Episode 51: Myths Reopened

Air Date: April 26, 2006

SPINOFF: A hybrid rocket can be propelled with salami. (From episode 40)


Salami, like the paraffin used in the first test, was able to propel the rocket, although it tended to explode instead of providing even thrust.

REVISITED: An wooden arrow can be split in half through a direct hit in the tail by another arrow. (From episode 36)


Even after multiple direct hits on a solid wood arrow with the bone nock removed, a tail-to-tip split could not be achieved. It took an arrow made of hollow bamboo to create the splitting effect seen in the movie. Because with a normal arrow, the second arrow will follow the grain, which will lead to the side before it makes it to the end. Also their tests revealed that an arrow fired from a traditional bow wobbles in the air enough that it won’t hit the end of the arrow straight.

SPINOFF: A modern firearm can be fired if completely submerged in water. (From episode 34)


All of the firearms (a 9mm, a .357, a 12-gauge shotgun, and a .30-06) were able to discharge underwater, however the bullets lose velocity rapidly and are rendered less than lethal beyond a meter. (The entire gun had to be completely submerged in water – all pockets of air must be removed – in order to prevent a possible explosion when fired.) Furthermore, the break-barrel shotgun (albeit a relatively old and un-modern design) destroyed itself when fired underwater. Finally, the water pressure might cause the spent cartridge to fail to leave the chamber and, hence, effectively reduce the gun to a one-shot deal. A revolver would not have this problem as they do not eject their spent cartridges after each shot.


  1. chris rogers says:

    Re the split arrow myth, i’m wondering if the arrows were made from copiced wood (that is where a tree is cut leaving a stump so that many new shoots grow from it.this was used for making fences, arrows etc) whether they would split with the desired effect similar to the bamboo. obviousely the myth is still busted due to the accuracy required still worth a thought if you have to go there again at any point.

    • Kim says:

      Your right Chris, modern arrow shafts are turned wood. When I was a scout we were taught to make medieval arrows like a fletcher would taking a copiced shaft with no knots etc. anything else would be rejected! The point is if you hit the back of the arrow it follows the grain on a copiced shaft by definition has to go straight down as its the entire section of wood, just the same as spilting a log with an axe.

  2. Sang Lee says:

    You guys should see the attached video of Korean archery team. The second arrow hits the end of the first arrow and straightly makes it to the end.

  3. Spencer says:

    I’ve personally seen an arrow which went directly through the arrow of another arrow, so I’m not sure how they could find it to be busted. I would like to know which archers were doing this, since one I know of has completed this before.

  4. Buster says:

    The results from the arrow-splitting myth are based on traditional wooden arrows depicted in the movie “The Adventures of Robin Hood”. The MythBusters admitted that this feat is certainly possible with modern arrows and bows. (See Epsiode 36)

  5. jamoecw says:

    the arrow that was fired into in the korean video was hollow, you can see the tube opening in the video. still an amazing feat.

  6. clement says:

    hmm. yeah. the korean team shot their arrow into a hollow arrow tube with the nock removed. Basically, the hollow arrow tube is made of aluminium, thick enough for the second arrow (shot from the bow, which is a carbon arrow) to drop through if you remove the nock and point. however, there isn’t much of a clearance..like just about 0.1mm, so it is definitely quite an amazing feat. a twitch one degree up down or to the left or right would leave you missing that arrow totally.

    I’ve seen many arrows being split from the back, however, the piercing arrow did not pierce through more than 4 inches of the arrow already on the board. Though for carbon arrows, it is possible for the arrow to pierce exactly through, since the carbon may split at the grain. however, this would require almost exact accuraccy, where you shoot the arrow down the exact same trajectory as the previous arrow.

  7. John says:

    Re: splitting an arrow. The tips they were using were standard target point. I would like to see them use a traditional point. Also, the arrow material and distance would make a difference. Were their arrows splined to match the bow and how far does that arrow wobble when shot down range. Finally, they should call in Byron Ferguson, probably the best longbow archer in the country, if not the world, to do the shooting. Check out this site for an amazing demo on accuracy: http://www.byronferguson.com/
    I’ve seen his stuff on utube as well.

  8. Justin says:

    You can split two carbon arrow in halve. I found out when i was shooting and the my one arrow split the other

    • Khali says:

      Found your blog on Google after searching for how to dbisale images in Gmail. Thank you for publishing this, you’ve saved me some time trying to figure out how to do that.- Josh

  9. nick says:

    hey i just did the same thing today with carbon arrows, at 25 yards and can get pics. Arrows are still stuck together.

  10. CapnChkn says:

    One thing I noticed about the episode is they tried everything except what Robin Hood would have used. Arrows in those days were made from split ash, not hammered cedar. Ash is a very straight grained wood and was used in the construction of spear shafts, bows (Laminated with horn as in Hun bow.), and anything that needed a straight shaft.

  11. Merv: says:

    The only reason the wooden arrows didn’t split from end to end is that they are modern ones made by machines. In ancient times Cedar or Ash was split along the grain (from very large trees) to create perfecly straight grained 8 sided shafts, which were then hand sanded round. These will ALWAYS SPLIT FROM TIP to TIP, as long as the grain runs tip to tip. No mystery here, just poor science by the Myth Busters, and even poorer history research. You can split a truely straight grained shaft of any wood species from tip to tip with an arrow head, an axe or a pocket knief, as where ever the cutting device separates the grain fibers, it will follow to the end. They just weren’t using the kind of shafts that would have been hand made from straight grain wood in the middle ages. DUH!!

  12. Merv: says:

    Further to Myth Busters reasoning why it failed, that of an arrow woble making it impossible to hit the target straight. Arrow wobble is a simple matter of matching the spine of the shaft to the strength of the bow. If the Strength of the bow is too much for the stiffness of the shaft, it will wobble on its flight. If the shaft spine is thick and straight grained and the bow doesn’t overpower the stiffness, the arrow flies without wobbling. Please add comon sense to the experiments. You can make a long steel shaft wobble with enough force if you want to, but this has no bearing on the ability to hit a 3/8″ target with an arrow head, it’s just poor matching of the arrows to the bow. Besides all wobble stops if given enough distance to allow the shock forces on the shaft to dissipate.

    • Mick says:

      Totally agree with Merv. Experiments conducted with information based on incomplete research are useless. Unfortunately they haven’t proven it couldn’t be done, they’ve only proven that they can’t do it.

  13. chris says:

    I have personally seen many robin hoods happen in my archery club. In fact I have personally seen a Double robin hood done by Pierre Berthelon. Every time he comes to the club he robin hoods. Check out the site http://www.sfaa-nj.com/double_robin_hood_by_pierre.htm

    He did this finger shooting from a compound bow.

  14. K says:

    And another think I noticed, was that they tried to shoot the arrow straight in the middle of the other arrow.

    What if the arrow comes from above at a slight angle, and the arrow “wings” slice the arrow from above?

  15. Luke Skywalker says:

    I know the busters were trying to replicate the traditional arrow split, but has anyone heard of the story about the blind woman who managed to split a modern arrow?

  16. Eric says:

    I just saw a program on another network about marksmanship, it featured a man who shoots traditional wooden arrows with a traditional longbow and he split an arrow tail to tip.

  17. Keith says:

    The history channel aired a show called extreme marksmen. It showed Byron Ferguson do a robin hood. He was using a longbow not a compound bow.

  18. shaun says:

    as for the episode 36 one were an arrow can not be cut in half with another arrow i just saw it on the history channel some guy shot an arrow into another arrow… it went about 1/5th of the way in but i still think its possible for them to shoot it all the way down

  19. ramjet says:

    Keith, I saw the same show. The arrow didn’t split, it drove the first arrow into the target. For sure an impressive shot. I think with the proper arrows like thoes mentioned by Merv, Bryon could split one.

  20. nev says:

    the robin hood shot in the movie was done by one of the finest arches of all time his name howard hill.

  21. Dave says:

    I just saw a show on tv about markmanship and on the show they had byron ferguson with the long bow recreating what robin hood did by spltting the arrow and he was able to do that,they even had a slow motion camera to show it.So this myth is true,unlike what they are saying.I saw the show that the mythbusters did,and a real person didnt shoot,they made something that shot the arrows.

  22. AndyB says:

    Underwater firing: Anyone heard of the bullets (or better given the fancy name of projectiles) produced for special forces frogmen snipers to be able to fire underwater to kill targets standing on a boat for example. I seem to remeber a film/TV show where this was the central twist in the story… exonorating the original suspect.

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  23. Avraker says:

    I don’t understand why they did not use a wooden arrow?, as they said, the arrows woble, but that is only with thecarbon arrow, a sturdy wooden arrow will not have that effect, furthermore, carbon arrows can easy be bent upon inpact, thus altering it’s course and making a split virtually impossible… why would they really go for the carbon arrows?… it’s just plain stupid… it’s like this, if a projectile is bendable, if that hits a hard object, it’ll tend to bend, directing the energy from the tip to the sides(carbon arrows), altering its course…..

  24. Rick Cotee says:

    Hi Folks,
    I have just watched an episode of Mythbusters, on British TV.
    I believe it was epsode 36.
    I noted you were using all modern day equipment, when trying to split the arrow, when in fact, if you had used an arrow made from the same type of wood as would have been used in the Middle Ages,
    i.e. Hazel, Birch, Aspin etc. I feel the result could / would have been differant,
    (i.e. confirmed)

  25. gary says:

    Carbon arrows are really easy to robinhood.. even with the nock still attached to the first arrow. I’ve done it twice this week. their hollow so it leaves a natural channel for the second arrow to fall into. plus the wall thickness is thin enough to provide little resistance for the arrow passing through. Its frustrating cause arrows aren’t cheap.

  26. Bryan says:

    I’m beginning to hate this TV show. they try to prove that if they can’t do it then no one does.
    splitting a wooden arrow is not something that you can do intentionally.

  27. Heck says:

    There, is a way to do a Robin hood arrow shot, with the wooden arrows you are using. The problem with the shot you’re doing, is not the arrows. It’s the target. The target is too stiff. If the arrows penetrated the target by about half their length, then an arrow that passes through the end of another arrow, would only have to travel half of an arrow, before it enters the same hole that the first arrow created, thus making the hole bigger, and spreading the other arrow apart in such a way that it would remain intact.

  28. Devan says:

    Alright i know for a fact that you can put one arrow through another arrow because today i got a brand new bow and was siteing it in and i shot my first arrow on bullseye and second shot BOOM right throgh the first arrow and it split and the second arrow stayed in the first and im going to keep those arrows and already took pictures for when im older im 13 and i took this shot for 15 yards away and it is not a lie

  29. Vincent Cate says:

    There should be a prize, say $10,000, for the best video “Busting Mythbusters” every year.

    If there were such a prize it would be worth my while to try to demo the arrow split. I would make some Robin Hood type arrows. Using laser sight on my crossbow I think I could split one, after enough tries. I would get the whole thing on slow motion digital camera and send in the video to try for the prize.

  30. mitchell says:

    this can be done as I have personally done this with a compound bow

  31. William Harper says:

    Yeah this can be done guys. I’ve got pictures actually of arrows I’ve done it with. However it is a compound bow, and they are carbon fiber. I’ve got a buddy that did this last Saturday and I actually got one in this Sunday. I’m not going to lie though it is still a feat of mainly luck as I’ve shot for almost 10 years now shooting compound bows and this was my first true Robin Hood.

  32. Jeff says:

    I also have done this a few times with both a crossbow and a compound using aluminum and carbon arrows.

  33. Toby Jo Fisher says:

    As a grandson of a Fletcher of old, I have seen this done to amuse neighbors and friends many times. Now I was told not to tell anyone the trick to this or risk a kick in the arse. Well my grandpas gone so I’ll let you know the secret. You make your arrows from black or even WHITE ASH. you would never make an arrow like this intending to reuse it. Cut 4-5 feet off the stump end of the ash tree then cut your preferred arrow length off the remaining tree. Cut perfectly parallel to the grain, which is easy as ash is so evenly grained. ASH trees are used to make adirondack style baskets and back packs. Not only will they split in half arrow length, they have killed many loggers from barber-chairing, splitting the tree perfectly up 50+ feet at times. You can literally split one of these arrows with your fingernail, if strong enough. Yet ash trees are used to deck ships due to it’s strength!

  34. Jay The Archer says:

    I know this is old but a rerun prompted me to check the site about this one. The split arrow is not a myth and in fact, the mythbusters CONFIRMED it, they just don’t realize they did. Its not at all about skill , its all about the arrow. You must have a straight grain arrow. Rare but not uncommom in high quality wooden arrows.It’s the exact same type of grain we look for in pool cue shafts.(My business) With a straight continous grain wooden arrow, it will “Always” split end to end when hit in rear and in the center. Mythbusters showed this over and over again, they just had the wrong grain, one the left the shaft before the end of the arrow. As an experienced archer, if asked to reproduce this, all I need to do is find the right arrow. Done. :)

  35. Tom says:

    I DID IT! last week i split a fiberglass arrow to the end. ha i know most wont beleive me and most of my friends didn’t either until they saw the arrow itself. they told me mythbusters said it was impossible so i looked this episode up and found this. mythbusters, you are wrong :D

  36. Krotiuz says:

    Just re-watched this episode, couldn’t help but notice in the arrow splitting test they had the nock in horizontal to the ground, but when you fire if from an arrow, it would be vertical, matching the line of the string. I only consider this important with the goat horn nock being in place, as this would allow the arrow to hit the horn square on if you hit perfectly in the nock (1 in a billion shot ahah). This would possibly push the bone into the arrow, and given a straight grain, the bone would be more likely to follow the grain as it’s not sharp enough to cut against the grain… So many if’s ahah

  37. Howard Laver says:

    It’s a bit sad but I have just seen the rerun of the Salami Rocket. Rather a bad bit of chemistry going on! What was the oxidant? Nitrous Oxide (N2O), Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) or Nitric Oxide (NO)or NOx which is a sort of mix of the last two. I suspect that it was the Nitrous oxide but they really got the formulae and nomenclature mixed up.

  38. weining says:

    I’m weining. I’m from Shaanxi Sunchase Precision Industry Co., Ltd. This cooperation is specialized in handing the export business of thecarbon Arrow shafts and componets . The straightness is inspected by laser automatic measuring instrument from USA. Our products are very good quality. I wishes to enter into business relation with you .

  39. Jarda says:

    Dear friends, the skill of splitting wooden arrow is only skill of precision. So the myth cannot be busted by someone, who is not proffesional archer.

    See this video. This person cas shoot 10 arrows in 2 seconds, while moving – and he still hits all targets. AND he split flying arrow by his arrow.


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