Shooting an Arrow-Mounted GoPro at Golden Gate JOAD

Archery is a great sport, but a challenge to make interesting on video, especially when using a super wide angle action camera such as a GoPro. Archers stand in the same place and do the same thing over and over again. Moving the camera is one way to make archery videos more dynamic. For the ultimate archery cam shot, I mounted a GoPro Hero3 Black on a custom, solid aluminum arrow. Then we shot it at Golden Gate JOAD using light draw weight bows, ranging from 16 to 24 pounds.

Shooting an arrow with a GoPro mounted on it is a challenge. A GoPro is very small and light for an HD video camera, but is really, really heavy as an arrow point. And mounting the camera to look back at the archer required the camera be offset from the arrow rather than centered. Because of the additional weight we took extra safety precautions:

First, I made a custom, solid aluminum arrow. It is normal for arrows to flex under acceleration, but regular tubular carbon and aluminum arrows are not built for the relatively enormous weight of a GoPro camera, and could snap in half as the bow string accelerates the arrow forward against the inertia of the camera, possibly sending the broken back half of the arrow through an archer’s hand. In fact, this highlights and important safety issue in archery. You need the right arrows for the draw weight of your bow, and the arrows need to be undamaged. Damaged arrows can break under acceleration. This is especially true for all-carbon arrows (carbon is brittle and fairly easy to damage) shot with high draw weight bows.

The second safety precaution we used was to shoot fairly light draw weight bows. That limited the flex of the arrow. Of course, it also limited the range of the arrow to about 18 meters, even at the maximum elevation. Safety first. We’ll work on distance second.

So, please do not attempt to shoot an arrow-mounted GoPro without expert supervision. In the meantime, we will improve our arrow-mounted GoPro set up so we can continue to find new ways to safely record interesting archery shots, and have fun with archery at Golden Gate JOAD 🙂