Earlier this year, an illustration of ‘Mythbusters Jr.’ tried to repeat Odysseus’ feat of shoot an arrowhead through twelve axeheads. With the constraints enforced by the Mythbusters Jr. Team, your archer Byron Ferguson wasn’t may be to accomplish the feat. However a Mythbusters Jr. Machine did, after cautious calibration.

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Mythbusters Jr. (2019) attempt to replicate the bow contest from Odyssey book 21.
The set-up they choose for the attempt (Mythbusters Jr. 2019) is twelve axes firmly resolved vertically on your shafts, each through a loop at the peak of the pillar where the two chisels meet. We’re told the the hole in the loop is 3 inches in diameter (76.2 mm). We aren’t said how much apart the axeheads are, but I’ve measure up on a screenshot v minimal foreshortening, and that says that the spacing is an extremely close to 4 times the diameter the the loops, or one foot (304.8 mm).

Mythbusters Jr.: san Francisco, USA, 2019

Here’s just how the programme introduces the task:Narrator.
even over a quick distance, one on-target arrow may wobble. But does that really typical that the doesn’t fly straight? A definitive answer demands a definitive test. For this reason it’s every hands come the workshop to rebuild a legendary arrow obstacle course. This particular an obstacle is actually a legend in itself, and also it involves a dozen replica double-bladed battleaxes. while Greek hero Odysseus to be fighting the Trojan wars, Penelope was left to fend turn off a bunch of unwanted admirers. She promised come marry whichever man might fire an arrow through twelve axeheads, confident that the shot to be impossible. However Odysseus returned, and also in disguise, took the shot -- and also nailed it. If the Mythbusters can repeat the success, it would certainly prove beyond doubt the an arrow flies straight and also true.Rachel Pizzolato. right here we have our twelve axes v the target of three inches in diameter, motivated by Odysseus’ archery trick shot. Therefore we’re going to have Byron take it this shot, and also see if that can obtain through all twelve through his longbow. They to speak it’s impossible -- so great luck, bro.Narrator. It’s a challenging prospect. Even Byron has actually his doubts.Byron Ferguson. now I know shooting with a three-inch ring shouldn’t it is in a really hard shot, and also it’s not. Shooting through 3 or four of them, not a difficult shot. Shooting with twelve of them -- heh, it’s a really hard shot, act it through a traditional bow.As it turns out, Byron can’t regulate the shot. He have the right to consistently obtain an arrowhead through all over up to half of the loops, yet the little brush against metal makes the arrow go turn off course and shatter.The Mythbusters Jr. Team go on come devise a mechanical set-up that can outdo the human being expert. Ns congratulate castle on their success! The method they set it up, the task truly is legendary.There space a couple of potential misunderstandings involved, though, i beg your pardon the team weren’t aware of -- and also at the very least one error, where they acquired something quite wrong.At several points in the episode it’s declared that the feat has actually never before been achieved in real life. This isn’t true. Over there is in truth documentary proof of the being accomplished at the very least once before, and maybe twice.

Corridor Crew: Los Angeles, USA, June 2018

First, the an ext doubtful case. In a video released ~ above YouTube top top 7 June 2018, members the the renowned ‘Corridor Crew’ channel -- they have 2.6 million subscribers at the moment of composing -- complete to see who have the right to shoot an arrowhead through twelve axeheads with holes in the blades. They don’t point out measurements, yet the feet look no bigger than 3 inch in diameter, and may be smaller. The distance in between the axes looks most likely to be approximately a foot.
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Nick Laurant’s successful shot, through the arrowhead circled (Corridor Crew 2018, 5:54)
In the video, every member of the crew bring away one shot. 2 of them, Niko Pueringer and also Nick Laurant, succeed. In ~ the end the two successful archers have actually a second try, and though Laurant misses, Pueringer repeats his shot. Comment interspersed transparent the video indicate the Pueringer is an experienced archer.In all three successful shots, the arrows graze lot of axeheads and send lock spinning on the spot, yet the arrowhead remains top top target enough to obtain through all twelve holes.This is an interesting reversal of the Mythbusters Jr. Scenario. The axeheads are made of part light, soft substance, no metal; and they rotate easily rather than being fixed. More importantly, the archers are all amateur -- and also yet two of them success on their first shot.However, it’s much harder to offer this check credence, in comparison v the Mythbusters Jr. Test, for 3 reasons.The video is entertainment, no documentation. It’s simply not careful enough.Corridor Crew don’t provide any technical details of your test -- together as products used, the draw weight the the bow(s), measurements of the holes, the distance in between the axes, and also the distance in between the archer and also the very first axe.Corridor Crew are well-known primarily for their skills with movie approaches like stunts and special effects. Numerous of their videos room advertised particularly as videos where ‘VFX artists react to’ special effects in films, or VFX artists produce ‘deepfakes’, whereby CGI is offered to do an actor look like some real person. In your archery video clip they don’t even claim to be presenting occasions as they actually happened -- so us can’t even take it for granted the their evidence is gift in an excellent faith.The 2nd and third reasons yes, really go ago to the first one. There’s nothing unreasonable about making an to chat video, and for the document I am prepared to think that Niko Pueringer can legitimately do the shot. It’s just that the ton of the video weighs against taking it very seriously.It would certainly be beneficial to know more about the differences in between the two tests. V the details they give -- that is, nobody -- it’s just tough to evaluate.

Brain and Skinner: Durban, south Africa, 1978

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Peter brain (source:Brain’s obituary, 2005: 92)
In fact we must go earlier a lot earlier. Forty years earlier, Peter mind and D. D. Skinner perform a effective test in southern Africa. Mind was a significant immunologist and also part-time classicist. In his 50s the learned old Greek and did a standards degree, and also later released a well-respected book on Galen. Skinner was an amateur archer and, ns suspect, a previous biologist -- he collaborated top top a released biology record in the early 70s, but I haven’t managed to map a career in the field after that point.They give in-depth textual documentation around their initiatives in an scholastic journal. Skinner pulled off the feat successfully, and also because of your high-quality documentation, over there is a an excellent presumption the they are reporting their tests accurately.Mythbusters Jr. (2019) believe the key obstacle to getting the arrow to fly straight is the ‘archer’s paradox’: the arrowhead flexes together it passes the take care of of the bow, and also the result flex and spin continues throughout that is flight, raising its cross-section. Mind and Skinner (1978) don’t experience that problem. One reason is the they use 4 inch openings (101.6 mm), instead of the 3 customs in Mythbusters Jr., and also apparently this was sufficient to protect against the problem.Another is the they terminal the archer at a distance such the the an initial opening is equidistant between the archer and the last opening: with this extra distance, the flexing of the arrowhead may have decreased in the an initial half of its flight. Their reason for act this is the they think a an ext important problem is the upright rise and drop the the arrowhead in the course of that is flight. Therefore first, they identify the upright variance over the full distance, come ensure the it’s in ~ least feasible for a human being to replicate the feat. Lock decide that the optimal of the flight should be at the an initial axehead, therefore the arrow will it is in dropping the totality time while it’s passing through the axeheads:Our an initial experiment, carried out in an office corridor,-- presumably external Brain’s office at the Natal Blood Transfusion Service. These men are the original corridor crew! --established the fall of the arrow over the second fifty percent of its trip (i.e. The component occupied through the axes) for assorted values the x. Having shot numerous arrows right into a target indigenous a street x, ours archer retirement a more x, and, aiming in ~ the same note without changing his sights, shoot a further collection of arrows. The difference in height between the an initial and second groups is the autumn over the 2nd distance x.Given a bow through a 47 pound attract (i.e. Reasonably light), they achieve the complying with figures:If we use rings 4 inch in diameter, and also take account the the over-all diameter that the arrowhead (it has actually fletches at the rear end to make it paris straight, and also no component of the arrow may touch any kind of of the rings), climate a loss of 2 inches is about as lot as we deserve to allow. This is acquired when x is 12 feet. Placing the rings a yard apart, as said by Page, would mean a fall of much more than a foot in the second half of the 66-foot flight, and this provides the shot rather impossible. We as such decided to placed our rings one foot apart.
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The feat as illustrated in the 1997 miniseries The Odyssey. Armand Assante (front) as Odysseus, Alan Stenson (rear) together Telemachus.

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So they clear up on the same spacing provided in the Mythbusters Jr. Test. Their design of the ring is different, however:To simulate the ring we reduced twelve pieces of increased polystyrene, 9 inch square and also 3/4 customs thick, and made a 4-inch-diameter hole in the middle of each. These to be attached with rubber bands come cross-pieces nailed to a horizontal plank 11 feet long, so the they stood vertically through the feet one behind the other and also a foot apart. This rings are extremely light and the little touch causes apparent movement, while any type of hole or nick is conveniently seen.Unlike the Mythbusters Jr. Team, they don’t have accessibility to a high-speed camera. The check is successful:After three sighting shots with just the first and critical rings in place, in the course of which the very first ring to be damaged, we fitted all the rings and also he make a perfect shot; no ring was touched
... His next shot nicked one of the center rings, yet the following three were all perfect.(My emphasis.) Skinner feels the 3-inch rings would at least in rule be possible:We then boosted the distance in between the archer and also the first ring, and found that the shot to be still possible when this was 15 feet (a full course of 26 feet) however not once it was 18 feet. The archer thinks that at the original distance the 11 feet he can probably do it with slightly smaller rings, to speak 3 inch in diameter, yet we have not make the efforts thisNiko Pueringer’s shots in the Corridor Crew video tend to support this. However, there are several components that could affect the outcome:Distance native the an initial axe. Skinner stands far enough away the the arrow is currently on its descent as it overcome the an initial axe; Pueringer and also Ferguson are lot closer. What effect does this have?Material of the axeheads. The Brain-Skinner and Corridor Crew tests usage a soft material, Mythbusters Jr. Usage metal. Is the task harder if the fletching brushes versus metal, together opposed to a soft substance?Mobility of the axeheads. The axeheads rotate openly in the Corridor Crew test, yet are resolved in the other two. Go rigidity do the job harder?None the the experiments control for these factors. It might be the a lot depends on them.Anyway, if we imagine Odysseus’ feat as a historical event, we have to remember the the very first part of the feat was about strength -- being solid enough to string the bow. So his bow would presumably have actually a lot heavier draw. Possibly on a par with a longbow through a 120 lb draw, or also more. A much heavier attract weight could double the arrow’s speed, and also that would minimize the fall by half.

Other interpretations

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The set-up the the axes in Ulysses 31,episode 31 (1982)
There’s a question over the specific set-up the the axes in Odyssey publication 21. If you look again in ~ the stills native the Mythbusters Jr. And Corridor Crew experiments, above, you’ll notice they have actually quite different concepts of what specifically the archer is supposed to it is in shooting through.In Mythbusters Jr., the axes are dual axes v a metal loop in ~ the optimal of the shaft. In Corridor Crew, the axes have holes in the the knives themselves. The doesn’t even start to exhaust the possibilities.This is because the Odyssey itself doesn’t give any type of details top top what, precisely, is walk on. The text doesn’t tell united state where the holes are, how far apart lock are, how high turn off the soil the feet are, even if it is the axes are resolved as in Mythbusters Jr. Or rotating freely as in Corridor Crew.In suggest of truth we’re not also told there space holes.Here’s what we space told. The winner the the challenge will be:διοϊστεύσῃ πελέκεων δυοκαίδεκα πάντων... Anyone shoots v all twelve axes