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In the third book of The Hunger Games Trilogy, Mockingjay, Katniss is given a new bow designed specifically for her. The bow was created by Beetee, and the book hints that it has some special capabilities. It doesn't expand on what these capabilities are besides it humming or vibrating while active. What are this bow's abilities?

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From the look of the compound bow it might be a Diamond Infinite Edge bow...the little trailer on their website might be giving it away :) –  user13255 Mar 20 '13 at 18:03
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5 Answers 5

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The book is a little vague, but it appears the bow was designed to dramatically increase accuracy. This is made evident when Katniss first uses the bow in combat to shot down the hover craft. Here, Katniss remarks to the reader that she is firing MUCH farther then her old bows would have allowed, and her shots are accurate (which would not be possible with a normal bow due to the physics of shooting an arrow long distances).

At first I thought the bow's special arrows used guidance mechanisms to keep the arrow on course. While this is a possibility, the fact that Katniss and Gale both missed their first shot implies that this is not the case.

I believe the more reasonable ability would be to compensate for the natural shake of the person wielding the bow. As you probably know, humans can not hold very still. This slight movement caused by blood moving though the veins, muscle shudder, balance correction, and even breathing (if the shooter isn't holding their breath) is imperceptible to most humans, but when projected out a few hundred, becomes quite noticeable. To alleviate this, the bow would detect the slight shake, then produce a counter shake which would result in the bow not moving.

To recap, the bow probably counters user shake and the arrows may be smart (correcting course in flight).

Update for previous comment: Also note that when the bow is deactivated the humming/vibrating stops. I do not think the bow controlled when/if an arrow detonated. Returning to the shooting down of hovercraft, Katniss and Gale decided to start with the flame arrows first, because the fire arrows would be less dangerous if they missed their targets (and the arrows detonated on the buildings/people below).

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I was hoping for more 'Word-of-God' info.. but what you've described is basically a 'Smart' internal gyroscope.. given what she does (and does not do) with it, it looks like the best answer. The bounty is yours. :) –  KHW Feb 27 '12 at 21:14
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According to this post on the Hunger Games wiki it seems that Katniss' bow in the final book is not necessarily a space-age bow. The post does not mention what materials the bow is made of, nor (to my recollection) does the book.

In Mockingjay, Katniss is given a special, military-grade bow for the rebellion in District 13. It is highly advanced, specifically crafted to fit Katniss, and uses explosive and incendiary arrows alongside regular ones. Beetee designed it to look showy on the outside, but used the inside to make it a deadly weapon, disguised as a sleek bow.

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"To deactivate the bow’s special properties, I need only tell it “Good night.” Then it goes to sleep until the sound of my voice wakes it again." -- that's the part that bugs me with this; it seems to have SOME function that can be turned off.. but what is that function? The closest I can find is that it may enhance her aim, and she might be able to deactivate specialty arrows with it by remote, but that's only vaguely suggested. –  KHW Feb 24 '12 at 23:00
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It does itch a little, the fact that it was never quite explained. But then neither were a lot of the technical things in the book. Like how the gifts appeared so suddenly, or for that matter the hovercrafts. I think it was intentionally left to the reader's imagination. Too many scifi stories try to explain so much of the How that it detracts from the actual story. –  Spencer Williams Feb 26 '12 at 7:32
    
@SpencerWilliams: To a degree, isn't that the point of scifi though? Otherwise it's a brand of fantasy with tech in place of magic. –  RCIX Apr 30 '12 at 20:45
    
@RCIX, that is exactly what scifi is. Even if it explains the tech. The difference between fantasy and science fiction isn't what the reader knows/believes, it's what the characters know/believe. C.f. Pern. –  Martha Apr 30 '12 at 23:22
    
@Martha: I've always objected to the categorization of scifi with fantasy, because that's a small but important difference IMO. Most good scifi stories I've read do one of two things. A: they explain their tech out to the degree where one can at least believe it's possible, or B: they make the tech seem plausible even though it may break laws of physics. Otherwise, there's no functional difference from a fantasy story and why am I even reading it? –  RCIX May 1 '12 at 2:13
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Given the tech level in District 13, I'd guess it's a combination of several things. She mentioned being able to shoot extremely accurately at 100 meters or so, which gives me the idea that the bow is able, possibly with the help of the arrow's tech, to compensate for any movement of the archer, as well as variations in the environment. Missing the first couple of shots wouldn't be too surprising if she and Gale didn't have much time to practice with their bows, especially in outdoor environments. After the bow "learned" the archer, as well as the flight of the first arrow, the accuracy would have improved. This is, of course, just a guess. I haven't quite made it through the first third of the book yet.

Since anything electronic uses power, it would be useful to have an "off" switch. While the bow is off, it could be charging with the help of the archer's movement, or some other method. The arrows would be more complex -- and simpler -- in that they'd have the mechanisms for correcting their flight path, but wouldn't need recharging so much, being nominally 'single use'.

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I think the bow can be deactivated more so others do not know that the bow is more then just show. I do not think the bow compensates for environment variables since there is no mention of sensors (Katniss does a pretty good job describing it) and environmental variables would be better dealt with by the archer (like wind blowing the trees). As I remember Katniss and Gale both practice with their new bows before the assignment, but they also specifically mention the need for caution on their first couple of field shots due to the longer range and moving targets. –  Trisped Apr 30 '12 at 20:51
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To me it seems the bow humming and vibrations would be motors and servos working to move cams (assuming its a compound bow) and put tension on the bowstring to move dense limbs (maybe a carbon steel alloy) closer and the motors keep the string on tension thus less work on its user so more accurate shot, coupled with a scope (maybe a 4x15 power scope), lasers, and archery stabilizers would help the shooter stay on target. As for distance well the dense alloy resistant to bending would be very ridged giving the power she needs to get the distance. Her first shot being a miss is because the motors and servos had not warmed up AND she may have had a tough time pulling the string with out the motors help.

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I'm guessing it is a guidance enhancer: she hit her target much more often after she got that bow. Also, it had explosive and incendiary arrows, so maybe the bow activates them from a distance.

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or i could also incress the speed of the bow –  cato Oct 27 '12 at 20:34
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