Long Bow Archers' Accuracy?

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fredk
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Long Bow Archers' Accuracy?

Postby fredk » Sat Jan 18, 2014 11:44 pm

Hi Folks,
A simple question; just how accurate could a long bow archer have been in a battle situation? I think it matters not whether the archer is of 14th, 15th or 16th century.
I've only just started to look for the answer and this is one of the first places I've turned to in order to glean of your knowledge.
I do not have Robert Hardy's book, does he cover anything about accuracy in it? None of my other books mention anything about accuracy but might imply it.
It would be nice if period written references could be quoted or me directed to.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts and knowledge in this,
F



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Re: Long Bow Archers' Accuracy?

Postby Phoenix Rising » Sun Jan 19, 2014 4:26 pm

You might find this article interesting as it is regarding the Archery Statute of 1515 : http://www.scortonarrow.com/features/Ar ... %20law.htm

However it doesn't mention distance / accuracy, which I have heard was supposed to have been that an archer was able to hit a man sized target at a range of approx. 200 yards. This distance is also mentioned in the Wikipedia article on Longbows which is as follows: In 1542, Henry VIII set a minimum practice range for adults using flight arrows of 220 yd (200 m); ranges below this had to be shot with heavy arrows.

Other than this I'm not aware of any actual laws as to accuracy, only as to practice / training etc.



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Re: Long Bow Archers' Accuracy?

Postby EnglishArcher » Sun Jan 19, 2014 4:47 pm

Short answer: as accurate as any modern longbow archer. The draw-weight should not make any difference. Many modern archers attempting to shoot medieval bows are seriously over-bowed (or just don't practice enough) and this affects their accuracy.

I've watched Joseph Gibbs shoot the field course at Herstmonceux with a 160lb bow, being a damn sight more accurate than many of the reenactors with their 20lb bows.

And, just about any half-decent warbow archer should be able to shoot 220 yards with a heavy (military) arrow; not a flight arrow.


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Re: Long Bow Archers' Accuracy?

Postby fredk » Sun Jan 19, 2014 6:36 pm

Thanks for those replies.
One of my books quotes the 1515 ordnance; ' no less than 11 score yards'.
Illustrations in psalters and hour books imply accuracy at the butts was practised.
Was it Scotlands' King David who suffered an arrow wound to his mouth?; could that be considered accidental or deliberate accuracy?



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Re: Long Bow Archers' Accuracy?

Postby Neil of Ormsheim » Sun Jan 19, 2014 8:32 pm

Remember that battlefield archers are, probably, not shooting at a load of indivual man-sized targets most of the time. They are shooting at one very large army sized target. This means that, assuming the troops are fairly tightly packed, you have not got much space within your target that won't go 'Ouch!' when your arrow lands. King David did get hit in the mouth and, as he was one of the few Scots on horsback and he was wearing posh livery, he was singling himself out at a high value target. The one that hit him in the mouth is probably down to Sods Law, however. We all know that, no matter how much armour we put on, some lucky blighter will find the gap with something point sooner or later....... :D


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Re: Long Bow Archers' Accuracy?

Postby Phoenix Rising » Sun Jan 19, 2014 9:38 pm

fredk wrote:Thanks for those replies.
One of my books quotes the 1515 ordnance; ' no less than 11 score yards'.
Illustrations in psalters and hour books imply accuracy at the butts was practised.
Was it Scotlands' King David who suffered an arrow wound to his mouth?; could that be considered accidental or deliberate accuracy?


When King David II of Scotland was found beneath a bridge after the Battle of Neville's Cross, he had been shot twice, and one of the wounds was to his face. Didn't stop him putting up a fight and smashing out the 2 front teeth of one John Copeland who was credited with his capture though!

Later, at the Battle of Flodden, King James IV was also shot in the face with an arrow, but this is not believed to be the wound that killed him.

However, whether either of these wounds were deliberate accuracy or simply a lucky shot is anyone's guess I should think.



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Re: Long Bow Archers' Accuracy?

Postby gregory23b » Sun Jan 19, 2014 10:53 pm

Are there copies of earlier statutes that we can browse to compare them with that one?

Same it is not the law, un-repealed acts do not mean they are still legal, IIRC the 19thC defunct statutes law came into effect, laws that have not been enacted after a number of years become voided, can't remember the actuality.


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Re: Long Bow Archers' Accuracy?

Postby fredk » Mon Jan 20, 2014 3:24 am

Reading your replies; thanks again.
This question of accuracy is just a point which came up in discussion the other evening.
I used to use long bow and was reasonably accurate at 50 yards, but I'm/was very poor compared to others who were in that club [ 4 long bow world & British champions]
I do believe the archers would have practised accuracy, but whether they bothered that much with it in battle is another matter. However, others believe the archers were never accurate at any distance at any time. By accurate we mean hitting a man sized target in the torso at any distance above 50 yards.
I think Henry VIII's 1541/42 ordnance implies hitting this sized target at no less than 220 yards.



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Re: Long Bow Archers' Accuracy?

Postby simonw » Tue Jan 28, 2014 2:42 pm

You cant compare any re-enactment archers with the medieval army archers....!!!

I believe they did have to hit a man size target at 220 yds - any half decent club archer can do that.

Most hunted with the bow too so were adept at hitting rabbit sized stuff / birds at say 50 yards

Most used a bow much more regularly than the average club archer so they would have been more accurate.

Not all battle shooting was done as massed ranks aka Agincourt. A lot would have been skirmishers and would have been picking and choosing and hitting individual targets.



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Re: Long Bow Archers' Accuracy?

Postby EnglishArcher » Tue Jan 28, 2014 6:57 pm

simonw wrote:You cant compare any re-enactment archers with the medieval army archers....!!!

I believe they did have to hit a man size target at 220 yds - any half decent club archer can do that.

Most hunted with the bow too so were adept at hitting rabbit sized stuff / birds at say 50 yards

Most used a bow much more regularly than the average club archer so they would have been more accurate.

Not all battle shooting was done as massed ranks aka Agincourt. A lot would have been skirmishers and would have been picking and choosing and hitting individual targets.


Interesting stuff. Would be good to see some of these facts backed up with primary evidence.


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Re: Long Bow Archers' Accuracy?

Postby John Waller » Wed Jan 29, 2014 4:56 pm

simonw wrote:I believe they did have to hit a man size target at 220 yds - any half decent club archer can do that.


Really? I would like to see that. I doubt many decent club archers (target or field) shoot a longbow much over 70lb if that. Mine was only 50lb and has probably lost a few pounds now. Half that distance was pushing it let alone hitting anything.


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Re: Long Bow Archers' Accuracy?

Postby simonw » Tue Feb 11, 2014 2:18 pm

I go back to my original statement.

Re-enactment archers arent equivilent to C14 archers, or quite obviously from the preceeding posts, not equivilent to an average club archer.

My 50lb bow will reach 220 yds as will my 80lb bow.

other members of my club can do that distance no problem without using a warbow

range for target archery is up to 90/100m shooting at a 6" bull

range for clout shooting is 185m

Archers of the time were hunters they obviously had to hit small moving targets.......

A certain amount of inferiority complexes showing.....



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Re: Long Bow Archers' Accuracy?

Postby gregory23b » Tue Feb 11, 2014 9:53 pm

Simon, I think what the guys are saying is that you are 'supposing' and 'thinking', ie guessing (much like the rest of us) rather than showing information of the period, such information is the Holy Grail of many re-enactment archers or those interested in historical archery.

'Archers of the time were hunters they obviously had to hit small moving targets'

From 200 yards away? Really? Most hunters will prefer to get nearer to their prey and shoot it whilst it is stationary showing how good they are at stalking.

My 45 pound bow will just get 200 yards with flight arrows, that proves nothing really other than distance achieved, considering how high I have to aim my accuracy is a bit shite tbh, very shite in fact.

'Re-enactment archers arent equivilent to C14 archers, or quite obviously from the preceeding posts, not equivilent to an average club archer.'

Perhaps not, in some cases the medieval archer, ie a bloke who was supposed to be practising every weekend often didn't so like anyone who doesn't practise, is less of a good shot than he ought to be, so conversely a modern club archer who is dedicated and shoots twice a week is probably putting more time into his or her shooting than a bloke who chooses to or not. The arguments work equally in both directions and are still totally based on guesswork and assumption.


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Re: Long Bow Archers' Accuracy?

Postby Will.S » Wed Feb 12, 2014 12:01 pm

simonw wrote:
My 50lb bow will reach 220 yds as will my 80lb bow.

other members of my club can do that distance no problem without using a warbow.....


I don't mean to be an *rse here, or provoke an argument, but saying anybody in an archery club can reach 220 yards is not really relevant because you're probably doing it with knitting needle arrows. If you're shooting 11/32 arrows with 125gr machined points and 3" fletchings then yes, you will reach 220yds with a light 80# bow. Give those same arrows to a guy shooting a 180# bow and you'll never see them again as they'll either explode on release or end up in Iceland somewhere. And I don't mean the supermarket.

The arrows shot during warfare had to be able to pierce some degree of armour. Ergo, required a lot of mass behind a very heavy hand forged head. If you were to shoot a Standard EWBS arrow (the lightest official medieval replica weighing almost 60grams with 6" fletchings) from your 50# bow it would not only fail to reach 100 yards but you could almost shoot it at a small child for all the damage it would do. (Exaggeration - do not attempt this next time you're at a shoot...)

You also wouldn't be able to hit said hypothetical child because the spine of an arrow shaft heavy enough to support even the lightest of effective heads would be so far beyond a 50# bow or even an 80# bow that you'd have to clear an area to your left as it would go almost sideways out of your bow.

How many re-enactment archers worry about spine?

P.S. your club should all enter for the Olympics. It's only a measly 70m. If you're confident at 220 yards shouldn't be a problem?



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Re: Long Bow Archers' Accuracy?

Postby simonw » Wed Feb 12, 2014 1:40 pm

gregory23b wrote:Simon, I think what the guys are saying is that you are 'supposing' and 'thinking', ie guessing (much like the rest of us) rather than showing information of the period, such information is the Holy Grail of many re-enactment archers or those interested in historical archery.

'Archers of the time were hunters they obviously had to hit small moving targets'

From 200 yards away? Really? Most hunters will prefer to get nearer to their prey and shoot it whilst it is stationary showing how good they are at stalking.
I did say hunting at ranges of around 50 yds
My 45 pound bow will just get 200 yards with flight arrows, that proves nothing really other than distance achieved, considering how high I have to aim my accuracy is a bit shite tbh, very shite in fact.
So what are you saying? You can get the distance with an arrow matched to your bow weight, but you admit your aim is crap. Then practice...
'Re-enactment archers arent equivilent to C14 archers, or quite obviously from the preceeding posts, not equivilent to an average club archer.'

Perhaps not, in some cases the medieval archer, ie a bloke who was supposed to be practising every weekend often didn't so like anyone who doesn't practise, is less of a good shot than he ought to be, so conversely a modern club archer who is dedicated and shoots twice a week is probably putting more time into his or her shooting than a bloke who chooses to or not. The arguments work equally in both directions and are still totally based on guesswork and assumption.



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Re: Long Bow Archers' Accuracy?

Postby simonw » Wed Feb 12, 2014 1:43 pm

Will.S wrote:
simonw wrote:
My 50lb bow will reach 220 yds as will my 80lb bow.

other members of my club can do that distance no problem without using a warbow.....


I don't mean to be an *rse here, or provoke an argument, but saying anybody in an archery club can reach 220 yards is not really relevant because you're probably doing it with knitting needle arrows. If you're shooting 11/32 arrows with 125gr machined points and 3" fletchings then yes, you will reach 220yds with a light 80# bow. Give those same arrows to a guy shooting a 180# bow and you'll never see them again as they'll either explode on release or end up in Iceland somewhere. And I don't mean the supermarket.
Your point is irrelevant - club archers are using arrows roughly matched to their bow weight. medieval army archers are doing the same.
The arrows shot during warfare had to be able to pierce some degree of armour. Ergo, required a lot of mass behind a very heavy hand forged head. If you were to shoot a Standard EWBS arrow (the lightest official medieval replica weighing almost 60grams with 6" fletchings) from your 50# bow it would not only fail to reach 100 yards but you could almost shoot it at a small child for all the damage it would do. (Exaggeration - do not attempt this next time you're at a shoot...)
So?
You also wouldn't be able to hit said hypothetical child because the spine of an arrow shaft heavy enough to support even the lightest of effective heads would be so far beyond a 50# bow or even an 80# bow that you'd have to clear an area to your left as it would go almost sideways out of your bow.

How many re-enactment archers worry about spine?

P.S. your club should all enter for the Olympics. It's only a measly 70m. If you're confident at 220 yards shouldn't be a problem?

Does noone else do 180m clout shooting, all the clubs I know of compete at these distances.



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Re: Long Bow Archers' Accuracy?

Postby Will.S » Wed Feb 12, 2014 7:13 pm

Two things are being discussed at the same time here - distance and accuracy. Reaching 180m is one thing (very easy with light arrows such as those you'd find at a clout shoot) but hitting a small target 180m away with enough force at impact to kill or punch a hole through armour is a whole different matter.

As I said, if you can hit a target that far away with consistency, join the Olympic team. If you can do it with a heavy military arrow as well, give the Guinness World Records a call.

I think this is in danger of veering off the point (my fault - I didn't read the whole thing thoroughly and commented only on your claim to be able to reach 200+ yards with a 50# bow) and it's probably been done to death on forums as well so in the words of Duncan Bannatyne, I'm out.



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Re: Long Bow Archers' Accuracy?

Postby gregory23b » Thu Feb 13, 2014 5:04 pm

'My 45 pound bow will just get 200 yards with flight arrows, that proves nothing really other than distance achieved, considering how high I have to aim my accuracy is a bit shite tbh, very shite in fact.
So what are you saying? You can get the distance with an arrow matched to your bow weight, but you admit your aim is crap. Then practice...'

I am actually backing your point, that simply reaching a range is not enough, ie it is easy to get range, but that of itself is not enough if you are talking about penetration. Accuracy is not the be all and end all.

You have not actually provided any evidence, which is all people have asked for, we can all suppose and guess, we do and freely admit it, you have suggested ideas that are fine but only suppositions, that is not an unfair comment.
.


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Re: Long Bow Archers' Accuracy?

Postby Cav_Man » Sat Aug 02, 2014 9:24 pm

Gentlemen, as an American who has never fired an arrow in anger or competition, I find this thread of great interest.

I have a question for you regarding the accuracy and range discussion. I am given to understand that during the Middle Ages, English villages held archery contests among their inhabitants that were extremely popular. That popularity gave rise, so I have read, to the unusual development among the male populace of archers who had developed their muscle groups in shoulders, arms, back, etc. over long periods of competition and training, in such a manner that they became specialists of sorts, specialists who excelled in the fine art not only of archery, but also among the best, who developed into the ranks of archers who excelled at the longbow.

Under this model, assuming it is true, I have always believed this long muscular and skill-based developmental process coupled with the competition that was so popular, were the primary variables that underlay the English propensity for and excellence in the art of the longbow in the military context. If this is true, wouldn't those special qualifications of the longbow forces have some impact upon both distance and accuracy, especially considering the heavier arrow shafts and metal tips designed to penetrate armor? I'm having some difficulty following comparisons with lighter weight arrows and club archers with military applications by heavily experienced archers in years past.

I would love to hear your far more informed views on these matters.

Best regards, and thanks for your commentary!




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