A Fact-Check for the Four-Color World

Thursday, August 04, 2005

It's not all in the wrist....

Young Avengers #5

So another archer joins the ranks of comic book bowslingers, and once again, she can't shoot straight. Y'know, it almost seems Marvel is doing this on purpose now, just to tick me off. How else can you explain that most recent cover of "House of M"?

Anyway, this one just crossed my path: In the last issue of Young Avengers, neophyte superhero Kate Bishop, who seems to be some sort of amalgam of Hawkeye and Mockingbird, nocks up an arrow and takes a shot at Kang the Conqueror. Leaving aside the many obvious flaws in her form, she makes the shot, and one of her team-mates asks how she did it.

"It's all in the wrist" she says, "If we survive this, I'll show you."

Cue laughter.

No, miss, it's not all in the wrist, unless of course you mean "it's all in keeping the wrist completely out of it." Neither wrist is involved in archery at all.

We'll start with the bow hand. The bow should be placed on the meaty part of the base of the thumb, so that the bow handle falls neatly into the web of skin between the thumb and index finger. The goal here is to provide a firm, solid pillar of bone upon which to rest the bow. The bones of the forearm should be directly behind the bow, the bone of the upper arm directly behind that, then the shoulder blade and collar bone, all in a nice straight line with no sideways movement. Some archers (US Olympian Jane Dykman, for example) go so far as to have an indicator mark tattooed onto their bow hand which lines up with something on the bow handle, to make sure they are holding the bow in exactly the right spot. They will also use a bow-sling to secure the bow to the hand so they can relax the fingers and not grip the bow at all. The wrist has no function at all as far as holding the bow is concerned.

Moving to the string hand, again the wrist does nothing. In fact, one of the primary lessons archers learn is to NOT use the wrist. The back of the hand should be flat in line with the forearm with no bending or movement of the wrist at all.

Having Kate say "it's all in the wrist" is about as accurate as having her say "it's all in the hat." There are any number of things she could have said-- it's all in the fingers, eye, follow-through, mind, etc and so forth-- but the wrist is not among them.

Once again, I will repeat my standing offer. Any comic book artist or writer who wants to get it right is welcome to contact me for free archery lessons and fact-checking. macq@monkeyspit.net will reach me.

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