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M. Lanteigne




Location: Southern Ontario, Canada
Joined: 16 Oct 2011

Posts: 30

PostPosted: Sat 06 May, 2017 3:57 pm    Post subject: Prevalance of arrow spacers in linen arrow bags?         Reply with quote

I did a search on the forum for arrow bag, and arrow spacer, and didn't come up with much. Looking at manuscript miniatures I found one image of an archer with a textile bag, with the arrows arrayed in such a way that only a spacer could be used (they were sticking out at an angle, and not flat).

Of course there are the Mary Rose finds, but that may not necessarily tell me anything in how often spacers were used.

I am looking more at the mid-late 14th C, and in an English archer's setting.

Is this one of those things that the research doesn't provide much in the way of answers?

"Iron Sharpens Iron"
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Will S




Location: Bournemouth, UK
Joined: 25 Nov 2013

Posts: 161

PostPosted: Sun 07 May, 2017 1:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There have been other spacers found from much earlier - in particular a beautifully preserved one that's in the London Museum from about 1400. It's true however that information is sparse.

Within a few Facebook groups there's a lot of discussion at the moment on how they were actually used, and Jonathan Waller (the co-author of The Carriage Of Arrows alongside his father) is very helpful with the information.

Keith Collier from New Zealand has done a large amount of the recent practical testing with arrow bags, spacers and girdle knots to suspend the bags (belt loops weren't used, but instead a variety of self-tightening knots in thin leather girdles allow the bag to hang horizontally and the knots tighten around the bag as arrows are removed) but as for the spacer itself we have almost nothing to go on.
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Mark Moore




Location: East backwoods-assed Texas
Joined: 01 Oct 2003
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PostPosted: Sun 07 May, 2017 10:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Why *would* spacers have been used in the first place? I know almost nothing of archery in general, but it seems to me that the spacers would make it more difficult to get at the arrows and also take up space in the bag. Seems like you could get more arrows in without them. Like I said, I'm a complete dummy in archery. Laughing Out Loud So...Why? WTF?! I guess I'm asking: What *benefit* did spacers offer?.........McM
''Life is like a box of chocolates...'' --- F. Gump
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David Clark





Joined: 10 Feb 2009

Posts: 129

PostPosted: Sun 07 May, 2017 11:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mark C. Moore wrote:
Why *would* spacers have been used in the first place? I know almost nothing of archery in general, but it seems to me that the spacers would make it more difficult to get at the arrows and also take up space in the bag. Seems like you could get more arrows in without them. Like I said, I'm a complete dummy in archery. Laughing Out Loud So...Why? WTF?! I guess I'm asking: What *benefit* did spacers offer?.........McM

In my experience with arrow bags, the spacer serves two purposes: it keeps the fletchings intact. They don't snag each other and get damaged.Fletchings are quite easy to harm, especially if in a hurry (which I imagine one would be in if fighting). The other benefit I have found is that it allows for faster drawing of arrows. They are not being snagged on each other, therefore there is less friction and they don't come tumbling out in a mess. If you don't have a spacer, you have to draw from the top of the stack, as it were. Draw from the middle or bottom and more than one arrow may come out.
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Mark Moore




Location: East backwoods-assed Texas
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PostPosted: Sun 07 May, 2017 11:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Okay...I consider myself educated. Happy That makes sense! Wink Like I said...complete dummy here. Laughing Out Loud ....McM
''Life is like a box of chocolates...'' --- F. Gump
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M. Lanteigne




Location: Southern Ontario, Canada
Joined: 16 Oct 2011

Posts: 30

PostPosted: Sun 07 May, 2017 2:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for the info. Yeah ive been following Keith on fb but didnt know about Mr. Waller. Thanks!
"Iron Sharpens Iron"
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Will S




Location: Bournemouth, UK
Joined: 25 Nov 2013

Posts: 161

PostPosted: Sun 07 May, 2017 5:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If you're from Ontario, and you're aware of Keith... Does that mean you're​ also following Jake? I'm thinking of heading out to Ontario either this year or next for some warbow shooting etc.
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Terry Thompson




Location: Suburbs of Wash D.C.
Joined: 17 Sep 2010

Posts: 146

PostPosted: Sun 07 May, 2017 6:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If you buy a new set of arrows, they will be shipped to you with spacers (either cut-out cardboard or foam with holes) to prevent the fletches from being damaged or folding. A bit of humidity and compressing the fletches can deform them semi-permanently (Tip: If your fletches become compressed due to rain or submerging in dewey grass, holding them over some steaming water MAY get them to re-fuller and orient back to their original shape.)

I think the fact that there is more than illustrative evidence of their existence helps point to their commonality.
Did you ever see the illustration by Francis Grose circa 1777 Bodleian Library of the complete arrow bag? It's diagramatic and points out the parts including the spacer, and leads me to believe an extant bag may have been in Grose's possession to make the illustration from.

Even modern quivers have spacers but they are called "quiver tubes". They serve a similar purpose as a disc arrow spacer.
But I think the semi-ancient arrow spacer is a better solution than tubes. People in the middle ages may not have our modern technology and schooling, but they came up with brilliantly simple solutions sometimes.

They also figured out barreled/tapered arrow shafts without 3D modeling computers and observation wind tunnels.

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Will S




Location: Bournemouth, UK
Joined: 25 Nov 2013

Posts: 161

PostPosted: Mon 08 May, 2017 12:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The steaming trick only works with modern arrows, sadly. You learn very quickly to put up with squashed feathers when they're glued on with hide glue, or sunk into a fletching compound such as the MR verdigris compound. Steaming those simply unglues everything or ruins the compound!

The really nice thing about the leather arrow bag spacers is that when you're using the bags "properly" and draw the arrows through the bag by the arrowhead, the spacer actually smooths the fletchings as they push through the holes, keeping things nice and tidy.
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M. Lanteigne




Location: Southern Ontario, Canada
Joined: 16 Oct 2011

Posts: 30

PostPosted: Tue 09 May, 2017 10:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Will S wrote:
The steaming trick only works with modern arrows, sadly. You learn very quickly to put up with squashed feathers when they're glued on with hide glue, or sunk into a fletching compound such as the MR verdigris compound. Steaming those simply unglues everything or ruins the compound!

The really nice thing about the leather arrow bag spacers is that when you're using the bags "properly" and draw the arrows through the bag by the arrowhead, the spacer actually smooths the fletchings as they push through the holes, keeping things nice and tidy.


Hey Will, who is Jake?

"Iron Sharpens Iron"


Last edited by M. Lanteigne on Tue 09 May, 2017 11:01 am; edited 1 time in total
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M. Lanteigne




Location: Southern Ontario, Canada
Joined: 16 Oct 2011

Posts: 30

PostPosted: Tue 09 May, 2017 10:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Terry Thompson wrote:

I think the fact that there is more than illustrative evidence of their existence helps point to their commonality.
Did you ever see the illustration by Francis Grose circa 1777 Bodleian Library of the complete arrow bag? It's diagramatic and points out the parts including the spacer, and leads me to believe an extant bag may have been in Grose's possession to make the illustration.


I checked google but couldnt find that image.

"Iron Sharpens Iron"
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Will S




Location: Bournemouth, UK
Joined: 25 Nov 2013

Posts: 161

PostPosted: Tue 09 May, 2017 12:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

M. Lanteigne wrote:


Hey Will, who is Jake?


Jake Fenwick is the chairman of the Canadian Warbow Society. He's got all sorts of excellent videos on YouTube under the name "Agincourt Warbow" and travels around the world shooting with other warbow folk.

He came and stayed with me here in England for a month, and I'll be heading out to one of his big shoots soon. I'm not sure exactly where he shoots, but it won't be far from Ontario.
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M. Lanteigne




Location: Southern Ontario, Canada
Joined: 16 Oct 2011

Posts: 30

PostPosted: Wed 10 May, 2017 6:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Excellent! I will definitly look him up as well.
"Iron Sharpens Iron"
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