Lars Andersen: A New Level of Archery?

News: A YouTube video shows Lars Anderson's incredible archery skills.

Published Jan 25, 2015

On 23 January 2015, a video titled "Lars Andersen: a new level of archery" was uploaded to YouTube. The video showed Andersen, self-dubbed "the fastest archer on the planet," as he performed a variety of unbelievable tricks such as shooting an arrow out of midair and firing three arrows in 0.6 seconds. The video immediately went viral and racked up more millions of views in just two days:

While most viewers were simply amazed by Lars Andersen's archery skills, others were skeptical. Was this "New Level Archery" created by digital manipulation?

Andersen faced similar scrutiny when he posted a video titled "Reinventing the Fastest Forgotten Archery" in 2012 and addressed those concerns in the press release that accompanied his 2015 video:

There have been many questions as to why the video is amateurish. The answer is simple. Keeping the videos very rough and unpolished was a tactic Lars adopted early on to show that this was skill and not SFX, but since there are still doubters out there, he's finally considering doing the next as a higher production value film.

"Many people have accused me of being fake or have theories on how there's cheating involved. I've always found it fascinating how human it is, to want to disbelieve anything that goes against our world view — even when it's about something as relatively neutral as archery."

While Lars Andersen insists he did not use any digital special effects to create his "New Level of Archery" video, he did use some practical tricks. For instance, a light, slow-moving bamboo arrow was used in the portion of the video where Lars Andersen shot an arrow out of midair. Andersen also admitted it took several attempts to successfully film many of the stunts:

I have currently tried 14 times (everything is filmed). For me this is the ultimate archery, which I until recently had thought was impossible. it can be done, but requires the handling of the bow and arrow to become completely bodily. You may not have time to aim or think, and you must first be completely convinced you hit, you see, "feel" the incoming arrow and shoot in an instant. Do not attempt this. I/we have been in doubt about wether this should be shown, because we were afraid that someone gets hurt if they try to emulate it.

I trained for many years and spent a really long time before I tried it the first time. For several years, I along with my friends Peter and Ask also trained with harmless buffer arrows where I often have shot their arrows down and before we switched to proper arrows I had very safely hit 5 harmless arrows in a row.

It will not be shot with a very strong bow (but it's still dangerous)

The arrow that fired at me is a light bamboo arrow with metal tip, I'll shoot back with a heavy aluminum arrow so I'm sure that the incoming arrow flexes when they hit together. The archer shoots at me normally sits behind one large safety sheet, but in the video is filmed with the sheets pulled away, so you can see what is going on.

Do I hit everything?

I use a lot of time practicing, and it can take a very long time before I learn a new skill. For instance, when I got the idea of jumping to grab and enemys arrow before I land, it took me months to learn, where for a long time, the arrows would fly everywhere, until I learned to handle it.

As well, some of the other effects could have been produced not through digital trickery, but through non-obvious equipment preparation, careful selection of camera angles, and plenty of scene cutting:

Just as splitting an arrow can only be accomplished with the use of carefully-prepared equipment (using bamboo for the arrow to be split, for example), all of Andersen's tricks require equipment modifications, careful camerawork and editing. Splitting an arrow by firing at a knife blade, for example, could only be accomplished by using an arrow without a point, which would require shooting from a distance of about 10 feet or less (an arrow without a point will decelerate quickly), and careful observation will reveal a camera cut between Andersen’s firing and the close-up of the arrow supposedly splitting (it looks to me like the arrow passes close beside the blade and doesn’t split at all, but we'll give them the benefit of the doubt). The second arrow was obviously shot from only a few feet away and was prepped to split. As for the supposed shooting at an oncoming arrow, he may have eventually hit an arrow fired over his head (not at him), but again, it wouldn't have split, and in fact it probably didn't. It looks like the arrow was deflected, then he picked up broken pieces already on the floor.

Lars Andersen's quick firing can also be explained by some of the techniques he employs (and explains) in the video. For instance, he doesn't do a full draw on each shot; he holds the arrows in his draw hand instead of a quill and employs a technique called a "double draw," which means in addition to pulling the string toward him he also pushes the bow forward:

Quiver, arrows in the bow hand, arrows in the draw hand:

Archers from even the earliest times have gone from using quivers, to arrows in the bow hand, and ultimately, to hold arrows in the draw hand.

It is far better in motion, so there are many advantages over a quiver. There are today archers which are really good with this method.

Keeping the arrow in the draw hand provides a wide range of benefits, but it assumes that one can draw and shoot in a single movement automatically. If you must use multiple movements or have to use your fingers on the bow hand to get the arrow in place, then it is far better to go back and keep the arrow in the bow hand.

Double draw

I have for many years experimented with drawing with both hands simultaneously so while your hand with the arrow pulling the string behind, while bow hand is pushed forward, this providing more power on the arrow.

Lars Andersen may have used some tricks in his "A New Level of Archery" video, but it does not appear the result has been digitally manipulated.

Last updated:   25 January 2015

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as back in 1994.

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