Reply To: Bows and archery

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Hans Hellinger

Wow epic post! I’ll hve to watch those videos to catch up.

My point about longbows is this (from a historical perspective):

Steppe nomad recurve bows were used basically two ways – with flight arrows as harassing weapons from a distance, and with heavier arrows to kill at close range.

Jan Dlugosz described it this way:

“The Tartars wage war in a way quite different to that of other nations. They fight from a distance, pour a rain of arrows around and on the enemy, then dart in to attack and swiftly withdraw; and always they are on horseback. Often they pretend to flee and then wound or kill those who thoughtlessly pursue them. They use neither drums nor trumpets. Often they leave the battlefield in the full fervour of the fight, only to return to it shortly afterwards.”

With flight arrows, the recurve bows had very long range. All their arrows varied somewhat in weight and length but the average was about 20 grams for flight arrows, and 40 grams for war or hunting arrows. Their range with the war-arrows was considerably less than with the flight arrows. Maybe about 250m effective range with war arrows and 350 or more with flight arrows.

Longbows were also used with both flight arrows and various types of war arrows. With broadhead arrows they could still shoot pretty far, perhaps about the same 250 meters range as Mongols and Turks managed with their recurves. People in the English warbow society have managed shots as far as 300 meters with broadheads. But their arrows are heavier, again there is a lot of variability, but the average weight for a broadhead is estimated at around 60 grams. So that is a much heavier payload. However maximum range with the (roughly 30 gram) flight arrows is only slighly improved, at around 280 – 300 meters.

Crossbow bolts for hand portable (as opposed to siege type) crossbows were around 80 grams. Wall crossbow bolts could be as much as 250 grams. Range is still hotly debated, but Raplph Payne Gallwey claims to have shot an antique one a distance of about 400 meters around the turn of the 19th / 20th Centuries. Modern replicas have rarely exceeded 250 meters.