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Archer's paradox

Shooting a bow is simple. There are only three parts: the bow itself, the string and an arrow. You hold the bow in one hand, put the arrow to the string, pull and release. That's all.

But if you are ever seen or held a bow you know that the arrow will end up pointing a bit to the left (or right, depending on which side you are shooting from). There are two lines now: one following from the string and the middle point of the bow, the other parallel to the arrow. Which path will the arrow take?

Common sense says that the arrow would move in straight line towards where it's pointing. How could it go around the arrow? Basic physics suggest the other path. There is only force exerted through that path. But then it should go around the bow!

As always, science and hard facts beat the common sense. The arrow it will end up following the path suggested by physics!

So how does the arrow get around the bow? Well, arrows are not rigid, they have some flex that will bend them when the string start pushing them forward against the bow. The bent arrow will try to return back to it's original (straight) form bending the other way around. But such bending doesn't just settle back to the original state. Instead it will start wobbling back and forth.

The arrow will follow the path of the force. Not in straight line but first bending around the bow and then continuing to wobble it's way to the target.