Lars Andersen’s newest video (embedded below) showed him jumping while shooting a bow, splitting an arrow on a knife, defensively shooting an incoming arrow, and catching an arrow then returning it in mid-air.
Now with over 25 million views and counting, it has been incredibly exciting to watch worldwide interest in Andersen’s archery grow.
“It is fun when a small hobby explodes in media around the world and many [people] want to reach me,” said Lars. “But it’s also a little scary how fast things go.” Andersen is a painter by profession, and his work hangs in Danish museums and galleries. A recent exhibition opened with the support and attendance by the Danish queen.
Archery is his hobby.
Many viewers of the rapid-fire videos are curious about his equipment. It looks quite different from modern archery gear. Andersen said that he has tried a great many different bows, including building some of his own.
“I built bows to mainly test different things. For example, I built two compound bows to see if [I] could, and one I built only [using] historical materials just to see if it was possible.” Andersen is always testing the limits.
Lars Andersen predominantly uses two bows today: a longbow custom-made in Estonia by Falco in collaboration with Andersen and a shorter, modern version of a horseman’s bow Andersen built himself.
“The smaller bow has a mounted half-wheel inspired by compound bows. It certainly is not historical, but it is small and works well for tricks. It is not as accurate as the Falco bow,” explained Lars. The arms of the smaller bow are optimized for fast shooting.
The new video’s stunts had many people scratching their heads and wondering whether Lars’ trick shots were the real deal.
“I trained really long with secure arrows before I was sure that it would not be dangerous to me,” said Lars. “It would be very strange for me to show a new video and not show what is the wildest I can, so the tricks came with. Of course, it makes more attention when something is extreme.”
Some detractors have criticized Andersen for what they see as “mocking” of modern archery. They couldn’t be more wrong in their take on the Dane.
“It isn’t an either/or,” said Lars when comparing modern archery and historical archery. “I think I can move the limit for archery in a single direction but it does not alter the ‘seriousness’ of other forms of archery.” Lars admires friends shooting very powerful, modern bows, and he is jealous of some people who have reinvented archery skills on horseback.
While most viewers rate the video very highly, some have critiqued the professionalism and quality of the video—in many clips, you don’t get to see close-up detail on Lars’ successful shots.
“I usually set up the camera as a tool for myself to learn—to see how I was improving,” said Lars. “A quality video with a high-speed camera would certainly be more convincing.” Most were impressed with Andersen’s tricks and skills, a small few called it luck. “There is no trick in the video that I hadn’t [performed] many times before, such as splitting an arrow or hitting an arrow mid-air.”
Other detractors are archers with modern equipment who cannot possibly shoot in the ways shown on the video.
“Everyone can try switching and hold with a three-finger grip,” he continued. “It probably requires one month [of] study before learning how to adjust one’s aim in a different way to shoot.”
Trying to teach others in a serious way to emulate Lars’ technique hasn’t worked terribly well, but recently he switched to “playing archery” and it seems to be working much better.
“Just like you learn to throw a ball without being serious, just learning how to shoot has given some remarkable results,” Lars said. Some adults were hitting disc in the air within one hour, and jumping while shooting successfully. These people had never shot a bow before.
All of Lars’ historical research challenged him to recreate exceptional archery skills.
“Archery has a 60,000-year history, and it is very complicated and to tell in a short video. The purpose of the video was to get people to ask questions about historical archery.”
Andersen is currently writing a book on the subject.
K.J. Houtman is the author of the award-winning Fish On Kids Books series, chapter books for eight- to 12-year-olds with adventures based around fishing, camping, and hunting. Her work is available at Amazon and local bookstores. Find out more at fishonkidsbooks.com.
Images courtesy Lars Andersen