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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Mon 28 Mar, 2011 2:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Benjamin H. Abbott wrote:
Chinese handheld firearm development lagged behind the Europeans and Ottomans.

[...]

The Ming emphasis on cannon worked well enough against the Japanese in Korea and may have discouraged the use of handheld firearms as Japanese arquebuses didn't help them against the big guns.


The Korean war convinced the Ming they needed more modern muskets. They got as far as their evaluation program, buying muskets from all over, Japanese, Ottoman, European, probably Indian too. They tested, and decided the Ottoman muskets were the best. So they had plans, but it look like the late Ming economic collapse, and the Manchu takeover, put an end to their plans.

Until 1300, the Chinese were clear world leaders in firearms, probably until the establishment of the Ming dynasty. Firearms development continued under the Ming, but at a peacetime pace. So by late Ming, they were behind, some decades behind in musketry compared to the leading states. The three big pre-modern bursts of firearms development in China were driven by war. The Song/Jin/Mongol wars for control of China, then slower development under Mongol rule. Very rapid development, especially of cannon, during the fall of the Yuan/establishment of the Ming civil wars, then slow development under Ming peace. More rapid development during the Manchu/Qing expansion and conquest, continuing into their 17th century and early 18th century wars. Then they stayed static, just as the Western firearms were rapidly advancing.

"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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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Tue 29 Mar, 2011 9:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Benjamin H. Abbott wrote:
Chase argues they did so based on the type of foes they fought. Infantry with handheld firearms have trouble defending against mounted opponents in the steppe


The problem with this idea is immediately obvious--on one hand, a lot of the nomads whom the Chinese fought had either Sinicized or Chinese subject infantry, while on the other hand the Chinese fought each other a lot even in times of relative peace (you know, rebellions, peasant revolts, Sino-Japanese pirates, and the like). So it'd be a bit silly to propose that the Chinese lacked the incentive to develop their firearms further since all they had to fight were steppe nomads!
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Wed 30 Mar, 2011 10:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The thesis suggests that the pressures of mobile warfare provided significantly less incentive to develop firearms in China than in Europe or Japan. I suggest reading the book to get a proper impression. Chase provides a compelling case.
Read my historically inspired fantasy fiction in here. I walk along a winding path set by Ludovico Ariosto, William Morris, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Ursula Le Guin.

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William P




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PostPosted: Sun 22 May, 2011 4:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I find it interesting that most of this thread is bow musket bow musket, and ignoring the middle ground of the crossbow in comparisons largely.
I mean why not the crossbow it was pretty lethal against armour in the 15th century where the musket had just started, and took not too long to train was prolly far more accurate than a musket or handgonne.

So why not the crossbow? while its agreable that because of ammunition size the need for very partiicular woods and the massive training times, plus the fact that longbows quickly began to lose out in terms of armour penetrating ability by the time of the Renaissance its generally agreed that most warbows only had a hope of killing a man in plate armour at quite close ranges by then 50m or less, (part of the benchmark is the longbow and armour episodes of mike loades weapons that made britain.

another thing regarding the longbow is that the crossbow and the gun, particularly the wheellock, allowed someone to load and prime his weapon hours in advance making someone much better equipped to react to surpise attacks. since a bowmen can only put the bow under full tension comfortably for mere seconds. if that

Simple thing is that the crossbow is A LOT harder to make and maintain,

as I remember reading in The Renaissance at War (Smithsonian History of Warfare) By Thomas Arnold
he goes on saying

"it became equally clear (to the importance of the pike) that gunpowder weapons became an important part of infantry warfare this is not to say that traditional bowed weapons became obselete a crossbow could probably shoot with almost as much deadly force as a gun and could be aimed with greater accuracy their effective ranges also essentially overlapped,
soldiers seemed to prefer firearms to bows was there some sort of sense of fun or psycological satisfaction with blasting away....

But most importantly guns were simply cheaper than crossbows, a gun barrel was only a tube of iron, while the bow of the crossbow had to be made from high quality spring steel, and the necesary crank orlever apparatus needed to bend a steel bow was more expensive than the simple lock on a gun."


another history enthusiast Nikolas lloyd points out in a comparison between longbow and crossbow. By looking at pros and cons of the crossbow.
“If the string gets wet, the power of the crossbow is greatly diminished, and to put a new dry string on requires a visit to a workshop with vices. An archer could carry a few spare dry strings in a little rain-proof pouch, and change the string in the field." http://www.lloydianaspects.co.uk/weapons/crossbow.html

Its worth noting that the position of attiliator (crossbow maker) was one of the more highly paid professions in medieval society. particularly within the confines of a castle

So a crossbow was a lot more expensive to manufacture. Notonly that but mechanisms like the windlass would likely take the same time or longer to load than it would take a man to load and fire a matchlock musket.

its also worth noting that for the point about accuracy, rifling had DEFINATELY been achieved in firearms by the turn of the 1500's nd its mentioned in a book " imperial austria, treasuresof art arms and armour from the state of styria" which was released in 1998 ahead of a exhibition of some of the armouries contents in the powerhouse museum in sydney that year was that
"from 1566 detatchments of wheel lock riflemen supplemented large bodies of heavily armoured pikemen and musketeers" asking my fellow reenactors who had actually visited the exhibition at the time confimed that the book inded refers to a unit not unlike the jaeger and 'greenjacket' regiments of napoleonic times.

this suggests that even though the crossbow was indeed more accurate than most matchlocks and arqubus guns, te discovery of rifling limited the crossbows use as a battlefield sharpshooters weapon.
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Sun 22 May, 2011 7:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

William,

Crossbows have been discussed in this thread previously, so no one is ignoring them. I doubt anyone here would forget them as they were the main missile weapon of the 15th century in 90% of Europe during the medieval period.

Some things you might find interesting. Crossbows have been tested by submerging them under water for hours and still not had significant loss of draw weight.

Beware TV as a source for information. I''d take a look at the Royal Military Academy's article in the Arms and Armour Journal. from 2006 I believe.

Where as rifling does come around by the 16th century there are some major disadvantages. One is the rifling itself made the barrels super expensive. Second one is that the balls needed to be basically hammered into the barrel unlike other guns, so reloading took nearly 3-4 times as long as a smoothbore musket or arquebus of the 16th century. Lastly because the rifling it was more prone to being fowled and more difficult to clean. This is what limits these weapons use until fairly recently. The costs associated and the fact that with much larger number of musketmen you can simply use volley fire.

No doubt tough the crossbow was an awesome weapon and did its job with efficiency until it drops out of use for war.

RPM
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Björn Molin




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PostPosted: Sun 06 Mar, 2016 4:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi all, I am bumping this thread abit, can you guys name a few exampels of battles where bows and musket or muskets and crossbow or crossbows and bows (other then the 100 years war, we all know of crecy and agincourt)

The exampels that I can come upp with is the following:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_invasions_of_Korea_(1592%E2%80%9398)

With an interseting account:

"[Shi-eon Lee] then answered, "The Korean soldiers cower before the enemy and flee for their lives even before they have engaged the enemy. As for the commanders, they seldom leave their positions because they fear that they might be executed for deserting. However, there is a limit to executing deserting soldiers since there are so many of them. Truly, the Japanese aren't good musketeers, but they advance so rapidly that they appear right in front of the Koreans in the time Koreans can shoot only two arrows. It is said that Koreans are good archers, but they seldom hit the targets when the enemy is too far away, and are too scared to shoot when the enemy is near because they fear Japanese swords. Archery often becomes useless because Koreans, fearing the Japanese arme blanche, can barely shoot. The Japanese are reputed to be good swordsmen, but it is possible for Koreans to draw swords and hold their ground. However, the Koreans seldom do this and merely run for their lives."[113]"


Battle of lepanto

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Lepanto

1637 swamp fight
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fairfield_Swamp_Fight



https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Sarhu


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dzungar%E2%80%93Qing_War


Some interseting paintings of qing 18th centry mounted cavelery in action againts muskets!:
http://www.battle-of-qurman.com.cn/e/hist.htm

http://www.battle-of-qurman.com.cn/pict/1-4VictoryOfKhorgos_L.jpg

http://www.battle-of-qurman.com.cn/pict/1-5Ba...ngui_L.jpg


In the book "My service in the army by Dzengseo


http://www.amazon.com/Diary-Manchu-Soldier-Se...0415544475

Witch in part is a kind of journal from a manchu commander during the 1680:s manchu war against han chinse rebels.

There is a part where fisrtt the green banner men attack a rebel hold village and are repulsed by canon, arrows and musketry, and then Dzengseo unit dismount and fire arrows til the enimies surrender,

Thats the only live account of bows prevailing against muskets that I have found, if you guys konow of any more plz share!
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Sun 06 Mar, 2016 5:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There was plenty of overlap of the use of bow and crossbow in China, with the crossbow and bow still being used into the 19th century. IN much of Asia, cavalry retained the bow, while infantry might use bows or crossbows. Later, one sees muskets as the main infantry missile weapon (alongside cannons) and cavalry still used the bow.

So plenty of Chinese battles up to and including the Boxer Rebellion had a mix of bows and crossbows, or bows and guns. Plenty of Asian battles from the introduction of firearms had a mix of bows and guns. However, it's not always easy to find much in the way of detail about the battles. To pick just one battle:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Assaye

There were some notable battles with mixed bows and guns outside Asia as well, often between European/US forces and native forces armed with a mix of firearms and bows (and other weapons). Archery was still in use in battles as late as Little Bighorn (i.e., Custer's defeat), mostly due to shortages of guns and ammunition. One notable battle with mixed weapons which didn't involved Western forces was the Battle of Gallabat/Metemma:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Gallabat
between the Mahdists and Abyssinia/Ethiopia. Firearms had a major influence on the outcome, since Emperor Yohannes IV was fatally wounded by gunfire.

"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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Robert Morgan




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PostPosted: Sun 06 Mar, 2016 9:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have to say that over the past hour of going back and reading all of the posts, some from many YEARS ago, this has to be one the most illuminating threads I've read.

As a student of American History, I have to wonder what the effect of the longbow would have been on a closely packed formation of Revolutionary or Civil War opponents. I'm assuming the bow would have been used more as an indirect fire weapon behind suitable protection or as a direct fire weapon from a position of tactical advantage. Without even chain mail as protection, how would a soldier of the era had fared had Ben Franklin's idea to revive the longbow been followed, and had there been enough time to train? The British were very leery about Colonial marksmen with their Pennsylvania long rifles; how would they have felt about a weapon that loosed without sound or a betraying puff of gunsmoke? What would have happened to Civil War infantry and cavalry charges if a hail of arrows were tossed in?

Intriguing "What If," scenarios...
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Sun 06 Mar, 2016 11:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

One archer can hide and shoot by surprise. It's much harder for 1,000 archers to hide and shoot by surprise. One archer hiding and shooting isn't going to do more than one musketeer/rifleman hiding and shooting. While the bow will be quieter, and smoke-free, it does suffer from the arrow being visible in flight.

As for archery in battle against close-order infantry of the time, we have examples. IIRC, Wellesley (later the Duke of Wellington) said of Assaye that the men were more disturbed by the arrows than the musket balls, because they could see them. But given that good infantry of the time would stand and fight while subject to musket fire and cannon fire, throwing some arrows into the mix won't make the battlefield significantly more terrifying - it's already pretty extreme.

As for US Civil War forces, many of the opponents of the US Army before and after the Civil War used bows. Might surprise new soldiers, but the Army knew about facing archery.

"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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Pieter B.





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PostPosted: Mon 07 Mar, 2016 3:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Robert Morgan wrote:
I have to say that over the past hour of going back and reading all of the posts, some from many YEARS ago, this has to be one the most illuminating threads I've read.

As a student of American History, I have to wonder what the effect of the longbow would have been on a closely packed formation of Revolutionary or Civil War opponents. I'm assuming the bow would have been used more as an indirect fire weapon behind suitable protection or as a direct fire weapon from a position of tactical advantage. Without even chain mail as protection, how would a soldier of the era had fared had Ben Franklin's idea to revive the longbow been followed, and had there been enough time to train? The British were very leery about Colonial marksmen with their Pennsylvania long rifles; how would they have felt about a weapon that loosed without sound or a betraying puff of gunsmoke? What would have happened to Civil War infantry and cavalry charges if a hail of arrows were tossed in?

Intriguing "What If," scenarios...


Bows and crossbows make sound too.

The projectile is also rather slow compared to bullets, horizontal distance not that big and the damage caused by an arrow is arguably less severe.
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Michael Brudon




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PostPosted: Mon 07 Mar, 2016 6:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Most of the points have been covered but I think the superior ballistic properties of ball vs arrows are not understood by most. As ex-army and using both item types for hunting I'll add some comparisons.

(Musket smoothbore versus longbow (or crossbow)

1.'mobility kills'. Either will kill to vital areas. But ball can break bones and on extremities, which arrows have much less chance of doing, tending to skim around large bones. Fractures provide a significant % increase to rendering an enemy target ineffective, both tactically and long term.

2. Balls effectiveness on bone also applies to horses(cavalry), including extremities and potential to penetrate the skull on both angling or frontal shots.

3. Ball at close enough range can penetrate a human body and still strike a target behind with lethal energy.

4. While individual range of the smoothbore is similar to bows this is due to poor smoothbore accuracy.Massed fire against ranked enemy takes accuracy out of the equation and then enables use of the muskets 4-5 times higher velocity. Smaller adjustments for range estimation and exponentially greater ranges with massed fire.

I am sure there are plenty circumstances the longbow or crossbow carves up musketeers tactically, but for pure punch a line of reliable muskets is in a different league of destruction to men and cavalry.
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Mon 18 Apr, 2016 2:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Björn Molin wrote:
Hi all, I am bumping this thread abit, can you guys name a few exampels of battles where bows and musket or muskets and crossbow or crossbows and bows (other then the 100 years war, we all know of crecy and agincourt)


You mean virtually every major battle in Western and Central Europe between 1420 and 1520?
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Henry O.





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PostPosted: Fri 29 Jul, 2016 4:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The commentaries of Messire Blaize de Montluc describe encounters against English Longbowmen just prior to when the Mary Rose sank in 1545. He outright states that the longbow is a short-ranged weapon compared to the harquebus.

Quote:
I had retain'd something of the Camisado of Bullen, and of the business of Oye; and therefore said one day to Mousieur de Tais, that I would discover to him the mystery of the English, and wherefore they were reputed so hardy: which was, that they all carried arms of little reach, and therefore were necessitated to come up close to us to loose their arrows, which otherwise would do no execution; whereas we who were accustomed to fire our Harquebuzes at a great distance, seeing the Enemy use another manner of sight, thought these near approaches of theirs very strange, imputing their running on at this confident rate to absolute bravery:


--

As for whether archers would be effective during the Napoleonic era when troops stood in tight formations without any armor. The Russians actually did levy a large number of Bashkir and Tartar horse archers to fight against the French. General Baron de Marbot described his encounters with them and apparently found them very underwhelming.

Quote:
Nevertheless, these newcomers, who did not yet know the French, had been so indoctrinated by their leaders, almost as ignorant as themselves, that they expected to see us take flight at their approach; and so they could not wait to attack us. From the very day of their arrival in sight of our troops they launched themselves in swarms against them, but having been everywhere repulsed by gunfire, the Baskirs left a great number of dead on the ground.


Quote:
With much shouting, these barbarians rapidly surrounded our squadrons, against which they launched thousands of arrows, which did very little damage because the Baskirs, being entirely irregulars, do not know how to form up in ranks and they go about in a mob like a flock of sheep, with the result that the riders cannot shoot horizontally without wounding or killing their comrades who are in front of them, but shoot their arrows into the air to describe an arc which will allow them to descend on the enemy. But as this system does not permit any accurate aim, nine-tenths of the arrows miss their target, and those that do arrive have used up in their ascent the impulse given to them by the bow, and fall only under their own weight, which is very small, so that they do not as a rule inflict any serious injuries. In fact, the Baskirs, having no other arms, are undoubtedly the world's least dangerous troops.

However, since they attacked us in swarms, and the more one killed of these wasps, the more seemed to arrive, the huge number of arrows which they discharged into the air of necessity caused a few dangerous wounds. Thus, one of my finest N.C.O.s. by the name of Meslin had his body pierced by an arrow which entered his chest and emerged at his back. The brave fellow, taking two hands, broke the arrow and pulled out the remaining part, but this did not save him, for he died a few moments later. This is the only example which I can remember of death being caused by a Baskir arrow, but I had several men and horses hit, and was myself wounded by this ridiculous weapon.

I had my sabre in my hand, and I was giving orders to an officer, when, on raising my arm to indicate the point to which he was to go, I felt my sabre encounter a strange resistance and was aware of a slight pain in my right thigh, in which was embedded for about an inch, a four-foot arrow which in the heat of battle I had not felt. I had it extracted by Dr. Parot and put in one of the boxes in the regimental ambulance, intending to keep it as a memento; but unfortunately it got lost.

You will understand that for such a minor injury I was not going to leave the regiment, particularly at such a critical time…


---

On Humfrey Barwick: Barwick is the one English writer from this period who actually did spend years of his life learning to master shooting the arquebus. If he says that he can hit a single man with a musket/arquebus at 120 yards in good conditions and fire effectively at up to 480 yards I'm inclined to believe him. (And he does mention that soldiers could figure out how to estimate range and adjust for bullet drop when shooting at distant targets, so whoever it was that earlier in this thread implied people in the 16th century didn't know how to do that was flat wrong).

Of course not every musketeer was as effective as that in practice, just like how not every archer in the middle ages was William Tell.
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Michael Wiethop




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PostPosted: Fri 29 Jul, 2016 6:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

For what it's worth, those Bashkirs were irregulars, presumably with little training or combat experience. I imagine that properly trained, experienced, and led horse archers (like 13th-century Mongols) would have been at least useful against Napoleonic-era cavalry; they would have been able to keep out of reach while shooting up the unarmored men and horses chasing them.

Of course, by the 19th century, there were few, if any, such competent horse archers left.
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Alexander B.




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PostPosted: Thu 16 Feb, 2017 1:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think there is also a slightly skewed perception in both longbow and musket.

For Longbows, many tend to look at replicas of longbows being shot with arrows that are painstakingly made individually and someone who made it his lifelong pasttime and calling to shoot longbows is taking careful aim and letting lose. If the Arrow can make it 200yards at best, that's it's effective range, and if the archer can loose an arrow every 5 seconds on his 120Lbs bow, thats the rate of fire.

For muskets, it is assumed they must be super easy to shoot, so some random bloke goes to a field with a borrowed pistol and misses a fridge at 20 feet away, e presto, firearms suck. The range is only 50 yards long so naturally that must be the max. range for firearms. And if the novice or the sportsman can fire one shot every two minutes, that's our rate of fire.



I would assume that the mass produced arrows for longbows in actual military used varied noticeably in length, weight point of balance and just how straight they were, thus induding a very high amount of variation in starting velocity and thus trajectory/range.
Any sort of wind or rain etc. is likely to affect an arrow much more than a musket ball. A mold cast musket ball is comparatively consistent in a batch from shot to shot, so is powder premeasured.
And just because the projectile can reach a certain point, that does not mean it is 'effective' range as in high power and resaonable accuracy.
Rate of fire estimates seem to be all over the place and those for archers generally err on the side of everestimating what is possible with a full draw weight war bow to start eith and then fail t account for rapid fatigue and exhaustion.
Likewise, it is not uncommon to be a musket shooter and being told by self-proclaimed experts that you can't fire more than once a minute, when you have lkiterally just done that. And though certainly an effort, reloading a firearm is nowhere enar as tiring as the extreme workout an archer has to perform.
When people go shooting muzzleloaders at the range, the procedures are more geared towards modern safety concerns than historical efficiency. I have the privilege to be on a range where I can indulge in historical loading techniques, alongside recreational shooters and I can easily get anywhere between 4 and 8 shouts out for every one of theirs, without rushing it. The point just being, reloading is more sedate on ranges today than it was on battlefields.

The next thing is, that people often try muskets etc. and think they ought to be easy to shoot, and when they miss, it's the guns inaccuracy. In fact, even with military grade ammunition and undersized balls, though not sniper weapons, muskets and pistols would still hit rather well what you aimed for, if you had not twitched from the ignition of the pan, which is a tough natural reflex to overcome.

I struggled for a long time to overcome that reaction, and I would not have hit your fridge at 20 yds. with a full scale musket. After learning to stay on target during the flash in the pan, even a smoothbore pistol would knock that fridge at some 50yards.

Finally, very often some statistics and numbers from actual chaotic warfare from the musket era are dragged into comparisons with calm peaceful range trials and recreational shooting with bows, further skewing the image.

-PLUS RATIO QUAM VIS-
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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Fri 17 Feb, 2017 9:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Interesting discussion. i have a few points, forgive me if some of these were already covered.

Firearms


Guns were very hard to use at least initially, and required skilled labor (well trained troops) until a series of inventions in the 15th Century made them easy to use for infantry:

    Corned and filtered powder
    The slow match
    The match-lock
    The arquebus 'shape' in it's various variations.


Firearms didn't become widely adopted for cavalry (or mounted infantry / dragoons) until the advent of the wheel lock.

In the late medieval period, the time when firearms and crossbows and bows were most often used together, firearms were mostly used by highly skilled troops, elite among the Swiss, German, Flemish, and Italian urban militias, and Bohemian (Czech) Hussite heretics, both on their own land and fighting as mercenaries. Bohemians and German urban militia made up the bulk of the Fekete Sereg or 'Hungarian Black Army' which was arguably the most effective late medieval army, certainly the most heavily invested in firearms.

During the late medieval period, gunners were protected by pavises, mantlets and war-wagons. This was pioneered by the Czechs who were the first to make widespread use of firearms in the open field. Medieval firearms were typically also mixed with light cannon and volley guns etc. Before the Hussite Crusades firearms were mostly for siege warfare. In the west firearms seem to have shifted to protection by pike squares in the 16th Century. It's not clear to me why, but maybe it's due to the increasing ubiquity of medium caliber cannon.

In the 14th through 16th Centuries, training for guns and for crossbows was mostly done by elite shooting societies and put to the test in these rather expensive formal shooting contests, mostly organized by Free Cities and City States. Still a remnant of the tradition in Switzerland and Italy. The Germans called these 'Schutzenfest'

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sch%C3%BCtzenfest#History

If you dive into the records of the Schutzenfest and Italian equivalents you can learn a lot about actual capability like ranges, accuracy etc. in the periods roughly 1350-1550 for both guns and crossbows. i think there is also the equivalent type of records from England for longbows, they had all kinds of archery contests both for individual targets and clout shooting.

It's worth noting, that rifling was not invented in the 19th Century but existed in the early 15th - rifled firearms were considered cheating in those shooting contests and records show they were sometimes confiscated (but subsequently kept in arsenals by the towns). Same for several other inventions we associate with the modern period or the 19th Century like rifling, revolvers, breach-loading firearms, and many rather other startling innovations, which you can see in the 15th and 16th Century.

I mention this because it speaks to the mystery of why certain weapons and systems were abandoned in the Early Modern period. I think the reason were more social, political and economic than technical but I admit that is just a theory, i don't really know.


Bows

Effective range for well trained archers seemed to be much farther than 200 meters. Look at the records of the medieval warbow society. It sounds like the effective range for 'clout shooting' is more like 300 meters. Archers always had both 'direct' and 'area shooting' modes, the Mongols and Ottomans did that too, as did the Mughals. Not sure about the Manchu etc. but I assume it's the same.

http://www.theenglishwarbowsociety.com/

I'm sure it varies greatly by the exact time and place but I do not think they had low quality arrows. Craftsmanship particularly for weapon was at a generally very high level, controlled by the guilds, at least in Central Europe and Italy. I don't know about England but I'd be very surprised if they had substandard quality arrows.

Bows seemed to retain a niche in naval combat for a while after they had declined in use on land. The Mary Rose comes to mind of course, but archery was still a major component of war in the Med in that same era. Some military historians speculate that the loss of skilled archers at Lepanto is a major reason for the subsequent decline in Ottoman naval power.


Crossbows

Crossbows seem to have gotten very effective, even for mounted troops, by the late medieval period, but they were expensive to make, as were the spanning devices, and training was expensive too. I suspect their decline had again, more to do with social changes than for technical reasons.


Armor also comes into play in all this of course, but that is almost a new dimension of complexity. I think both armor and expensive weapons like the higher end crossbows declined with the shift toward more 'unskilled labor' for the bulk of armies very generally speaking in the period roughly 1550-1650.

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Henry O.





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PostPosted: Fri 17 Feb, 2017 2:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Alexander B. wrote:
Finally, very often some statistics and numbers from actual chaotic warfare from the musket era are dragged into comparisons with calm peaceful range trials and recreational shooting with bows, further skewing the image.


I think this is the biggest issue that people tend to miss out on. In accounts from actual combat, muskets almost universally under-perform drastically compared to their theoretical capabilities. A good shot with a smoothbore musket should have been able to hit a man-sized target most of the time at 80-100 yards, and tests from the napoleonic period showed that even ordinary troops firing a volley should have been able to cut a battalion in half at 100 yards and cause significant casualties even out to 400 or 500 yards. In combat though at 100 yards it was rare to achieve more than a 5% hit rate. And contrary to what many people assume, this didn't immediately change much after the introduction of rifles, throughout the US civil war infantry typically still fought standing in lines around 100 yards apart shooting at each other.

Du Picq's "Battle Studies", written in the late 19th century when breech-loading rifles were common has this to say on the subject of accuracy in combat.:

Quote:

But in front of the enemy fire at will becomes in an instant haphazard fire. Each man fires as much as possible, that is to say, as badly as possible. There are physical and mental reasons why this is so.

Even at close range, in battle, the cannon can fire well. The gunner, protected in part by his piece, has an instant of coolness in which to lay accurately. That his pulse is racing does not derange his line of sight, if he has will power. The eye trembles little, and the piece once laid, remains so until fired.

The rifleman, like the gunner, only by will-power keeps his ability to aim. But the excitement in the blood, of the nervous system, opposes the immobility of the weapon in his hands. No matter how supported, a part of the weapon always shares the agitation of the man. He is instinctively in haste to fire his shot, which may stop the departure of the bullet destined for him. However lively the fire is, this vague reasoning, unformed as it is in his mind, controls with all the force of the instinct of self preservation. Even the bravest and most reliable soldiers then fire madly.


He concluded that it was difficult for troops to achieve horizontal fire, never mind actual aimed fire. Some of this inaccuracy was due to the smoke of the weapon after a while, but clearly a lot of it wasn't.

For bows and crossbows, not even horizontal fire would have been enough. Archers needed to be constantly estimating the distance to their target and mentally computing the correct angle to shoot at. The idea that archers are somehow going to be able to shoot at human targets even remotely as well as they do at a prick or clout while they have bullets and cannonballs whistling past them is ridiculous. It's probably far more likely that you get what Barwick describes, archers shooting randomly into the air with weak, half-drawn arrows.
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Fri 17 Feb, 2017 4:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Henri Chandler wrote:
Firearms didn't become widely adopted for cavalry (or mounted infantry / dragoons) until the advent of the wheel lock.


This is one reason for the retention of the bow by the Chinese, using it alongside firearms for many centuries. When the bow and crossbow had become a minor infantry weapon, the bow was still the major cavalry weapon.

Jean Henri Chandler wrote:
Effective range for well trained archers seemed to be much farther than 200 meters. Look at the records of the medieval warbow society. It sounds like the effective range for 'clout shooting' is more like 300 meters. Archers always had both 'direct' and 'area shooting' modes, the Mongols and Ottomans did that too, as did the Mughals. Not sure about the Manchu etc. but I assume it's the same.


Manchu (and Japanese) effective archery ranges look very short. Large heavy-limbed bows, shooting heavy arrows - not a recipe for long range.

Musashi, in "Book of Five Rings", described archery as useful up to 40 paces.

"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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Alexander B.




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PostPosted: Fri 17 Feb, 2017 5:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The thing with clout shooting and most other range practise is, that the archer knows what the distance is. He is -told- reliably that the target is 250 yards away.

On the battlefield, which rarely is the exact same landscape as the range, the lay of the land and action of the field make gauging the true distance to the target tricky at best. And To correct for it, I'd deem nigh impossible. The archer would need to follow his arrow throughout it's flight with his eyes, and at 200 yards or more make out if it went to far, too short or spot on, not on a calm day on an unmoved field, but under stress of battle, with the fiel teemind with soldiers and movement.

With the naked eye it is interesting to see just how small humans are from 200, 300 or more yards away.

With smooth bore cannons, if well maintained and loaded, even lighter field cannons could easily consistently hit a cannon sized board cutout at 400 yards and more. SCRAY stuff.

And you do not have the sway and shiver as with any handheld implement.

Still, even at some battles 100 yards and less proved too much, as in the stress of battle the people operating the cannons did miscalculate or not aim as carfully as they should have.

Theoretical achievements of range weaponry are always miles ahead of what actual combat results show. Becaus humanses screw up in combat.

-PLUS RATIO QUAM VIS-
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Fri 17 Feb, 2017 11:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Agreed. 200 yards seems to be the maximum effective range of warbows and war arrows on the battlefield.
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