Katniss Everdeen from the Hunger Games. Oliver Queen from Arrow. And Hanna from...Hanna. What do these characters have in common? That’s right — archery.
Over the past few years, Hollywood has been creating more archery characters and bringing bow skills in the spotlight. Now, with Game of Thrones, we are seeing even more drawn bows and flying arrows.
As a bowhunter, I pay attention to the archery scenes and critique their form, and I always laugh when I see someone holding the bow all wrong and yet still manage to never miss.
Below are examples of good form and bad form from the Game of Thrones series, from the very first show of the first season all the way up to season three. (No spoilers, promise.)
1. BRAN GETS OUTSHOT BY HIS SISTERThis scene has Bran practicing archery while his father watches on from above. There is clearly a lot of pressure for the young boy to make the shot, and I love how Jon Snow tells him, “don’t think too much.” And then of course Arya embarrasses him by shooting a bulls-eye over his head, while his shot careens to the left.
2. ARYA LEARNS TO ‘NEVER AIM’
This is the scene where Arya makes it pretty clear what she wants to do to her enemies, as she lists their names while shooting at a straw dummy target. What’s bizarre here is that she has TERRIBLE form, yet still manages to hit it. She has no anchor point on the face; she was just pulling the bow back to her chest and releasing the arrow. In the long run, or in a situation where she has adrenaline flowing through her, she will most likely miss.
3. NED STARK’S VIKING FUNERALAfter Ned Stark dies, his remains are put on a boat and set out to drift, and as part of the ritual an archer is to hit the boat with a flaming arrow to light it on fire. Much to everyone’s chagrin, Edmure Tully struggles to hit the boat, missing several times. So Blackfish grabs the bow and takes the shot.
4. JON SNOW SAYS I LOVE YOU, GETS SHOT IN THE BACKIn this scene, the Wildling that Jon Snow hooked up with has him in her sights, and she’s mad. He drops the L bomb, and her response? She shoots him in the back.
*Lesson: Don’t ever say “I love you, but I have to go home now” to a woman holding a weapon.
5. THE BIGGEST ‘TARGET’ OF ALLThe Battle of the Blackwater is the largest battle in the War of the Five Kings to date. Lord Tyrion had a ship filled with wildfire and sent it to leak the flammable substance directly into the bay. Then, at his signal, Commander Bronn shot a flaming arrow into the bay to ignite the wildfire and set off a giant explosion that destroyed the front line of Stannis’ fleet. Now, Commander Bronn is known for his great swordsmanship, but this scene proves he can also shoot a bow. His form is perfect. Although just about anyone can hit water with an arrow.
6. THAT DAMN RAVENBran is trying to shoot the three-eyed raven, and he starts off by executing perfect form in his draw. His body is square, his bow arm is straight and his draw elbow is high and behind the string.
7. THIS IS WHY YOU DON’T EVER SHOOT STRAIGHT UPHere Gendry utilizes fairly decent form, though he violates a big safety rule by taking this shot straight up in the air. In real life, there is no way he could have aimed for the exact spot it came down on — which he claimed he did. He could have just as easily split his own head in half. Which would just add one more to the total death toll of Game of Thrones. See video of this scene.