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Arrows ricocheting and hitting their targets?

Discussion in 'Research' started by Argentum, Oct 7, 2011.

  1. Argentum

    Argentum Troubadour

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    In my book, instead of coming against a dragon with swords, I have them using arrows. The plan was that as a dragon, he is invincible, but as a human changeling, the eyes are the doorway to the soul and the arrows can go in that way.

    I don't know anything about ricocheting objects, about the angles or the speed, but I was wondering if any of you knew or could guess how plausible it might be to have an arrow ricochet off an object and still be powerful enough to hit a target. Through the eye, which is softer flesh, but I don't know if that helps any.
     
  2. JCFarnham

    JCFarnham Auror

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    I wouldn't think for a second that an object, the majority of whos energy has probably been transferred into the surface it stuck, would be able to pierce anything. Then again, I imagine in a perfect situation, if you hit the surface at precisely the right angle with precisely the right momentum then you MIGHT manage it. In all honesty it would probably be quicker to aim for the eyes. Is there a reason a ricochet is needed? Like some loop hole in a magical clause-"dragons can only be killed indirectly"-that kind of thing?

    I would hesitate to completely base the climax of a novel on it, that's all I'm saying.

    Of course its fantasy, someone's will and belief could influence the arrow's path or something :p I don't know.

    EDIT: If it helps any the angle an object hits something at is supposed to be exactly the same as the reflected angle [aka the one it leaves the surface at]. I learned that in school with relation to light though so take that as you wish :)
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2011
  3. In a physical sense, arrows are not nearly elastic enough for a rebound to leave them with any substantial kinetic energy, nevermind that the impact will likely destabilize their flight, causing them to tumble along one axis or another and crash all the sooner. Even if it DID hit something, it's not likely to cause much damage.

    You might want to make it a magic arrow. ;-)
     
  4. pskelding

    pskelding Troubadour

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    I am currently preparing to write a fantasy novel centered solely on archers. Arrows do not ricochet, they loose over 90% of their kinetic energy when they impact surfaces that they are unable to penetrate.
     
  5. Argentum

    Argentum Troubadour

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    Okay, thank you all! And thank you Skelding, that's precisely what I needed to know. Losing 90% of it's force is a lot, especially if it's simply a 55pound draw...

    The thing is that the prophesy states the dragon will die from simple arrows, not armies or swords. The main character and leader is rubbish at archery no matter how hard he tries. The point I wanted to have was that he knew and believed said prophesy would be fulfilled whether or not he could shoot properly. I wanted him to aim for the eyes confidently and miss. But I still need the arrow to get into the eyes somehow. The other prophesied chosen won't have much trouble getting their targets, just the first one. I'll have to think about other ways without the ricochet.

    Thank you three for your thoughts! :D
     
  6. Just a thought: Maybe he aims, and fires, and the shot goes wide... but something else causes the dragon to dodge to the side, putting his eye right in the path of the mis-aimed arrow.
     
  7. pskelding

    pskelding Troubadour

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    Easy, he doesn't shoot the arrow into the eyes, after he misses somehow he picks up the arrow and rams it into the dragons eye... maybe someone else wounds the dragon and the character seizes the chance picking up the arrow he has fallen down near and rams it into the dragon's eye...
     
  8. Argentum

    Argentum Troubadour

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    I was beginning to come to the same idea, Ben. As the dragon is possessing a human form, he is being attacked from the inside as well, so there's the chance to put him in the arrow's path. I couldn't really have the arrow rammed into the eyes because it has to go a bit deeper. It has to pass through the eyes and then hit the dragon's form as he stands in the possessed body's mind. But I think I got it now. ^^ Thank you both so much for your ideas!
     
  9. Matty Lee

    Matty Lee Scribe

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    Such a blow would be possible. You could certainly hit a target. However the probability of the arrow not losing a good portion of it's energy in striking the ground is low. Sure it can still penetrate the eye, but what was obviously a screw-up shot (ricochet) would be less enamoring than a shot straight into the Frontal Lobe.
     
  10. Fnord

    Fnord Troubadour

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    Yeah, I was going to state something along the pskelding was going to say. Or maybe the dragon, knocked off-balance, ends up sticking its eye into the backside of an arrow already lodged in something that the hero hit while being a horrible shot? It would be kind of humorous though, which might not be what you're going for.
     
  11. The Blue Lotus

    The Blue Lotus Auror

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    I think a study on physics is in order here. Let me see if I can remember everything off the top of my head (correct me if I am wrong it has been quite a few years)

    The reason the arrow losses so much of it's energy is because of it's weight. It is light, streamline, and ineffective for what you would like to do. (right?) However....



    An arrow tip is hard, dense and flat, not prone to such a huge transfer of energy. There have been case studies I vaguely remember from HS AP physics class where arrow heads of differing types were placed on other projectiles and kept their energy, after striking another object, enough to cause a decent amount of damage.





    I could just be misremembering but I can distinctly remember an experiment with arrowheads modern and hand made (Indian types) {Not flint as it was too brittle} attached to sticks, twigs, bamboo, and lord only knows what else, as well as watermelons. We were in the field behind the school all day long! Don't ask me about the bugs... I itched for a week.



    Anywho we were able to get one or two combos to strike the melon hard enough that it would cause a decent flesh wound.



    Just something you might want to look into, perhaps a thick(ish) branch and a potato gun?

    Something like that would do the trick if you knew the angles, velocity, transfer of energy and force that needed to be exerted along with gravitational pull.

    Bullets are small as I recall this is one of the reasons they ping off things and still kill, speed and size do matter.
     
  12. ShortHair

    ShortHair Sage

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    What about a magical arrow? It could be enchanted to hit the target no matter where the archer points. Maybe the hero has one such arrow in his quiver, drops them all at the crucial moment, and has to fire each one until he gets a winner.

    What about something that isn't a proper arrow but has something arrowish about it? That would fulfill the prophecy in an unexpected way, which is always fun (for me anyway). Say, a knife with arrow heraldry on it or the tip of a bow.
     
  13. Argentum

    Argentum Troubadour

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    @ Blue Lotus. Hmmm yes, I figured that if everything was perfect, it could work. I was debating different arrow materials and that could possibly work, except I don't know which materials would work, nor the best angels, or speed (I know nothing about physics <.<). I also did figure that the arrows might possible snap or break during ricochet...Potato cannons are unfortunately not going to work. lol! I could have them wheel a ballista into the dragon's den.

    @ Shorthair. I don't wanna cheat. :p I know a magic arrow would be great, only I really thing the tension I've tried to build up with character quality would disappear once he whipped out the magic-arrow-that-can-by-no-means-fail. As easy a solution as it would be, this particular story is run on raw courage. In any of my other stories, this would be perfect. Your second idea is rather intriguing. I liked the idea of mere arrows, because they're not actually very strong or sturdy, especially when compared to swords and other dragon-worthy weapons. But the idea of finding an alternative is interesting too... I shall think about this while I should be sleeping.
     
  14. Have him fire all the other arrows. They all miss. Then he's down to his magic arrow. He takes a deep breath, draws, aims, releases... and misses. And his bowstring snaps. GOD DAMMIT [email protected]#[email protected]#$ He finds one more non-magic arrow on the ground and picks it up.

    So then he climbs onto a catapult and has himself flung up to the dragon. He catches onto it, climbs to its face, and stabs it in the eye!
     
  15. The Blue Lotus

    The Blue Lotus Auror

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    Why does it have to be an arrow?

    Can't you have an arrow tip on a javalon? Throwing spear or some other such item?
    As for the original idea and not knowing physics you can always contact your local Universaty and speak to the head of the department.

    I think they would be willing to do the leg work for you if you promised to give them props in the book ;)
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2011
  16. ShortHair

    ShortHair Sage

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    Suppose an arrow gets lodged between the dragon's scales. He takes human form, but the arrow remains stuck somewhere, possibly a place he doesn't notice or can't feel. The hero, caught in the dragon's clutches, notices the arrow and jams it home. What has he got to lose? he thinks. You'd have to foreshadow it by pointing out how the arrow got stuck in the first place.
     
  17. Argentum

    Argentum Troubadour

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    @ Ben. Don't think a catapult would work. But I do like the idea of using all his arrows. I think that would be incredibly amusing (and hopefully tense) to have him use all his arrows, and then calmly go about the dragon's lair, gathering more and using those. The whole "I only need one to work" and the "Well go ahead then, try them all!" That is intriquing.... After the first thirty shots, I would just have to be sure the dragon makes a mistake.

    @ Blue Lotus. It doesn't have to be arrows, but arrows are like chaff to dragons. The arrows just seem to bounce off their scales or hardly penetrait their hides. I always thought the cliche weapon to use against a dragon was a sword, so I wanted something different. The point of the prophesy was that I wanted my bad guy to know that the most unskilled people (children) using the most harmless weapon (bows and arrows) would find a way to end him. I think that was what I was going for. So arrows, I think, I preferred simply because they couldn't do any damage to a real dragon.

    @Short hair. lol! I can picture the arrow getting caught in the scales and then when he takes on human form, the arrow sticks out from a rib or two or in his thigh and he doesn't notice it. I won't really be having the battle in his dragon form, which might actually help, because then it should be a lot easier to deal with.
     
  18. The Blue Lotus

    The Blue Lotus Auror

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    Seems to me you have sloved the problem, use all the arrows not knowing one of them is enchanted. (magic) Makes for a niffty fight scene. Eventualy someone has to make a mistake allowing an arrow to get caught between scales, returning it to a more workable fight. However I can't see a dragon returning to human form and NOT feeling an arrow in his ribs or rear end. Unless they have no nerves. Your call.
     
  19. SeverinR

    SeverinR Vala

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    Arrows will glance off of objects,
    they can still have a good amount of momentum/force(not hitting directly and bouncing off).

    The sharper the angle that the arrow strikes the onject, the more energy would be lost. clipping the side of a smooth rock without much displacement wouldn't take much energy off the arrow. Hitting the flat edge of a rock at a 90 d angle, could shatter the arrow(causing minor cuts to human skin in the area at most)

    Only in extreme fantasy can an arrow glance off of three or more objects and still hit with any force. Anything the arrow touches can divert it, remove energy, instill wabble, and the more movement an arrow makes the more energy burnt in fllight.

    This made me wonder, how far from point of release does the arrow begin to turn? at best? (As fletching size and twist would change this for each arrow.) Would this space be equivalent to point blank?

    interesting side note: arrow shot by a pre-teenager first day shooter will not penetrate a fender. Although it will make a nice ding.
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2011
  20. Ravana

    Ravana Istar

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    If they're using 55-pound draws, they have bigger problems than whether or not they can get the arrow to ricochet.…

    Anything past a couple degrees would take too much of the force out of the shot. Forget the idea that it could "glance off of three or more objects": even if you rigged the course so that it could do this at all, it wouldn't so much as inconvenience anything after the second bounce. (You might be able to get it to stick in jello.)

    An arrow head detaching from the shaft–intentionally or otherwise–would work the same as any similar object designed to do this (hunting spear heads were common, back in the old days… the ones involving mammoths): the force behind them still has to be in a straight line for them to work correctly. Particularly since they're lightly attached, any impact will detach the head–which will then no longer have the mass of the shaft behind it to drive it into the eventual target. (Or even keep it on course.)

    Bullets can ricochet because they're such compact objects to begin with: the deformation they experience glancing off a hard surface is negligible compared to the wobble you'd induce in an aerodynamic weapon. And the projectile velocity doesn't even begin to compare: you'll never find a bow capable of propelling an arrow at supersonic speeds.

    By the way: shooting something in the eye blinds it in one eye–it does not kill it. The optic nerve is around 3mm in diameter (an eighth of an inch, way smaller than any arrowhead), and the skull is not meaningfully weaker behind it than anywhere else. If the shot isn't going to penetrate the cranium elsewhere, it won't do it through the eye, either. You'd have just as much luck trying to go through the nose or palate… and might actually have better luck going through the ear.

    If you really want someone "unskilled" [sic] to off the dragon, don't use arrows: use sling bullets. Let's see that sumbich fly straight with a concussion, y'all.… :D
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 11, 2017
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