Building An Archery Mech Suit To Skip Practice

According to legend, King Edward III once said: “If you want to train a longbowman, start with his grandfather.” Consistently making accurate hits with any bow, especially on moving targets, takes many hours of practice. Or, if you’re [Shane Wighton], you can spend a comparable amount of time building, debugging, and rebuilding a robotically-enhanced bow to do it.

The goal was to shoot flying targets out of the air, so [Shane] had to create a system that could track the position of the bow and the target, and automatically adjust the position of the bow and loose the arrow at exactly the right moment to intercept the target. The position tracking was done with the same Optitrack cameras [Shane] used on his robotic basketball hoop, with reflective marking balls on the bow, target, and the release mechanism. The auto-aiming is done with a two-axis rack and pinion mechanism driven by a pair of stepper motors. [Shane] first used the cheapest recurve bow he could find online, which caused accuracy issues likely related to the Archer’s paradox. The setup also made him repeatedly hit himself in the face, because the servo-operated release mechanism would release unexpectedly without having a proper anchor with his draw hand.

[Shane] eventually upgraded to a compound bow, which reduced the tension he had to hold while lining up the shot, but also increased the weight of the system dramatically. This leads him to fully embrace the mech suit look, and use a Steadicam vest to hold the weight of the bow. This finally allowed him to reliably William Tell shots and hit the flying targets.

Whether it’s an all-in-one electronic golf club, an explosive baseball bat, or a robotic pool cue, [Shane] is certainly adept at using impressive engineering skills to compensate for his lack of physical skill, or just his willfully closed eyes.

8 thoughts on “Building An Archery Mech Suit To Skip Practice

  1. I recall an article from a magazine around 1965-70. A native American went shotgunning w the author, pheasant hunting. The NA (?!?,) went, and took his bow. Both were fairly expert. The bowman got 9 outta 10 pheasants. This is about as good as a shotgunner, who is GOOD, ever can do. Just FYI. Nam had a portable radar upon which any M16 could be attached, for help in nighttime security. Interesting project.

  2. “Or, if you’re [Shane Wighton], you can spend a comparable amount of time building, debugging, and rebuilding an robotically-enhanced bow to do it.”

    A video game feature (autoaim) comes to real life.

  3. “a robotically-enhanced bow”

    Remember that ‘a’ vs. ‘an’ isn’t really a grammatical rule, it’s a pronunciation aid. If the word immediately after (regardless of function) begins with a vowel _sound_ use ‘an’. Note that only the sound of the word matters, not its spelling:
    – a hotel
    – an hour (pronounced “our”)
    – an umami flavor
    – a unicorn (“you-nee-corn”)

    1. Indefinite articles, bah. Why the heck do indo-european languages even have them?

      All the more reason to standardize on the Klingon language; or better yet, use one of the Gaelic languages as the standard engineering language.

  4. Uh oh he’s starting to attach things using a body suit. Iron man when?

    He’s lucky to have all the skill and resources for these projects. Even luckier to have such a tolerant wife! Great stuff.

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.