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Jerome Prusak





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PostPosted: Thu 15 Nov, 2012 4:45 pm    Post subject: Bows and Crossbows Draw Weight         Reply with quote

What are the heaviest draws weights for bows and crossbows that a person can handle, whether Its applications are for sport, hunting, or warfare?
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R. Kolick





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PostPosted: Thu 15 Nov, 2012 6:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

i have no idea about crossbows but warbows the best info we have comes from the mary rose and the heaviest bow found was estimated at 215lbs now there are still people who say its not possible but the equation they used to measure the cellular deterioration in the yew and an exact reproduction of the bow backed up that weight so its seems rather sound however the average bows found where around 150lbs

in hunting it could be anything the man or woman could easily handle you dont need a 150lbs warbow to kill a deer or a bear 55 will do rather nicely
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Leo Todeschini
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PostPosted: Fri 16 Nov, 2012 12:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I believe Mark Stretton drew 202lbs a while back and there are certainly quite a few who can draw 160-180lbs.

Crossbows can be any weight, depending on how long you want to spend drawing it.

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Gary Teuscher





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PostPosted: Sun 18 Nov, 2012 1:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
in hunting it could be anything the man or woman could easily handle you dont need a 150lbs warbow to kill a deer or a bear 55 will do rather nicely


Careful about using modern day formulas for older bows. A modern bow (and strings and arrows, which all factor in) is a fair amount more energy efficient than a wooden bow.

To get the energy implied to the projectile, you might need a 80 pound draw bow to get the same effect as a 55 pound modern hunting compound bow.
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Sun 18 Nov, 2012 3:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Leo Todeschini wrote:

Crossbows can be any weight, depending on how long you want to spend drawing it.

Tod


I know what Leo meant by " any weight " being that the draw weight of a crossbow will determine the way it is drawn with heavier draws needing more leverage from a cranequin or a windlass and medium weight draw using a goat's foot lever or a belt hook. ( Any weight meaning not dependent on physical strength ).

But one shouldn't think that there are no practical limits i.e. more than a few thousand pounds of draw for siege crossbows.

The range is probably something between 350 lb. to 3000 lb. although I'm mostly guessing about the maximum draw weights. Well, 800 lb. to 1500 lb. for the medium upper range crossbows maybe ?

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Joel Minturn





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PostPosted: Sun 18 Nov, 2012 8:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gary Teuscher wrote:


Careful about using modern day formulas for older bows. A modern bow (and strings and arrows, which all factor in) is a fair amount more energy efficient than a wooden bow.

To get the energy implied to the projectile, you might need a 80 pound draw bow to get the same effect as a 55 pound modern hunting compound bow.


True but for hunting a traditional 55 pound yew bow with wood arrows would really be all you need. A modern bow would give allow for longer shots but that's about it.

I believe it was one of the Bowyers Bibles that mentioned most pre-modern hunting bows were in the 50lb range and that holds true for most cultures even in cultures that had warbows of much higher draw weights. because that's such a generalization I know there are exceptions.
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Glennan Carnie




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PostPosted: Mon 19 Nov, 2012 1:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Joel Minturn wrote:
Gary Teuscher wrote:


Careful about using modern day formulas for older bows. A modern bow (and strings and arrows, which all factor in) is a fair amount more energy efficient than a wooden bow.

To get the energy implied to the projectile, you might need a 80 pound draw bow to get the same effect as a 55 pound modern hunting compound bow.


True but for hunting a traditional 55 pound yew bow with wood arrows would really be all you need. A modern bow would give allow for longer shots but that's about it.

I believe it was one of the Bowyers Bibles that mentioned most pre-modern hunting bows were in the 50lb range and that holds true for most cultures even in cultures that had warbows of much higher draw weights. because that's such a generalization I know there are exceptions.


As someone who shoots heavy bows I find a 55lb too light to shoot well. There's almost no resistance, or feel, in the bow. It's like pulling a bit of knicker elastic; more like a child's toy than a hunting weapon.

An archer used to shooting 150lb bows would more likely shoot a hunting bow in the 80 - 90lb range - not because it's needed to kill, but anything less would feel 'wrong'

You also have to remember a medieval hunting arrow with a swallow-tail head is likely to weigh 90 - 100g (1390 - 1540 grains) with large fletchings for stability, and that requires a substantial bow to shoot flat.

Basically, you can't really use modern flat-bow (American longbow) hunting technologies and techniques as an analogy for medieval hunting.

For a detailed in-depth look at medieval hunting I'd recommend Richard Wadge's book "Archery in Medieval England":
http://www.amazon.com/Archery-Medieval-Englan...hard+wadge
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Joel Minturn





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PostPosted: Mon 19 Nov, 2012 8:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Glennan- Thanks for the book recommendation. Always on the look out for more information about a English archers and medievial hunting.

I wasn't talking about modern American flatbows I was talking about tradtional wood selfbows.

The Information came from an article in the Bowyers Bible (have to look up which one) and is really two seperate general pricnicples.
1. War bows are typically heavier than hunting bows.
2. Tradional hunting bows the world over tend to be in the 50 lb range.

One of the examples in the article was from the Cherokee. Cherokee warbows were typically in teh 70-80 lb range and the hunting bows were around 50lb. For Native American Hunting bows 50lbs seems to be around the upper limit and 30-40lb draw weights were quite common. Even in Africa, from everything I have read, tradtional hunting bows were around 50lbs or less.

But like you mentioned there are exceptions. Engish archers trained on a warbow would, of course, feel more comfortable wtih a heavy bow, the Commanche bows supposedly could shoot an arrow completely through a bison.
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Harri Kyllönen




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PostPosted: Fri 23 Nov, 2012 5:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

R. Kolick wrote:
i have no idea about crossbows but warbows the best info we have comes from the mary rose and the heaviest bow found was estimated at 215lbs now there are still people who say its not possible but the equation they used to measure the cellular deterioration in the yew and an exact reproduction of the bow backed up that weight so its seems rather sound however the average bows found where around 150lbs


Propably the Mary Rose bows you're referring to?

I find it hard to believe that they were ready bows. I believe in the theory that they were half ready bow shafts that were on their way to be sold and finalized. The shafts would be cut down to size according to the needs of the particular user.
It's easier to customize a 200 lbs bow shaft into any required lbs bow by grinding it down than make a weaker bow more powerful.

For the longbow I think a warbow would have been on average 90-120 lbs. Recurve warbows 80-120 lbs depending on whether they were used mounted or on foot and the individual.

There's no point in making overly poweful bows (for other than show or perhaps siege purposes) since that would tire the shooter fast and decrease his rate of fire a lot.
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Doug Lester




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PostPosted: Fri 23 Nov, 2012 7:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I would have to disagree, there is a reason to shoot a bow over 120 lbs draw weight and that is the weight of the arrow thrown and the resulting penitration power. Of course that would depend on having arrows matched to that particular bow which is something that could not be guaranteed in the heat of battle but it could be achieved at the start of the conflict or the bowman could reserve a sheath of match arrows for close contact shooting. Even lighter arrows would have more penitrative power shot from a stronger bow.
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Fri 23 Nov, 2012 9:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Harri,

Not sure that is supported on several points. One is warships such as the MR do not carry around huge numbers of unfinished weapons very often. Not sure I know of any examples of such large loads in fact from this period in England. They do not do this with many weapons so why bows. Also the fact we have great detail on the bow making industry in England this was not how it worked.

As well the majority that have seen them agree they are finished. I have seen quite a few of them in person and have no doubt they were ready for use. If any one could provide any strong evidence for this thesis I'd love to see it but as it stands it rests on simple assumptions that are largely lacking evidence.

The most vocal group of people who disagree are those low pounders who keep clinging to the lower draw weight ideas which were and are still founded on little to 0 evidence.

In the end we have had the only real academic sources who doubted the heavier draw weights turn round and accept them.

And as to there being no point.... that is clearly not true. The best testing done to date proves a strong tie to the need for heavier bows for higher impact energy. They would have known this much clearer than us as that would directly mean a more deadly weapon with little costs besides time which was cheap..

Now whether they were used for hunting I could not say.

RPM
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Glennan Carnie




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PostPosted: Fri 23 Nov, 2012 11:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Harri Kyllönen wrote:
R. Kolick wrote:
i have no idea about crossbows but warbows the best info we have comes from the mary rose and the heaviest bow found was estimated at 215lbs now there are still people who say its not possible but the equation they used to measure the cellular deterioration in the yew and an exact reproduction of the bow backed up that weight so its seems rather sound however the average bows found where around 150lbs


Propably the Mary Rose bows you're referring to?

I find it hard to believe that they were ready bows. I believe in the theory that they were half ready bow shafts that were on their way to be sold and finalized. The shafts would be cut down to size according to the needs of the particular user.
It's easier to customize a 200 lbs bow shaft into any required lbs bow by grinding it down than make a weaker bow more powerful.

For the longbow I think a warbow would have been on average 90-120 lbs. Recurve warbows 80-120 lbs depending on whether they were used mounted or on foot and the individual.

There's no point in making overly poweful bows (for other than show or perhaps siege purposes) since that would tire the shooter fast and decrease his rate of fire a lot.


Harri,

You are, of course, welcome to you own opinion, since there are no certainties with history. However, your view reflects the majority opinion of about 25 years ago. We've learned an awful lot since then - no only on the construction of the bows but also on the techniques for shooting them.

Today, there is very little compelling evidence to support the sub-100lb military bow (and a whole lot of Internet-based nonsense promulgated by ignorant nobodies). There are, of course, still people out there promoting this, in the face of almost overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Like Randall I've had the pleasure of handling the MR bows and I can tell you, first hand, they are NOT un-finished bows.
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Sean Manning




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PostPosted: Fri 23 Nov, 2012 12:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The question in the OP is like asking "how much can a man carry?" or "how fast can he run?" It all depends on the person in question, what their goals are, and how they train.

Glennan Carnie wrote:
Today, there is very little compelling evidence to support the sub-100lb military bow (and a whole lot of Internet-based nonsense promulgated by ignorant nobodies). There are, of course, still people out there promoting this, in the face of almost overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Be careful there. There is lots of evidence that bows used in war had draw weights well under 100 lbs in times and places other than early modern Eurasia. Many cultures did not have a sharp distinction between hunting and war bows. But we know that the draw weight of the spare bows that Mary Rose carried into battle was around 150 lbs, and that the draw weight of Turkish military bows stored at Istanbul was around 120 lbs.
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Harri Kyllönen




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PostPosted: Fri 23 Nov, 2012 12:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Glennan Carnie wrote:
Harri,

You are, of course, welcome to you own opinion, since there are no certainties with history. However, your view reflects the majority opinion of about 25 years ago. We've learned an awful lot since then - no only on the construction of the bows but also on the techniques for shooting them.

Today, there is very little compelling evidence to support the sub-100lb military bow (and a whole lot of Internet-based nonsense promulgated by ignorant nobodies). There are, of course, still people out there promoting this, in the face of almost overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Like Randall I've had the pleasure of handling the MR bows and I can tell you, first hand, they are NOT un-finished bows.


I wasn't exactly saying they were unfinished.
I'm guessing you've also made bows yourself. Then you propably know that even a ready bow shaft is usually "shaved" down to the wanted draw weight. What I was suggesting is that these were bows made to maximum draw weight possible and then they would be cut down to a size by the individual using them.

I've got estimates on 8 of the Mary Rose warbow draw weights: 98, 101, 110, 115, 124, 136, 137, 185 (Longbow: A Social and Military History ). Now if we ignore the last one as an "anomaly" the average on the rest would be 117 lbs. Within the range of the numbers "average 90-120 lbs" I gave earlier.

Also we have surviving historical examples of known Turkish warbows that are around 100 lbs. The Turkish bow is considered one of the pinacles of traditional bowmaking and a worthy tool of war so I'd say the poundage makes an effective weapon enough. Flight bows have usually been more powerful since they were for other purposes than optimising the rate of fire vs effect.

I'd like to hear more about your experiences and views. Were the numbers I quoted wrong? They are second hand information after all. It's always cool to hear from people who have had actual hands on experience.
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Fri 23 Nov, 2012 1:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Doug Lester wrote:
I would have to disagree, there is a reason to shoot a bow over 120 lbs draw weight and that is the weight of the arrow thrown and the resulting penitration power. Of course that would depend on having arrows matched to that particular bow which is something that could not be guaranteed in the heat of battle but it could be achieved at the start of the conflict or the bowman could reserve a sheath of match arrows for close contact shooting. Even lighter arrows would have more penitrative power shot from a stronger bow.


To amplify:

The efficient way to make a self bow more powerful is to make it thicker. Stiffness is proportional to the cube of the thickness. That way, the bow gains a lot more strength with only a small gain in mass. But there's a limit to this: when the wood on the surface is stretched/compressed to its elastic limit. And as you get close to that limit, the bow becomes shorter-lived.

When you're as thick as you can get, you can only get more strength by getting wider. To double the strength by doubling the width, you double the mass - it's linear. So, double the width and double the mass will give you double the draw weight and, for an arrow of double the mass, double the energy.

Where you run into this "thick enough" limit depends on your wood. Thicker is possible with good bow woods like yew. Width is also needed for stability, and to maintain stability as the bow gets thicker, it also needs to get wider.

You will more energy out of the "regular" weight arrow. Not as much more as with a heavier arrow, and perhaps not enough to justify the heavier bow.

With the heavier arrow, you get more energy, but the same speed (when you make the bow wider but not thicker). So, you get approximately the same range (a bit more, due to energy to drag ratio). The limitation is that your range reaches a maximum, but the energy keeps increasing (with heavier arrows). You always win in terms of energy by going to higher draw weight bows ("always" except in very special cases). The human is the limiting factor.

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Fri 23 Nov, 2012 2:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Harri,

Yes but if your average was 117 then why is 120 your high and 90 your low. An average should be ... well an average, not the high extreme. you have 27 from your min and 3 from your max.... And how do you get a range with a low of 90lbs when the lowest bow you have listed in your samples is 98lbs?

That said you can get much fuller numbers from the Great Warbow than the Longbow, bit dated.

Yet once more I doubt very much the bows would need enough work to drop them the level you are speaking. Maybe 5-10 but not 30-40 plus lbs. Though I still very much think these were more or less fully finished from those I have looked at.

RPM
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Harri Kyllönen




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PostPosted: Sat 24 Nov, 2012 1:10 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Randall Moffett wrote:
Harri,

Yes but if your average was 117 then why is 120 your high and 90 your low. An average should be ... well an average, not the high extreme. you have 27 from your min and 3 from your max.... And how do you get a range with a low of 90lbs when the lowest bow you have listed in your samples is 98lbs? ´


I was trying to say that a 90 lbs can still make a fine warbow (and likely did) and there propably were samples of that draw outside the ML bows while the average would apparently be closer to 120. The largest "anomaly" draw weights I'd still consider bows that were yet to be "shaved" down to their end users draw weight.
But you're absolutely right that I didn't articulate myself that well. Perhaps the wording I'm going for here would be that warbows are generally somewhere between 90 and 140 lbs? Still I believe you'd get an average of below 120, bar flight bows that were more for show and tell.

I believe that the same physics applied to eastern recurve bows and a similar range of draw weights was in use.
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Sean Manning




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PostPosted: Sat 24 Nov, 2012 8:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Harri Kyllönen wrote:
Glennan Carnie wrote:
Harri,

You are, of course, welcome to you own opinion, since there are no certainties with history. However, your view reflects the majority opinion of about 25 years ago. We've learned an awful lot since then - no only on the construction of the bows but also on the techniques for shooting them.

Today, there is very little compelling evidence to support the sub-100lb military bow (and a whole lot of Internet-based nonsense promulgated by ignorant nobodies). There are, of course, still people out there promoting this, in the face of almost overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Like Randall I've had the pleasure of handling the MR bows and I can tell you, first hand, they are NOT un-finished bows.


I wasn't exactly saying they were unfinished.
I'm guessing you've also made bows yourself. Then you propably know that even a ready bow shaft is usually "shaved" down to the wanted draw weight. What I was suggesting is that these were bows made to maximum draw weight possible and then they would be cut down to a size by the individual using them.

I've got estimates on 8 of the Mary Rose warbow draw weights: 98, 101, 110, 115, 124, 136, 137, 185 (Longbow: A Social and Military History ). Now if we ignore the last one as an "anomaly" the average on the rest would be 117 lbs. Within the range of the numbers "average 90-120 lbs" I gave earlier.

Also we have surviving historical examples of known Turkish warbows that are around 100 lbs. The Turkish bow is considered one of the pinacles of traditional bowmaking and a worthy tool of war so I'd say the poundage makes an effective weapon enough. Flight bows have usually been more powerful since they were for other purposes than optimising the rate of fire vs effect.

I'd like to hear more about your experiences and views. Were the numbers I quoted wrong? They are second hand information after all. It's always cool to hear from people who have had actual hands on experience.

Those old estimates were retracted back in 1982. According to The Great Warbow pp. 13-18, the old figures had been "fudged" downwards based on a flawed estimate of the draw weight of one bow by W.F. Paterson. Then Paterson announced that he had made a mistake and was doubling his figures, and Kooi returned to the high numbers (100-180 lbs at an appropriate draw length for the arrows, mode 150-160 lbs) which he had believed were right. Since Kooi did his PhD thesis on the physics of archery, and worked carefully with archaeologists and bowyers, his views deserve a lot of weight. At least one of the Mary Rose bows was strung when it went down. Such draw weights are easy to achieve in replicas, and work well with good replicas of the arrows.

I suspect that the period solution of matching bows to men was "Your old bow broke? Try this one. Too strong? What about that one? That will be three shillings." That would not have been the first time that army issue kit was fitted to the user than that which soldiers chose for themselves!
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Harri Kyllönen




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PostPosted: Sat 24 Nov, 2012 9:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean Manning wrote:
I suspect that the period solution of matching bows to men was "Your old bow broke? Try this one. Too strong? What about that one? That will be three shillings." That would not have been the first time that army issue kit was fitted to the user than that which soldiers chose for themselves!


Pretty much yes. Thats actually exactly how (historically recorded) steppe and northern people learned to use more powerful bows from childhood becoming warriors.
I believe that bows would be customized according to their user just like they are today. Isn't that part of the bow makers job to build something suitable for the individual?

Going into modern warfare is quite interesting since many soldiers do customize their equiptment including weapons (scopes, lights, lasers, dual-mags, bodyarmor etc.). Of course this is the era before there was much standardization and most warriors got their gear straight from the smiths and they were custom fitted from the go. Weren't the best longbowmen actually professionals too after all? And if they were just random peasants, why would you give them a bow that requires a pro-powerlifter to draw?

I personally believe that the draw weightst we have today of from eastern archery warbow tradition are realistic (despite cultural differences) and the tales about overly strong longbows are mostly due to flightbows and show. Historians usually like to mention the best performance instead of the average.
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Leo Todeschini
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PostPosted: Sat 24 Nov, 2012 11:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean Manning wrote
Quote:
I suspect that the period solution of matching bows to men was "Your old bow broke? Try this one. Too strong? What about that one? That will be three shillings." That would not have been the first time that army issue kit was fitted to the user than that which soldiers chose for themselves!


That A. made me chuckle and B. is the way kit issue/ tool issue etc has worked since we stated hitting each other with sticks a few hundred thousand years ago.

I think Harri's alternative is what could have happened had the Mary Rose engaged in close quarter ......................

The French are pressing in and readying to board; the archers are loosing like crazy and things are looking pretty bad, dead and injured all over. Just on the left of the quarter deck an orderly queue (being English it has to be orderly) of archers had formed, all waiting for Will Bowyer to finish tillering their replacement bows, and the decks resounded to screams, curses, cannon fire and polite enquiries as to "when they could expect their replacement bows as the French were looking awfully close".

I suspect the bows were ready to go

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