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So I Was Shot By An Arrow....

Discussion in 'Research' started by Asterisk, Nov 25, 2013.

  1. Asterisk

    Asterisk Troubadour

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    The protagonist in my WIP is shot in her shoulder by an arrow. I was writing the scene with great confidence when I realized I have no idea what her "sidekick" should do to remove the arrow. They don't have a lot of time. He already has a special drugs that will numb her. So with that said...

    - How will he remove the arrow?
    - How long would it take?
    - How would he take care of the wound?

    (Bonus Question:) How long would it take for the wound to heal?

    All answers greatly appreciated. Thank you! :D
     
  2. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    I think the "Ask me about archery" thread had a post on this... if the character isn't armored, the arrow might just pass right through. So it might not be a question of "how do I get the arrow out?" so much as "how do I stop the bleeding?"
     
  3. Asterisk

    Asterisk Troubadour

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    Well then, I need to change my question to "How do I stop the bleeding?" :D

    Do you think, though, that there is a chance it wouldn't pass through, especially if it was shot from a short distance?
     
  4. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    If the character is wearing chainmail, I think the arrow might get tangled in the links, especially due to the spinning motion of an arrow in flight. That would keep it from going right through, and be really nasty to remove because of all the tangled metal. I'm not too sure about other kinds of armor, though.
     
  5. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    As somebody who picked up a shoulder injury from piling up on a bicycle this summer...

    Yee-freaking-ouch!

    Shoulder injuries are no fun at all. If the victim is older, could have permanent shoulder pain and constricted movement. If younger, good shape, fair bit of competent medical attention, might have full movement back in a month or two.

    Common test involves lifting the arm in question. Can you lift it above your head from the front? From the side? Can you stick your hand in your opposite back pocket? In my case I was unable to lift my arm above shoulder height for weeks without severe pain...at least from the front. Of course, this is an effect of dislocation on an older person. In my younger days, I felt the pain from similiar incidents for only a few weeks. A piercing would would require the muscle itself to heal. Don't know about that, but the movement issues would probably be much the same. And...lifting the arm is one thing. Lifting anything else heavier than a small book or coffee cup with the afflicted arm probably ain't gunna happen.
     
  6. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

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    No expert, you might not want to remove the arrow right away. The arrow may be plugging the wound and stopping the bleeding. So it may be best to leave the arrow in until the wounded person can see a doctor or until they can get to safety and not be rushed. You might try googling up knife wounds. If someone was stabbed, with the knife left in, it might be similar.
     
  7. buyjupiter

    buyjupiter Maester

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    Is it a hunting bow, a longbow, or a crossbow? All three would produce different results.

    If it's a regular hunting bow, the arrows that go along with those tend to have barbed hooks at the edge nearest the shaft of the arrow to prevent an arrow from going straight through. You'd have to ask those with hunting experience if the reasoning behind that is one of you need it like that to prevent the arrow from going straight through to prevent the animal from just walking it off, as in, the barbs lead to extra pain, leads to slowing the animal down as it tries to get it out...or if the barbs are decorative. I've just seen enough arrow heads and arrows in general to see that they have these barbs that would probably dig into flesh, not just pass through. (Crossbow bolts, from what I've seen of modern crossbows suggest a lack of barbing, at least to the extent of a regular arrow. This may be because they were designed to go through heavy armor and soldiers let bad medicinal practices or bleeding to death kill their victims for them.)

    As for removing it, I imagine the first step would be to see how closely the arrow hit to dangerous areas, i.e. the heart/lungs, major blood vessels. Depending on how deep it is embedded, the time it would take would be entirely dependent upon a few things: experience with removing arrows, experience with wound care, how close it is to the major organs or important blood vessels. If it's a shallower hit, then it should be possible to remove it in a few minutes or so. If the arrow has gone all the way through, from what I've read, breaking the shaft of the arrow and pulling out the back end (with the feathers) would come first and then pushing/pulling on the arrowhead would come next.

    I imagine, time-wise in a worst case scenario, it could take half an hour to an hour depending on how badly things went with the removal process and how nervous your sidekick is.

    I've seen serious scars take upwards of a month to heal. It depends on the depth of the wound and how young they are, and if there's any magic used. If it's a shallow hit, I'd say within a month for a youngish person, six weeks for someone older maybe? If it's a deeper hit (all the way through), then I'd go at least six weeks before it looks/feels better. Maybe two or so weeks for it to stop twinging if you have a macho character. It would probably take six-eight weeks to heal up, and that would be dependent upon how much strain was put upon the area, and how old a person is. Straight healing takes forever!

    I hope that helps!
     
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  8. Malik

    Malik Auror

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    99% of the time, a hit to the shoulder would pass through.

    I have never shot a human with a bow (wow, there are a lot of qualifiers there when you think about it) but I have put a steel broadhead hunting arrow through the shoulder of a man-sized deer -- which has a lot more muscle around its shoulder than a man -- with a 55-lb. recurve bow at under 12 yards. The arrow penetrated the rib cage behind one shoulder, passed through both lungs nicking the heart, and penetrated the other shoulder, fracturing the shoulderblade and passing through the animal completely.

    I have shot many deer with similar points of impact with the same weapon and arrow type, and the results are consistent. Pass-through. Every time.

    We had a long discussion about this in this thread.
     
  9. Malik

    Malik Auror

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    I should add, too, that on humans, ballistic trauma to the shoulder is a hideous thing. There are a stupid amount of muscles and tendons in there; it's as complicated as the knee joint. The trope about a shoulder wound "just winging him" is a Hollywood fabrication. If you take an arrow through your shoulder, you're going to be crippled for life. It will never heal "right."

    A broadhead hunting arrow leaves a hole that you can shove a golf ball through. They do catastrophic amounts of damage. An arrow wound to the shoulder could result in a shattered scapula, fractured ribs, collapse and coma from trauma to the brachial plexus, a nicked lung filling up with blood (which you can't fix without surgery), a tension pneumothorax (also not fixable, minus a catheter and needle rig and specialized training), and if the arrowhead so much as scrapes the brachial artery, the target is done in minutes. They'll bleed out into their body cavity like pulling the drain on a bathtub; one side of their chest will turn black and distend. There is nothing you can do about it at that point except ask for their laptop password so you can start erasing their porn.

    Seriously, though. You're down to minutes with a brachial artery hit. Five minutes, tops. Two, if you have a wide entry and exit hole. You'd better have a really, really good cleric or monk handy who has a chit to cash in with their gods, because the "real" way to save someone at that point would be to get in there with a hemostat clamp and pack off the artery (remember the femoral artery sequence in Black Hawk Down? Yeah. Pretty much that.)

    DO NOT WATCH THIS IF YOU ARE SQUEAMISH.[video=youtube_share;gixRgsPFR7g]http://youtu.be/gixRgsPFR7g[/video]

    And then you'll need to rig up a couple of liters of Ringers or saline to replace the fluids lost. And once you've stabilized him, you'd have to figure out how to do an arterial graft under austere conditions. Or get him to someone who can.

    [​IMG]

    The only wound in the shoulder that would not do lethal or crippling damage is a grazing wound above the collarbone, through the trapezius.

    But, on the other hand, very few readers are going to know this stuff so don't sweat it. Some fantasy author should have humans evolve with a couple of places where they could get shot/stabbed/etc. with no other ill effects than, "Ow!" Because, evolution.
     
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  10. Malik

    Malik Auror

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    [​IMG]

    I am not a doctor, but I've had combat trauma training. This is how I understand the shoulder, superimposed on the X-ray from above.
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2013
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  11. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    Back in June I pulled a muscle in my shoulder/pectoral region somewhere while bowling. It's a silly "wound" that I got from being drunk and stupid, but it still pains me now half a year later.

    (I've had a bit of physiotherapy and it's finally getting better)
     
  12. buyjupiter

    buyjupiter Maester

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    I'm guessing that in modern hunting (or use of bows & arrows) that broadhead arrows are the most common?

    I believe from the archaeological evidence I've seen that the kind of arrowheads I was referencing are more common to small game hunting than going after deer (or humans). Which would make sense, since I've usually seen Native American arrowheads coming from areas where big game hunting is rather sparse. We have lots of rabbits and native pig-like things, but not too many deer/bear. And from what I can tell geologically of the area, and from the historical record, that's been true for a long time.

    So maybe, given that people shooting bows and arrows, would you know, actually take the time to grab the "right" kind of arrow, having it with barbs and such that you'd use for small game wouldn't make a whole lot of sense.

    Unless, of course, the people doing the shooting are evil bastards aiming for the highest amount of pain and suffering.
     
  13. Malik

    Malik Auror

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    I use these:

    [​IMG]

    They kill really well.

    Compound-bow users use hunting tips with 3, or 4 blades, that look like this:

    [​IMG]

    I can't speak to their efficiency, as I don't need training wheels on my bow.
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2013
  14. SeverinR

    SeverinR Vala

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    Looking at the xray, you could say:"There's room for an arrow to pass through without hitting bone. Now pass a small garden hose through the bones, that is the brachial artery. There is a very small window to pass an field tip arrow through, a broadhead-no way.
    Hit any bone, 6-8 weeks of not moving the shoulder or arm much at all. Hit the artery=dead very quickly,
    Fastest death wounds: Juglar vein/Carotid artery(neck), Femoral vein(groin and legs) Brachial artery(armpit & shoulder)


    I think field tips were common tip for soldiers arrows, probably cheapest to make also. Broad heads do more damage to a person but less likely to penetrate plate armor as far. HUnting arrows against unarmored person, probably would do the most damage.

    To remove the arrow, cut the arrow head off and remove the shaft. Removal could cause excess bloodloss. Harder and more painful, break off the tip by hand. The pressure to snap the arrow is placed on the injured tissue.

    Arrow heads of the middle ages:
    http://img1.photographersdirect.com/img/13917/wm/pd2869917.jpg
    I believe the long spike tip(#2) was for plate armor, drive a small spike through the armor as far as you could.
    #1 and #3rd are field tips, the next 3 are broad heads, the bottom 2 I don't know. I'm thinking they might be hunting tips for certain game.

    http://www.medieval-fightclub.com/categories/Archery/Arrowheads/
    This link shows the c arrow head as a crescent broadhead.
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2013
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  15. Nihal

    Nihal Vala

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    The C shaped arrow is a karimata, know as "rope cutter" (no, it wasn't used to cut ropes). It has a cutting edge on the inside, sometimes outside too, and it was used to hunt large animals and on battle. I believe it was used to cut sails too, but I'm not sure.

    The other one seems to be one of those used to set things on fire; you stuffed the opening with cloth dipped in something flammable and lighted it. I don't remember the name of this arrowhead.
     
  16. Guy

    Guy Inkling

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    When you say pass through, do you mean the arrow head went all the way through or the entire arrow passed through and kept going?
     
  17. Malik

    Malik Auror

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    The entire arrow. A complete pass-through is so common in big-game bowhunting that recovery of the animal is often dependent upon recovery of the arrow. The blood and residue on the arrow will indicate the type of hit, which helps the hunter anticipate the animal's reaction. Without an arrow recovery, tracking the animal is extremely difficult.
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2013
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  18. Asterisk

    Asterisk Troubadour

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    Wow wow wow... thank you all SO MUCH for the information! I appreciate this so much!
     
  19. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    So, Malik or others (great pic, btw), where can we have our humans take a hit, be it knife cut or arrow, and be "just winged"? It'd be handy to have a could of places like that in a hip pocket when we want the hero to take some damage without being crippled.

    My own contribution: it's pretty easy to have your arrow shot do just exactly the damage you want, so long as you have the flexibility to armor your character accordingly. So, for example, there are multiple accounts of Crusaders being stuck like porcupines from Turkish bows. This was not because of their mail but because of the layers of tightly-wound linen worn underneath the armor. Turkish arrows, shot from some distance and on the run, could penetrate the chain mail but would just bury themselves in the linen and stick there.

    One other point of reference, I have a picture from a 17thc engraving showing a barber-surgeon cutting what looks to be a crossbow bolt out of a fellow's leg. Nearby sits a fire and a hot iron, presumably to close the wound after the bolt is cut out. And yes, the surgeon is in there digging.
     
  20. Malik

    Malik Auror

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    It is really hard to kill someone with a knife. Seriously. Unless you know exactly what you're aiming for -- and get it -- knife wounds pretty much just slow someone down. So a character could take several stabs from a small knife and recover after a couple of months.

    The problem with arrows and swords is that they make horrific wounds, causing amounts of trauma that most authors can't effectively visualize. I've posted arrow trauma before. Here's a longsword vs. a pig carcass.



    Fighting with medieval warswords, from a medical perspective, might as well be fighting with chainsaws.

    As far as penetrative wounds, anything more than a grazing wound and you're screwed. Something that creases a muscle -- say, bicep, trapezius, the fleshy part of the thigh, the buttocks -- would be survivable and a pain in the ass but not life-threatening. Even a graze on the neck if it's not too deep. Once you get penetration, though, this goes out the window.

    The human body is packed pretty tightly with things that you need, and the super-fit, efficient body types that we all like our characters to have (because we all have them, of course, and we write what we know, right? :D) are, ironically, very damageable.

    So the only exception to this would be if the person getting wounded is really fat. Visceral fat surrounds organs and pushes them away from each other. You could shoot or stab a really fat person right through the chest and conceivably not hit anything vital.

    What I use in my books is not stab wounds or even sword wounds -- my MC is a former fencing champion, and he wears a lot of armor, so he's really good at not getting stabbed or cut -- but the incidental damage from fighting for his life, even when he wins, lays him up for weeks: broken fingers, pulled muscles, slipped discs, hyperextended joints, headaches that last for days, and the kind of nasty black bruises that never seem to go away.

    Of course, none of this is as sexy as being shot with an arrow, and 99% of your readers won't know any different, so really, go nuts.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 10, 2017
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