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When Spider-Man web slings across town, the general procedure is shoot web, hold it, swing, airtime, repeat. For good grip, the end of the web line he's holding should be well below the center of his hand. The average length of a male's hand (measured from the tip of the middle finger to the wrist) is apparently 0.189 m, so we can reasonably assume that the distance from the web shooter nozzle on Spidey's wrist to the middle of his hand is half of this plus a centimeter or two, or about 0.1145 m.

Furthermore, we can approximate the exit velocity of Spider-Man's webs from the nozzle as about 24 m/s.

This means that as soon as he lets go of the webshooting trigger button (i.e. once he's ready to hold the web he has just slung), he has less than 0.00478 sec (4.78 ms) to lift his fingers from the iconic shooting position and then grasp the web in a rope-clenching position. For comparison, it takes a minimum of 100 ms to blink (according to the Harvard Database of Useful Biological Numbers).

Given that super speed isn't one of Spider-Man's abilities, how does he manage to firmly grasp his quickly moving webs as he's swinging around?

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    He doesn't have super-speed as we normally think of it, but he does have enhanced reflexes. I suppose an argument could be made that he has time to grab the webbing well when stationary, and that when swinging, he'd be moving forward and up when the web is starting to go down, allowing him to get a better grip. Also, there's his adhesive ability that let him stick to walls. It makes more sense than flying around by holding on to a strap on a hammer you twirl around and throw, in any case. – RDFozz Jul 13 '18 at 15:55
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    Delayed shut off action of the web shooter? Maybe It keeps going for a half second after he lifts his fingers off? – Virusbomb Jul 13 '18 at 15:55
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    I imagine it's either a delayed shutoff of the shooter as @Virusbomb said, or that he's able to nigh-instantaneously grip the web line along the heel of his hand with his clinging ability. – DaniellYancey Jul 13 '18 at 16:04
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    Hypothesis - when streaming a line, it may stay attached to the spinneret until he pulls it loose. The gesture to grab the line naturally brings the hand forward - as he flexes his hand back, the line is pulled from the end of the shooter. I may point Dan Slott to this one - it sounds like the kind of thing he's absolutely thought about. – VBartilucci Jul 13 '18 at 16:04
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    You use physics of our universe to understand physics of spiderman universe. This question is borderline off-topic. Besides, in some universes, spiderman uses a cartridge mechanism to shoot webs while in others the mechanism is developed due to the mutation. – C.Koca Jul 13 '18 at 16:16
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Assuming we're happy to look at the films as evidence, it would appear that a combination of practice, supernatural spider-reflexes and a delayed cut-off of the spinneret are what allow Spider-Man to grab his web lines before they split away from the web-shooters.

In short, the line remains attached to the shooter for a split-second after it's been ejected. This is apparently long enough for Spider-Man to get a hold on it.

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Homecoming

and

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Amazing Spider-Man


As to how he maintains a grip, that's addressed in the 2007 The Amazing Spider-man: The Ultimate Guide, in short his grip is selective and can't be broken. The book notes that short of the substance he's clinging to being physically pulled apart (or his body part being literally torn off), no force can separate him from whatever he's clung onto.

SWING AND CLING

Ever wonder why Spider-Man never loses his grip when he's web-swinging around the city? The answer is simple—he uses his clinging ability. He anchors himself to the web-line in his hand, and releases it the instant he reaches for the next one. In this manner, he can safely travel high above the city streets.

  • Can we tell whether grabbing it causes the spinneret to stop generating web and/or triggers it to release, rather than just holding on to it a bit longer? – Bobson Sep 5 '18 at 17:15
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    @Bobson - I'd assume that's not the case since you need to press a palm button to get it to fire. Presumably when you stop pressing, it stops firing – Valorum Sep 5 '18 at 17:16

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