“Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon might be better known for playing charades and rapping with Justin Timberlake than for his archery prowess, but Fallon recently showed he can hit bull’s-eyes with the Archery Assistant, an innovative device created by Sriram Bhimaraju, a California sixth-grader.
Oh—and Fallon made that shot blindfolded.
Bhimaraju appeared on “The Tonight Show” as part of “Fallonventions,” a segment in which children show Fallon their inventions.
“I love inventions, and I’m OK with kids,” Fallon said while introducing the segment, which also featured a Lego-sorting device and a remote-controlled tissue-delivery system called the Sneezy Car.
Fallon wasn’t the first adult impressed by the Archery Assistant. The device made Bhimaraju a 2018 Finalist in the 3M Young Scientist Challenge. Bhimaraju likes archery and science, and developed the Archery Assistant to solve problems he saw on the range.
Bhimaraju said many ranges let archers practice for free, but they offer no coaching. Proximity and cost also limit coaching availability. He explained that if archers are to benefit from feedback during practice, they must receive it in real time and as an exact science.
Bhimaraju also thinks his coaching aid might make archery more accessible. “Archery for the blind is becoming a Paralympic sport in 2020, and such feedback spoken aloud would immensely help blind archers,” he said.
Bhimaraju said that Hooke’s law — a law of physics — forms the device’s foundation. The Archery Assistant uses two flex sensors and a smartphone’s gyroscope and accelerometer to help archers finetune their aim and form. The young inventor also had to account for drag, wind speed, and the user’s height to find the optimal launch angle. (He clearly knows a thing or two about physics.)
Once he developed the Archery Assistant, Bhimaraju conducted extensive tests at various distances and wind conditions with a handmade paper bow. Although he also owns a quality recurve bow fitted with target-shooting accessories for tournament competition, he found he could be just as accurate with his handmade bow and the Archery Assistant.
Bhimaraju stressed the cost savings, but because the Archery Assistant isn’t allowed at tournaments and is impractical for bowhunting, you’ll still want to trick out your bow with accuracy-improving accessories.)
Does it work? Absolutely! Bhimaraju and the Archery Assistant wowed “The Tonight Show” audience when he made a perfect shot while blindfolded. The Archery Assistant provided audible feedback about his pull and the shot angle, and even told him when to shoot. The device worked so well that Fallon decided to try it. After a quick lesson from Bhimaraju about finger placement, Fallon donned a blindfold and made a great shot with help from the Archery Assistant.
As the segment ended, Fallon gave each young inventor $5,000 to continue their education, so we’ll probably see more from Bhimaraju.
If you want to improve your archery skills, you don’t need to understand Hooke’s law or build a device featuring artificial intelligence. Just visit your nearest archery shop or coach and start practicing.