Lars Andersen: a new level of… something

16 September, 2017

Is this guy still here? Apparently so. He has a new video out. Stop sending it to me. I got it already. Here, I’ll save you the bother:

^^ UPDATE 19th September: Lars appears to have taken his newest video private. Why? Your guess is as good as mine.

On purely face value, I like this. You know, I actually enjoy the stunts and his posing and dorky I’m-deadly-serious-about-this face after every move he lands. I love the idea that someone is doing this stuff. It’s good to fire the imagination. But unfortunately, he is persisting in the same self-aggrandising, historical-cherry-picking load of flimflam he gave us a couple of years ago. If it ain’t broke, I guess.

You can read what I wrote about his last viral video here, and, if you are really bored, feel free to scour the internet for many other takedowns and explanations.  It’s particularly tedious how he bangs on about disproving Hollywood archery myths, while perpetually quoting from films to prove his particular points. He seems to mix up Hollywood and, y’know, actual things that happened.

The biggest dodge of all is that all known major historical military victories involving archery involved massed ranks of archers; the artillery of their day, able to hold off enemies at distance, not close quarters. Battles were not won by the individual guy who shot faster than everyone else at short range with a low-poundage bow, or the guy who ran out of the way quickest. That’s his gig. Nobody else’s.

There’s plenty more utter bollocks in this new clip, which I will let you, the serious archery reader, have the joy of amusing yourself with. He’s got particularly good at bluntly stating the incredibly obvious as if it was some kind of samizdat wisdom, too.

Unfortunately, this isn’t offering anything radically new from the last film he made – in fact, it’s less spectacular, and consequently, so far doesn’t seem to have set the internet on fire like the last one did. The one thing Lars is really world-class at – developing viral content – seems to have eluded him this time.

Where Lars really screws the pooch in this one is when he twice uses a shot of Reo Wilde at full draw to aim a particularly pointless barb at ‘static’ target archers. He’s picked the wrong *ahem* target there. Reo Wilde will stand there all day and bang in ten after ten. And if he misses, he’ll accept it, learn from it, and take the next shot. If he wins, if he loses, he will accept the result. He won’t blame ‘so-called archery experts’. More to the point, he will go out there, in in front of a crowd, a worldwide TV audience, or quite probably just you if you asked him nicely  – and do it again and again and again, as he has done for decades.

There’s a reason you don’t see Lars on the many TV shows he must have been invited on after the success of his 2015 video. This is because he succeeds in pulling off his behind-closed-doors shots on the 5th take, or the 15th, or the 50th. He can’t catch an arrow on cue. If he could, he could easily earn a fortune all over the world. But he doesn’t. Because he can’t.

Because what Lars does isn’t ‘rediscovered’ archery of any kind. Ultimately, it’s TV magic, in the genre of trick shooting. Magicians have been doing things like this for years.  Although I wouldn’t call Lars a magician, either. Because real magicians do it in front of an audience night after night after night.  He’s just an entertainer. Hey, that’s great! I love being entertained.

Perhaps the most famous archery trick shot expert is Byron Ferguson, who you can find performing in front of a camera all over YouTube. He missed, frequently, and didn’t bolster his claims that what he did was some special ‘secret’.

Presumably I fall into the ‘so-called archery experts’ camp that Lars is so furious with. Actually, this is me just wearing my regular skeptical hat, as I think more people should do in an increasingly credulous age. He could point to my relatively tiny internet numbers and laugh. Knock yourself out, Lars.

I recently worked at the World Para Archery Championships in Beijing, where I had the privilege of seeing the world’s best para archers, and also seeing the stats, metrics and engagement of what World Archery are producing. The most popular piece of content by far was this video showing Canadian archer Kevin Evans and how he shoots with an assistive device. Evans, an archer before the accident that saw him lose an arm, is the stand-up guy to end them all.

It clearly fascinates people, and for good reason. It shows a man with a grave physical handicap saying: “I don’t care. I will make this happen.” It shows bravery and strength and bloody-mindedness in the face of adversity. It shows determination and grit and passion.

But most of all, it shows a man willing to stand up in front of his peers and perform, whatever the outcome of the shot, or the match, or the competition. To test himself and his character. That, for me is the essence of archery, and indeed all great sportspeople.

So have fun watching Lars jump around – and remember what archery is really good at ‘rediscovering’. 

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