Imagine Naga grenadiers. Snake people, human from head to hips, with a snake's body instead of legs.

How would they throw grenades? Much as humans do. Except, as they're throwing the grenade, they lash their bodies forward, the same way a snake strikes at a target.

The question is, would this allow them to throw the grenade further than a human could? Snakes can strike awfully fast with their little heads, but do they have more power than a human thrower?

In light of an interesting answer someone gave, I will propose an additional detail you may want to consider including in your answer: Do you feel Naga should throw grenades with their arms, or with their tails? This point is completely optional, but I thought it worth sharing.

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    $\begingroup$ I was dissapointed avatar.wikia.com/wiki/Naga $\endgroup$
    – wedstrom
    Jan 11 '18 at 21:12
  • $\begingroup$ I read in some article that snakes aren't actually that fast: even an untrained human punches much faster, and for a professional boxer that's times and times faster. $\endgroup$
    – Headcrab
    Jan 12 '18 at 2:57

I think they could definitely throw farther.

Combine the leverage gotten by the arm with the snake strike, and you have a heck of a throw. This would be on the order of magnitude difference between someone throwing a clay pigeon by hand or with a clay pigeon thrower.


What happens here is that the longer the handle, the faster (and farther) the clay pigeon will be thrown. It takes more muscle, but to have a snake strike on a being as large as a Naga, you're going to have that muscle.

The trajectory of a propelled/thrown object, which is used to calculate distance, is very much dependent on the initial velocity of the object.


The above link is the math, and the below link is the specific image on the above page that shows the correlation between initial velocity and distance, which considers air drag.


As far as accuracy is concerned, the farther the distance you are trying to hit, the harder it is to hit. That goes for everything. Getting accurate simply means more practice. Shooting a rifle accurately is pretty simple, if you're aiming for a target 50 ft away in a building. Snipers have confirmed hits at over a mile in less than perfect conditions. The thing that snipers have is training, which the military is likely to give these Naga grenadiers.

When I went through Army Basic 20 years ago, we had to learn how to throw grenades, and we had to be fairly accurate about it under standard distances. It was just a 1 day training course, but we still had to do it as an standard practice. Someone who has a "job" of "grenadiers" would have to go through training to get that position, and training continues after getting that position.

The advent of grenade launchers pretty much makes long distance hand throwing not necessary. The max range of the M203 grenade launcher I carried for my Reserve unit is 400 meters. It has a minimum safe (combat) range of 31 meters.

According to the link below, the average soldier can throw a grenade at least 20 meters, and should throw it at least 35 meters to be safe. This is because the (standard US military) grenade has a casualty radius of 15 meters. If you don't get it out there a good distance, you're going to be a casualty of your own weapon.


So, knowing that a grenade launcher can hit something at a shorter distance than a soldier can throw it, that pretty much negates the need for a "super throwing" grenadier.

Of course, that depends on your tech level. If you don't have grenade launchers, then Naga grenadiers are what you're looking for to clear rooms/trenches/gun emplacements at a distance.

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    $\begingroup$ Great answer, Car guy. Now that you mention it...yeah, if they rear up and snap forward and down, they could get considerable additional leverage on their arm. Your points on accuracy are correct. In this case, aiming for blocks of men or the decks of ships or features of fortifications, accuracy is probably a secondary goal to the chaos grenades bring. Thanks for pointing out the details of modern grenadiers, too! As you say, these qualities will lose much of their value as technology progresses. $\endgroup$
    – Johnny
    Jan 11 '18 at 19:43


This really depends on how well your Naga can "hold to the ground." Let's take my late pet Iguana as an example.

My Iguana, Lurch, was the terror of the house... and he knew it! Cats and humans alike quickly learned to fear the tip of that boy's tail. When he grew irritated, the tail cocked back, you were given the "evil eye," and you had seconds to clear out before the tip of that tail exceeded the speed of light and hit you with the force of an Hiroshima atom bomb.

It hurt.

There's certainly enough leverage for throwing a grenade a long honking way... but do you have the foundation?

Lurch was holding onto shag carpet. Shag carpet is the bane of human existence. It's hard to clean, hard to keep looking nice (my parents once had some you actually had to rake. Rake! I tell you.) But, when it comes to holding on to let that tail off the leash... oh, yeah...

A sling of any kind, be it a sling shot, a trebuchet, a bow-and-arrow, a spear, even a cannon, is only as good as the foundation it's pushing against. That's Newton's third law for you, and it hurts as much as Lurch's tail did.

What are your options?

  • Weight: If the amount of Naga resting on the ground is a goodly amount more than the amount of Naga used to throw the grenade, then he's good to go. If you think about it, humans are standing on two feet. We may take a moment to brace, but in the heat of battle, what are the odds you're even thinking about that? The truth is, the weight of your arm is considerably less than the weight of the rest of you. If this is also true for the Naga, they're good.

  • Anchoring: The naga have an advantage, they can loop their body around something, like a rock, a tree, an appropriate chunk of ground. In a pinch, they could hook around the Naga next to them. This added anchorage would also solve the problem.

I can envision Naga combat tactics manuals teaching the new grunts how to form clover-patterns on the ground to give them the base they need to a wailing-long throw. And once they learn it, they can do it. In the end, strength in the arm (or tail) is a minor part of throwing a grenade. It's the force-multiplying leverage of the length of the arm (or tail) that's the real winner. If the Naga's tail is markedly longer than the human arm, they'll out throw us every time.

You'll note that I completely ignored your suggestion that the Naga would throw a grenade by striking forward, like a cobra or a rattler. Have you ever tried to throw a baseball that way? It's a horrible way to throw anything. It's a close-quarters action that's good with a sabre or knife (or fangs). I ignored it because it's the wrong way to do it.

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    $\begingroup$ My deepest condolences for your little tyrant-lizard. Interestingly, your answer suggests a naga might throw with its tail, with the grenade on a sling. As for weight and anchoring... I was thinking the force of the lunge might actually cause the naga to jump, as snakes sometimes do. The inertia of the naga's weight should be enough that the grenade will go flying. Over two thirds of the naga's weight would be on the ground, the human upper body being used to toss the grenade. As for striking forward as you throw... no, I've never curled up my legs into a coil, then propelled myself forward - $\endgroup$
    – Johnny
    Jan 11 '18 at 19:24
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    $\begingroup$ Newton's third law doesn't really stop you from throwing small things really quickly. Even in a frictionless environment, a 100kg naga could throw a .5 kg grenade at a speed of 160 km/h (around the human record for a baseball) with their body only being pushed back at .8 km/h. A good base makes it easier, since you can use your entire body, but striking snakes don't usually do this. Instead, they fling their head forward and the rest of the body backwards simultaneously. A naga would probably do the same while throwing. $\endgroup$
    – ckersch
    Jan 11 '18 at 19:25
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    $\begingroup$ It's an option. Note: (1) you don't "pitch" a grenade as you would in baseball. You're almost always under fire. Check this out, it'll show you why the leverage is so important. (2) That lunging action in snakes is fast because they're light. A 100Kg snake couldn't move that fast. Don't coil and jump, compare your baseball pitch to just pushing the ball in front of you. Push as hard as you can. You'll get no where near the distance. Remember, leverage is a force multiplier. Raw strength can't beat it. $\endgroup$ Jan 11 '18 at 19:49
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    $\begingroup$ @ckersch, your description makes a lot of sense for a 1kg snake. It makes no sense for a 100Kg snake. Muscle strength does not scale with size. A snake's lunge is deadly because it's light, the strength-to-mass ratio favors strength tremendously. Is there a 200lb snake in the world that can lunge with anywhere near that force? Besides, anything you can do with raw strength can be done better with leverage. That's why Archimedes said, give me a place to stand an a lever and I shall move the earth. That's the value of force multiplication. $\endgroup$ Jan 11 '18 at 19:56
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    $\begingroup$ @ckersch, Thanks for the insight. You and I are in total agreement, as I mention in my answer that the Naga could throw a grenade with their tails further than a human. I'm just not convinced about the striking motion producing as good as or better result. The striking motion is a pushing motion. It is powerful, but lacks the value of leverage. Nevertheless, we are in agreement that the Naga would be superior foes when it came to dodging anything they threw! $\endgroup$ Jan 15 '18 at 22:50

I don't think they'd make good grenadiers.

A human-sized or larger naga should have a lot of muscle mass in the snake side of the body. That should do for a strong lunge. But strong does not mean accurate.

A cobra strike is efficient to land a bite on a target. Throwing something on someone else that is far away is completely different.

Imagine that instead of a naga, you have a centaur. Now imagine that the centaur is trying to kick a grenade towards someone with their hind legs.

The centaur can reasonably land a kick on someone else quite easily with their hind legs. Doesn't mean they will be good grenadiers using the same limb.

This line of thought works for us too. Most humans have more muscle power in their legs than in their arms. We still use hands rather than feet to throw stuff at small targets. Think of that.

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    $\begingroup$ Javelin, hammer and shot throwers would say they use their legs just as much as their arms when attempting long distance throws. You're on point (hah) about accuracy though. $\endgroup$
    – Joe Bloggs
    Jan 11 '18 at 17:27
  • $\begingroup$ Correct me if I'm wrong. You're saying: "Yes, Naga would be able to throw a grenade further," in your opinion? But you feel they might be less accurate? $\endgroup$
    – Johnny
    Jan 11 '18 at 17:46
  • $\begingroup$ @johnny exactly. $\endgroup$ Jan 11 '18 at 18:43
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    $\begingroup$ Well, thank you for clarifying the part relevant to the question. For the rest of it, it seems to be gibberish. What does a snake being efficient at striking have to do with a horse playing golf? You then correlate that very loosely with humans don't kick grenades at stuff, as a kind of proof? You do realize we don't punch grenades at enemies, either? We pick them up, grip them, then we punch/swing/toss the grenade. I feel this answer needs to clear up its reasons for its conclusions. $\endgroup$
    – Johnny
    Jan 11 '18 at 19:13
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    $\begingroup$ @JoeBloggs related to that, while doing research on my own abandoned answer, I found out that the military teaches soldiers to throw a grenade more like a shot-put than a baseball. Reason is simple: when throwing a grenade, you are trying to target a small region for the explosion. Throw it like a baseball, and it rolls like a baseball: unpredictably far. The throwing style they teach is designed to help the grenade stay put where you want it. Which makes your shot-put comment spot on. $\endgroup$
    – Cort Ammon
    Jan 11 '18 at 19:32


Humans are amazing at throwing. It could be considered a specie-unique skill we have. This study shows why we are so good at throwing.

We found that humans are able to throw with such velocity by storing elastic energy in their shoulders. This is accomplished by positioning the arm in such a way that the arm’s mass resists motions generated at the torso and shoulder and rotates backwards away from the target. This “cocking” of the arm stretches the tendons, ligaments, and muscles crossing the shoulder and stores elastic energy (like a slingshot). When this energy is then released, it powers the very rapid rotation of the upper arm, which is the fastest motion the human body produces – up to 9,000 degrees-per-second in professional pitchers! This rapid rotation also causes the elbow to quickly straighten and the projectile to be released at very high speeds.

We further found that three key anatomical changes that occurred during human evolution made this novel energy storage mechanism possible: expansion of the waist, lowering of the shoulders, and low humeral torsion. The expansion of the waist allows the torso to rotate independently from the hips. This torso rotation generates large forces needed to stretch the elastic tendons and ligaments in the shoulder. The lowering of the shoulder changes the orientation of many shoulder muscles, including the pectoralis major (the large chest muscle), which is crucial to storing energy. Finally, we found that low humeral torsion (the twisting of the upper arm bone) allows us to store more energy and thus, throw faster.

Humans are significantly better at throwing. In fact, the throwing ability of pretty much any other animal is not even worth consideration in terms of threat levels.

Now, the above article has noted that pretty much all the force comes from rotation of the arm and upper body and the waist. Lashing forward is not a good throwing technique.

When you throw, you should also note that you use your legs a lot. You use your legs to start your rotation and to keep balance. A snake body would have some trouble rotation the hips and keeping an upper body balanced.

Note that in a lunge, the snake simply wants to move his head forward. However, if a naga tried that, he'd have to lunge with his whole body. This would simply result in him falling over in embarrassment and wasting a ton of energy.


I would just like to add, that many of these comments are racist and have no basis in facts.

We're good grenadiers and my grandmother could throw a javelin better than Leonidas in 300.⁷

  • $\begingroup$ I was about to downvote until I looked at the poster’s username ! :D $\endgroup$
    – breversa
    Jul 8 '21 at 14:05

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