Firing Bows?

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Is it ever correct to use the word 'fire' in relation to non-gunpowder projectile weapons?

No, never.
45
75%
I wouldn't use it in character but otherwise it's fine.
11
18%
Always. Using words like loose instead is just being pedantic.
4
7%
 
Total votes: 60

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Simon Atford
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Firing Bows?

Post by Simon Atford »

I've been reading Heroes & Villains by Frank Mclynn (tying in with the BBC TV series of the same name) and in the chapter on the Attila he refers to the Huns "firing" their bows from horseback which I found rather jarring.

Thing is I've noticed that most re-enactors don't use the word fire in relation to bows, crossbows or siege engines, usually substituting loose or shoot, and many get very annoyed when the word is used. Most historians and other authors on the other hand do use it.

So who's right :?:

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Post by KezT »

We are. Obviously! :twisted: :lol: :roll:

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Post by Neil of Ormsheim »

The only time the word fire is conectable to any form of bow is when either the projectile is aflame or you have run out of all other fuel and are burning the bow on the fire to survive.
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Post by Annis »

How do you fire a bow?

It also annoys me when people say 'firing bows and arrows' - it can only be one or t'other!
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Post by Handbag »

but would the commands of nock draw and loose been used? i thought that many commands on the field were given by drum and horn? or am i totally wrong on that resepect?? if i am hit me its ok :oops: :oops: im just a girl :oops: :oops: :lol: :lol: :lol:

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Post by Annis »

But nocks are the things on either end of the bow that hold the bow string, so you don't nock everytime you loose.
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Post by Ariarnia »

There are also nocking points on the end of arrows.

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Post by Hinny Annie »

You Knock your Arrow, Draw your string and Loose the Arrow, only time fire should be used is fire arrows as in flaming
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Post by John Waller »

I think that the orders Nock, Draw, Loose are used in reenactment to give the archery captain a degree of control for safety reasons and I don't have a problem with that. However I have not seen any historical evidence for similar orders.

I've seen one reference to a medieval period use of the word 'firing' with respect to bows but I suspect a dodgy translation.
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Post by Mark »

I thought the command was NOW STRIKE ("Nestroque")
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Post by Annis »

Ariarnia wrote:There are also nocking points on the end of arrows.
Oh yes, I forgot about those :oops:
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Post by gregory23b »

"I think that the orders Nock, Draw, Loose are used in reenactment to give the archery captain a degree of control for safety reasons and I don't have a problem with that. However I have not seen any historical evidence for similar orders. "

ditto.


Terms used, loose, shoot, check up the MED in my link below.

Even if using a flaming arrow, you would still use the words shoot or loose in relation to sending the stick off into the sky.

Historians are not necessarily historically interested in archery, neither are some archers.

But imagine the consternation a historian might have if I said:

drive a plane

pilot a horse (we can sail and pilot boats)

fly a bus

yet by ignoring 'shoot or loose' in relation to archery, they would be just as sloppy and misleading, yet they all mean much the same thing, the control a vehicle or animal.

Some terms denote its historic and actual usage, just that with 'fire' we are in the chemical projectile age, so anyting sent to an enemy is 'fired'.

Also fire and shoot are synonymous because of it, yet when someone is killed by a gun they are 'shot' not fired, there is a firing squad, who aims and fires and therefore the target is shot.
middle english dictionary

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Post by Handbag »

well at least my theory on the command checks out.

**gives pat on back***
:lol: :lol:

and i dont think fire would have been used even with flaming arrows. why introduce a new term for a different projectile. after all they didnt shout
"bodkin", or "forker" "barbed" etc to denote what type of head they were using so why change the command just cuz you were using cagefire heads.

(sorry if ive got arrowhead terms wrong im by no means an archer!) :lol:

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Post by Simon Atford »

Another question would be:

When guns were first introduced onto the battlefield what orders were used to govern them?

Was a new word "fire" used to go with a new weapon or were older tems like "shoot" or even "loose" still used?

One theory would be that whilst master gunners etc. may have used specalist technolgy non-specalist commanders probbally said something like "get your fellows to shoot over there" or whatever.

Any thoughts :?:
Last edited by Simon Atford on Sat Feb 09, 2008 10:12 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Neil of Ormsheim »

If you watch the films "Battle of the River Plate" and "Sink The Bismark!", as I recall, the british gunnery officers issue the comands to their guns to "Shoot", not "Fire". This could be to do with them wishing to communicate with their subordinates their wish to engage with the enemy rather than to point out that their ship was burning.

I must admit that, out on the battlefiled (usually Viking I will admit), if someone shouts "Fire!" I tend to look around to see what/who is burning. Could the same apply to archers?
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Post by Type16 »

Can we diversify onto that thorny phrase "Have a Care" yet ?? :twisted:
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Post by Hinny Annie »

Handbag wrote:well at least my theory on the command checks out.

**gives pat on back***
:lol: :lol:

and i dont think fire would have been used even with flaming arrows. why introduce a new term for a different projectile. after all they didnt shout
"bodkin", or "forker" "barbed" etc to denote what type of head they were using so why change the command just cuz you were using cagefire heads.

(sorry if ive got arrowhead terms wrong im by no means an archer!) :lol:
Sorry didn't make myself clear. I meant the flaming arrow was the fire
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Post by gregory23b »

You find shot or shoot in relation to guns as well, seems the emphasis was not on the method of propulsion, so much that they were propelled weapons, guns, bows, trebs etc.

Fire in relation to fire added to the powder, but not as a verb.

c1450(c1380) Chaucer HF (Benson-Robinson) 1643: Thrughout every regioun Wente this foule trumpes soun, As swifte as pelet out of gonne, Whan fyr is in the poudre ronne


refs for shooting are too numerous to cite

(1465) Event Edw.IV in Camd.10 (Arms L.9) 38: My Lorde lieutenant had ordennede alle the Kinges greet gonnes that where charged at oons to shute unto the said Castelle,

a1605(c1471) Arriv.Edw.IV in Camd.1 (Hrl 543) 18: Bothe parties had goons, and ordinaunce..th'Erls fields shotte gunes almoste all the nyght.

c1453(c1437) Brut-1436 (Hrl 53) 578/19: Many tymes þai shot al ouer þe toun, but al þeire gunshot did neuer harm

(1465) Event Edw.IV in Camd.10 (Arms L.9) 38: If ye suffre any greet gunne laide unto the wal, and be shote and prejudice the wal,

c1475 Gregory's Chron.(Eg 1995) 207: And that goode knyght Syr Wylliam Lucy..hyrde the gonne schotte, and come unto the fylde to have holpyn þe kynge

a1605(c1471) Arriv.Edw.IV in Camd.1 (Hrl 543) 29: He and his fellowshipe were sore annoyed..as well with gonnes shott as with shot of arrows.

c1450(?1436) Siege Calais (Rome 1306) 100: Gonners began to shew thair art, Into the tovn in many a part Shot many a full gret ston..`

a1450-a1475 Lydg. TB (Bergen) 2.6426: And her gonners stondynge at corners Wiþ hym also and cast of wylde fyre..hem silf þei diffende
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Post by Harlequin »

Neil of Ormsheim wrote:If you watch the films "Battle of the River Plate" and "Sink The Bismark!", as I recall, the british gunnery officers issue the comands to their guns to "Shoot", not "Fire". This could be to do with them wishing to communicate with their subordinates their wish to engage with the enemy rather than to point out that their ship was burning.
Bwahahahaha!

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Post by Simon Atford »

Type16 wrote:Can we diversify onto that thorny phrase "Have a Care" yet ?? :twisted:
Isn't "Have a Care" designed to warn frendly troops that you're going to shoot/fire a gun so they can stay well clear? :twisted:
Last edited by Simon Atford on Sat Feb 09, 2008 9:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Merlon. »

ploughing throuh the OED give the following examples of earliest written evidence known to them.
fire
1590 SIR J. SMYTH Disc. Weapons 21 The Harquebuziers giving fire with their matches..to the touchpowder.

loose
1. Archery. The act of discharging an arrow
1519 W. HORMAN Vulg. 283b, Geue a smarte lose with thyn arowe and thy stryng. 1526 Pilgr. Perf. (W. de W. 1531) 160b, In the loose of the stryng..the..arowe is caryed to the marke.

loose as in to set free seems to be 13th century

shoot
An act of shooting (with fire-arms, a bow, etc.); a discharge of arrows, bullets, etc
1534 MORE Comf. agst. Trib. I. Wks. 1157/2 This marke..we shal nowe meate for the shoote and consider..how farre of your arrowes are from the prik. 1545 R. ASCHAM Toxoph. I. (Arb.) 89 The strongest men, do not drawe alwayes the strongest shoote. Ibid. II. 107 For in a rayne and at no marke, a man may shote a faire shoote.

There is also a 1305 reference to shooting arrows in another definition.

as to the phrase "have a care" thats 16th century
to have a care, keep a care, take care.

1588 SHAKES. L.L.L. V. ii. 511 We will turne it finely off sir, we wil take some care. 1590 Mids. N. IV. i. 15 Good Mounsieur haue a care the hony bag breake not. 1596 Tam. Shr. I. i. 191 He tooke some care To get her cunning Schoolemasters to instruct her.

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Post by Simon Atford »

Interestingly in the chapter on Cortes in Heroes and Villans Mclynn describes how some conquistidors carried crossbows while others carried harquebuses.

Presumably the crosbowmen would have been given the Spainish equivilent of "loose" as an order whilst those equipped with harquebuses would have been told the Spainish equivilent of "give fire" . :?:
Last edited by Simon Atford on Tue Feb 12, 2008 1:49 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Post by Biro »

I'm for using fire..

Its the modern term used by pretty much anyone to describe the act of launching a projectile from some kind of weapon.

You fire a gun, you fire a catapult, you fire an arrow, you fire a stone from a sling, peas out pea-shooters, pellets out of airguns, paintballs out of paintball guns, lasers out of starwars blasters. You even fire rubber-bands out of your fingers.

Its simply the modern usage of the word, and since I'm not speaking old-english, anglo-norman or olde-French, then I'm gonna use my modern words that I say every day.

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Post by gregory23b »

"Its simply the modern usage of the word, and since I'm not speaking old-english, anglo-norman or olde-French, then I'm gonna use my modern words that I say every day. "

I take it by that you will also refrain from using the following words when doing your hobby:

sallet - obsolete, helmet would just do
same for
bascinet, armet
Brigandine
Harness - to denote armour
and its many parts - why not just armour?

doublet - archaic
hose - different meaning today
breech - archaic
kirtle - archaic
bodkin - now a haberdashery item
falchion - just a sword
arming sword - ditto
bill - rarely used outside agriculture
halberd - archaic
glaive - archaic

all of those have to be explained and exemplified to the public, so why is 'fire' any different?

I suspect your hobby would be short of a lot more words than that, but by your logic, you should not be using them (plus dozens more), be interested to know how you manage to describe items without using their historic terms, other than saying 'this is a sword with a single edge, this one has two edges, this is a curvy pointy thing onna stick etc etc.'

Which period do you reenact, the late 20th century?


"Its simply the modern usage of the word,"

Is not strictly true, it is an additional use of the word by people who mostly do not do archery and most archers use shoot/loose, in the modern world, so that doesn't really hold much water. No one 'looses' a bullet when they use a gun do they?

Same that anyone who drives a car does not fly one, even though they are just means of controlling a vehicle.

Apart from anything else, the english of the 15thc is not that far removed from the english you speak today.


I would argue that 'fire' in relation to bows is one part of the language you have a duty to explain esp in a medieval context, because of itself the term describes a point in history when the bow pre-dated firearms and how interesting it is by modern comparison that many people use the terms synonymously. It would be a crime against history to use the term fire when engaging in any conversation about how great the long bow was, the irony!


Yours, happy to pinch off the touch paper.
Last edited by gregory23b on Tue Feb 12, 2008 12:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Type16 »

G23b

Add one .............
Gambesson = Flak Jacket :lol:

Remember Battlefields Walks series ......... the eminent historial went to Azincourt & described to the bowman demonstrator the 'firing' of arrows :?
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Post by gregory23b »

yes, or jack, or aketon.

Any number of terms that are historic yet add the flavour and set the scene of what we are supposedly trying to do.

Whilst 'fire' is not earth shattering, it would be a shame to have it supplant shoot or loose when talking about bows. I find the distinction to be an added bonus as it allows a convenient seque into talking about the development of firearms, if anything it is useful.

I was at Quicks once and heard a customer mention fire and I sniffed and said 'fire? surely you mean shoot?', the bloke looked at me perplexed and the sjop owner said that indeed 'one shoots a bow or looses an arrow', customer 'oh, right'.

That was in my youth, now I would merely sniff and turn away in shame ;-) from a mere non archer his comment would be forgivable, understandable even, but from someone who twangs the string of love, never!!

And at least one archery term in common use today would be completely changed

Playing fast and loose - would be 'Playing fast and fire'.
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Post by steve stanley »

Simon Atford wrote:
Type16 wrote:Can we diversify onto that thorny phrase "Have a Care" yet ?? :twisted:
Isn't "Have a Care" designed to warn frendly troops that you're going to shoot/fire a gun so they can stay well clear? :twisted:
I think(?)...It's a perfectly good period phrase that was adapted through the SK & ECWS to all sorts of uses....and then followed people to other periods......
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Post by Alan E »

Biro wrote:I'm for using fire..

Its the modern term used by pretty much anyone to describe the act of launching a projectile from some kind of weapon.

You fire a gun, you fire a catapult, you fire an arrow, you fire a stone from a sling, peas out pea-shooters, pellets out of airguns, paintballs out of paintball guns, lasers out of starwars blasters. You even fire rubber-bands out of your fingers.

Its simply the modern usage of the word, and since I'm not speaking old-english, anglo-norman or olde-French, then I'm gonna use my modern words that I say every day.

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Not in any modern GNAS or NFAS club that I've attended it isn't, nor in Olympic archery (except of course for the non-archer commentators), so no ... simply not true.
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Post by Chris, yclept John Barber »

Another reason 'shoot' is still in use is that it doesn't become confused with 'Five', no matter what your accent. Under controlled conditions, like on a firing-range, you might hear a countdown (all right - if you're watching a Scrapheap Challenge where they go to a firing range) which goes "seven, six, (pause), four, three..."
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Post by Simon Atford »

Type16 wrote:
Remember Battlefields Walks series ......... the eminent historial went to Azincourt & described to the bowman demonstrator the 'firing' of arrows :?
And what about the programme (Mysteries of the Ancients :?: )where two replicas of Edward I's War Wolf trebuchet were constructed and the American/Canadian team kept shouting "fire in the hold" everytime they loosed.

To be fair they probbaly used it for safety reasons as it was a term they all recognised but did very odd.

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