This is Byron Ferguson. He is one of the best shooters of a longbow in the world today.

Mr. Ferguson is best known as the guy who can shoot arrows into objects that are quite tiny. Just look at the video below.

Mr Ferguson is able to hit an aspirin tablet mid-air. The video explains how difficult is it to do so. But what most people don't realize is that this is actually one of the easier tricks that can be done with a bow and arrow.

I'm not taking anything away from Mr Ferguson. Far from it, the fact that he can hit a target that small is already impressive by itself. But hitting a stationary target is actually more difficult than shooting at a falling target. To explain further, let's look at the physics,

Let's make this analysis a bit easier by assuming that the aspirin tablet is falling only under the influence of gravity. The arrow also does so when it is released.

Let's take a look at the arrow first.  Most longbows release the arrow at a speed of about 50 metres per second, so let's start with this value. Also, the acceleration due to gravity is 9.81 metres per second squared.

When the arrow was launched , the arrow would follow a curved path as it moves up and down vertically and travels horizontally. The aspirin also falls, but is moving only vertically. The question now is: How can he do this so easily?

This is actually a real-life application of the very popular hunter-monkey problems posed to physics students everywhere.  The problem asks where should a hunter aim at when trying to shoot a monkey that's  about to let of of the branch it is holding on to, so that the hunter shoots at the exact same moment that the monkey releases its grip.

What happens is that once the aspirin tablet is in the air, Mr Ferguson does not shoot immediately. Instead, he waits until it is at the peak of its motion. During this time, he tracks the tablet with the arrow so that the arrow will move straight to the tablet.

Once on the top, the tablet is temporarily stationary, similar to the target in the cannon video or the monkey just letting go of the branch. This is when the arrow is released. The arrow then starts moving towards the tablet, falling at the same acceleration, reaching the same vertical position when the arrow has travelled horizontally to reach the tablet. The two are at the same spot, and hence the arrow hits the tablet.

So, quite in an ironic fashion, a falling target is actually easier to hit than a stationary target! Mr Ferguson's feats in the first video was impressive, but his other feats not featured here have stationary targets. This means he must change his aim to hit the target, and not just track it. In other words, hitting a bull's-eye on a target is actually more difficult than hitting a falling target!

So if you would like to try this yourself, just work on your aim. Once you have enough practice, you should be able to hit a falling object consistently. Go have a shot at it!