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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Tue 25 Nov, 2014 1:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mongol bows circa 1210 probably may not have been as small or physically light as iconic Turkish bows, which are about as optimized for shooting light arrows as composite bows get, but I don't know of any firm evidence for Mongol bow draw weights or reason to believe they were higher than for Turkish bows. A surprising number of twentieth- and twenty-first-century texts claim Mongol bows averaged (or even started at!) 166lbs, but I've never seen the basis for this assertion. It'd be interesting to track that down, but I strikes me as unlikely for cavalry bows.

A Song Chinese military manual from 1044 details a system of rotating volley shooting for crossbowers and claims that the crossbows is the "most efficient" of all weapons even at close range. This system apparently saw some successful use against mounted archers but encountered trouble as heavily armored cavalry. I can't think of a source for European rotating volley shooting with crossbows off the top of my head, but Monluc recounted having crossbows plus a few gunners under his commander shoot volleys, though that was a relatively small unit of something like 50-100 if I recall correctly.

Out of doubt, out of dark to the day's rising
I came singing in the sun, sword unsheathing.
To hope's end I rode and to heart's breaking:
Now for wrath, now for ruin and a red nightfall!
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Tue 25 Nov, 2014 3:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gary T wrote:
Quote:
Ancient Persians (as in Persian-Greek wars Persians) used the Central Asian composite bow.


That I knew, but could the draw weight have changed? Real hard to say, whether there was in evolution in draw weight to armor, or whether that was an ideal weight to use at a 90-120 draw weight.

You would think accuracy, rate of fire and not causing undue fatigue would be an issue, and with all but accuracy that is indeed an issue, accuracy being an issue is debatable.


Without armour, I think that lower draw weights are better (maybe 50-70lbs?). More than 90-120lbs would be good when facing armour, but the draw weight of the average bow is limited by the average archer.

I've seen claims that ancient Persian bows were relatively low draw weight compared to Medieval longbows and Ottoman bows. However, in Xenophon's Anabasis, we have "the arrows pierced through shield and cuirass", suggesting that at least some bows were high draw weight.

"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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Gary T




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PostPosted: Tue 25 Nov, 2014 3:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
I've seen claims that ancient Persian bows were relatively low draw weight compared to Medieval longbows and Ottoman bows. However, in Xenophon's Anabasis, we have "the arrows pierced through shield and cuirass", suggesting that at least some bows were high draw weight.


Yeah, it's hard to tell historical fallacies verses those that have a bit of evidence when it comes to bows. Finding true physical evidence is much a rarity.

Any ancient bow been estimated for draw weight? I think Otzi's bow was not close enough to being done to get an idea. Almost 6 foot, and of yew, but no real idea as to thickness.
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Will S




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PostPosted: Tue 25 Nov, 2014 5:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

At the risk of starting an argument, I think Otzis bow was finished. There are way too many pieces of evidence FOR it to have been a working bow than against it. For instance, why wander up to the desolate alps carrying a quiver of arrows.... And an unfinished bow stave? What was he gonna do, baseball-bat the arrows at prey/enemies using the stave? Or the fact that the tool marks present on the bow are arguably finishing marks, as compared to roughing out marks. Either way, with it being high altitude Alpine yew and the same dimensions as a Mary Rose bow (more or less) the same draw weight estimates could be made.

There is also the Balinderry Bow, a finished Viking bow from the 10th Century which had identical proportions to the MR bows, and the Hedeby bow of which modern replicas have been made, coming out around 150lbs.
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Sat 06 Dec, 2014 5:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As far as draw weights go, note that lower draw weights do have various advantages - particularly speed and accuracy. I don't if any archer alive can shoot twelve arrows in a minute with a 150+lb English-style yew bow. Simon Stanley can do at least eight per minute but prefers to shoot slower while Mark Stretton apparently couldn't do better than an arrow every seven seconds (a little over eight and half per minute). On the other hand, various archers can shoot 80-100lb bows at above twelve per minute. So an archer who could handle a 150lb bow might prefer to shoot a 100-120lb bow instead in order to shoot more quickly. Procopius mentioned exactly this trade-off:

Quote:
For the arrows, shot from either side in very great numbers, caused great loss of life in both armies, while some placed themselves in the interval between the armies and made a display of valorous deeds against each other, and especially among the Persians they were falling by the arrows in great numbers. For while their missiles were incomparably more frequent, since the Persians are almost all bowmen and they learn to make their shots much more rapidly than any other men, still the bows which sent the arrows were weak and not very[33-38] tightly strung, so that their missiles, hitting a corselet, perhaps, or helmet or shield of a Roman warrior, were broken off and had no power to hurt the man who was hit. The Roman bowmen are always slower indeed, but inasmuch as their bows are extremely stiff and very tightly strung, and one might add that they are handled by stronger men, they easily slay much greater numbers of those they hit than do the Persians, for no armour proves an obstacle to the force of their arrows.


In many ways a 60-80lb Turkish-style short composite with light arrows seems the ideal style to use against unarmored foes. A master archer could shoot an arrow every second or two with such a bow judging by Lajos Kassai. But we do have evidence for heavy bows among warrior who used little if any armor. Sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Iberian sources describe the bows of Native peoples in what's now the Southeastern United States as extremely potent and equivalent to the English bow.

Out of doubt, out of dark to the day's rising
I came singing in the sun, sword unsheathing.
To hope's end I rode and to heart's breaking:
Now for wrath, now for ruin and a red nightfall!
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Will S




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PostPosted: Sun 07 Dec, 2014 2:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Did you watch the video Glennan posted? Joe shooting 6 arrows from a 170lb English Warbow, averaging about 4 or 5 seconds per arrow but by no means trying to do it quickly - the arrows aren't ready close by for him to pick up quickly, he's taking his time nocking and you can see that he's very relaxed.

I've no doubt at all that if he wanted to he could get pretty damn close to 12 in a minute. In the video he's essentially just taking his time shooting 6, and despite the video also containing a large amount of time dedicated to showing the bow and Joe walking to his shooting spot, the whole thing is only 2 minutes long.
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Sun 07 Dec, 2014 7:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Joe Gibbs takes over ten seconds per arrow on average in that video. He starts shooting around 0:50 and ends around 1:55. I bet he could shoot as fast as Simon Stanley or Mark Stretton if he wanted to, but there's no evidence I know of that he could shoot faster (which doesn't mean he couldn't).
Out of doubt, out of dark to the day's rising
I came singing in the sun, sword unsheathing.
To hope's end I rode and to heart's breaking:
Now for wrath, now for ruin and a red nightfall!
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Will S




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PostPosted: Sun 07 Dec, 2014 3:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yeah it's 10 seconds if you include the very relaxed way he's bending down and picking up arrows and taking his time to nock. All of that would be done in a heartbeat if he was trying for speed. As you said though, evidence is what matters.
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Sun 07 Dec, 2014 5:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Another point of evidence: According to Mike Loades, Mark Stretton wrote that he could shoot ten arrows per minute with a 140lb bow but not twenty arrows in two minutes. Juliet Barker writes that an early 15th-century source sets ten aimed arrows per minute as the minimum standard (National Archives E101/45/19). At the end of the 16th-century, Sir John Smythe wrote that a good archer could shoot four or five arrows per bullet shot by an arquebusier who charged properly. If we assume around two shots per minute for the arquebus, which seems reasonable, then we get eight to ten arrows per minute for Smythe's archer.
Out of doubt, out of dark to the day's rising
I came singing in the sun, sword unsheathing.
To hope's end I rode and to heart's breaking:
Now for wrath, now for ruin and a red nightfall!
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Mon 08 Dec, 2014 6:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

That is odd. I think I have seen Mark shoot faster than that before so I am not sure. Where did you hear/read this? Regardless I have seen guys with all 120plus bows unload upwards of 22 a minute easy so if we are using this as a starting point, it for sure can be done. Our average was mid to high teens per minute the various times we did it. I think several were up toward the 140lb mark for draw weight as well.

The difference is aimed. Aimed slows things down. but when you have 5-10k men before you aiming is not really a big deal and I suspect it was simply directional for the most part.

I suspect archers were expected to do both and would use more or less arrows per minute accordingly.


RPM
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Bartek Strojek




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PostPosted: Mon 08 Dec, 2014 8:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Randall Moffett wrote:


The difference is aimed. Aimed slows things down. but when you have 5-10k men before you aiming is not really a big deal and I suspect it was simply directional for the most part.
.


It's not particularly feasible to expect 5000 men to be 'before you' though.

Assuming that one man takes just 1m of space, the line will be 500 meter long, so even standing before the center the extremes can be well beside the radius of range.

And 10 men deep is still easy enough to over/under arch.

Even in huge battles like Grunwald or Towton the side numbering 30k wouldn't likely push forward anything resembling 5k blocks of men.

So during tactical disasters like Agincourt, archer could have luxury of shooting at few thousands of crowded men, but those would be exceptions most of the time.
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Mon 08 Dec, 2014 8:47 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mike Loades cites personal correspondence with Mark Stretton on page 69 of The Longbow for the 10 per minute but not 20 in two minutes. Stretton's one aimed arrow every seven seconds under stressed conditions comes from Secrets of the English Warbow. The figure of eight per minute for Simon Stanley comes from this paper; it's for bows around 180lbs. Stanley is also cited as preferring 6 or fewer shots per minute with the very heavy bows in The Great Warbow.

Another historical data point is Wasa Daihachiro's feat of shooting 13,053 arrows over a 24hr period. That's about 9 arrows per minute for an entire day! I would assume he actually took a few breaks, so he probably shot faster when he was shooting. Of course, that's for a different style of bow. For short composites, we have the famous 3 arrows in 1.5 seconds from that Mamluke manual.

Out of doubt, out of dark to the day's rising
I came singing in the sun, sword unsheathing.
To hope's end I rode and to heart's breaking:
Now for wrath, now for ruin and a red nightfall!
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Tue 09 Dec, 2014 5:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bartek,

Yes but you are not aiming at one guy still you are aiming at blocks of men and even this may be incorrect as I think it was largely just in the right direction and distance. Why people likely do clout shooting to this day. Yes they were generally trying to hit targets but I very much doubt when the battle began it was picking anything very specific. Even if something like half the arrows miss they are still hitting half the time. Multiply this by the millions of arrows brought on the Crecy campaign and it is easy to see the utility. Yes as I said directional aiming is used but it is not like they are shooting for the center of the target at distance. That is close work. When the battle starts it is the black sky they are working toward. No matter how you slice it at distance you are likely to hit the enemy fairly often if you have 1000-10k archers and are having them all shoot across a field at another group as large if not larger. You even explained part of that yourself but may have missed it. Yes arrows will go over the front of the line. And land where the rear ranks are causing continued casualties. At 100 yards a small group of archers loosed arrows into a roped off area of not more than perhaps 50 yards by 10. They made the place so riddled by arrows after only a few minutes that this type of attack to me clearly must have been effective.

Personally I think most pitched battles with large numbers of archers would have this element. Agincourt or not. The question of how effective is far to variable to generalize though. How does the enemy leadership prepare and plan to deal with them. What troops and equipment they have to counter etc.

Ben,

Aiming is different than directional loosing of arrows. You would not be taking marks at distance. You are using evidence focused on taking time and shooting at a mark over what for the English would have been volume of arrows. More a quantity over quality thing.

I will ask Mark about it when I email him next but I really think this is him taking time to pick a target out which is very much different.

RPM
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Tue 09 Dec, 2014 10:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A video of somebody shooting 10+ arrows in a minute with a 150+lb bow would settle the matter. Perhaps the evidence from Simon Stanley in The Great Warbow is outdated or only applicable to him.

I think think somewhere around 8-12 arrows per minute fits with the best evidence for historical English archers. Sir John Smythe's 4-5 arrows per properly charged harquebus shot makes much more than 12 arrows per minute unlikely, because Smythe specified that harquebusiers could shoot faster but such shooting was useless. I can't see even rushing gunners managing more than 5 shots per minute with a matchlock harquebus, so I doubt the properly charging harquebusiers got more than 2-3 shots per minute. And of course Humphrey Barwick disputed Smythe's figures.

Out of doubt, out of dark to the day's rising
I came singing in the sun, sword unsheathing.
To hope's end I rode and to heart's breaking:
Now for wrath, now for ruin and a red nightfall!
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Tue 09 Dec, 2014 3:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ben,

A video would indeed be nice but I do not have access to one. To me it is settled though. I have seen it on several occasions with my own eyes and often been the timer (as I was usually the announcer/speaker when I was there). We did this in our archer demo on several occasions with Glennan, Nick B., Nick A. Steve, Martin and the other guys. So not an anomaly either. Martin was our fastest typically of the archers when I was present. I only remember Mark being at a few so I am not the best regarding how fast he is or not. I am sure someone took a video of one of them as there were hundreds if not more people at many of the big presentations there but I do not have it if they did. Last time was the big Herstmonceux Medieval Faire in 2008. There was a smaller shoot but I forgot where it was in 2008 as well. Since they are in the UK and I am in the US I doubt very much I could organize something like this to record for you. That said I have another crew of archers here stateside training up so who knows perhaps.

Why are you so focused on the 150lb bow? Anything above 120lb seems pretty much to be a serviceable warbow from everything I have seen. Maybe even lower around 100lbs draw even if the MR bows are to be trusted.

Seeing how Smyth is well after the heyday of military archer I think that is likely a slower estimate than earlier as all evidence indicates stagnation by that point. And during the apex I have never seen any clear indication of speed. But that is why we recreate the objects and test them out. Much can change in 150-200 years or more. I know Martin still shoots in the

I can ask around to see if Nick A. or any of the guys have a video like that for you but that is the best I can do at this point.


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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Tue 09 Dec, 2014 5:46 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ben,

I should add as well that I do not think it likely all archers can shoot so fast as well as the upper teens into the 20s. I think it is sort of like trick shooting to a certain degree and that shooting too fast likely has limited real military application. But I think their average at our shootouts might be along the right lines.

RPM
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Tue 09 Dec, 2014 7:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The average Mary Rose bow was 150-160lbs according to The Great Warbow. I'm also going off of Primitive Archer forum threads from a few years ago. I believe you're accurately reporting what you saw, and obviously people can shoot various kinds of bows even faster than 20/minute, but folks like Stanley (and Stretton according to Loades) emphasize how physically taxing it is to shoot the heavier bows (140+lbs and especially 170+lbs).
Out of doubt, out of dark to the day's rising
I came singing in the sun, sword unsheathing.
To hope's end I rode and to heart's breaking:
Now for wrath, now for ruin and a red nightfall!
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Tue 09 Dec, 2014 11:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There would also be the problem of running out of arrows. At 20/minute, even if they carried 60 arrows there would be none left after three minutes.
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Wed 10 Dec, 2014 5:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ben,

That is true but the Great Warbow also states they had bows from 100 to 180lbs so yes the average was around 150 that does not indicate the bows for war all were. As well the fact it is Henry VIII's flagship really makes me think elite. I am not sure we have an elite group.

I know some of the guys who participated were pulling pretty heavy bows. I am sure I wrote them down. I sort of kept a journal.

Dan,

Yep. To me it is likely a logistics thing. Even if a company of gents scrambled about dropping arrows an archer would exhaust the arrows at super high volumes.

RPM
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Joseph Gora





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PostPosted: Sat 06 Jun, 2015 3:16 am    Post subject: shields and penetration of arrows         Reply with quote

Hi all,

I know this ios an old thread, but I was wondering what people thought of this:

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

Yes it's that popular tv show - but the test seems much better than simply shooting an arrow into a few planks and declaring victory for the archer. Good wood, shaping, and a decent hide cover seem to make a considerable difference. And note that the wood here is thin.

Cheers,

Joseph
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