Lesson 6) Flight of the Arrow

Congratulations on successfully completing your midterm examinations. For those of you who have completed the practice O.W.L. exams that were available, I will be grading those and returning them as soon as possible. It takes time to grade those at the same standard the Ministry will be grading you in a short amount of time. However, our class cannot wait and we must press onward. Today, we will be covering more spells that will allow you to take advantage of different situations, particularly if you are distant from your target. Time is of the essence, so let us begin.


Before we can delve into the meat of the use and casting of the Arrow-Shooting Charm, it will first be beneficial to understand why this spell may have been created. We will briefly cover a history of the use of arrows, focusing on its use in archery, and then understand a little about why arrows fly the way they do. Archery is an artform that is almost impossible to trace to its roots. Some scholars believe the origins of archery date to as old as 50,000 years ago, others place its origins to be approximately 20,000 B.C.E. No matter where the origins have been placed, there have been three distinct moves in the history of archery: warfare, hunting, and competition.

The first move was its use in warfare. For a time, warriors were most respected for their ability to utilize a bow and arrow in order to strike down their opponents. Many of the cultures that have been covered in Ancient Studies, from Egypt, the Hittites, and even the Greeks and Romans, all used bows and arrows as weapons of warfare. One of the reasons for this is because it was difficult to use handheld weaponry to strike opponents as they rode past on chariots, an older method of travel that was common as a mode of transportation for both recreation and warfare. Therefore, the goal was to force the target to leave their chariot behind. To accomplish this, skilled archers would target the wheels of the chariot and attempt to cause the wheels to break off, making the chariot ineffective.

The second move, for hunting, is more self-explanatory. It is difficult to sneak up on prey when you have to get close to them, particularly when that prey can hear and smell better than the hunter. It is much easier to perch in a tree or to crouch in a bush from a distance and take down the target. It would also save the hunter from the risk of making noise that would scare off their target. It is much easier to keep a bowstring quiet than footsteps on unknown foliage.

Finally, we come to the competitive side of archery. This move is one that can be traced throughout the history of archery. One of the most popular archery competitions, and one of the ones most watched, is Olympic Archery. Below you can see examples of how competition archery looks.

Olympic Archery

The Arrow-Shooting Charm and Flight of the Arrow

Now that we know how arrows were used, we’re ready to look at casting the spell to use them as a form of attack. While the concentration and willpower needed still qualify as “moderate,” you will need to apply more than you did in our previous lesson, since it will be harder (comparatively) to conjure an arrow than it was to conjure a blindfold. However, more important than your ability to conjure it is your ability to make it hit your intended target.

When shooting an arrow out of a bow, archers must take two natural phenomena into account: the Archer’s Paradox and gravity. Because you will be conjuring arrows, you do not have to account for the Archer’s Paradox, which, simply stated, is when the bow gets in the way of the arrow’s flight. When fully drawn and released, the arrow will, instead, shoot off center, which requires the archer to aim further left or right than they intend the arrow to actually go due to the bow getting in the way. For right handed archers, that means that they would have to aim further left in order to get the arrow to hit center. Since it is not necessary to take this paradox into account for this spell, since there is no bow to get in the way of your shot, I will not go into much detail here, but encourage you to look into it a little more if you are interested.

What we do need to talk about is gravity. The nature of the Arrow-Shooting Charm creates an arrow that can only fly at a certain speed. You can apply more willpower to cause it to fly a little faster, but no matter how much willpower you apply, there is a limit to how fast your arrow will fly. Therefore, while your arrow flies, it will be subject to gravity. It will always, no matter what, be pulled downwards a certain amount depending on the distance you want the arrow to fly and how fast it gets there. To compensate for this gravitational pull, you must aim higher than you intend the arrow to actually hit. Mastering you spellcasting components (particularly willpower), which will affect how high you need to aim, will take practice.

Finally, we must quickly talk about the structure of the arrow. When you cast the spell, your concentration will allow you to customize your arrow to suit you; be warned, the more complex your arrow, the more concentration it will require. That said, there are several things that your arrow must have in order to be effective. First, it must have a thin, cylindrical shaft. The most common shaft is made of wood and this is the only type of shaft you will be able to make at this level. In future studies, you may find other types of materials that can be used. On one end of your shaft, you must have an arrowhead. This will be some kind of metal material shaped like a thin triangle. You want the point of the arrowhead to be sharp so it sticks into the target. Finally, on the other end of the arrow, opposite the arrowhead, will be three feathers equally spaced around the shaft. During flight, wind resistance will cause the arrow to fly astray by causing the arrow to wobble mid-air.The purpose of these feathers is to ensure that the arrow flies properly by creating drag resistance and balancing out the effects of the wind resistance that the arrow will experience as it flies and, ideally, help it hit the desired target.

The Oppugno Jinx 

Now that you all know the workings of an arrow, we need to cover another projectile spell. This one is different from the Arrow-Shooting Charm in that it requires the projectile to already exist, rather than conjuring them during the cast. The Oppugno Jinx can be used on a variety of targets: some people may choose to use them on rocks, others on jars, and others on conjured creatures. (potential clips from HP where Hermione uses the Oppugno Jinx) 

When using the Oppugno Jinx, the choice of intended target will drastically affect how difficult it is to successfully cast the spell. The reason for this difficulty comes from the willpower of the target. In previous lessons throughout your academic career in Defense Against the Dark Arts, we have discussed the importance of applying enough willpower to overcome the will of your target. This becomes even more important when casting the Oppugno Jinx, since you will be forcing your target to attack. Inanimate targets, which have no willpower, will be much easier to affect with the Oppugno Jinx than an animate creature with a will of its own; the only thing to account for is weight. For example, it will be more difficult to cast this spell on a sparrow than it would be to cast it on a book.  

The application of willpower also plays an important part in the difference between a creature that you find in the physical world and a creature you conjure for the purposes of casting this spell. A conjured creature naturally has less willpower; in fact, the will of the conjured creature is only a portion of the willpower you put into the spell. Therefore, be aware of how much willpower is applied, because how much will is pushed into the conjuration will determine the difficulty of casting this offensive spell.

Next, we must briefly discuss the type of spell that the Oppugno Jinx is. Back in Year One, we covered two different types of spells: static and dynamic. Static spells, as a quick reminder, are spells that only require concentration to be applied for the duration of casting the spell and, once the spell is cast, the concentration can be broken while dynamic spells require concentration to be held beyond the initial casting of the spell. For the most part, this concept has not been brought up much because, in this class, we are mostly casting static spells. You don’t need to hold your concentration once you have cast the Leg-Locker Curse or the Blasting Curse in order for those spells to be effective.

The Oppugno Jinx, though, is a dynamic spell. When you are casting, you must concentrate on the intended target (what you want to do the attacking) and what you want the aggressor to attack (what you want to attack). You must keep both of these clearly in your mind throughout the duration of the attack, not just the duration of the cast. If you break your concentration before the affected object or creature reaches your target, it will simply stop in midair; if it is an inanimate object, it will fall to the ground while an animate, living target will go back to what it was doing before you cast the spell on it. If you lose the concentration and are forced to cast the spell again, you will find that the target, if it is a small creature, will be more resistant to the spell, since it will now be aware of your intent and slightly more capable of resisting you. After class today you will find a way to practice both spells learned today out on the grounds.

Finally, we must cover the ethical implications of using the Oppugno Jinx on a living creature rather than a conjured creature. While conjured creatures can be created for the express purpose of being used by the Oppugno Jinx, therefore minimizing the ethical backlash of forcing them to attack, living creatures are much different. They have life, and by dominating the will of that creature to suit your own purposes, you also claim moral responsibility to ensure that that creature comes to no harm. Consider carefully what you will be sending the target to attack. If it has the potential to fight back, the creature you send may be harmed because of your desire. Would you be able to live with that, if (using the previous example) a real sparrow was killed because you sent it to attack?

As a last note, I have made the distinction of “small” creature. The creature, whatever it may be, must be a small one. You will find attempts to cast the spell on medium sized birds - like eagles, hawks, falcons, and vultures, - to be nearly impossible; if the creature has known magical abilities or has magical resistance or tolerance, it will actually be impossible.

Spell Blocks

Spell: Arrow-Shooting Charm
Incantation: Arcus (ARE-cuss)
Wand Movement: Pull your wand backward and then jab in the direction you want the arrow to fly
Concentration: Moderate
Willpower: Moderate 

Spell: The Oppugno Jinx
Incantation: Oppugno (oh-PUG-noh)
Wand Movement: A slash from left to right, followed by a circular motion, and end with a jab in the direction you want the aggressor(s) to go.
Concentration: Moderate to high
Willpower: Moderate to high

Now, just because you can use these spells does not always mean that you should. As always, you must consider the ethical implications of your spell use before casting any spells. With the coverage of the Oppugno Jinx complete, that brings us to the end of the spells portion of our term. Next class, we will begin coverage of some creature that require primarily offensive tactics in order to overcome. Be sure to have your wands with you - you will need them. Until then.

Papa hookuu aku

Defense Against the Dark Arts Year Five takes your education to a new level as we prepare for you O.W.L. examinations. We begin to cover offensive spell theory, covering concepts such as the structure of Combination Spellcasting, the technique and practice behind casting without the wand movement, spells that are most commonly cast offensively, and creatures that require offensive tactics in order to defend yourself against. We also will be covering more practical information that delves into the background of what we are learning. By the end of this term, you will be ready to sit your O.W.L. examinations. Enroll