Play competitive videogames long enough and you’ll eventually run into some yahoo who’s clearly using an aimbot to automatically line up perfect shots. It turns out you can cheat in real life, too. YouTuber Shane Wighton of Stuff Made Here has taken things to the next level with an IRL aimbot bow and arrow that can bullseye a LEGO man or moving target from about ten paces.
Inspired by his wife, who did archery growing up, Wighton (who did not) wanted to make an automatically aiming bow that would be able to compete at a meaningful level with a relatively accomplished human. Though bows have been around for centuries, they’re deceptively tough instruments to master, requiring a lot of strength, precision, and at least an intuitive understanding of physics and energy dispersal.
Wighton, who also brought us the basketball hoop that never lets you miss a shot, started out with some simple aiming software and a relatively basic arm-mounted robotic bow that moved on both its X and Y axis, along with a bowstring that automatically released upon pressing a button. Wighton puts it, though, it amounted to a “crappy, heavy bow.”
So Wighton used eight OptiTrack cameras placed around his workshop, which track the location of markers placed on the target and on the front of the bow and the grip. While the robot helped Wighton get a slightly better aim on stationary targets, he also repeatedly punched himself in the face from the force of the bowstring.
Wighton figured out that one of his biggest issues was using a recurve bow (the modern version of a standard bow) versus a compound bow (the mechanical 3-shaped bow the Crysis guy loves to use) which gives you greater mechanical accuracy. Immediately, Wighton’s aimbot seemed to agree more with the mechanical precision of a compound bow, easily hitting stationary targets. Wighton’s other issue came down to old fashioned physics: how to properly track a moving target’s arc and when to release an arrow so it connects. After weeks of working on his program’s code, Wighton had perfected his (robot’s) shot.
It’s a sight to see, as Wighton’s bow is mounted to his chest and tied up in all manner of cables. The machinery working the bow moves on each axis as it determines the perfect shot in mere milliseconds, allowing for an admirably consistent level of precision, and defeating Wighton’s wife in a casual competition.
Check out the video for a full breakdown of Wighton’s work.