1. Gammer
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    Gammer Active Member

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    Strangling a person with bowstring

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Gammer, Oct 1, 2013.

    In my story, my character is an archer and she ends up in a situation where her bow is broken by the bad guy, she's knocked to the ground and the guy is about to get the macguffin she's been protecting. So I planned on having her, in desperation, sneak behind him and strangle him with her bowstring.

    Is that even possible though? Or is the string not strong enough to do any significant damage like that.

    She's using a Japanese style Yumi bow if that helps at all.

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Since bow strings have to be pretty durable, I'd imagine it would work for that purpose, just like fishing line, guitar/piano strings etc. It's just that strangling someone with string of any kind (using just the string) takes quite a lot of strength to have any more immediate effect unless you're using a garrote or something that has similar aids on it, but even then there's a good chance for your intended victim to fight back, especially if he's bigger/stronger/the better fighter. You need both hands to strangle someone like that and that means your victim could well get his hands into your eyes, fishhook you, choke you, or just beat the shit out of you and you could do little to defend yourself if he doesn't go out within seconds. Usually people who know how to fight don't bother just trying to claw the string from around their necks.

    If she could use a part of the bow to tighten it, kinda like a handmade, one-handed tourniquet, as an improv garrote, it would help. It would also help if she was about as strong/about the same size as the guy she's trying to kill. If I was her and had even one arrow handy (or better yet, a knife), I'd probably just snap it in half, sneack up on the guy, and stick the arrowhead into his eye/neck/throat or some such. Of course, the effectiveness of that also depends on the type of arrowhead: some lend themselves well for that kind of stuff, others... not so much. Picking up a rock and smashing in his skull from behind would also work well. That is, if she really can sneak up on him (it's pretty damn difficult to move without making a sound if there's anything like sand, gravel, twigs, fallen leaves etc. on the ground).
     
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  3. David K. Thomasson
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    David K. Thomasson Contributing Member

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    Sure. The Turks and Persians (among others) used to execute offenders using a bowstring. Carter Dickson wrote a novel called The Bowstring Murders.
     
  4. -oz
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    -oz Active Member

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    The string on a bow isn't like piano wire or fishing line. The string is actually just a long string 3-4 times the length of the bow, doubled back on itself. The ends are created into loops (eyes) and wrapped to prevent unraveling. The middle of the bow where the arrow is nocked (and where the bead is) is also wrapped (called whipping). Usually the in-between parts parallel to the arms of the bow are left as just the 3-4 parts of the large string, though sometimes they're whipped too. These are usually twisted so that the string is the right size and provides the right tension.

    To answer your question and get back on topic, yes, it would work quite well to garrote someone. It would not snap or break unless your enemy has a knife or something to cut the string with. T.Trian covered the fighting stuff well, and that's not in my experience anyway, I just fling arrows around.

    Hopefully this helps. Have fun!
     
  5. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's your story and your character - what's stopping your archer from inventing a new type of string or applying something she made earlier?
     
  6. DPVP
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    DPVP Active Member

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    to add to what others said earlier yes it would be strong enough too. the question is if the female character could get the leverage too.

    i am guessing she would have the strength too. the minimum hunting bow in most states is 45 lbs with an average between 50 and 60. however most war bows where double this or more. English long bows could have a draw up to 185 lbs it is estimated. this means the female character has to already be very strong if she is drawing a war bow.
     
  7. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    But even if she could draw the bow using a man's neck, the string is going to remain taught. It's not going to wrap around his throat at all. It would be like strangling someone with a stick, she might as well use the bow and not the string.

    However if she is any kind of archer at all, she can string and destring her bow at a moments notice. Why not destring the bow and garrot the guard with the string?

    Edit: Oops, didn't read all the OP. Yes it would work just fine.
     
  8. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Exactly, so if you want realism, hopefully she's not a tiny sack of bones. People who deal with violence on a regular basis quickly discover that while technique and skill matter a lot, strength plays a big part in fighting too and its influence on the outcome shouldn't be underestimated. In the early years of the UFC, the ones where they still didn't have weight limits, more skilled, smaller guys sometimes just were overpowered by stronger guys. A good example of this was Royce Gracie vs. Kimo Leopoldo. Royce was far more skilled, but so much weaker/smaller, that if Kimo hadn't had his ridiculous ponytail that Royce used to his advantage in the fight, the outcome might have been different. Also, Royce was supposed to have another fight the same evening, but his fight with Kimo had taken all his strength and in the end he had to throw in the towel before the next fight against Harold Howard simply due to exhaustion.
     
  9. BillC
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    BillC Member

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    Having done kyuudou (Japanese archery for which the yumi is used), I can tell you with certainty that the bowstring is tough as all get out. I would imagine you could not only garrotte someone with it, but probably slice into their trachea with a little bit more effort. Of course, you'd want to be wearing gloves lest you lose your own fingers. And the bowstring on a yumi itself is a bit rough too - I lost skin off my thumb on more than one occasion.
     
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  10. Robert_S
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    Robert_S Contributing Member

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    It'll work just fine. Just like a garrotte.
     
  11. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I've heard that strangling someone takes far longer than movies portray them to take. Since she's an archer, wouldn't she just grab her arrows and stick them into his back? It's far quicker and far safer - he's definitely gonna be badly hurt, esp if you go and stab the back of his neck. Whereas strangling - a lot can still go wrong and it's minutes before the guy would stop struggling.
     
  12. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    In RNC lights go out pretty quick, but I don't know about bowstrings either. Maybe the character doesn't want to leave a mess behind or has run out of arrows?
     
  13. EllBeEss
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    EllBeEss Contributing Member

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    If she felt compelled to act immediately, she'd go for whatever was directly on hand, a bowstring rather than fumbling for an arrow.
     
  14. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    The bowstring is the one that needs fumbling. The string is probably not entirely detached from the bow. Likely one end of the string is loose, and the other is still attached to the bow. To use the string, then, you'd need to hold onto the broken bit of bow (and hope the string doesn't break from the end of that) and then wrap your hand around the loose end of the string. That would take a little bit of time to loop it around your hand in such a secure way that you'd be able to exert the force you need to strangle someone without the string slipping from your grip.

    Whereas arrow. Why would you need to "fumble" with anything? You just grab it and stick it in. Like a knife.
     
  15. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    [​IMG]

    ~Alan Moore, Watchmen no.10
     
  16. EllBeEss
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    EllBeEss Contributing Member

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    what if she'd lost them or didn't know where they were? There's always the possibility that there isn't anything else directly hand.
     
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  17. Fitzroy Zeph
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    Fitzroy Zeph Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've not done archery but my daughter has and typically the string is detached from a conventional bow after each practice. They have loops on each end and could chock an elephant. The bow doesn't have to break to get the string off. Bow's are strong too, but look into "dry firing", the bow, if it has no arrow to absorb the energy during firing and is released without an arrow, can break the bow.
     
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  18. Duchess-Yukine-Suoh
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    Duchess-Yukine-Suoh Girl #21 Contributor

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    I'm an archer, and I would use my non-fired arrows and just stick them into someone before I would use my bow string.
     
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  19. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Even if we assume all her arrows have been lost, personally, I'd use the broken bow to strangle the guy. Imagine, much more power in strapping a thick length of wood (bows are made of wood right?) and press that a cross someone's jugular than to try and constrict with a string. I imagine even when the bow is broken in half, it should probably still be long enough to work as a choker.

    Basically, I guess I'm personally not keen on a bowstring - it's just *not* the first thing that comes to mind when you think "weapon".
     
  20. Dazen
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    Dazen Active Member

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    But maybe that could be a positive thing, as because you, like many others, don't think of it as being a "Weapon", then it could be an advantage, because it would be all the more shocking and effective when it is actually done. :)
     
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  21. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Just a quick side note: if she knows how to fight, why not just use the RNC which, if executed properly, requires less strength (and hence usually less time, around 3-5 seconds when done right) than strangling someone with string? Or knee or elbow the back of his head? That is, if she manages to sneak up on him. Also, if they're outside, it wouldn't be that far-fetched if she actually found a rock. Even a relatively small one would be enough if she has any skill in putting her bodyweight behind a blow.
     
  22. osu45d
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    osu45d Member

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    bow strings are about 3mm thick in my experience, my archery club spent alot of time discussing ways of killing someone with a bow in not traditional usage.

    if the bo broke the string would easily slide off as it is just the tension that holds the string in place. avter wrapping the string arounf your hands you could easily choke someone
     
  23. DrWhozit
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    DrWhozit Banned

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    Absolutely. Guerilla techniques use this only known as a garrote. A bow string would be ideal.
     
  24. Leigh Silvester
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    Leigh Silvester Member

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    From my archery experience I would say that a bow string is plenty strong enough.

    As a trained Health and Safety officer I would recommend that your protagonist wears gardening gloves or similar to protect their fingers. It is going to cause burns if they haven't wrapped the strings around their hands - and a chance of cuts and abrasions if they have.
     
  25. DrWhozit
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    DrWhozit Banned

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    A classic garrote has the wire or string wrapped around two sticks.
     
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