long bows - evidence of drawing to mouth or ear?

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kate/bob
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long bows - evidence of drawing to mouth or ear?

Postby kate/bob » Mon Oct 15, 2012 1:12 pm

My interest in archery has been re-kindled recently and I've started to question a number of "truths" that I've been told over the years.

One thing that I'm having problems finding evidence for is where medieval archers drew to - their mouths or ears. I've a couple of pictures in books of people drawing to their ears (like the one on the front of Robert Hardy's book), but I'm not sure how much store to put in them?

Any evidence to lessen the amount of rubbish I spout to people next season greatly appreciated!



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EnglishArcher
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Re: long bows - evidence of drawing to mouth or ear?

Postby EnglishArcher » Mon Oct 15, 2012 1:34 pm

The very upright stance, drawing to the chin, is a Victorian idea developed by Horace Ford, and perfected by the Koreans into the modern 'sport' shooting style. The same (that is, Victorian) thing could be said of the American draw to the corner of the mouth. In my view that technique has provenance and dating, and should NOT be used when demonstrating earlier shooting technique (in the same way you shouldn't use modern sabre techniques to demonstrate how a renaissance rapier should be used.)

If you try and draw in a Victorian style you will NEVER be able to shoot a heavy weight bow with any accuracy (and no, 80lb is not a heavy bow).

It's very doubtful there was any formalised shooting style in the medieval period so archers probably did either a) what was natural or b) what there fathers/brothers taught them.

If you watch a child shoot they will tend to pick up a bow and haul the arrow back as far as they can. Children tend to have a very good natural technique. It's teaching that breaks them of that ability in favour of a systematised, formal method.

Probably every variation of technique was around.

Personally, as a shooter of military bows I draw to the end of the arrow. If I want an arrow to have maximum power for distance or impact, an arrow sticking out the end of the bow is just 'dead weight' and contributes nothing to the shot. I also try and get my draw-arm elbow, hand and shoulder in-line with my bow hand as that gives me the greatest stability (and hence control). My arrows are therefore of an appropriate length to allow that (in my case 33", as I'm 6' 2").

It doesn't matter what bow weight you shoot, but if you can't shoot with maximum power and still be in control then you're not a competent (military) archer.

I would learn the earlier-style draw and use it to compare-and-contrast with the modern (Victorian) technique. That is interesting to both the lay public and those with some archery background.


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kate/bob
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Re: long bows - evidence of drawing to mouth or ear?

Postby kate/bob » Tue Oct 16, 2012 12:04 pm

thank you for a very sensible answer!

If there wasn't a "proper" technique then that may explain the differences in period pictures of archers.

When I started shooting I was told that the way to make sure that my arrows were the correct length was to put the shaft to my chest, hold it between both hands and cut it where my fingers ended. This means that I can't ever pull to my ear as the arrow will fall off the string! Any more I make I'll make longer so I can at least attempt a longer draw.



Phoenix Rising
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Re: long bows - evidence of drawing to mouth or ear?

Postby Phoenix Rising » Tue Oct 16, 2012 4:13 pm

Have to agree with English Archer - I think then, as now, many differing shooting syles would have existed, not just the one. So much would depend upon both the experience of the archer, where and how they learned to shoot, and of course the circumstances in which the bow was being used.

Also, as we find now, most archers find 'anchor' points that they use time and again - these being landmarks on your chin / face that are easily felt by the fingers or the thumb. Such anchors aid in the consistency of shot, but not everyone has the same anchor point. I think too the same could be argued for the 'canting' of the bow - some archers might have done, others might not have.



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EnglishArcher
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Re: long bows - evidence of drawing to mouth or ear?

Postby EnglishArcher » Tue Oct 16, 2012 5:22 pm

My anchor point is actually when the draw-arm elbow is in-line with the shoulder. At this point the weight of the bow is transferred along the skeleton and doesn't required muscle strength to hold (only to stabilise - which is much less effort). This position puts my hand somewhere near the right shoulder, back and behind the ear.


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Rookster
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Re: long bows - evidence of drawing to mouth or ear?

Postby Rookster » Tue Oct 16, 2012 8:46 pm

I've just been trying pulling the draw-arm back until the elbow is in line and it does make things much more stable, but given your quote above what is the draw weight of your bow ? 33 inches is a hell of a long way back with a heavy bow !



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Re: long bows - evidence of drawing to mouth or ear?

Postby EnglishArcher » Wed Oct 17, 2012 8:31 am

I don't own any really heavy bows. My everyday shooting bow is Italian Yew, around 110lb @ 32; my 'flight' bow (also Italian Yew) is around 125lb. I say "around" because neither bow has been accurately measured recently, and to be honest I'm not that interested. Draw weight is only the vaguest indicator of a bow's performance. I've shot 125lb bows that feel more like 140 and 145lb bows that feel like wet knicker elastic.

I encourage any longbow archer to work on increasing their draw-length. You'll always get more out of a lighter bow drawn longer than a heavier bow drawn short.

Many 'experts' will tell you that drawing to the ear (shoulder, etc.) isn't as accurate as drawing to the chin (corner of mouth, etc.). Not true. If you don't have a consistent technique, THEN you cannot be accurate. When you change to a longer draw you're likely to become less accurate but once you are comfortable and consistent with the technique your accuracy will be as good as it is with any other technique (that is, as good as you are!)


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Rookster
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Re: long bows - evidence of drawing to mouth or ear?

Postby Rookster » Sat Oct 20, 2012 9:52 am

I'm giving it a try ! Got a bit of elbow wobble going when I experimented befor emy last post - I'm happy drawing to the ear and agree entirely with what you say about accuracy - if you keep consistent with what you do then your aiming should remain the same, the draw should remain the same and then your accuracy should remain the same - it's the same priciples of marksmanship with whatever you shoot.



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Re: long bows - evidence of drawing to mouth or ear?

Postby EnglishArcher » Sat Oct 20, 2012 10:31 am

Here are some images of me shooting. All the bows are over 100lb and the arrows are 33" nock-to-shoulder.

Spot the difference! (Two photos actually taken two arrows apart):

Image
Image

Closer:

Image

From the back, showing the elbow in-line:

Image

Another shot, taken a year later (and about 9000 miles away):

Image


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Re: long bows - evidence of drawing to mouth or ear?

Postby petterchan » Sat Oct 27, 2012 5:44 am

hi EnglishArcher i wonder how you can shoot the target in that position.I'm just new in bows and i admit that i still have to learn many things..


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AndyandHelen
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Re: long bows - evidence of drawing to mouth or ear?

Postby AndyandHelen » Sun Oct 28, 2012 12:08 pm

I'd say he can shoot easily, look at his body position and its immediately apparent that he is using all his body weight and core muscles to help work his back, shoulders and arms into working the bow. As a result he can shoot the powerful bow, that otherwise you'd struggle with. It's certainly not a formal match stance and I dare say that BLBS instructors would be peed off with it but compare his stance with any Medieval illustration and I think more times than not he is showing the correct technique, if indeed there was anything that formal in the Medieval period. Remember its thanks to the Victorians that we have agreed standards and rules, that goes across the board for any game or activity you care to mention. So as he has said whatever would have worked for them is probably what they would have done.



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Re: long bows - evidence of drawing to mouth or ear?

Postby EnglishArcher » Sun Oct 28, 2012 10:17 pm

petterchan wrote:hi EnglishArcher i wonder how you can shoot the target in that position.I'm just new in bows and i admit that i still have to learn many things..


Simple: practice, practice, practice.

Admittedly, the photos above show me apparently aiming at the floor rather a lot. I tend to draw with the bow pointed low to help me 'push' into the draw; as I get to full draw I lift the bow to aim.

All the foundations of any archery form are present - draw-force line, anchor point, stability, a swift, sharp loose, etc. They are just different to what a modern archer might expect to see. Medieval archery is, after all, a traditional form. In many ways this is what makes warbow archery such an interesting form to watch: Each archer will find their own ways to achieve the draw and loose and that leads to variations in style and technique.

The problem (if you want to call it that) with modern archery technique training is that it is designed to teach almost any one, of any ability, the principles of shooting as simply as possible. However, the technique - even though it talks about using the back muscles - doesn't engage them early enough to draw a heavy bow, which is why practitioners tend to use lighter weight bows. There is no simple way of learning to engage and coordinate your muscle groups; you've just got to listen to your body and work it out for yourself. That said, I'm a great believer in getting foundation training in modern archery technique before moving on to medieval archery. Just be prepared to unlearn a lot of what you're taught.

Unfortunately, there's a lot of 8ollocks spouted above medieval archery, mostly by people who can't shoot a heavy bow themselves. They make up nonsense to try and understand (or somehow justify) why they can't do it themselves. I've heard all sorts of rubbish over the years, most of which seem to contradict all the basic principles of shooting.

There are also those who claim to shoot heavy bows that grunt and heave and (almost) turn themselves inside out with bows that are well beyond their abilities. They achieve very little with the bow but believe that, perhaps, a heavier bow is just what they need to achieve their distances.

AndyandHelen: Yep, BLBS coaches gave up on me a long time ago :-) Today, of course, the BLBS focuses on Victorian archery, in the Victorian style, and limits bow weights to 70lb maximum.


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chidokan
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Re: long bows - evidence of drawing to mouth or ear?

Postby chidokan » Sat Nov 10, 2012 12:08 am

the stance is near as dammit the best way to pick up a heavy weight without putting your back out...shoulders back, arched spine, stomach pointed to the floor... Its how I use a japanese sword, and I spotted recently on a trip over there they use bows in the same way....




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