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Master archer criticizes Hawkeye’s archery skills


When it comes to the Avengers, Hawkeye sort of has a reputation for being the intruder. After all, the superhero team includes a Norse god, a green monster, a wizard, a raccoon, a man who can pull straps from his hands, a witch, a super-soldier and … a guy with a bow and arrows.

But is it fair? Patricia Gonsalves, a master archer who worked as a consultant on a superhero show Arrow, with DC hero Green Arrow, don’t think so.

“I hear that often,” she said. “When I was working on Arrow, a lot of people were like “he should just have a gun”. But the people who say that miss the point of the archery character – instinct is their super power. They don’t need to see; they can hear things that the average person cannot hear. They turn around, shoot the bow, they already have the image of their target in their heads. Anyone can shoot a gun. Instinct, discretion and subtlety – this is the superpower.

But even so, it’s not like Hawkeye is an ordinary archer. With the release of the new Disney + series Hawk Eye this week, Gonsalves explains why the superhero is more than just a guy with a bow and arrows …


In archery, the weight of the bow is the amount of force required to shoot a bow, which then translates into the power of the shot. The bow weight an archer needs depends on what he is doing.

“60 pounds will blow through the Kevlar,” Gonsalves says. “On the hunt, I never really got over 70 pounds at the most. I try to hunt an animal, not to poke a hole in it. If you’re Olympic archery, you might be 40, 45 pounds. War arcs from the site of the Marie rose from England had an estimated pulling weight of 180 pounds. The world record, held by Mark Stretton, is over 200 pounds.

The bow weight for Hawkeye, according to the comics, is 250 pounds, which makes Gonsalves laugh out loud, “Oh my God, no! To say that is overkill is an understatement. There is absolutely no reason to have this kind of draw weight. I don’t see any circumstance in which you would want a 250 pound bow. Unless you’re trying to shoot down a tank.


Details on how many arrows Hawkeye can shoot in a single minute are vague, but his DC cousin Green Arrow – whose abilities aren’t much different – can shoot 29.

“On average, 12 would be the ideal number in a minute,” says Gonsalves. “My own record is 21 in one minute. Danish archer Lars Andersen [who claims he can shoot 10 arrows in 4.9 seconds] shoots pretty fast and it looks good but it uses a very light bow. I could probably shoot 30 with a 10 pound bow because it offers very little resistance.

“When it comes to pulling quickly, it’s about how fast the arrow can catch the string, not how fast you can let it go. It is not unrealistic to shoot 29 arrows per minute, but certainly not with a 250 pound bow!

Hailee Steinfeld and Jeremy Renner in Hawk Eye © Marvel Studios 2021


Hawkeye’s accuracy with a bow is legendary, with the MCU version of Jeremy Renner being able to take down moving targets at ridiculous distances, sometimes without even looking. In reality, archers have to contend with what Gonsalves calls the “archer’s paradox”: the fact that when an archer shoots an arrow, it is moving in three different directions at once. “It spins, it moves forward and it also cuts through the air like a fish, wiggling back and forth,” she says.

To tame this movement, archers must consider various factors that can influence the direction of an arrow – distance, wind, which hand they are shooting. But above all, says Gonsalves, they have to go against their instincts.

“If you’re shooting at an Olympic target, you want to point your arrow in the middle, right? But the arrow will go up or down depending on how close or how far you are.

“Think of a target as a clock. If I’m 20 feet away, I’m not going to aim for yellow. I’m going to aim around area 5 because if I aim for the middle I’m going to hit area 10. The arrow will go up because I’m so close – it doesn’t have time to complete its journey. But if I’m further away, I have to aim a little higher. There are a lot of different factors that go into a shot.


Gonsalves is able to shoot with a bow in such a way that the arrow curls around an object and hits its target, but even she balks at some of the shots that Hawkeye fires. Including the feat of shooting three arrows at the same time and making sure that each reaches its target.

“Physics says no,” she said. “When you have three arrows, instead of the chain coming in at one point, it now enters multiple points. The top and bottom arrows are in front of the center one, which means that when you pull, the rope will push the top one down and the bottom one up.

“You take the momentum out of those three arrows as well, because if you use, say, a 40 pound bow, it’s now scattered between three projectiles instead of one.”


And finally, a quick note on the general form of Jeremy Renner, whom Gonsalves calls “damn”. Indeed, according to the Gonslaves, Renner was trained in the Olympic style of archery, which promotes slower, more open and less dynamic movements.

“These are 40 to 45 pound arcs,” she said, “the target is 60 yards. Not that I’m saying it’s easy, but they have views. They have all this help. So trying to take someone who’s supposed to be a vigilante and have them shoot like an Olympian is completely ridiculous. No offense to the Olympians, but what do they know about this kind of [fast, dynamic] movement? What does an Olympian know about being an assassin? “

Instead, she says, Renner should have been trained by an instinctive hunter. “When it comes to archery on film, we have to make it dynamic and exciting with a lot of movement. And that’s instinctive hunting.

“Dynamic movement is the draw … If you want to hold the bow like [an Olympian], grab the arrow slowly, then draw and shoot – well, if you’re a deer you’re gone.

About our expert, Patricia Gonsalves

With over 30 years of experience and training, Patricia specializes in ancient and traditional archery weapons, tools and techniques. She now teaches these skills to students at her own archery school, Lykopis Archery. In addition to imparting her knowledge to the next generation of traditional archers, Patricia also promotes accurate Hollywood portrayals of archers in her role as an archery consultant for the popular television series. Arrow, as well as other shows.

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Cory E. Barnes

The author Cory E. Barnes