After reading this question about the development of the Windlance and the "upgrading" of the Black Arrows to fit the drama of the movie, I began to wonder about the quality of the material the Arrow was made from.

The Wiki states

It is not known if it had any magical properties, but Bard said that he had successfully retrieved it every time he used it (like Beleg's arrow Dailir).

This insinuates some special qualities, along with the fact that an ordinary sized arrow is able to take out a full-sized Dragon. PJ even brings up that point in the commentary:

"...every time I thought about an arrow killing this bloody huge dragon, especially since Smaug became huge (which we'll talk about), but that means that since the dragon's big, that the arrow had to get big too."

So in the original works, did the Black Arrow have any extra special qualities to be able to bring down Smaug?

  • 1
    I don't think so. I think there was barely any emphasis on the arrow.
    – Pwassonne
    Mar 24, 2016 at 6:19
  • 4
    An good bowman from the Middle Ages would tell Jackson just how powerful and deadly and arrow can be. Size doesn't matter if your vitals are shot.
    – user46509
    Mar 24, 2016 at 9:10
  • 1
    Size always matters.
    – burcu
    Mar 24, 2016 at 9:13
  • 2
    @JanusBahsJacquet “I have always understood,” said Bilbo in a frightened squeak, “that dragons were softer underneath, especially in the region of the—er—chest; but doubtless one so fortified has thought of that.” The dragon stopped short in his boasting. “Your information is antiquated,” he snapped. “I am armoured above and below with iron scales and hard gems. No blade can pierce me.”
    – user46509
    Mar 24, 2016 at 11:51
  • 2
    He shot the dragon in the voonerables. Everyone knows that a dragon has a voonerable spot, even if hitting it is a one in a million event.
    – Valorum
    Mar 24, 2016 at 13:49

1 Answer 1


There's nothing particularly magical about the black arrow, but it was an inheritance from Bard's ancestors and (the head at least) may have ultimately been forged in Erebor. This is all we hear about it:

Now [Bard] shot with a great yew bow, till all his arrows but one were spent. The flames were near him. His companions were leaving him. He bent his bow for the last time. Suddenly out of the dark something fluttered to his shoulder. He started—but it was only an old thrush. Unafraid it perched by his ear and it brought him news. Marvelling he found he could understand its tongue, for he was of the race of Dale.

"Wait! Wait!" it said to him. "The moon is rising. Look for the hollow of the left breast as he flies and turns above you!" And while Bard paused in wonder it told him of tidings up in the Mountain and of all that it had heard. Then Bard drew his bow-string to his ear. The dragon was circling back, flying low, and as he came the moon rose above the eastern shore and silvered his great wings.

"Arrow!" said the bowman. "Black arrow! I have saved you to the last. You have never failed me and always I have recovered you. I had you from my father and he from of old. If ever you came from the forges of the true king under the Mountain, go now and speed well!"

The dragon swooped once more lower than ever, and as he turned and dived down his belly glittered white with sparkling fires of gems in the moon—but not in one place. The great bow twanged. The black arrow sped straight from the string, straight for the hollow by the left breast where the foreleg was flung wide. In it smote and vanished, barb, shaft and feather, so fierce was its flight. With a shriek that deafened men, felled trees and split stone, Smaug shot spouting into the air, turned over and crashed down from on high in ruin.

And that's about it. There are no magical qualities, just age (which is always a plus in Tolkien's works) and possible Dwarvish origin; and Bard seems to have been a particularly skillful archer, and to have known about Smaug's one weak spot, which happens to have been right over the heart.

  • 3
    Yet Bard's speech always gives me shivers down the spine. Mar 24, 2016 at 15:39
  • Agreed. Here's how it really went down. Mar 24, 2016 at 15:54
  • 2
    It's quite possible that the arrow just wounded Smaug, but THE FALL is what actually killed the dragon (or drowning, if you follow the cartoon version posted above). Mar 24, 2016 at 22:50

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.