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Anthony Clipsom




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PostPosted: Sat 27 Mar, 2021 5:49 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

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That broadly tallies with 16th century sources (including Henry VIII's archery law), which put the maximum range of a bow with a livery arrow at 220 yards.


The relevant Henry VIII archery law actually refers to the minimum distance at which an adult archer can practice at targets with a "prick shaft" being 220 yards. By inference, this means that livery arrows could be expected to be shot at targets to at least this range, if not further. IIRC, various 16th and early 17th century sources reckon a "strong" shot (presumably using a heavy arrow) in the 240-280 yd. range. The exact meaning of "strong" here might need to be queried, as there are references to "strong" shooting competitions where the emphasis was on distance. Asham certainly separates "strong" shooting from "mark" shooting.

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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Sat 27 Mar, 2021 8:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jonathan Dean wrote:
Jean Henri Chandler wrote:
I think Christine de Pisan actually may have something on this too in her war book but I can't remember, I'll need to scan that book again.


If I'm thinking of the same passage you are, she mentions that English archers practice against barges at a range of 600 feet (213 yards if she meant Parisian feet). I don't recall her giving a range for crossbows, though. That broadly tallies with 16th century sources (including Henry VIII's archery law), which put the maximum range of a bow with a livery arrow at 220 yards.



Yeah are you talking about Livre des fais d'armes et de chevalerie / the book of Deeds of Arms and Chivalry or another work?

Quote:
The crossbow targets and ranges are interesting. I don't believe we have anything similar from England - although apparently wherever there are pairs of butts they're generally 70-100 meters apart and a early 16th century Venetian source suggests English targets were ~25cm in diameter - which is a shame.


Why is that a shame?

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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Sat 27 Mar, 2021 8:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Anthony Clipsom wrote:
Quote:
That broadly tallies with 16th century sources (including Henry VIII's archery law), which put the maximum range of a bow with a livery arrow at 220 yards.


The relevant Henry VIII archery law actually refers to the minimum distance at which an adult archer can practice at targets with a "prick shaft" being 220 yards. By inference, this means that livery arrows could be expected to be shot at targets to at least this range, if not further. IIRC, various 16th and early 17th century sources reckon a "strong" shot (presumably using a heavy arrow) in the 240-280 yd. range. The exact meaning of "strong" here might need to be queried, as there are references to "strong" shooting competitions where the emphasis was on distance. Asham certainly separates "strong" shooting from "mark" shooting.


The English Warbow society reported routinely shooting arrows, including their heavier arrows, to over 320 meters, I think their record is around 380 meters. They used to have all this online but their website seems to have been recently remade.

Just FYI or for consideration, with bows the maximum range definitely depends on the weight and shape of the arrow.

Very roughly speaking:

Recurve bows from Central Asia typically used 40 gram war or hunting arrows, and 20 gram flight arrows. They had some heavier killing arrows for close range up to 50 grams.

English style longbows or war-bows typically used 60 gram war or hunting arrows and 40-50 gram flight arrows. They did also have some heavier killing arrows, up to 100 grams.

The smaller military grade Latin-European crossbows of the type you see from 1300-1500 typically shot 80 gram bolts or quarrels typically, with some as light as 60 grams and some as heavy as 100-120 grams.

The big wall crossbows shot very large bolts as heavy as 200-250 grams. Bichler shoots one of the big ones here with a 1270 lb draw weight (by the way, notice how cautious his when spanning it) achieving 57 m/s with a hefty 260 gram bolt, which he calculates at 433 joules.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nY2untEwCnU

He shoots a similar sized weapon using 222 gram bolts and manages 250 meters (with clearly a lofted shot)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AA5M0QKXtWU

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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Sat 27 Mar, 2021 8:49 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean Manning wrote:
Jean Henri Chandler wrote:
The crossbows are a different thing, they use different materials.

The horn bows in crossbows are made from horn, sinew, wood, and often a waterproof coating. Horn handbows draw on the same types of materials, although every tradition is a bit different and every batch of bows is different. In the 13th century the Venetians liked Alpine steinbock horn, the Bronze Age Takalamakan bows were made of a different cervid which lived in their mountains.

Probably, the earlier, long-draw horn crossbows in Europe were more like horn handbows in western Eurasia than the horn crossbows from the 15th century and later which have been dissected or X-rayed (the article about Ulrich V of Würtemberg's crossbow is in the public domain, but the specific link is not -edit).


The materials used in the Latin composite prod crossbows of the 14th-15th are different from composite self-bows, as I said, and included the nuchal ligament of a horse (that is the 'animal sinew' part mentioned in the description) and also some kind of bone from a sturgeon. I don't know all the details.

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Jonathan Dean




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PostPosted: Sat 27 Mar, 2021 3:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Anthony Clipsom wrote:
Quote:
That broadly tallies with 16th century sources (including Henry VIII's archery law), which put the maximum range of a bow with a livery arrow at 220 yards.


The relevant Henry VIII archery law actually refers to the minimum distance at which an adult archer can practice at targets with a "prick shaft" being 220 yards. By inference, this means that livery arrows could be expected to be shot at targets to at least this range, if not further. IIRC, various 16th and early 17th century sources reckon a "strong" shot (presumably using a heavy arrow) in the 240-280 yd. range. The exact meaning of "strong" here might need to be queried, as there are references to "strong" shooting competitions where the emphasis was on distance. Asham certainly separates "strong" shooting from "mark" shooting.


Ascham complains that livery bows are quite often inferior products and Barnabe Rich contrasts "gaming" bows with livery bows, which he claims are deliberately overbuilt to be "endure weather". John Smythe and Roger Williams do suggest that 240 yards might be achievable - although Smythe allows that 160 yards might be common and Williams says that arrows don't do much damage at 240 yards - but then Fourquevaux gives the maximum range of archers at 200 yards, Rich believes that only a tenth of archers armed with livery bows could shoot beyond 200 yards after a week in the field, William Garrad writes about "light" arrows being able to reach 240 yards, Humfrey Barwick gives the maximum practical range of archers on campaign as 160 yards and Robert Barret says that "hardly any" archers with a "good" livery arrow can make 240 yards.

All this, taken together with Christine de Pizan giving the range at which English archers practice against barges as 600 (presumably Parisian) feet, strongly suggests to me that Henry VIII used 220 yards as the minimum range that prick shafts could be used because livery bows were only expected to shoot to 220 yards and no real distance beyond this. "Strong" shots being made beyond this would certainly be possible with personal bows and livery style arrows that hadn't been jammed into boxes and carted around the country, but if we're looking at the maximum range for livery bows themselves, the literature and the law points to 220 yards.

Jean Henri Chandler wrote:
Yeah are you talking about Livre des fais d'armes et de chevalerie / the book of Deeds of Arms and Chivalry or another work?


That's the one!

Quote:
Why is that a shame?


Because we don't have anywhere near the same evidence for accuracy and the ranges archery was practiced at as we do for crossbows.
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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Sat 27 Mar, 2021 8:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I suspect the reason is a lot of the training with the longbows was done as clout shooting, i.e. area targets.

That said, there were urban guilds (often dedicated to St. Sebastian) which did archery as a competition / sport and by no means just for clout shooting. I know that some of the ones in Flanders did shoot the popinjay and presumably also shot at regular disc type targets.

So I would say even if you can't find records in England for some reason (I don't know anything about that as it is outside my area so to speak) I'd be surprised if you couldn't find something in Flanders or Burgundy or somewhere in Germany where they also had archery guilds. I know that the St. Sebastian guild in Bruges is still there and they do still have some 14th-15th Century records, you can do a tour with an appointment.

If you look at this painting...

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e8/Matthias_Gerung_-_Die_Melancholie_im_Garten_des_Lebens.JPG

.. by Matthias Gerung in 1558, you can see that they are shooting archery at targets as part of a traditional schützenfest, just to the left of the fechtschüle, and just below the arquebus and the crossbow. I bet they had records.

The attached image is of the St. Sebastian guild hall in Bruges, I was there in 2019 though I didn't get to go inside. A beautiful ancient building though as such, hardly unusual in Bruges.



 Attachment: 86.01 KB
20190514_115554_SMALL.jpg


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Jonathan Dean




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PostPosted: Sat 27 Mar, 2021 11:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Henri Chandler wrote:
I suspect the reason is a lot of the training with the longbows was done as clout shooting, i.e. area targets.


I'm not so sure. Where pairs of butts have been identified, they're 100m apart or less, which indicates that at least at the village level a lot of shooting was done at the 70-100 meter range. What I have been able to find via the online National Heritage List for England has so far confirmed it, although there are apparently a lot more pairs than I've been able to find. Famous archery fields, like the Finsbury marks, are definitely biased to ranges beyond 11 score (359 combinations from 9 score to 11 score, vs 1943 combinations above 11 score) and prick arrows would have been permissible for the vast majority of targets. Probably most of population of England practiced at these fairly close ranges - which is probably the "convenient distance" reported by Giovanni Michiel where archers shot "in the air" and were still able to hit within half a palm (12.4cm) of the mark (24.8cm diameter circle) - while in some populous regions clout shooting was a hobby for the better off citizens.

Quote:
That said, there were urban guilds (often dedicated to St. Sebastian) which did archery as a competition / sport and by no means just for clout shooting. I know that some of the ones in Flanders did shoot the popinjay and presumably also shot at regular disc type targets.

So I would say even if you can't find records in England for some reason (I don't know anything about that as it is outside my area so to speak) I'd be surprised if you couldn't find something in Flanders or Burgundy or somewhere in Germany where they also had archery guilds. I know that the St. Sebastian guild in Bruges is still there and they do still have some 14th-15th Century records, you can do a tour with an appointment.


The question is whether the archery guilds were using bows as powerful as the English. Dominic Mancini considered English bows and arrows to be significantly thicker than those used elsewhere in Europe, and at least in the painting you linked the bows are significantly different from English bows.

Which is not to say that it wouldn't be handy to have the records (or to be able to read the original manuscript text, a skill I don't have), but just that some caution would be needed in interpreting them. At the very least we'd need some archaeology of what are unambiguously arrowheads that match typically socket diameters for English examples of the period.
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Leo Todeschini
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PostPosted: Sat 27 Mar, 2021 11:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Henri Chandler wrote
Quote:
So while superficially you could say yeah sure 270 meters sounds close to what we are getting - but that isn't the point at which the bolt feebly falls to the grass completely spent, it refers to the effective range, or the danger range in other words.


An arrow or bolt will not be completely spent and will maintain a great deal of its energy at maximum range and the drop off is far less than wlth bullets or balls and so if an arrow/bolt can reach a distance, any distance, it is still a very much lethal projectile.

I would conclude that if a distance is set for safety then that is beyond, plus a bit, the distance a bow can shoot.

Again what a fantastic discussion.

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Anthony Clipsom




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PostPosted: Sun 28 Mar, 2021 2:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
John Smythe and Roger Williams do suggest that 240 yards might be achievable - although Smythe allows that 160 yards might be common


Smythe puts the range of prick arrows at 20 to 24 score - 400-480 yards. This does fit with other evidence of "strong" shooting competitions - Jonathon Davies in "A combersome tying weapon in a throng of men`The decline of the longbow inElizabethan England" quotes an archery competition from 1521 with these ranges. Carew in his Survey of Cornwall also apparently gives 480 yds as maximum prick shaft range. It is fair, however, to note that Smythe was sceptical about these ranges in battlefield terms and Styward has his archers shooting their prick shafts at 240-280 yds under battlefield conditions.

There is a fairly common theme that 240 yards with a livery arrow ought to be possible. Smythe, Williams, Carew and Neade all say this.

There is an interesting summary table in this blog https://leatherworkingreverendsmusings.wordpress.com/2014/02/04/the-range-of-arrows/

In the context of this discussion, both prick shaft and livery arrow ranges are probably relevant, as its more about how far different weapons could shoot different projectiles. Normal and effective battlefield ranges are another discussion as, as Jonathon points out, there are many other factors in play compared with the sports field.

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Jonathan Dean




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PostPosted: Sun 28 Mar, 2021 3:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Anthony Clipsom wrote:
Quote:
John Smythe and Roger Williams do suggest that 240 yards might be achievable - although Smythe allows that 160 yards might be common


Smythe puts the range of prick arrows at 20 to 24 score - 400-480 yards.


He does this to rubbish the idea of firearms hitting anything at scores of yards and explicitly says that the idea of using arrows in warfare that can go this far is fantasy. While it might provide some evidence of the power of the bows themselves - although Rich makes it pretty clear that "gaming" bows were much better for ranged shooting than livery bows - it doesn't provide any real guide to livery arrows being shot from livery bows.

Quote:
There is a fairly common theme that 240 yards with a livery arrow ought to be possible. Smythe, Williams, Carew and Neade all say this.

There is an interesting summary table in this blog https://leatherworkingreverendsmusings.wordpress.com/2014/02/04/the-range-of-arrows/


Smythe gives the range of archers as "eight, nine, tenne, or eleuen scores" three times. I, and probably many others, misread the part where he gives the range of musketeers in contrast with archers, but I've just rechecked and can't see an instance of him giving the range of archers 12 score. The musketeers are, in his opinion, not able to shoot at twelve score, but archers can at 8-11 score. Williams is skeptical of the damage arrows can do at 240 yards, while Styward is clear that "light shafts" are necessary to shoot at ranges of 240 or 280 yards.

In contrast to Carew and Neade, you have experienced military men like Barwick, Rich and Smythe, who all agree at the maximum effective of a livery bow and a livery arrow is 220 yards or less. This matches Christine de Pizan and Fourquevaux's writings pretty well which, combined with Henry VIII's laws, definitely makes it unlikely that many archers were shooting beyond 220 yards with livery bows and arrows, even at the time of the Mary Rose.

Quote:
In the context of this discussion, both prick shaft and livery arrow ranges are probably relevant, as its more about how far different weapons could shoot different projectiles. Normal and effective battlefield ranges are another discussion as, as Jonathon points out, there are many other factors in play compared with the sports field.


I agree. The extremely long range marks are some evidence of the power of the bows, since the Finsbury marks didn't just decline in number, but also in distance between them, by 1737 and IIRC by then bows of 80-100lbs were considered exceptional. Still, I think that the degree to which long range "strong shooting" predominated in practice is overblown. That might be in part due to my belief that most of the population used 100-120ish pound bows (although I do want to stress that I think military bows were mostly in the 140-180lb range), but it's also informed by the existing pairs of archery butts and the one guide we have to English target sizes.
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Anthony Clipsom




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PostPosted: Sun 28 Mar, 2021 4:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
Still, I think that the degree to which long range "strong shooting" predominated in practice is overblown. That might be in part due to my belief that most of the population used 100-120ish pound bows (although I do want to stress that I think military bows were mostly in the 140-180lb range), but it's also informed by the existing pairs of archery butts and the one guide we have to English target sizes.


To be clear, I don't disagree with you except about the 220 yd part, and then only by 20 yds .

The shooting of prick arrows at 400-480 yards is irrelevant to battlefield practice, which is pretty much what Smythe says. Styward is suggesting , if such arrows are used, 240-280 yds is the sort of distance practicable. Also, note Styward isn't describing practice but a suggested innovation - we can't use his words to suggest prick arrows were used on a battlefield at all.

There is, though, some emphasis on the need for archers to be capable of "strong" shots, which I think means an ability to get the full distance out of the bow, whether using prick arrows or not. I mention this as it does run against the popular modern theory that bows were only used for flat trajectory aimed shooting at ranges of 100yds or less.

Incidentally, picking up from earlier discussions on archery contests, we shouldn't perhaps forget this record of a match in Calais in 1478

[i]“If it would please you for your sport and pleasure to meet with us next Thursday (on) the East side of this town in the place called 'the Pane', you shall find a pair of pricks (marks), the length betwix the one and the other being thirteen score tailor’s yards, mete out (measured) with a line. There we, the underwritten, shall meet with as many of your order and shoot with you at the same pricks for a dinner or supper, price 12d a man. And we pray you for your goodly answer within twenty-four hours. Written at Calais the 17 day of August, anno Jesu, ‘78”
[/i]

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PostPosted: Sun 28 Mar, 2021 5:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Leo Todeschini wrote:
Jean Henri Chandler wrote
Quote:
So while superficially you could say yeah sure 270 meters sounds close to what we are getting - but that isn't the point at which the bolt feebly falls to the grass completely spent, it refers to the effective range, or the danger range in other words.


An arrow or bolt will not be completely spent and will maintain a great deal of its energy at maximum range and the drop off is far less than wlth bullets or balls and so if an arrow/bolt can reach a distance, any distance, it is still a very much lethal projectile.

I would conclude that if a distance is set for safety then that is beyond, plus a bit, the distance a bow can shoot.

Again what a fantastic discussion.

Tod


Tod is quite correct (not that he needs me to tell him this Laughing Out Loud )
An arrow fired at a 45 degree angle or thereabouts to get maximum range will still have a horizontal component to its velocity.
And if historical crossbows were firing bolts at 80m/s or more, then on reaching their target, the bolt will still have nearly 100J of energy (give or take) which puts it in the same range as Tod's crossbow bolts, even if it has lost two thirds of it as my calculations suggest. Decidedly still lethal.

If you shoot the bolt upward at an angle greater than 45 degrees or shoot off the top of a high tower or cliff, what will happen eventually is that the bolt will end up falling more or less vertically down at its terminal velocity. This I've calculated at between 47 and 60 m/s, depending on the exact value of the drag coeffient. Definitely still fast enough to ruin your whole day if you're standing underneath. The point being that if the crossbow bolt can reach you, its still very dangerous.

I need to figure out why I can't upload images; my plots of the possible trajectories of an arrow are quite useful to illustrate these points much better than I can explain in words.

A speculative thought: Its far easier to look at where yesterday's arrows landed and say "Let's not go much closer than this or we might get hit", rather than trying to estimate whether the arrows had lost enough energy through air resistance to render them innocuous". I wouldn't even trust my own calculations that far accuracywise, if it were my life on the line. It doesn't prove anything, but it makes sense.

Jean: On the subject of accuracy and speed - As far as I understand (from physics and from talking to people who have shot modern rifles - which I confess I've never done) - accuracy is slightly more dependent on projectile mass than on speed.
The more inertia (speed times mass), the better, so both are important, I grant you. But from Newton's laws, it takes a smaller force to accelerate a lighter projectile (ie. shift it off course) than a heavier one. And aerodynamic forces are proportional to the square of the velocity, so its not a given that increasing inertia by upping speed will be purely to your benefit accuracy-wise. And I've heard and read many people who know firearms (including at least one military analyst) decry the change from 7.62mm to 5.56 for military rifle ammunition, because of the loss of accuracy when operating in windy (or bushy) environments despite - based on experience. So to my knowledge at present, its not a foregone conclusion from their accuracies that they were shooting at higher speed.
Nonethless, I certainly did feel some excitement when I came to a number of 80m/s precisely because I had also seen Andreas Bicher's video of the bolt speed of around 70m/s - so I knew I was getting closer to what was demonstrably possible today, which is always encouraging.

The question of the exact distance represented by an "ell" is very much what I was talking about in the previous thread when I said that it is quite possible that unintentional modern misinterpretation of honest and accurate historical sources was likely to be more of an issue than inaccuracy in the historical sources themselves. If you say that medieval fortification builders record that they effectively bet their lives on the fact that a crossbow was ineffective beyond about 300 ells (for instance), that statement is fact as far as I'm concerned, barring translation error or something similar. They didn't want to get shot by crossbows, and made the best estimate they could based on their experience, so I can't really argue with that. But if we then say that we are assuming English ells, we are making an assumption (probably a well-founded one, since you obviously take scholarly matters seriously and doubtless have good reason for saying so). But if we then also say that because this shows that a bow could shoot 330m or 350m (for instance), an ultimate spent range of 420m is plausible, this is speculation on top of speculation, and is more dubious unless well supported by evidence. For me, this is not about doubting the information in the historical sources, but rather doubting what we take from them, which I feel is no more unreasonable and no less necessary than treating engineering calculations based on uncertain assumptions with scepticism and enquiry.

Now back to bow shapes: I don't have anything more exciting than a statically loaded cantilever beam to show for my FEA simulations yet, so while I work on that, I'm going to bring up an interesting but definitely inconclusive piece of historical evidence that I happened upon the other day, namely Leonardo da Vinci's giant siege crossbow (which is on wikipedia, so I can hopefully link to the image):

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonardo%27s_crossbow#/media/File:Leonardo_crossbow.JPG

Now of course we know that some of da Vinci's designs were flights of fancy (no pun intended) or contained mechanical flaws (like the gearing of his famous "tank" turning the front and back wheels in opposite directions). So I'm not drawing any firm conclusions from this design. But one thing that is worth noting is the construction of his bow lath, and the interesting non-linear taper which he gives it. If nothing else, he was, as an artist, very good at careful observation of form, and he would have been familiar with smaller crossbows. I wish I could read his notes so I could know how much he did by guesswork, how much by using the heuristics developed by his contemporary craftsmen over centuries, and how much he calculated.

Andrew
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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Sun 28 Mar, 2021 8:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jonathan Dean wrote:
Jean Henri Chandler wrote:
I suspect the reason is a lot of the training with the longbows was done as clout shooting, i.e. area targets.


I'm not so sure. Where pairs of butts have been identified, they're 100m apart or less, which indicates that at least at the village level a lot of shooting was done at the 70-100 meter range. What I have been able to find via the online National Heritage List for England has so far confirmed it, although there are apparently a lot more pairs than I've been able to find. Famous archery fields, like the Finsbury marks, are definitely biased to ranges beyond 11 score (359 combinations from 9 score to 11 score, vs 1943 combinations above 11 score) and prick arrows would have been permissible for the vast majority of targets. Probably most of population of England practiced at these fairly close ranges - which is probably the "convenient distance" reported by Giovanni Michiel where archers shot "in the air" and were still able to hit within half a palm (12.4cm) of the mark (24.8cm diameter circle) - while in some populous regions clout shooting was a hobby for the better off citizens.

Quote:
That said, there were urban guilds (often dedicated to St. Sebastian) which did archery as a competition / sport and by no means just for clout shooting. I know that some of the ones in Flanders did shoot the popinjay and presumably also shot at regular disc type targets.

So I would say even if you can't find records in England for some reason (I don't know anything about that as it is outside my area so to speak) I'd be surprised if you couldn't find something in Flanders or Burgundy or somewhere in Germany where they also had archery guilds. I know that the St. Sebastian guild in Bruges is still there and they do still have some 14th-15th Century records, you can do a tour with an appointment.


The question is whether the archery guilds were using bows as powerful as the English. Dominic Mancini considered English bows and arrows to be significantly thicker than those used elsewhere in Europe, and at least in the painting you linked the bows are significantly different from English bows.

Which is not to say that it wouldn't be handy to have the records (or to be able to read the original manuscript text, a skill I don't have), but just that some caution would be needed in interpreting them. At the very least we'd need some archaeology of what are unambiguously arrowheads that match typically socket diameters for English examples of the period.


I think if you will look into it you will find that is another modern myth. Another superficial history-shorthand of something that is at best a half-truth.

English longbows, and English style longbows were not exactly high technology on the order of a Nuclear submarine. The basic method of construction goes back to the Neolithic. English use of (and improvement of) the Welsh style bow became famous (in large part due to the English) and were a known quantity in Continental Europe, available on a fairly large scale since the 13th Century. In Flanders and Burgundy (Flemish towns being technically if not always completely loyal) vassals to the Duke of Burgundy, and the Duke of Burgundy being close allies with the King of England during most of the 100 Years War - they had easy access to longbows from England and purchased a large amount of them. Being technically proficient, and with Le Duc wanting them to use them in his armies, the Flemish towns learned to produce these weapons themselves.

Flemish towns like Bruges, Ypres and Ghent in particular had a very close economic relationship with England in the high and late medieval periods, as the main engine of their economy was textile production, mostly wool, which was made from raw wool imported from England and Scotland. They in turn supplied England with finished textiles and a wide variety of other tools, luxuries, and machines (things like the gears for water wheels). And arms went both ways.

In one example I know of, English mercenaries employed by Charles the Bold at the failed siege of Neuss in 1474 left behind "dozens" of longbows which were taken by the local Guild of St. Sebastian and used by them and by the militia.

Maybe your eyes are better than mine, but I don't think you can estimate the actual characteristics of the bow from that image. That said, I know for a fact that archery guilds in Flanders and several Burgundian cities, and some cities in the Rhineland, did in fact use English longbows. There were even some people shooting them in Italy (where they also experimented with Mongol and Ottoman recurves).

Check this for yourself and I believe you will find it is true. Will take some digging needless to say. But this is a fact and these shooting societies, and the towns they were part of, kept huge amounts of records, and in many cases, those records still exist, waiting to be found. And yes, they are going to be either in archaic Flemish or German, or medieval Latin, but it's not impossible to find somebody to translate things once you locate a potentially interesting document.

One in particular that fans of the English longbow would find interesting is a chronicle or memoir of the Crusading journey of Henry of Bollingbroke, future King Henry IV of England. Scribes in his employ wrote a massive and highly detailed account of these two journeys in Latin, and this included the experiences of 300 longbowmen he brought on his first journey and 50 on his second. The incident I mentioned in Vilnius where they had trouble with crossbow-marksmen is mentioned in that account. It is in Latin but it has quite helpfully already been transcribed. You can find it here among other places:

https://www.worldcat.org/title/expeditions-to-prussia-and-the-holy-land-made-by-henry-earl-of-derby-afterwards-king-henry-iv-in-the-years-1390-1-and-1392-3-being-the-accounts-kept-by-his-treasurer-during-two-years/oclc/4332808

I don't know if anyone has translated it into English yet (my copy has a 120 page English introduction but the actual account is in Latin) but since it has been transcribed you can search the Latin and find pages discussing the bowmen and bows, and then it's not impossible to translate a few short passages.

That isn't to say necessarily easy, it does take some effort. But if we want to understand the period we have a choice - we can either continue to regurgitate cliff-notes shorthand from the Victorian Era through the 20th Century, most of which are basically gibberish, or we can start to penetrate into the actual historical record, which is a bit of work, but often (from experience) pays off with very interesting and sometimes quite surprising new data.

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PostPosted: Sun 28 Mar, 2021 8:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Leo Todeschini wrote:
Jean Henri Chandler wrote
Quote:
So while superficially you could say yeah sure 270 meters sounds close to what we are getting - but that isn't the point at which the bolt feebly falls to the grass completely spent, it refers to the effective range, or the danger range in other words.


An arrow or bolt will not be completely spent and will maintain a great deal of its energy at maximum range and the drop off is far less than wlth bullets or balls and so if an arrow/bolt can reach a distance, any distance, it is still a very much lethal projectile.

I would conclude that if a distance is set for safety then that is beyond, plus a bit, the distance a bow can shoot.

Again what a fantastic discussion.

Tod


And I would say you are incorrect. It would be a pain in the ass to prove this to be frank, but there is a major difference between the notion of safety for civilian hobbyists in 21st Century England, and the notion of safety for military men during a siege in late medieval Prussia, Silesia, or Lithuania. Even beyond the normal range of any individual weapon, devices such as culverins and trestle guns could still hit targets. Those were a bit easier to spot and therefore account for, and didn't move around as easily as a crossbow or arquebus, but they were still a major risk. As was being wounded by a flight arrow or bolt.

Specifically with bows, crossbows and firearms, there was a range at which either the efficacy of the projectile, or the level or accuracy, or both, had fallen off sufficiently that they were no longer considered reliable as killing weapons, but may still have some effect for harassing and incremental morale dampening, so to speak.

The 270 meter figure lets remember, was from Wroclaw militia leaders and specifically meant the range at which they could reliably kill enemies which had made it past the outer field defenses. It was not the outer limit set for the safety a crowd of tourists at a re-enactment event in 21st Century Yorkshire.

This concept of two range bands so to speak is a well known quantity which has been discussed by historians for a long time, (Hans Delbrück mentions this for example, as does Jacob Burckhardt, and so do Jan Długosz and Anneus Piccolomini centuries earlier) . When it comes to Steppe Nomad style recurve bows, (which as I pointed out upthread, typically used 20 gram flight arrows for greater range as distinct from 40 gram military arrows), this is standard practice when shooting for distance, and well understood that it doesn't equate with effective killing range. I believe the same (or similar) is true for longbows and it was definitely the case for crossbows.

However with crossbows, even with normal bolts it was believed in the time that there was a limit specifically to a killing radius, as opposed to a wounding or harassment radius.

Predictably, this discussion is getting way down into the weeds. If I have the time I'll dig up some data to try to support this particular point because it is an important one.

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PostPosted: Sun 28 Mar, 2021 9:18 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Andrew Gill wrote:

Jean: On the subject of accuracy and speed - As far as I understand (from physics and from talking to people who have shot modern rifles - which I confess I've never done) - accuracy is slightly more dependent on projectile mass than on speed.
(snip) And I've heard and read many people who know firearms (including at least one military analyst) decry the change from 7.62mm to 5.56 for military rifle ammunition, because of the loss of accuracy when operating in windy (or bushy) environments despite - based on experience. So to my knowledge at present, its not a foregone conclusion from their accuracies that they were shooting at higher speed.


The estimate of 80-100 m/s was not from me, but from other engineers I've discussed this with and from some academic papers I have read, some of which are still online and I may link to this thread later if I can track them down again (it's been 10-15 years).

I myself am not an engineer but I have shot military rifles.

Larger rifle caliber or bullet weight does not equate to less accuracy. Weapons using the .223 / 5.56 x 45 mm NATO round are very accurate up to around 250 meters. It starts to fall off after that. If you wanted to compare that to a 7.62 or larger caliber, it would very much matter which 7.62 you are talking about. 7.62 x 39 has a low velocity, but that is a far cry from a .308 (7.62 / 51mm NATO), a larger caliber like .338 or say, a .50 cal.

.223 Remington velocity muzzle 3300 fps / 100 yards 2889 / 200 yards 2514 / 300 yards 2168 fps
7.62 x 39 Soviet (Ak-47) muzzle 2300 fps / 100 yards 2030 / 200 yards 1780 / 300 yards 1550 fps
.308 Win (7.62 NATO) muzzle 2700 / 100 yards 2613 / 200 yards 2333 / 300 yards 2161 fps
.50 BMG (12.7mm) muzzle 2815 / 100 yards 2727 / 200 yards 2641 / 300 yards 2557 fps

For military purposes, it's well known that the .30 cal weapons (.308 etc.) out range the .223 weapons. So which is more accurate depends on what you are shooting at. If I wanted to hit a squirrel 150 meters away, I'd rather have an AR-15 (.223) if I wanted to hit a deer 350 meters away, I'd rather have a .30-06.

I have personally been at a range on the same day with several other people shooting a variety of NATO and Warsaw pact weapons, including the M-16A2 and the British L1A1 (FN-FAL) and their at the time brand new L85, German G3 etc., at targets up to 500 meters. We were shooting at human silhouette (torso sized) popup targets which go down when you hit them. The most accurate rifle at over 300 meters hands down was an old Moisin -Nagant WW2 era antique Soviet rifle, which amazed all of us (caliber 7.62 x 54), followed by Remington 700 hunting rifle (re-designated for the military as an "M24 sniper rifle", chambered for .338). The L1A1 and the G3 outranged our M-16s and the L85, which was constantly jamming. Aside from that, the crew served machine guns were on tripods out-ranged all the rifles.

Of course from here, we would have to ask, how does a 100 meter target for a crossbow compare to a 300 meter target for a rifle.

Quote:

The question of the exact distance represented by an "ell" is very much what I was talking about in the previous thread when I said that it is quite possible that unintentional modern misinterpretation of honest and accurate historical sources was likely to be more of an issue than inaccuracy in the historical sources themselves. (snip) For me, this is not about doubting the information in the historical sources, but rather doubting what we take from them, which I feel is no more unreasonable and no less necessary than treating engineering calculations based on uncertain assumptions with scepticism and enquiry.


Right, that is why I say it's basically a matter of faith- you have a lot of faith in the (to me, rather hasty) back of the envelope calculations based on your (again, no offense but I think rather superficial) analysis, and the performance of a very small number of modern replicas. I have faith in the type of period records I've been looking at, and am familiar with the data sufficiently to have drawn my own tentative conclusions. It's not that I couldn't let those go, but I just don't see the counter-narrative as sufficiently convincing to do so.

Keep in mind, I have only shared a few specific data points. This is not all I have nor am I the only person to recognize the pattern. There is a lot of data but not all of it can be tracked down to the original sources which in turn can be found online scanned and ready to look at in order to verify them.

In this debate, we are again, talking about a handful of replica makers, of whom so far as I know, only mr. Bichler made very detailed / scholarly examination of period literary sources and antiques (there may be others, but I don't know details about their weapons). And so far as I know Bichler was the first to achieve anything close to what myself and others believe the historical sources are suggesting in terms of performance. This is both a very recent development and clearly still in the early stages of figuring these artifacts out. We know that he has acknowledged he still has a lot to learn and his designs are improving.

If we low-balled the estimates on range and performance of the medieval weapons, Bichler would seem to have already exceeded them. And I think that is a bit unlikely. Given the trajectory of his work, I think he is going to end up in the ball park of what has been described in the past.

Conversely, I don't know how long this theory that steel prod crossbows were inferior has been around, but it seems to me like it's just a reaction to a few modern attempts to make semi-serious replicas by a handful of people. Again, I've yet to see a period source which suggests that steel prod weapons were inferior in terms or range or accuracy. To the contrary, they seem to have been preferred in many places (most places where the cold weather wasn't so severe). If there was a drop of 30-40% in range or accuracy, I do not think they would have been widely adopted. Given that an average artisan not only could afford a crossbow of either type, but was obligated to buy one as part of town citizenship, would they risk their life on an inferior weapon?

It seems unlikely to me.

J

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PostPosted: Sun 28 Mar, 2021 9:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
Jean: On the subject of accuracy and speed - As far as I understand (from physics and from talking to people who have shot modern rifles - which I confess I've never done) - accuracy is slightly more dependent on projectile mass than on speed.
(snip) And I've heard and read many people who know firearms (including at least one military analyst) decry the change from 7.62mm to 5.56 for military rifle ammunition, because of the loss of accuracy when operating in windy (or bushy) environments despite - based on experience. So to my knowledge at present, its not a foregone conclusion from their accuracies that they were shooting at higher speed.


Anyway, the firearms discussion is a bit of a sidetrack. Given that we actually know the weight and size of the bolts used (the diameter of the bolt is also specified on the invitation, and some bolts have survived which are directly linked to these events) we know the weight of the bolt was roughly around 80 grams. So the estimate is largely based on that.

Given the same weight and size bolt, you need higher initial velocity for greater accuracy.

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PostPosted: Sun 28 Mar, 2021 10:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Anthony Clipsom wrote:
There is, though, some emphasis on the need for archers to be capable of "strong" shots, which I think means an ability to get the full distance out of the bow, whether using prick arrows or not. I mention this as it does run against the popular modern theory that bows were only used for flat trajectory aimed shooting at ranges of 100yds or less.


Oh yes, that one. I used to buy into it until I realised that there is artwork of archers shooting at each other on a trajectory that doesn't involve sieges, that artwork where archers are shooting flat exists where the archers would in reality be shooting at a trajectory and that 16th century military authors all assume long range shooting as a matter of course. While it's possible that things had changed by the 16th century, I tend to think that Christine de Pizan's record of the English practicing against barges shows that it was certainly the practice in the very early 15th century, and probably also in the 14th.

Jean Henri Chandler wrote:
I think if you will look into it you will find that is another modern myth. Another superficial history-shorthand of something that is at best a half-truth.


Considering that it comes from a late 15th century Italian, if it's a myth it's a medieval myth, not a modern one.

Quote:
The basic method of construction goes back to the Neolithic. English use of (and improvement of) the Welsh style bow became famous (in large part due to the English) and were a known quantity in Continental Europe, available on a fairly large scale since the 13th Century.


Speaking of myths, the "Welsh" longbow is a 19th century myth.

Quote:
In one example I know of, English mercenaries employed by Charles the Bold at the failed siege of Neuss in 1474 left behind "dozens" of longbows which were taken by the local Guild of St. Sebastian and used by them and by the militia.


Were all of the English bows useable, or just some? What quality were the English mercenaries? Were the bows instantly useable?

Quote:
Maybe your eyes are better than mine, but I don't think you can estimate the actual characteristics of the bow from that image. That said, I know for a fact that archery guilds in Flanders and several Burgundian cities, and some cities in the Rhineland, did in fact use English longbows. There were even some people shooting them in Italy (where they also experimented with Mongol and Ottoman recurves).


I mean, the left hand archer's bow is really only about as long as from the ground to his shoulder when strung, and the right hand archer is drawing to his chest rather than to his ear, both of which suggest a shorter draw length regardless of how powerful the bow is. The guilds and Italians might have been using "English" longbows, but were they as powerful as English longbows? Dominic Mancini didn't think so, hence my emphasis on needing to look at the socket diameters in order to verify what level of similarity we have.

Quote:
One in particular that fans of the English longbow would find interesting is a chronicle or memoir of the Crusading journey of Henry of Bollingbroke, future King Henry IV of England. Scribes in his employ wrote a massive and highly detailed account of these two journeys in Latin, and this included the experiences of 300 longbowmen he brought on his first journey and 50 on his second. The incident I mentioned in Vilnius where they had trouble with crossbow-marksmen is mentioned in that account. It is in Latin but it has quite helpfully already been transcribed.


Do you have a page number? I've done a quick skim and can't find mention of them fighting against crossbowmen.

Quote:
That isn't to say necessarily easy, it does take some effort. But if we want to understand the period we have a choice - we can either continue to regurgitate cliff-notes shorthand from the Victorian Era through the 20th Century, most of which are basically gibberish, or we can start to penetrate into the actual historical record, which is a bit of work, but often (from experience) pays off with very interesting and sometimes quite surprising new data.


Tell me, Jean, where have I used Victorian or 20th century scholarship instead of the archaeology and the primary sources to inform my views? Where have I not made an effort to get into the actual historical record? Where have I been lazy, as you seem to think I am?

You're the only one of us to make use of Victorian scholarship so far.
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PostPosted: Sun 28 Mar, 2021 11:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jonathan Dean wrote:


Tell me, Jean, where have I used Victorian or 20th century scholarship instead of the archaeology and the primary sources to inform my views? Where have I not made an effort to get into the actual historical record? Where have I been lazy, as you seem to think I am?

You're the only one of us to make use of Victorian scholarship so far.


You seem to think that nobody on the continent had or could shoot 'real' English longbows. To me that is a myth.

Considering that English longbowmen were fighting on the continent as mercenaries for centuries, that England was the direct ruler of parts of what is now France for generations, that longbows were being imported (and the wood to make them exported) via Continental European polities since the 13th Century, and that at least thousands of English longbowmen died or were captured in Continental Europe - not just in France during the 100 Years war but well beyond and in other conflicts, I'd say you are not entirely relying on facts here. That sounds more like a legend.

You are aware that the Duke of Burgundy was using English longbowmen as mercenaries and training his own people in the use of the English version of the weapon in the 15th Century, right?

English longbowmen may have been considered the best at using that particular weapon in aggregate, or for large armies, but I was referring to small shooting societies, militia units and mercenary companies.

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PostPosted: Sun 28 Mar, 2021 12:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

[quote="Jonathan Dean"]

Quote:
Speaking of myths, the "Welsh" longbow is a 19th century myth.


I think that deserves another thread all it's own.

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Bartek Strojek




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PostPosted: Sun 28 Mar, 2021 12:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Henri Chandler wrote:
Quote:
Jean: On the subject of accuracy and speed - As far as I understand (from physics and from talking to people who have shot modern rifles - which I confess I've never done) - accuracy is slightly more dependent on projectile mass than on speed.
(snip) And I've heard and read many people who know firearms (including at least one military analyst) decry the change from 7.62mm to 5.56 for military rifle ammunition, because of the loss of accuracy when operating in windy (or bushy) environments despite - based on experience. So to my knowledge at present, its not a foregone conclusion from their accuracies that they were shooting at higher speed.


Anyway, the firearms discussion is a bit of a sidetrack. Given that we actually know the weight and size of the bolts used (the diameter of the bolt is also specified on the invitation, and some bolts have survived which are directly linked to these events) we know the weight of the bolt was roughly around 80 grams. So the estimate is largely based on that.

Given the same weight and size bolt, you need higher initial velocity for greater accuracy.


Eighty gram bolt going on at postulated 90 m/s would have way over 300 J of energy (about 325) though, the energy of one of those giant Bichler "rampart" crossbows not more regular ones.
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