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Jack Keenan




Location: LAVEEN, AZ
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PostPosted: Wed 12 May, 2010 7:25 pm    Post subject: Mongol Arrows         Reply with quote

I read someplace that one of the many tricks of the Mongols was to fire arrows at the enemy that could not be fired back with the enemies bows. I gather that spent arrows were usually collected and reused. Is this true and if so how did they do it. Thanks
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Colt Reeves





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PostPosted: Wed 12 May, 2010 7:46 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I don't know for sure about the Mongol bows, but I'd suspect something along the lines of using short arrows that just barely fit their own recurved bows against enemies who use bigger bows and needed longer arrows. This is total guesswork on my part, and it would probably not be an intentional effort for the Mongols, but rather that's what they used and it just so happened that the enemy force lacked the right type of bows.

On a related subject that I know more about, I understand the Chinese had a lot of fun using crossbows against various "barbarians", who couldn't use the crossbow bolts in their bows and were said to be unable to keep a crossbow repaired and in working order while galloping all over the place as per their lifestyle.


Edited for spelling...
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Aleksei Sosnovski





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PostPosted: Wed 12 May, 2010 11:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here is Korean way to do it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7-d5CyOi58U
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Michael R. Black





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PostPosted: Thu 13 May, 2010 7:45 am    Post subject: flight arrows?         Reply with quote

I'm not an expert, and these are just guesses, so take with a grain of salt. I'm interested in the topic.

Guess #1: I believe they often used very light arrows-"flight arrows" to go incredibly long distances. I imagine these would be difficult to use for a person who did not have specific training for it, and a different type of bow. Say, a heavy flat bow or long bow?

Guess#2: I've read that Sioux warriors uses to attach their arrow heads using a sinew wrap that would come loose/break after penetration. This means the unfortunate recipient of the arrow would still have the point inside their body after the shaft had been tugged on to remove. An additional side effect would be a useless arrow for the enemy. Maybe Turkish archers did something similar?

Michael
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Ozsváth Árpád-István




Location: Romania
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PostPosted: Thu 13 May, 2010 8:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I can't remember well, but I read somewhere, or maybe I saw in a movie that one army used thinner strings on their bows and smaller nocks on the arrows. They could fire back the enemy's arrows with wider nocks, but for the enemy the arrow was useless, they simply won't fit on a thicker bowstring.
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Michael R. Black





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PostPosted: Thu 13 May, 2010 7:36 pm    Post subject: above post-correction         Reply with quote

Sorry-I meant to write Mongol, not Turkish. I think both used long distance flight style arrows though.
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Thu 13 May, 2010 8:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Just speculation but maybe the way the arrow head is attached to the arrow shaft can make a difference: A tanged arrow fitting in a hollow reed arrow shaft would break on impact and be unusable for return fire ?

Most European arrows used a socket and heavier arrow shafts.

Technically the stiffness of the arrow shaft, or spine, has to match the power of the bow for optimum use.

Too light an arrow will be hard to shoot properly and could even disintegrate or splinter in too heavy a bow.

Within a certain range one could still use a mismatches arrow/bow combination but aiming would be seriously compromised.

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Sun 16 May, 2010 5:16 am    Post subject: Re: Mongol Arrows         Reply with quote

Jack Keenan wrote:
I read someplace that one of the many tricks of the Mongols was to fire arrows at the enemy that could not be fired back with the enemies bows. I gather that spent arrows were usually collected and reused. Is this true and if so how did they do it. Thanks


Quite true. Aleksei's video shows one method that was likely used throughout Central Asia; folklore holds that the Turks (as in the Turkic peoples of the Steppes, not the modern-day Turks of Asia Minor) invented the arrow guide (which isn't all that different from a modern-day overdraw extension) and the very short arrows/darts that could only be shot from such guides precisely for the purpose of preventing the enemy from shooting back the darts--at least until the enemy wisened up and made arrow guides of their own.

Another method mentioned in medieval manuals is to use an arrow with a small razor-sharp blade fitted into the nock. This arrow would be launched using a special ring or cup mounted onto the string (so that the arrow wouldn't have to be directly nocked to the string). If an enemy picks the arrow up and tries to use it without a similar attachment, the blade in the nock would severely damage the string--not cutting it cleanly Hollywood-style, but wrecking the thick serving and probably cutting some strands of the twisted bowstring to the degree that the damaged string would have been dangerous to use. (Well, not exactly lethal, but the end of a broken string slapping against your face could raise a nasty welt or even make a small cut.)


Colt Reeves wrote:
I don't know for sure about the Mongol bows, but I'd suspect something along the lines of using short arrows that just barely fit their own recurved bows against enemies who use bigger bows and needed longer arrows. This is total guesswork on my part, and it would probably not be an intentional effort for the Mongols, but rather that's what they used and it just so happened that the enemy force lacked the right type of bows.


This probably wouldn't have applied to Mongols and other people from the eastern end of Central Asia, since the bows used there tend to be drawn fully to the ear or even to the drawing-hand nipple (the right-hand nipple for a right-handed archer who holds the bow in his left hand and the string in his right), which means that the common arrows had to be quite long. Even a relatively short Mongol herdsman could need a 30-inch arrow this way if he's just shooting for fun. A military archer of similar size would have needed a longer shaft since war arrows were traditionally made a little bit too long (sometimes up to four inches longer than the full draw) for safety's sake.


Quote:
On a related subject that I know more about, I understand the Chinese had a lot of fun using crossbows against various "barbarians", who couldn't use the crossbow bolts in their bows


This might have applied to Europeans, but Chinese crossbows often had long power strokes comparable to that of a hand bow and thus used similarly long "bolts." This was rather inefficient in terms of crossbow design since the tiller would interfere with the archer's paradox (and thus the bolt/arrow could lose a great deal of energy from slapping the tiller on its way out), but it made things easier when you had to enlist ordinary bowyers (not specialized crossbow-makers) to make the prods.


As for flight arrows . . . well, there were flight arrows, and there were flight arrows. What I mean is that there were hyper-specialized flight arrows made to be shot from similarly specialized flight bows, which were shorter and and more heavily stressed than common bows of similar weight. However, a military archer probably wouldn't have carried a fragile flight bow to war, so the flight arrows he had would have been designed for his heavier (in terms of mass) and slower but sturdier war bow. These arrows would have been lighter than the hard-hitting arrows he would have shot from close range but they would have been perfectly usable by enemy archers with similar bows to his own, so they probably didn't qualify as the "non-returnable arrows" being discussed here.
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Bennison N




Location: Auckland, New Zealand
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PostPosted: Mon 17 May, 2010 1:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I would suggest asking Peter Dekker at http://www.mandarinmansion.com/. If anyone knows it'll be him.

If I remember correctly, he participated in Archery Tournaments which involved traditional equipments and techniques. He was the Manchu, I think. There were Mongolians there, as I recall...

"Never give a sword to a man who can't dance" - Confucius

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Andreas Moitzi




Location: Austria, Judenburg/Graz
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PostPosted: Fri 11 Jun, 2010 4:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Does anybody know if there is a site/book with the exact details of those mongol arrows (glue, feathers, the wood of the shaft, and so on)? There has to be a archaeological find, but I can't find anything about arrows, only about bows. I want to try to rebuild some of them Happy
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Fri 11 Jun, 2010 7:38 am    Post subject: Re: Mongol Arrows         Reply with quote

Lafayette C Curtis wrote:
This might have applied to Europeans, but Chinese crossbows often had long power strokes comparable to that of a hand bow and thus used similarly long "bolts." This was rather inefficient in terms of crossbow design since the tiller would interfere with the archer's paradox (and thus the bolt/arrow could lose a great deal of energy from slapping the tiller on its way out), but it made things easier when you had to enlist ordinary bowyers (not specialized crossbow-makers) to make the prods.


Really? I suspect the efficiency gained from the longer power stroke would have more than make up for this. After all, modern hunting crossbows feature long power strokes. I also believe I've read that crossbowmen used lubrication to cut down on energy lost to friction in this manner.
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Sun 13 Jun, 2010 2:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Andreas Moitzi wrote:
Does anybody know if there is a site/book with the exact details of those mongol arrows (glue, feathers, the wood of the shaft, and so on)? There has to be a archaeological find, but I can't find anything about arrows, only about bows.


Go check the ATARN and its associated forum.


Benjamin H. Abbott wrote:
Really? I suspect the efficiency gained from the longer power stroke would have more than make up for this. After all, modern hunting crossbows feature long power strokes. I also believe I've read that crossbowmen used lubrication to cut down on energy lost to friction in this manner.


Modern hunting crossbows are built up differently from medieval European and traditional Chinese crossbows. In an old-style crossbow, even when the prod is set at an angle so that the string is not pressed tight against the tiller, the string still has to move around the nut and the bolt still has to curve around the prod much like an ordinary arrow in a hand bow. With a long (and thus flexible) bolt, this means it's going to oscillate as it leaves the crossbow and there's a good chance that parts of it might strike the tiller once or twice during the course of this oscillation. (In other words, the wasted energy goes more to impact than to simple friction). Europeans eventually circumvented this problem by designing crossbows with short draw strokes and short, stiff bolts at the cost of having to use much heavier prods. Or at least that's the theory as I understand it.

On the other hand, if you look at modern target bows, you'd see that they have a curve or cutout in the riser designed so that the arrow sits right on the centerline of the bow. Modern crossbows are designed similarly; the bolt passes through the center of the prod rather than curving around its edge. Combined with modern limb design (or even compound bow systems) and nuts that operate symmetrically like sophisticated compound archery release aids, this allows the modern crossbow to minimize the archer's paradox and its associated oscillation, and thus makes possible the use of relatively lighter prods in conjunction with long power strokes (and long bolts/arrows).

(Note that the centershot design isn't really unique to modern bows/crossbows--I think 16th- or 17th-century and later European pellet bows already had it. So did the Roman "manuballista" if the miniaturized ballista parts found some way back weren't just a practical joke on the part of some Roman engineers.)
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Sun 13 Jun, 2010 7:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Interesting theory. I had always wondered why European crossbows used such short power strokes. I'm still not sure I buy it, though. You would have be losing a tremendous amount of energy to the oscillation for that to be worthwhile. I also question why ancient Chinese crossbows, which employed magnificent bronze trigger mechanisms, would use a supposedly less efficient design. Is there any evidence that the European weapons were more powerful? The most glowing praise for Western crossbows comes from the Crusading era, a time when the weapon may have more like Chinese variety. (Spanned with little mechanical aid, possibly longer power stroke.) I would love to see detailed reconstructions of both European and Chinese crossbows to solve these questions.
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Sun 20 Jun, 2010 2:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Benjamin H. Abbott wrote:
Interesting theory. I had always wondered why European crossbows used such short power strokes. I'm still not sure I buy it, though.


It's not exactly my theory and I'm not married to it if I can find a better explanation.


Quote:
I also question why ancient Chinese crossbows, which employed magnificent bronze trigger mechanisms, would use a supposedly less efficient design.


There are a lot of possible reasons. One is mechanical: while European crossbows had long lever triggers that allowed the nut to be placed somewhere around the middle of a long tiller, the Chinese used a trigger-and-grip group more reminiscent of modern pistol grips and triggers (except that the trigger guard envelops the entire hand rather than just the index finger) down to the point that it's placed at the very end of a tiller. With this kind of placement, a short power stroke would also have required a short tiller, and that would have made a pretty awkward form factor for a crossbow. And then there's the logistical issue: the largest Chinese armies often had large numbers of both archers and crossbowmen, and there's a time-honored Chinese practice to make military arrows much longer than the archer's draw length (for safety's sake), so it would have simplified the logistics if the government could simply order one size of extra-long arrows for both crossbowmen and archers rather than having to get several sizes for archers of different draw lengths and a bunch of shorter bolts for the crossbowmen. In the end, it all boils down to different priorities. The demands the Chinese put upon their crossbows weren't the same as those the Europeans asked of theirs, so the optimal design to meet the Chinese demands ended up being different from the ones that worked best to fulfill the Europeans' requirements.

Another possible line of inquiry would be into the organization of the government-sponsored "guilds." The guild of bowyers' workshops may have had an interest in preventing crossbow designs from becoming too specialized (including shorter power strokes) because that way they could have lost custom to more specialized crossbow-makers. I don't know whether this conjecture has any merit or not, but the bowyers' guilds in China certainly had a pretty strong lobby for the government since the status of the bow as a weapon was much higher in traditional China than in medieval Europe.


Quote:
Is there any evidence that the European weapons were more powerful?


At the end of it all, yes--as long as we're talking about personal weapons. The Chinese were perfectly capable of building crossbows with draw weights of well over 1000 pounds, but their cutoff point between "personal weapon" and "siege engine" was apparently much lower than this. Maybe it's because a prod designed for a long draw stroke also had to be quite long in itself, which rapidly puts stronger Chinese crossbows out of the dimensions of a weapon that could be effectively handled by one man.


Quote:
The most glowing praise for Western crossbows comes from the Crusading era, a time when the weapon may have more like Chinese variety. (Spanned with little mechanical aid, possibly longer power stroke.) I would love to see detailed reconstructions of both European and Chinese crossbows to solve these questions.


I'm not that clear on when the Europeans began to use heavier, more compact prods in conjunction with short draw strokes, and it doesn't help that the wonky perspective in medieval iconography often makes it quite hard to judge the proportions of the crossbows depicted. But a cursory look through the Mac Bible illustrations here:

http://www.medievaltymes.com/courtyard/images...&b.gif

http://www.medievaltymes.com/courtyard/images...&b.gif

seem to show relatively long-stroke crossbows or at least transitional forms when the power stroke was only beginning to get shorter, drawn with the aid of a belt-hook. On the other hand, the Manesse Codex illustrations here:

http://diglit.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/diglit/cpg848/0454

http://diglit.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/diglit/cpg848/0505

http://diglit.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/diglit/cpg848/0397

http://diglit.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/diglit/cpg848/0334

seem to show crossbows with relatively short power strokes, so I suppose it wouldn't be inaccurate to say the process happened mostly in the 13th century--after the classic Third Crusade, perhaps, but certainly not before the end of the European venture into the Holy Land, so the Saracens and Turks probably saw a great deal of action against European infantry armed with the short-stroke crossbow. Not that it mattered much, since Middle Eastern crossbow technology was much more closely connected with the European system anyway--one thing I can say for sure about the museum photographs I've seen of Middle Eastern and Northern African crossbows is that they don't look like Chinese crossbows at all! (I'm pulling this all out of my posterior orifice because I can't reach the nearest copy of Payne-Gallwey from home. Let me see what I can get out of his book when I can get my hands on them.)

In any case, if you want to check out some reconstructions of Chinese crossbows, there are some pages on ATARN and ATARNet that might be useful to you:

http://198.170.107.188/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t...t=crossbow

http://198.170.107.188/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=17&start=0

http://198.170.107.188/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t...t=crossbow

http://www.atarn.org/chinese/bjng_xbow/bjng_xbow.htm

http://www.atarn.org/letters/ltr_dec00.htm

http://www.atarn.org/letters/ltr_feb99.htm

http://www.atarn.org/letters/ltr_nov99.htm


Interestingly, the primitive Southeast Asian crossbows that preceded the development of the classic Chinese weapon often have fairly short power strokes, with the string stuck into a notch set partway into a long tiller much in the same way as European crossbows:

http://www.atarn.org/chinese/yn_xbow/yn_xbow.htm

http://www.atarn.org/letters/ltr_jun99.htm
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