Bow and arrow are a basic part of many medieval and fantasy settings.
Be it for assassins (silent), for (elven) tribes that live in harmony with nature (not industrialized), or to emphasize the skill of the shooter...
All the more it's important to know how those weapons can be applied and what they are capable of to adjust the weapon use and the equipment the characters of your world have to carry.

Accidentaly I came across a fact I would have never considered:

The flight path of an arrow can be manipulated to a curve to shoot around obstacles (without magic).

This video shows practically, shooting an arrow not from the middle of the bowstring, but from above or below (while the arrow still lies against the middle of the bow) will result in the arrow leaving its linear flight path to perform a curved bulge (around an object if there is any placed at that point) and afterwards return to the straight flight path.
However the distance/range for that seems to be limited.

This video goes more into detail, explaining and incorporating historic archery instruction.
[For example that tricks like an 180° turn, shown here at 0:39, require special blunt arrows without spearhead, with special holes in the shaft and prepared with lead at some points are needed as well as facing the wind in a particular direction which renders that stunt useless for battle.]
(Thanks to Li Jun)

I hope this proves helpful to all the medieval assassins and elven warriors who now can show off how superior their archery skills are compared to the steampunk pistols of man or dwarves.

  • $\begingroup$ Hi Cee Mon, I'm not sure why you have asked this question and answered it for yourself. While I know you can ask and answer questions yourself it feels like this has been in bad faith as I cannot see any world building elements in this question. To play along, can you explain how this is a world building question? $\endgroup$ – Shadowzee Aug 28 '19 at 23:40
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    $\begingroup$ @Shadowzee What do you mean in bad faith? I discovered that fact and it completely blew my mind and I wanted to share that in this world building forum if anyone else could need that info (I guess that's also one of the ideas of that forum: Not only the asker gets the information but anyone else can look it up or else everybody would delete his question after he got his answer. $\endgroup$ – Cee Mon Aug 28 '19 at 23:46
  • $\begingroup$ There is no need to be so defensive about positing a question. I was simple curious if you posted this question as a way to garner more points. I apologize if I have offended you. I would like to add that in the movie "wanted" bullet spinning was a core part of the movie. So its possible your steampunk men or dwarves will also show off their superior marksmen skills. $\endgroup$ – Shadowzee Aug 29 '19 at 0:17
  • $\begingroup$ I've seen "Wanted" but as far as I know the bullet thing was only a fantasy element (like the loom of fate) while the arrow thing actually works. I only wanted to share the information somehow - before I post a question I first browse if something about that topic has been already posted so I thought maybe someone doing research could find that handy. First I wanted to give the answer directly in the question/header part but the form itself alredy had a partition named "if you want to answer your question yourself klick here". $\endgroup$ – Cee Mon Aug 29 '19 at 0:22
  • $\begingroup$ @Shadowzee [link[(youtube.com/watch?v=5vZ4lCKv1ik) $\endgroup$ – Cee Mon Aug 29 '19 at 0:31

Certainly it is possible to shoot around an obstacle using a bow and arrow... but it requires the right conditions. The OP has already noted the effects of gravity, which causes the path of the arrow to curve toward the ground, but we should also consider that neither archer, arrow, target nor obstacle are likely to be used in a vacuum.

Given that the arrow is most likely to be fired within a planetary atmosphere, the effects of wind could be significant, especially over a longer trajectory. In conditions of high, steady wind, an arrow could be shot across the wind, and somewhat upwind of the target so that the wind would carry the arrow around an obstacle in order to hit a target that is visually or functionally concealed by that obstacle.

That is not to say that it would be an easy shot - a long range shot made cross-wind toward a target concealed by an obstacle, but with sufficient training, an archer could learn to achieve such shots as a matter of routine. Modern snipers and hunters using both arrows and bullets learn to compensate for wind drift, this is just a special case where the wind is used to make an otherwise impossible shot.

No magic required.


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