♨ Man Sets Himself on Fire, Gets Shot From Crossbow ♨

When Brian Miser shouts "Fire!" at the launch of his human cannonball routine, he means it.

The 47-year-old star of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey's new show, "Fully Charged," has added a new twist to the circus classic: a blazing inferno.

Called the "Human Fuse," Miser launches himself from a giant homemade crossbow more than 100 feet through the air at 65 mph -- completely engulfed in flames.

The idea for the stunt was hatched after Ringling invited Miser, who's spent 14 years as a human cannonball and 16 prior to that as a trapeze artist, to develop some ideas for a new crossbow act.

"I said, 'What if I get shot on fire?'" Miser told AOL News. "They were sold on that."

He'd already brought fire to his human cannonball performance, but with the crossbow, the effect is enhanced because everything is exposed for the audience to see.

"He doesn't go inside a barrel and disappear and then suddenly you see him reappear in midair. You're actually seeing it somewhat demystified," said Nicole Feld, executive vice president of Feld Entertainment and producer for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey. "He ignites himself on fire and literally rockets himself across the arena. It's the ultimate in thrills."

Despite having no background in mechanics or physics, Miser designed and built the crossbow by himself, mainly by observing how other contraptions worked.

"If I needed some rigging made, I got tired of having somebody do it," he said. "I thought, 'I can do it.'"

And he did, aided by a lot of trial and -- fortunately -- very little error. During his first fling from the crossbow, his left hand hit a piece of steel on the end, breaking one finger and ripping open another.

"It was a design flaw," Miser said. "I had to go and change some things. There's no way you can safety it. You can't put a belt and harness on."

Come show time, he protects himself with 20 pounds of special gear, including a fireproof suit made of Carbonex, a hood, fire goggles and gloves. When ready -- with his heart pounding and muscles tightened -- he douses himself in fuel and lights up.

Then off he goes.

"I fly like Superman," Miser said, referring to the way he rotates through the air, flipping over as needed. "Sometimes you're under-turned, sometimes you're over-turned. But for me, I know how to fix it. I know what to do to land OK."

Of course there's also the fire to worry about. Once he's lit, he must hold his breath (for about 18 to 20 seconds) or the fire will burn his lungs.

"It's dangerous enough being shot from this thing I made, flying that far and fast and high -- putting fire on top of it doubles the danger," he said. "And it gets to the point where I'm worried about the fire, not the flight. It should be the other way around, because if I get hurt, it's going to be from the flight."

So far during this inaugural season as the Human Fuse, there haven't been any mishaps, though every audience tends to have a scare after his landing.

"When I get out of the [crash] bag and start walking over, it gets real quiet. They think something's wrong," Miser said. "I guess they think I should be extinguished as soon as I land. Then I get extinguished and they start roaring again."

He's even impressed his toughest critic -- himself.

"The first time I saw it on video, I was like, 'Whoa, that's cool!'" Miser said. "It's a proud moment for me. I'm the only one in the world to be lit on fire and fly through the air."

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