So You Want To Be Hawkeye

So you want to be Hawkeye. You want to take a bow and arrows and fight crime. Fair enough. But is it really possible? And if it’s possible, can you afford it? Being Hawkeye might not be as expensive as being Batman or Iron Man, but it’s not cheap.

Let’s assume you have the fitness, physical health, freakish eyesight, and incredible archery skills you need to be Hawkeye. Now, let’s look at the equipment.

The best arrow shafts are made of carbon fiber. Since your life will be on the line, use the best. They will cost you at least $90 per dozen. In Avengers, Hawkeye loosed a good sixty shafts, so that would have cost about $450.

These are just the shafts. Arrowheads cost extra: there are several types you will find useful.

Start with the blunt arrowhead. These have been recorded since the Medieval Ages. These heads can look like a bullet casing ($11 each) or a large surface area blunt head ($7 each). These can stop a criminal, but is not going to do so without damage. Still, some of them will help. A dozen heads is $84.

I will make one change here to reduce the possibilities of skull fractures: wrap the head in a gel pack, sand, or similar material to disperse the impact. Gel pack material is $20.

The main heads you’ll need are barbed hunting arrowheads. These vary widely in design. Some have blades which extend when they hit the target. Some are solid blades, others have voided blades to lighten the head. Different heads have two, three, or four blades. Prices range from about $2.50 to $15 each.

Let’s take a middle range and say $7 a head. You’ll probably need a continuing supply of these but we’ll start with fifty. That’s about $350.

There’s a useful head that you can’t buy but was used for years by the US Navy. However, if you really want one you can make it yourself. It’s a test tube with a stopper. The arrow shaft goes through the stopper but doesn’t break the seal and the test tube has a color die in it. It’s for marking icebergs.

I don’t think the design is strong enough for Hawkeye, but the idea of putting a die on criminals or cars so they can be identified later might be useful. As Hawkeye, you’ll need something like a bank’s exploding dye pack. Unfortunately, these are not commercially available. You’ll either have to buy some illegally (not a great start to your superhero career) or invent your own. Basically, all you need is a plastic container for concentrated dye and an impact-activated charge to spray it all over your target.

Which almost brings us to the trick arrows. The costs of this are hard to establish because, basically, you’re asking the price for something that doesn’t exist. Costs of testing is hard to estimate but we’ll assume everything works right the first time (like that ever happens). There’s just some other things to buy first.

You’ll need a bow. Bows are described as being “so many pounds.” That measurement is how many pounds of force it takes to draw the bowstring back. They never tell us how many pounds Hawkeye’s bow is, but from the range it has it could easily be 200 pounds. Since Hawkeye doesn’t normally use a glove on the hand he uses to draw back the string, though, 200 pounds is unlikely. Just another case of comic books and movies defying physics. If you want a glove it would be about $30. An arm guard (so the string doesn’t cut your skin when you loose an arrow) is only $5.

Hawkeye’s bow in the comics is drawn as a wooden simple or (more usually) a recurved bow. In the movies he has a recurved bow which folds and can be snapped into a ready position already strung. That’s remarkable engineering and a lot of archers would buy it. But it seems to be a carbon fiber recurved bow so in real life we’d expect 70-80 pounds draw absolute maximum.

If you buy a 70-80 pound carbon compound bow you get the advantage that the weight of the pull increases and then reduces. In other words, at full stretch, the bow’s easier to hold, making for greater accuracy. The price for that is anywhere between $300 and $600 depending on how top of the line you want. Life on the line, I’d say try them and pick the one that suits you but I assume it will be $600. The strings are expensive, too, like $150.

You still need a quiver. It sounds like a pretty ordinary choice but it’s one of the more complicated parts. You need to figure our how many arrows you need in going out on a mission. In comic books and the Avengers movie, Hawkeye carries a lot. Not as many as Green Arrow after his Bronze Age reboot but, seriously, how much does GA’s quiver weigh?

I think we can skip any of the hip quivers. They may work with target practice, but I doubt they are suitable when you have to get involved in hand-to-hand combat. Incidentally, the first superhero archer with a back quiver was Green Arrow. Hawkeye normally has a back quiver. Until the movie it was round but in the movie it’s an oval.

So we have a back quiver. What happens if you fall on it? Remember the test tube dye arrow of the US Navy? If you fall on your back with that in your quiver, it’s likely to break. That may be bad, but do you want your blast arrows going off at the wrong time? If you do a roll, will the arrows fall out?

Basically, you need a quiver which holds all the arrows in position, is reinforced and flattened to let you roll. So you will need a custom designed and built quiver. It can be made of leather and may do best with a pouch on it like some have. Without the reinforcement and restraints for the arrows it would be under $50. With the extra bits, maybe about $200.

You also need a quiver that attaches to your bow. You can hold five additional arrows to your bow. I suggest you put your most dangerous arrows here. You’ll be much less likely to set them off by accident. You also are less likely to pull out one when you want something else, or pull out something else when you want one.

This overcomes a problem with Hawkeye in the comics. How does he know where the arrows are? If you put arrows in your quiver you’ll tend to pick arrows from the lower side of the quiver. As arrows are drawn out, gravity pulls new arrows into the space. So there’s no way, without the complex system in the movie, that Hawkeye could quickly find the arrow he wants.

That just leaves the trick arrows and some just won’t work. A sonic arrow, which emits a high-pitched whistle which disorients opponents, will not work. The boomerang arrow, which is an arrow with a boomerang for the head or more recently an aerodynamic sleeve, won’t come back.

In the Avengers movie, Hawkeye uploads a virus to the SHIELD hellicarrier. The arrow has prongs that fits straight into the socket on the console and releases two side plugs (no simple USB plug, here). No one in the universe could loose an arrow that accurately. Arrows both spin and wobble as they fly, so while you might get point accuracy (in fact, as Hawkeye, you should) you cannot put one side up.

Basically you only need trick arrows that help in fighting and capturing the bad guys. You can review that if they ever come up with robots, aliens, or really good supervillains. Basically, you are looking to blind, disorient, or subdue bad guys, to cause property damage, and maybe (just maybe) make a quick getaway or to get a good initial position.

Let’s start with disorienting. You can get the parts for a taser, or buy a taser and modify it. They have tasers small enough to fit onto a keychain, that should be small enough to fit onto an arrow shaft. Those stun arrows will cost about $100 per head.

The main things are to have metal prongs to provide shock to your target and the arrow needs to be impact-triggered. Basically the force of impact has to push two plates together, which completes the circuit, and has to maintain that circuit (and hence stunning charge) long enough to flatten your opponent. You will pretty well always need two or three of these in your quiver.

For groups you need a tear gas arrow. Probably you need chloroacetophenone or CN. This is a major component of mace but is not so hard to deliver. You can buy 6-oz canisters of the stuff for $20. Either you have to put on the lock and send an already live canister off or you have to come up with some kind of impact device.

Rioters tend to pick up sprays and throw them back. Bursting devices will have the whole of the contents come out at once and that can cause actual damage to people. Given problems you probably only need one of these arrows and it’s only $20 for a 6 oz supply.

Then there’s regular smoke bombs. Comic books normally show these as exploding into a vast cloud. In reality they pour out smoke over time which gathers into a cloud or more likely gets dispersed on a breeze. The idea of completely blinding someone is basically a fiction.

If you want a smoke arrow, you will need to attach a smoke grenade to the head of an arrow. Smoke grenades are measured by the volume of smoke they produce, and usually range from 20,000 to 70,000 cubic feet. The grenades for this range from about 1.5×4” to 2.5×5” and the prices range from about $15 to $25 each.

If you use the larger grenade then, like the tear gas arrow, accuracy is just slightly out the window and looking down. You also have to get a “cool burn” grenade to avoid accidentally setting things (and people) on fire. Like a tear-gas arrow, you will either have to set off the grenade before you loose the arrow or you have to have an impact trigger. It’s up to you but you shouldn’t need more than two at a time.

Subduing basically means knocking them out, knocking them down, or tying them up. We’ve covered knockouts with blunt arrowheads.

Hawkeye uses a bolo arrow to wrap up legs and make people trip. The problem with the arrow is the bolo is going 90 degrees in the wrong direction. They rotate vertically rather than horizontally. But we have a possible workaround.

There’s a head called the judo point head. Basically, when the arrow hits the target (or misses and hits a random stump) the springs snap four little grip hooks forward. We’re going to make a larger version with more powerful springs. Since they cost about $15 each we’ll unreasonably assume the same cost to make them. The arms will have strings of velcro the length of the shaft of the arrow with a weight at the end. When the arrow hits, the velcro flies around and wraps around the nearest object being the legs or chest and arms of the bad guy. The velcro should cost about $100.

This arrow just makes the odds in a fight go your way. So two or three of these at a time are necessary. I don’t suggest they are for climbing tall buildings, they are for making certain you can get to the fire escape, from the top of the fire escape to the roof of a building, or just up one or two stories.

For the movie, several forms of grapple hook were designed. But we have a problem with the size of the head on those arrows. It might not hold. It is hard to fit in the quiver. And rope, if it’s thick enough to be convenient to pack it becomes too thin to climb.

So the pack on the quiver will have to hold two collapsible grappling hooks which can each attach to a shaft held in reserve for it and rope for each other. They cost about $30 each, so $60 for two. The rope should be $10. I’m not sure if it will work, so you might want to ignore it.

Finally we come to the fun part, property damage. In other words, the blast arrow. The explosive has to be C4, which is very stable and also powerful, which is exactly what we want. Exploding C4 initiates a shock wave of over 26,000 feet per second. It takes a bit over a pound to destroy a truck.

A pound is way too much to put on the head of an arrow. It makes for short range and the whole is so unbalanced that as the head flies the shaft is pointing roughly upward. So if we reduce the explosive to six ounces less the amount for the detonator, you’ve still got lots of demolition power. It will wreck a car and still make a truck undrivable. It should also blast open most doors, though not fire doors. If you hit a fire door with it, the blast will come back at you.

You need a demolition or explosives license to buy C4. A user’s license is just $100. It takes an application and you’ve got to send your photo, and that makes it slightly more possible someone will find out your secret identity.

The detonator can be either impact (which is how Hawkeye does it) or remote control (which is how Green Arrow does it on Arrow to up the drama). No more than two at a time. They go in the bow quiver.

So, so far you’re up for the following.

Bow – $600.00

Extra bowstring – $150.00

Arrow shafts – $450.00

Blunt heads – $84.00

Gel pack – $10.00

Barbed heads – $350.00

Specialist quiver – $200.00

Stun arrow heads – $300.00

Tear gas head – $20.00

Smoke bombs – $50.00

Velcro heads – $115.00

Grappling hooks – $70.00

Explosives license – $100.00

C4 – not listed online

So it’s over $2500 for a bare-bones start, not including several items like a stand for your bow, a secret lair to store all this stuff and possibly fabrication equipment to make arrowheads (I’m assuming you don’t have an Avengers Mansion lying about), and a motorbike to get to and from the battle (sky cycles not having been invented) unless you think a car would be better.

I also haven’t budgeted for a costume. You can either do the comics version or the movie version.

I suggest something closer to the movie version, since kevlar might stop the bullets which will undoubtedly come your way. But the costume’s going to cost a lot…


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