The MythBusters The MythBusters

MythBusters Episode 152: Arrow Machine Gun

Premier Date: November 3, 2010

The ancient Greeks designed and built a fully-automatic weapon that fired arrows.


Based on fragments of design information from historical records, Adam and Jamie began to put together a period-appropriate weapon platform, using sprockets, a chain, and a hand crank as the heart of the reloading mechanism. After some preliminary tests in the M5 workshop, they took the prototype outside for further trials. Three criteria were chosen to evaluate its performance: range of at least 200 yards (183 m), rate of fire at least 5 rounds per minute, and enough accuracy to hit a human-sized target.

In the first field tests the weapon achieved a 230 yd (210 m) range but the mechanism repeatedly broke down, requiring further shop work. Adam and Jamie added wheels for maneuverability, as well as an angle finder to adjust the trajectory, and fine-tuned the reloading mechanism. They set up 5 targets at 90 yards (82 m) and brought in a professional archer, Brady Ellison, to provide a benchmark for comparison. Brady hit all of the targets in 2 minutes, using 11 arrows. After a few attempts and more tinkering, Adam and Jamie accomplished the feat with 15 arrows in 1 minute and 50 seconds. They classified the myth as plausible since they could find no records of this weapon actually being built and used in combat.

Driving while suffering from sleep deprivation (“tired”) is more dangerous than driving under the influence of alcohol (“tipsy”).


Grant designed courses to test both stop-and-go city driving with various distractions, and highway driving with long, monotonous stretches of road. For the “tipsy” test, Kari and Tory each took enough drinks to give them a blood alcohol content just beneath 0.08%, the legal limit in California. Kari made 7 mistakes in the city test, then veered out of her lane 104 times (58 seconds altogether) during the highway test. Tory’s made 2 mistakes in the city test and crossed the lines 4 times (1 second altogether) during the highway test.

Once they had both sobered up, they had to remain awake for 30 hours in the M7 workshop and they were not allowed caffeine or other stimulants during this time. The following morning, they drove both courses again. Kari had 6 mistakes on the city course and went out of the lines 210 times (332 seconds) on the highway course. Tory had 5 mistakes on the city course and went out the lines 110 times (77 seconds) on the highway course. Based on the general worsening of their performance after going without sleep, the Build Team declared the myth confirmed.