While performing in the role of an archer in The Adventures of Robin Hood (starring Errol Flynn),Howard Hill made perhaps the most iconic bow-and-arrow shot in American film history: Robin Hood shooting his own arrow to split a competitor’s arrow already embedded in a distant target. In 2006, cast members of the Australian-American television series MythBusters were unable to replicate the end-to-end splitting of an arrow, so they concluded that Hill probably used a shaft made of bamboo, not wood, for the famous shot.
Byron Ferguson, a renowned bowhunter himself and a trick-shot expert, was able to perfectly split an arrow lengthwise using a modern laminated longbow, a shot that was filmed for the television special Extreme Marksmen and broadcast on the History Channel in 2008. Byron Ferguson, however, did not split a wooden arrow but telescoped a modern aluminum arrow into another. The aluminum and carbon-fiber arrow shafts used by modern archers are more consistent and straighter than wood arrows, making for more consistent shots. That makes Hill’s feat truly impressive since he used only cedar wood arrows. Hill had designed and used specially made aluminum shafts to hunt African elephants for his full-length color film Tembo (1951).
The splitting-the-arrow scene in The Adventures of Robin Hood is explained by Hollywood stuntman Buster Wiles in his 1988 book My Days With Errol Flynn. In it Wiles reveals that although Hill had split the end off of several arrows, he was unable to split the arrow exactly as scripted (from end-to-end). Finally, a specially constructed arrow with a large bladed head was used and shot at the target arrow along a concealed wire. Nevertheless, Hill’s accuracy was otherwise so precise that he routinely hit extremely small targets in both live and filmed demonstrations. – Wikipedia
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