Shooting wire-tethered flaming arrows

We have chosen traditional archery equipment: a 40 to 50-pound pull recurve or long bow for the archer role in the Trojan Horse pageant. To safely control arrow trajectory, we will use wire-tethered arrows. This method—derived from the principle behind line rockets—complies with Burning Man’s requirements for projectiles and will result in a spectacular volley to light the horse. Line rockets are small, fireworks-type rockets that run along a taut wire from launch to end point. They are so safe that they are sometimes used indoors in theater or concert productions.

The arrows we use will have conventional target points and a 1” to 2” Nomex material strip over light cotton batting that will be set aflame. Three or four wire guides—small sections of carbon arrow—will be attached to each arrow with epoxy and will be further secured for performance and safety. We are investigating snap-on guides to speed threading arrows onto the wire.

On release from the archers’ bows, the arrows will be guided along a steel wire—either galvanized or stranded wire like that used in fishing leaders. Each 150 to 200-foot length of wire will be anchored to the horse with a six-inch target square for the arrow point to penetrate. These squares will be saturated with fuel for a more dramatic effect on impact. Wire will be extended from the anchor point to a part of the horse that can be reached once the horse is in final position. The rest of the wire will remain coiled and attached to the horse.

When it‘s time to burn the horse, each archer will require two strong and dexterous. assistants to set up. The wire coils must be retrieved from the horse and extended full length. Arrows will be threaded or snapped onto the wire. When the wire has been extended, the team will drive a metal stake into the playa as a field anchor. The wire will be pulled taut and secured to the stake.

Archers will slide one arrow to shoulder height and nock it to the bow. The arrow tip will be ignited by an attendant fire nymph. On command, the archers will draw their bows and fire their arrows, and, tethered, each one will hit its mark. The beast will not be long for this world!

Richard Oswitt has field tested this technique and was successful with 150-270 feet of wire on an elevated trajectory. Refinements TBA.

View test videos

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For more videos visit Trojan Horse Archer’s Site.

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