Is It Possible To Catch An Arrow?

In the movies, we are often treated to exciting images of archers firing an arrow so precisely and delicately that a person would be able to catch it, mid-flight. Often times, these scenes play out as a keen-eyed target quickly moves his hand, catching the arrow and foiling the plans of the archer. But, come on, surely that cannot be possible in real life?

Well, if you have ever thought about trying to catch an arrow, one of the first things that we should tell you is that this is an incredibly dangerous thing to do. Hell, it might even be called stupid if the person catching an arrow does so without having had any practice.

However, that isn’t to say that there are not people out there to regularly grab a flying arrow without hurting themselves. But this is not a skill that can be done by just anyone and you really need to go into it with your eyes wide open.

In this article, we wanted to talk about a few famous faces that are renowned for being able to catch an arrow, mid-flight and give the lowdown on this misunderstood practice.

More articles:

Can You Really Can An Arrow With Your Hands?

An arrow is a very sharp projectile that has a very real danger attached to it; it can kill you. Why, then, would anyone think that standing in the way of an oncoming arrow in order to catch it with their bare hands, would be a clever idea? You’d be surprised!

In the world of entertainment and thrill-seeking, people do some very weird and wonderful things. Take a look in the Guiness Book of World Records and you will instantly see some of the crazy stuff that goes on in the world; much of which, people do for the sheer fun of it and the potential risk involved.

But while blowing up almost 40,000 balloons in an hour may pose nothing more than the risk of being short of breath; (yes it’s real, check it out here), trying to catch an arrow in your hand carries a significantly higher risk.

As professional arrow catcher Jim Mathers tells us, one of the biggest risks of catching an arrow is the shot going wrong and you ending up with an arrow in the eye.

Now yes, this may be something that you would laugh hysterically at if it happened to a cartoon character (who would likely later appear with a fully functional eye with no sign that an arrow had ever been present) but when it happens in real life, the effects can be devastating.

Mathers goes on to explain that many people have attempted to intercept a flying arrow and come away having lost their sight. However, what he tells us is that rather than what you might think, a slow arrow and a blunt impact are much more likely to affect your sight than a high speed, sharp arrow which would more than likely penetrate through the eye, into the brain and kill you.

It sounds dramatic, but that is the real danger of playing with fire; or arrows, in this case. While our attitude may be a little tongue in cheek, we hasten to add, once again, that catching arrows is not something we would ever recommend doing, unless under the guidance of an incredibly experienced professional, even then, we’d suggest giving it a second thought.

Famous Arrow Catchers

We have already introduced you to Jim Mathers who is an experienced martial arts practitioner. He has worked with the likes of Bruce Lee and has appeared on some of the world’s most well-renowned TV shows. But what does he have to do with catching arrows?

Well, in the 1960s, Jim decided to try his hand, literally, at catching arrows and he seemingly found that this was a talent he possessed. As the 70s drew in, Jim went in front of the public on TV to demonstrate his skills.

However, rather than being widely accepted and applauded for his efforts, Jim received a lot of hate for even considering trying this incredibly dangerous challenge. That being said, with his famous attempts still receiving thousands of views on YouTube today, he must have done something right and there were some, even back then, who thought he was something of a legend.

Jim makes some excellent points surrounding catching an arrow and we will look at these in a little more detail later on. But for now, let’s focus on the fame he received for attempting this risky little game.

Another famous arrow catcher, this time a female, is one Melanie Kramer who can lay claim to many other exciting feats including having knives tossed at her. No, she isn’t being held hostage in some remote torture house that is akin to something you would see in the movies; Melanie is a Las Vegas performer defying the odds by attempting some seriously risky things.

She has not only been under fire from flying kitchen utensils but has also had a cigarette knocked out of her mouth by a guy wielding a whip and been the ‘victim’ in the age-old swords in the box magic trick.

But now, she is working with an expert to hone her skills where catching arrows is concerned and according to her, this is just her job. For a woman who struggles with what some people would call mundane, riding a rollercoaster, her arrow catching, knife dodging, whipping lifestyle seems a little out there.

But it would appear that Melanie isn’t overly concerned about catching arrows or other flying projectiles because she has faith in the people she works with. In a recent interview with the LA times, the aptly named, when it comes to torturous themes, Kramer, explained how the biggest part of the process is faith.

If it is faith she needs then she is in the right place since she has now teamed up with archery aficionado, Bob Markworth who doesn’t just have a history of archery, he owns the sport!

Bob goes so much further with his archery skills that anyone else in the entertainment industry ever has and his career spans an incredible length of time.

But while these professionals and entertainment stars may make light work of cool archery tricks and catching arrows, what about the rest of us? Could anybody catch a flying arrow or does it take a special someone?

Can Anyone Catch An Arrow?

Let’s go back to Mr Jim Mathers who seems to know a lot about catching arrows. He explains that catching an arrow is something that can, in theory, be done by any one of us. Although, with that in mind, we certainly wouldn’t suggest grabbing your bow and firing shots for your friends and family to catch just yet.

Mathers goes on to tell us that while anyone could grab a flying arrow, there needs to be some serious consideration before doing so.

This is not because you need any sort of special skill or magical power to be able to catch an arrow, unless you count the ability of being able to calculate speed and distance as a magical power.

You see, while arrows can fly pretty fast, they do not fly fast enough that you couldn’t intercept one, should you have the desire. The trick is to avoid becoming injured and let’s face it, there is a very real risk of this happening.

Jim Mathers talks about how nobody in the world, not even the most trained professional would have the speed or reflexes to catch an arrow shot from a powerful bow at close range. Humans simply do not possess this skill.

Conversely, if you were to stand at long range and fire the arrow from a less speedy bow, then many people would be able to catch the arrow, even if not on the first attempt. This is purely down to how the arrow would lose speed as it covered a greater distance.

Think about when you play a game of catch with a tennis ball. If you and I were to do this standing just a few metres apart, and I were to throw the ball at you with great speed, it would be harder to catch than if I were to stand ten metres away and throw the ball to you. It would lose speed as it reached you giving you a much clearer view of where it was coming from and where it was going to land.

The same can be said for an arrow. If it is fired from a distance, as it gets closer to you, it will slow down and this will give you a much better shot at catching it safely. In addition to this, you would have the advantage of watching the arrow’s flight, giving you the advantage of being able to see exactly where it is headed, allowing you to know where your hand should be in order to catch it.

Simple, right?

Should I Try To Catch An Arrow?

With the idea that arrows shot from a long range could be caught by anyone, it can be tempting to give it a try but we have to reinforce the idea that this is incredibly dangerous and could result in serious injury, or worse!

Regardless of how fast or slow the arrow is travelling, it can still cause significant damage. In many cases, people ask the question of whether or not they could catch an arrow in the case of an attack.

If you are being attacked by a rogue archer, the chances are that he or she will have been stalking you for some time and would not merely fire a shot, from a long distance with you watching. So, unfortunately, in this extremely unlikely scenario, the odds are stacked against you; you wouldn’t be able to react quickly enough.


Hollywood has taught us a lot of things but one thing that it has ingrained in our minds is that humans are certainly not superheroes. For this reason, you should always take it with a pinch of salt when you see some superhuman in a movie catching an arrow.

That being said, there are individuals who have earned themselves a reputation of being able to catch a flying arrow. But when you look at the physics behind it, you begin to appreciate that this is something that pretty much anyone could do.

But that doesn’t mean to say that you should; flying arrows, fast, slow or otherwise are extremely dangerous and have the potential to kill. If you’re looking for a thrill; stick to watching the pros.

About Brad Harris