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How To Properly Remove An Arrow: Crazy Things I Learned Researching Books

Remove An Arrow
Remove an Arrow

Have you been shot with an arrow? Don’t yank it out like you see in the movies!

OK, you probably haven’t been shot with an arrow… At least, I hope not. Unless maybe you’ve been practising with friends for the zombie apocalypse. If you are currently experiencing an arrow wound, skip forward a few paragraphs.

Who am I kidding? Go to the emergency room!

But the point remains that what you see on-screen is for dramatic effect rather than accuracy. Even if the person is dead and you are only retrieving the arrow for re-use, yanking it out of a corpse is likely to give you nothing more than a stick with pretty feathers on one end.

The definitive source of information on arrow wounds is the notes of one Dr Bill who lived during the American Civil War, and I came across it after I shot one of my characters with an arrow and then realised I had no idea how life-threatening the wound was.

Interestingly, arrow wounds could be more dangerous than gunshot wounds, largely because a gunshot was more likely to pass through the body, and even if it didn’t, the shot could be safely left in the body to be encased in bone or tissue. Arrow heads, on the other hand, are sharp and continue to injure and inflame the tissue around them – ultimately resulting in infection and death. As you might imagine, removing the head was therefore vital.

So why can’t you just yank it out?

Arrow-heads were secured to the shaft using gut, which would begin to loosen when it got wet – such as from your blood soaking into it. This meant that yanking on the shaft was likely to rip the head free and leave it in the body. Once detached from the shaft, locating and removing the head was much harder and caused more trauma to the wounded.

A shaft could, however, be carefully ‘twirled’ to determine if the head was lodged in bone. Alternatively, the doctor could enlarge the wound and use a finger to follow the shaft to the head to check if it was stuck. Ugh. Pass the whisky.

on_the_hunt_stock_photo_by_luda_stock-d8cb5bu

If the head was not trapped in bone, the arrow could be safely pulled free after enlarging the wound. But what if it was lodged? In this case, a larger incision was required, and much force would be applied to pull it free. A loop of wire could be used to apply traction, alternatively the esteemed Dr Bill used dental forceps, and later forceps of his own design. The force required to pull the head free was so great that in one instance Dr Bill reported bending the forceps, and in another that he would have fallen to the ground if someone hadn’t caught him.

An additional worry was that arrows that struck close to the bone might have their tip bent into a ‘fish-hook’ shape. Such arrows couldn’t be safely drawn from the body without additional precaution. The tip always needed to be checked, and if it was bent, it first needed to be pushed deeper into the body to pull the bent tip free, and then the doctor must cover the tip with his finger as he pulled it out to ensure it didn’t snag anew.

So if you are shot by an arrow, what are your chances of survival?

Ask your doctor! Go now!

But for a man wounded by arrows pre-modern medicine, the answers vary. To start with, it was unusual for a wounded man to have only one arrow wound, given that an experienced archer could shoot six arrows or more a minute. Dr Bill reported an extreme case of three men with a total of 42 arrow wounds amongst them. I’m guessing they all died… And I’m not sure the experience of having that many arrows removed, without anaesthetic, would be preferable to a quick death either…. So the more arrows you have stuck in you, the worse your chances.

Injuries to the chest were most common, with large numbers of fatalities associated with lung punctures. If there was no lung involvement, the wounded had a good chance of survival. Nearly all wounds to the abdomen were fatal owing to the risk of blood vessel and intestinal damage. It was fairly typical for a gut wound of any kind to pretty much be the end of you, owing to all the icky stuff in your bowels and intestines encouraging all kinds of infection, and there being no protection to the abdomen from ribs or other bones.

Remove An Arrow

Wounds to arms and legs were more likely to have the arrow pass clean through, in which case the majority would heal within a week with minimal complications. Sounds like your best outcome to me. Wounds to the head were rarely fatal unless it was a shot to the eye as an arrow would not generally penetrate the skull except at extreme close range. Uh… but please don’t take this as encouragement to go around aiming bows at people’s skulls!

If you like what you read, and are so inclined, show your support by leaving a comment. If you’d like to sample more of my writing, check out the free short stories available on this site, or subscribe to the newsletter to receive my novella, Confronting the Demon, and short story, A Magical Melody, free.

Monday Morsel: A Wizard’s Folly – An Excerpt from Stalking the Demon


 Above, visible through the glass set in the dome, the sky lit with sudden purple thunder. Could a sound be purple? And yet the entire sky flashed a deep violet as a soundless impact rocked the citadel. The floor tilted beneath their feet, spilling the councillors to the floor in a smattering of indignant shouts and yells.

Alloran grabbed at the council table for support. Another jolt of the earth beneath his feet instead smacked his head hard against the carved timber. Dazed and clutching at his forehead, another huge shaking of the ground sent him staggering across the floor towards a row of seats. He crashed into them and collapsed, clinging to the timber with his one hand. As his fingers closed around the polished length, parts of it simply ceased to exist, and his momentum carried him backwards into the marble tier. His head cracked against stone.

The room swam before his eyes, dividing into two sets of images in which sword wizards and sorceresses whirled and danced in a desperate attempt to stay on their feet. Harlden screamed somewhere in the background, the words incomprehensible through the ringing in Alloran’s ears. The constant shaking of the citadel vibrated him across the floor, and Harlden crawled on all fours.


Behind the lord wizard, a lean black shape sprang from the hell-gate. A sword wizard knelt nearby, his hands braced with flat palms against the marble floor. Before he even had time to reach for a weapon, the demon tore his throat out. Blood sprayed across the white marble.



Thanks for dropping by! Don’t forget, this draft is pre-edits and as such won’t be perfect. If you like what you read, and are so inclined, show your support by leaving a comment. Stalking the Demon is expected to be released late August. If you’d like to sample more of my writing, check out the free short stories available on this site.


If this is your first visit to Monday Morsels, find others in the series by clicking on the ‘Monday morsel’ tag, or go to the first installment for Stalking the Demon.

More about Stalking the Demon:


Alloran lost his hand to thwart his renegade friend–but the world is still going to hell.


Six months after Ladanyon’s defeat, Gisayne is fading away from a baffling illness. Alloran is desperate for a cure, but he has a secret–the seven circles of hell are unstable. His worst fear is that the terrible mirror spell cast upon Gisayne has wrought some connection between her and the demon dimensions.


As everything Alloran loves races toward destruction, he does the unthinkable and refuses to obey the council of wizards. The only people who can help him are the two research assistants assigned by the council–but he knows he can’t trust them.


All the answers are locked away in the last place anyone wants to go: hell.


If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to check out my previous posts if you haven’t already. If you’re finding yourself here often, you might like to join as a member, sign up to the blog through RSS or email, or sign-up to my newsletter. Check out my July Newsletter if you missed it.



Don’t forget to share the love and spread the word on Twitter, Facebook or StumbleUpon (or other social networking site of your choice) if you know other people who might also enjoy this.


Thanks for stopping by and visiting!

Monday Morsel: The Warhammer – An Excerpt from ‘Stalking the Demon’


Welcome to the Monday Morsel feature. Previously I’ve shared short excerpts from the first draft of my adult epic fantasy/fantasy romance, In the Company of the Dead, but from now until its release, I’ll be sharing excerpts from my upcoming novella, Stalking the Demon. This sequel to Confronting the Demon will be the second installment in the Seven Circles of Hell Series.

* * *

Alloran stepped into the room, pushing the door shut behind him, and his gaze fell on the item in Dalvor’s hands; a warhammer.

He strode across and dragged the heavy hammer away from his assistant. The head glowed with the light of infinitesimal runes, predominantly indigo scattered with crimson and pale gold. ‘What do you think you are doing? No one is to work on this except me, or under my direct supervision!’


Dalvor recoiled and blinked up at him. Though the younger man possessed a wizard’s jade green eyes, he always looked like a mole emerging blinking into blazing sunlight. ‘I – I just wanted to study it. These spells, the interlocking runes, the – the way you’ve built layers of magic, hoping to – to find and exploit any weaknesses the hellcats might have is – is – is exquisite.’


The thud of the hammer hitting the surface of Alloran’s workbench cut off Dalvor’s stammering praise.


‘No one but me.’ He glared, enunciating each word with care.




Thanks for dropping by! Don’t forget, this is a first draft, and as such won’t be perfect. If you like what you read, and are so inclined, show your support by leaving a comment. Stalking the Demon is expected to be released in August. If you’d like to sample more of my writing, check out the free short stories available on this site.

If this is your first visit to Monday Morsels, find others in the series by clicking on the ‘Monday morsel’ tag, or go to the first installment for Stalking the Demon.

More about Stalking the Demon:


Alloran did everything within his power; he banished the demon and sealed the portal. But the world is still careening into hell.

Six months after the demon’s defeat, Gisayne is fading away from a baffling illness. Alloran is desperate for a cure, but he has a secret – the fabric of reality is collapsing, threatening to spill unrestrained demons into the world of Verusia. Is Ladanyon striking back at Alloran from the hell to which he was condemned, or is there a traitor among them?

The only people he can turn to for help deciphering the linked mysteries of Gisayne’s affliction and the collapse of the world are the two research assistants set to spy on him for the council of wizards – but he knows he can’t trust them.

Everything Alloran loves races toward destruction – and all the answers are locked away in hell.

If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to check out my previous posts if you haven’t already. If you’re finding yourself here often, you might like to join as a member, sign up to the blog through RSS or email, or sign-up to my newsletter. Check out my May Newsletter if you missed it.

Don’t forget to share the love and spread the word on Twitter, Facebook or StumbleUpon (or other social networking site of your choice) if you know other people who might also enjoy this.

Thanks for stopping by and visiting!

Monday Morsel: The Vanishings – An Excerpt from Stalking the Demon


Welcome to the Monday Morsel feature. Previously I’ve shared short excerpts from the first draft of my adult epic fantasy/fantasy romance, In the Company of the Dead, but from now until its release, I’ll be sharing excerpts from my upcoming novella, Stalking the Demon. This sequel to Confronting the Demon will be the second installment in the Seven Circles of Hell Series

* * * 

Harlden heaved a sigh, his expression slumping into glumness. ‘The king says this has been going on for two months, long enough, he insists to warrant my personal attention. I don’t know what he expects from me – if the lawkeepers can’t find anything, why should I?’

Alloran whipped back around to face Harlden. ‘They haven’t found anything? By which you mean – not even a single clue?’

‘Nothing. The best protected items vanished from locked and guarded strongrooms, in one case even the vault of the city bank. The same for the most important personages. No one saw or heard anything. They’ve found not even a footprint in a garden bed. To all appearances, everything just… vanished.’

Alloran wet his lips. Surely it wasn’t happening already… 



Thanks for dropping by! Don’t forget, this is a first draft, and as such won’t be perfect. If you like what you read, and are so inclined, show your support by leaving a comment. Stalking the Demon is expected to be released in August. If you’d like to sample more of my writing, check out the free short stories available on this site.

If this is your first visit to Monday Morsels, find others in the series by clicking on the ‘Monday morsel’ tag, or go to the first installment for Stalking the Demon.

More about Stalking the Demon:


Alloran did everything within his power; he banished the demon and sealed the portal. But the world is still careening into hell. 


Six months after Ladanyon’s defeat, Gisayne is fading away from a baffling illness. Alloran is desperate for a cure, but he has a secret – the fabric of reality is collapsing, threatening to spill unrestrained demons into the world of Verusia. Is Ladanyon striking back at Alloran from the hell to which he was condemned, or is there a traitor among them?

The only people he can turn to for help deciphering the linked mysteries of Gisayne’s affliction and the collapse of the world are the two research assistants set to spy on him for the council of wizards – but he knows he can’t trust them.

Everything Alloran loves races toward destruction – and all the answers are locked away in hell. 

If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to check out my previous posts if you haven’t already. If you’re finding yourself here often, you might like to join as a member, sign up to the blog through RSS or email, or sign-up to my newsletter. Check out my May Newsletter if you missed it.

Don’t forget to share the love and spread the word on Twitter, Facebook or StumbleUpon (or other social networking site of your choice) if you know other people who might also enjoy this.

Thanks for stopping by and visiting!

Monday Morsel: Who Killed Her – An Excerpt from In the Company of the Dead

Welcome to the Monday Morsel feature, where I share short excerpts from the first draft of my adult epic fantasy/fantasy romance, In the Company of the Dead

* * *

Lyram strode up to the tent boldly. ‘Report from Holbrook.’

‘His lordship’s sleeping.’ The speech of the guard on the left was more polished than that of the mercenary from the previous night.

Lyram shrugged and turned to go. ‘I’ll report to Luie, then.’

‘No, wait.’ The guard on the right stopped him with hand to the arm and ducked inside the tent.

Lyram waited, arms folded. Bradlin likely had tenuous control of the mercenaries, and his greatest need would be information. If reports came to him only via Luie, he must know the mercenary captain would withhold critical details. He’d wagered on that supposition to gain entry.

The guard reappeared. ‘You can go in. Leave your belt here.’

Lyram unbuckled his sword-belt and dropped it on the ground next to the tent canvas without comment. He ducked his head to enter.

The only light came from a brazier. A shadowed figure sat on a camp stool, rubbing at his eyes, and his mouth opening wide in a jaw-breaking yawn. Lyram clenched his teeth together at the sight. The man stretched.

‘Report, man.’ Bradlin’s voice, without a doubt, and he would know Lyram’s just as well.

Lyram stooped and drew a knife from his boot, and lunged cross the tent in the same fluid movement. Bradlin’s eyes widened as Lyram stepped into the circle of light. He seized the viscount by his hair, stretching his neck back until the tendons stood out. The knife point pricked the hollow of the other man’s throat.

‘Who killed her?’ Lyram kept his voice low. The guards might hear the hum of conversation, but it was imperative they did not hear the words.

‘What are you doing here?’ Bradin’s eyes rolled like a horse’s, trying to see Lyram crouched behind him. ‘How are you here? The gate is guarded, sentries along the wall – ’

Lyram jerked on his hair, and Bradlin cut off with a muffled grunt. ‘Who killed her? 



* * * 

Thanks for dropping by! Don’t forget, this is a first draft, and as such won’t be perfect. If you like what you read, and are so inclined, show your support by leaving a comment, and In the Company of the Dead will be available in the future. I’ve temporarily had to shelve it while I work on Stalking the Demon, the sequel to Confronting the Demon. If you’d like to sample more of my writing, check out the free short stories available on this site.

If this is your first visit to Monday Morsels, find others in the series by clicking on the ‘Monday morsel’ tag, or go to the first installment


More about In the Company of the Dead:


Lyram already crossed a prince – now he finds himself on the brink of crossing a god.

Son of a duke and second in line for the throne, Lyram is exiled to a lonely castle after assaulting the crown prince. When a hostile army arrives to besiege the castle, he believes the prince wants him removed – permanently.

As though answering their prayers, Ellaeva, the Battle Priestess of the death goddess, arrives unexpectedly. But she has not come to break the siege. Instead, she is in pursuit of a necromancer of the evil god of decay. When misfortune after misfortune befalls the beleaguered defenders, Lyram realises the necromancer is hidden within the walls, sabotaging the very defence.

Against the backdrop of clashing gods, Lyram must fight to save himself from the political machinations of his prince, and the dread plans of a necromancer. But as the siege lengthens, he realises the greatest threat may come from another quarter — a woman sworn body and soul to a god tempts him to pay a terrible price.

If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to check out my previous posts if you haven’t already. If you’re finding yourself here often, you might like to join as a member, sign up to the blog through RSS or email, or sign-up to my newsletter. Check out my May Newsletter if you missed it.

Don’t forget to share the love and spread the word on Twitter, Facebook or StumbleUpon (or other social networking site of your choice) if you know other people who might also enjoy this.

Thanks for stopping by and visiting!