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Bows, ranges (Read 9419 times)
Thearos
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Bows, ranges
Mar 28th, 2013 at 8:35am
 
Hello-- could anyone give me bibliographical indications for ranges of bows ? Specifically, self bows vs. composite bows. I'd like references to works which explain how they know the ranges: experiment, accounts ?

I've looked at Saxton Pope, Bows and Arrows, 1962, which gives ranges of 100-180 yards (so say around 150 m) for selfbows found in museums and tested.
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Bikewer
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Re: Bows, ranges
Reply #1 - Mar 28th, 2013 at 9:03am
 
I recently put up a table of "flight" competition (distance shooting) from a few years ago involving various kinds of bows...
Not representative since these are modern bows and other equipment and specially-designed arrows... Ranges are pretty impressive.

I seem to recall from books like The Gray Goose Wing that typical self "warbows" like the Engiish longbow were capable of ranges further than that.. Somewhere around 300 yards.  That's ultimate range, however, and not effective range which is what I believe your figures would be close to.

The Asian composite/recurve bows were typically capable of much longer ranges; but they also used much lighter and more aerodynamic arrows.  600 yards +, as I recall.   Turks held all flight records for many years in the past.
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Thearos
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Re: Bows, ranges
Reply #2 - Mar 28th, 2013 at 10:32am
 
Thanks, will look those up.

I suppose I'm interested in realistic ranges for a warfighting bow: self and composite. A range of physical possibilities would be good.
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Bill Skinner
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Re: Bows, ranges
Reply #3 - Mar 28th, 2013 at 11:06am
 
A lot of your ranges will be dependant on what type of self bow and what type of composit bow, they vary widely.  An English longbow shooting one of the super heavy war arrows would be lucky to go 200 meters, the same bow with a distance arrow would add about 100 meters more.  The NA plains bow which was designed to shot from horseback is very short with a very short draw length, from my limited experiance, I would agree with De. Pope.  An Eastern Woodland bow from the same time frame, which was longer and used a longer draw, will shoot an arrow 50 to 100 meters further. 

And some of those bows that Dr Pope tested were composite, he didn't include those in his summary because they all broke when he attempted to string them.  The glue had gotten brittle over the years they had been sitting in the museums and they all delaminated.

Basically, an arrow starts to slow down as soon as it leaves the string, so a bow with a longer draw such as the Asiatic composites with their very long draws will outperform a shorter drawing bow.  The only selfbow that I am aware of with a comparable draw length is the English longbow.
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Thearos
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Re: Bows, ranges
Reply #4 - Mar 28th, 2013 at 3:01pm
 
It's about the famous passage in Xen. Anabasis. Cretan archers are outranged by Persian slingers with stones who are outranged by Rhodian slingers with lead (apparently twice the range). There's been a thread about this, with good contributions by David Morningstar. Does this look right ?

Cretans: 120-150 m (maybe 100m as tactical range)
Iranian slingers: 200m (maybe 150 m tactical)
Rhodians: 350+ m (maybe 200+ tactical)
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Re: Bows, ranges
Reply #5 - Mar 28th, 2013 at 4:04pm
 
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Thearos
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Re: Bows, ranges
Reply #6 - Mar 28th, 2013 at 4:29pm
 
Modern sport records do give a sense of possibilities. But what about historical ranges, using working bows ?
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Re: Bows, ranges
Reply #7 - Mar 28th, 2013 at 6:21pm
 
Thearos wrote on Mar 28th, 2013 at 4:29pm:
Modern sport records do give a sense of possibilities. But what about historical ranges, using working bows ?

Well... Look up the flight contest between an african man using his standard hunting gear and saxton Pope with his finest yew longbow and flight arrows. The first shots of the African went further than Pope's flight arrows. Then Pope used his heaviest yew longbow and was only able to beat him by a few yards.
I think a 125 pound English warbow can chuck an arrow pretty dang far, Thearos. Keep in mind TBB- an arrow shot from a 70 pound bow 75 yards away arrives as fast as an arrow shot from a 50 pounder at 25 yards.
at around 125 yards a warbow would be equally tamed"
That is not an exact quote, but i think the distances are correct...
http://www.archery.org/content.asp?id=892&me_id=753&cnt_id=895
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Re: Bows, ranges
Reply #8 - Mar 29th, 2013 at 8:22am
 
Topic added to the PW's index.
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Re: Bows, ranges
Reply #9 - Mar 29th, 2013 at 10:47am
 
If Cretan archers were using short, thick flatbows, around 5 feet (1.3m) or so, and very heavy arrows, then their arrows would probably not go much past 125m or so.  Especially if they were pinch drawing to under the chin.  Are there any drawings or paintins of a Cretan archer?  Especially of ones shooting?
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Thearos
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Re: Bows, ranges
Reply #10 - Mar 29th, 2013 at 12:45pm
 
No, not really, especially of the right period. They turn up often in Classical sources (which is interesting, because in the C7th the visual record is all heavy infantry). If you google "Cretan archers" you get a lot of figurines and oil paintings. In Homer, there is aCretan archer with a bow made of two solid horns, but I think that's fanciful.

The images are mostly Hellenistic, so say 100-150 years later. But it is true that a lot of the images in Greece (grave reliefs, vases) do show "cupid" bows, which would not be selfbows, rather composite. The Skythian archers in Athens of course used them.

Let me look some more. Interesting
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Re: Bows, ranges
Reply #11 - Mar 29th, 2013 at 2:16pm
 
Lots of old info on distance shooting here: http://www.archerylibrary.com/books/badminton/docs/chapter24/chapter24_1.html

I recall, but haven't yet fount the reference for, one of the English kings decreeing that the shortest distance a man should practice at is 220 yards.

There are plenty of 300+ yard shots here with flight arrows, but more significant is 240 yards with a Mary Rose bow and a quarter pound arrow: http://www.theenglishwarbowsociety.com/records2012_EN.html
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Thearos
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Re: Bows, ranges
Reply #12 - Mar 29th, 2013 at 2:22pm
 
Thanks. I would also be interested in non-longbow information (I've looked at "The Great Warbow", by M. Strick ?)-- in the idea that longbows, with their long arms, are pretty special in the world of selfbows.
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Re: Bows, ranges
Reply #13 - Mar 30th, 2013 at 5:34am
 
Ottoman flight shooting is still top,as far as i know.
Many 800+m shots the best being somewhere 840-850m They used bows 130-150# with ~15g arrows around 60cm long and siper-overdraw technique.

Huh
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Re: Bows, ranges
Reply #14 - Mar 30th, 2013 at 5:35am
 
Recently a Hungarian guy Monus Lajos got 650m record in mongolia.
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