Fast archery




Visits since 26.1.2016


Apology of Lars Andersen

When Lars Andersen published his famous video New Level of Archery, he recieved a lot of criticism from archers, apart from many excited responses. I feel the need to deal with this critique, because it sort of has something to do with me. So here is the list of frequent reactions to Lars'es video, and my responses to them.

It is neither secret nor mysterious technique. It really is not, and Lars did not say it. This criticism probably reacts to the style of video, not to the content. Lars does not build any sect around him (as some teachers of Asian martial arts do), and has not any reason to maintain mysterious atmosphere. New Level of Archery is mysterious in a similar way as trailers for new movies.

Technique is not that old. The effort for fast archery is historically proved at least from 14th century by Saracen Archery manuscript. Ethnografically it is proved for American Indians living on the level of stone age, which may with hight probability extend the fast archery much further, at least to ancient times. For me this is quite old. Lars himself says "centuries before" which suits even the 14th century.

Technique was not lost, Lars is not a discoverer. Here we have some mix of terms. At first - yes, there are some archers older than Lars who do fast shooting, thus the technique could not be globally lost before him. He knows it well, and in different video he mention some of them as his models. In the same time it is also true that there were only few of such people, and they were mostly in the countries with horseback archery tradition. Modern European archers either did not know about it, or deemed it as a curiosity they don't have to deal with. In this way fast archery was really lost for Europe.

At second - Lars aimed for shooting 1 arrow in 0.5 second, which is the speed that none of his models achieve. Technique that enables it was really invented by Lars Andersen. Lars himself thinks that such technique had to exists in history, because they write about it in Saracen Archery. This is probably mistake that came from wrong interpretation of text, the the mistake did rather the translators and commentors of the book; Lars, who is not historian, only used such information. In the same time I cannot believe that Lars would invent something new with the bow, that would not come to anyone's mind ever before. I really incline to believe that this technique used to exist before, but either disappeared with its bearers, or was abandoned for some reason.

Lars'es video is not revolutionary and shows little new. It is surely true that many things that Lars presents as his discovery were known before - for example prossibility to put arrow from the right side of the bow. On the other side just here in Europe most archers did not know it, or deemed it as an eastern oddity that you don't have to care about, because every good archer shoots as Englishmen. Lars'es video brought all these alternatives to life, so every archer has to make an oppinion obout it; Lars'es results were so impressive that they could not be ignored. Many archers stated that they like other type of archery and will not do this, which is absolutelly correct. But the idea of fast shooting itself became widely known, stopped to be disdained, and that is very revolutionary for me. I would in this thing compare Lars to Bruce Lee - he did not come with anything new, but all the same he became an icon, that radically changed American and European view of martial arts.

Lars has weak bow, and his technique would not practically work. He really has a weak bow (30lb), and does not try to conceal it. It is not sure if technique would work with stronger bow, because he cannot draw it, and nobody else can shoot in a way that he does. Jack Fang successfully shot in Andersen's way from 55lb bow, but his performance has far to Lars'es. On the other side Lars does not need to shoot far, because he aims at short distances. We may have doubts about the ability of his arrows to pierce armour (he himself tried it, but not very   convincingly). However if we speak about using bow in practice, nobody says that the "practice" has to mean knight in a full armour. Lars does not stylize himself to any period (arabic medieval archery is only inspiration for him), and no one says that he could not shoot half-naked Nubians on the ancient Sahara. Even 30lb bow and arrow with suitable arrowhead can do quite harm on unprotected body. I don't say that Lars could immediatelly go to subtropics and defeat desert nations, but his technique could be used against the right type of enemies with a great success.

Lars does not draw the bow full, so the shot would be weak.  A criticism similar to previous one. The fact is that Lars draws short when he needs maximum speed. But in it he just tries what he can do, and nothing forces him to full draw (the best result is 1 arrow in 0.2 seconds, which is amazing, but the draw itself is really short). If Lars needs it (for example when shooting to distance), he draws full without any problems, while the speed of shooting is still great (11 arrows in the air). And if he does shorter draw, then there is no reason why he could not be equipped with a bow that is built for such draw  and gets maximum from it. Lars'es weak shot could certainly be compared to throwing weapons (knife, shuriken, chakram), that were certainly used in battles. Be it not in lines of full armoured knights that were are used to from medieval Europe.