instead accidentally threw it onto Aragorn. Luckily tho, Aragorn’s actor, Viggo, deflected the knife through reflex. If not for Viggo’s reflex, he could have been heavily wounded by that or something we don’t know. That scene is my all-time favourite scene that shouldn’t be there.

  13. I don't think you should be counting down in this "experiment".
    In real life – you wouldn't know when the archer would fire, plus I believe this makes you over-anticipate the shot, leading you to flinch more.

  14. This guy: breaks one arrow with sword

    Every op anime character with sword: I'm about to end this man's whole entire carrer

  15. This dumbass I’m trying to focus on the form and keep it clean and in control see that’s yah problem you think if someone was at war with a real arrow coming at them they would give a fuck about the form they learned no the would make any attempts to not get hit by that arrow what I’m trying to say is sometimes you have to forget what you learned grab yah nuts and just go for it

  16. I feel like you should make more videos such as this! Demonstrations are always more interesting than just words. Would be cool to see somebody with medieval weapons experience trying to do things common in Hollywood (like trying to actually do the final sword fight scene in Pirates of the Caribbean 3 w Jack/Davy Jones fighting while on a mast)

  17. I showed this video to my friend and he started dancing on the floor, dude I was dying ???

    Edit: my friend is in the hospital ?

  18. It will be extremely hard to cut arrow midair, yes… but how about sidestepping or dodging or evading it? Is it possible? And if not, at which range it start becomes very hard or impossible to do?

  19. I think lack of strength is one of the main reasons it is that difficult. To parry a projectile, you need fast acceleration, i.e. explosive strength.

  20. Its better to use a lighter sword because if its too heavy you dont have time to react to the arrow and you would have to predict where it would go

  21. I katana would be better as it is more lighter and also u have a low movement mobility in this stupid suit

  22. i would like to test this my self i used to throw daggers at thrown targets so i wonder if i could do this to

  23. I honestly think a two handed sword approach might be faster reflex wise than one hand, because its taking you too long to START moving the blade which is causing issues reacting with enough momentum and timing to get solid contact maybe try a two hand sword or dual wielding something balanced a bit more with a thinner blade to make it lighter

  24. You can, actually, by practicing couple years and twenty-thirty years to cut down arrows for thousands times, practicing more faster and faster arrow, and there's no end of training, until you die by fastest arrow

  25. Ещё один педальный специалист бес соображалки, меч плоскостью поставь на пути стрелы заранее.

  26. I'd love to see a high-level tennis player do an exercise like that. It seems pretty similar to returning a serve, and the first time a bad rec player like myself experiences the serve of a college player, nevermind a pro, returning it seems like a joke.

  27. Geralt from Witcher parried two arrows at once and he has superhuman habilities. It is indeed much more practical to dodge an arrow or absorb its impact with protection.

  28. Put your videographer behind some Lexan please.

    In half the shots, your archer is covering her with the arrow as he draws and she is far too close to you as well.  If that Arrow does something wild, unlikely as it is, she has no padding and only minimal eye protection.  Your fancy camera may also get damaged.

    Safety first and always dude.  Not kidding here.

    You did better when you treated the inbound round as the point of a sword, moving your own blade as little as possible.  You are miss-conflating the need to redirect the arrow with the distance traveled to apply enough lateral force to do so.  The less distance you have to swing, the tighter your timing will be.

    It's not batting practice.

    Turn your blade length wise at an angle and look along the length of the flat.  See how much more surface area you have presented?  It's like a drive way, 2-3 inches wide.

    You only need to move that barrier 3-4 inches through the projectile's lateral dispersion  path and the steel will deflect based on the force THE ARROW supplies.

    The other thing you can do is the old gunfighter's trick of turning sideways to minimize your presented target area.  If you're laterally only 12 inches deep at the waist and 17 at the chest, moving your 2" blade 3" through the projectile path halves or thirds your strike zone vulnerabilities compared to the TWO FEET across the shoulders where it is only 1/4 covered space.

    If you try this, I would suggest heavier gauntlets and underarm protection that wraps around the side of your chest as well as presenting your left side to protect your heart. 

    This is because there is no way to be sure how the arrow will skip.  If it hits the vee of your finger, it's gonna sting, maybe break the knuckle.  If it goes up the underside of the arm, there is hydrostatic point on the both sides of the upper chest which really hurts if it's tapped just right.

    For comparison, try a buckler with a mail skirt, like curtains.  You don't even have to hold it, just set up a cardboard silhouette behind it.  I think you will find that the distance the arrow travels, after brushing past one or two curtain layers of mail will make a lot of difference in terms of impact force as well as lessening the weight of the shield compared to a traditional round or kite system.

    It's called spaced armor for a reason in that the arrows wobbles, dragging the shaft through the entire length of the mail, expending a lot of it's impact energy.  And then is basically not a (lethal) threat after that.

  29. Wouldnt you be holding your sword in more of a cross guard defensive position if you were just up against an archer, or moving towards an archer? It'd be easier to defend if your sword were higher.

  30. Not a good match, when it comes to speed only unsheathing can beat it. Which is of course an experienced samurai or a warlord…

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