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normanhurst
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PostSubject: Arrow making…   Sat 11 Feb 2012, 20:04

I often read of medieval battles… Agincourt, Crecy etc… and reports of the sky darkening from the sheer volume of incoming arrows in flight… and the boasts of good English archers being able to lose off so many arrows per minute… I read of flint arrow heads made in the distant past and the advantage of feathered flights… and then bronze arrow tips came along. Can I assume the arrow to be the equivalent to the modern bullet, completely expendable? I’m informed an arrow maker was known as a ‘Fletcher’… giving rise to the family name. I’ve never seen any articles about arrow making on an industrial scale the likes presumably required before going into battle.

What wood was used in their making… it must have been quite an industry, were serfs etc ordered to make so many, or were there village workshops… ‘Arrows are us’… presumably woodland must have been set aside and coppiced purely for arrow making… would a forge have been a separate entity just for the making of arrow tips… like an ancient arsenal.

Most importantly, would arrows have been recycled… gathered up after a conflict to be checked out, re tipped, or had new flights etc… what about the weathering of the arrows, drying out and becoming warped…
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PostSubject: Re: Arrow making…   Sat 11 Feb 2012, 20:47

This is about the Battle of Towton - you will note that they didn't wait for the battle to finish to recycle the enemy arrows
Quote :
Noticing the direction and strength of the wind, Fauconberg ordered all Yorkist archers to step forward and unleash a volley of their arrows from what would be the standard maximum range of their longbows. With the wind behind them, the Yorkist missiles travelled farther than usual, plunging deep into the masses of soldiers on the hill slope. Many of the shafts bore bodkin arrowheads, capable of piercing plate armour and penetrating into the flesh underneath. The response from the Lancastrian archers was ineffective as the heavy wind blew snow in their faces. They found it difficult to judge the range and pick out their targets and their arrows fell short of the Yorkist ranks; Fauconberg had ordered his men to retreat after firing one volley, thus avoiding any casualties. Unable to observe their results, the Lancastrians shot until they had used up most of their arrows, leaving a thick, prickly carpet of arrows in the ground in front of the Yorkists.[16][60]


Bodkin arrows were among the missiles that killed many in the battle.After the Lancastrians had ceased shooting their arrows, Fauconberg ordered his archers to step forward again to shoot. When they had exhausted their ammunition, the Yorkists plucked arrows off the ground in front of them—arrows shot by their foes—and continued shooting.
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PostSubject: Re: Arrow making…   Sat 11 Feb 2012, 21:19

a simple case of getting their own back... good tactics then...
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PostSubject: Re: Arrow making…   Sat 11 Feb 2012, 21:29

The archer seems to have carried about 2 dozen arrows (probably more held in bulk stocks?), a mix of broadheads, bodkins etc. The shafts also varied - birch, aspen etc for long range, heavier wood such as ash for max weight and penetration at short range. A skilled fletcher (with a skilled arrowsmith having supplied the heads) takes only a few minutes to make each arrow.
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PostSubject: Re: Arrow making…   Sun 12 Feb 2012, 14:59

The medieval English arrow industry would be a fantastic subject for a doctoral thesis or book study .

From what little I know, it was very much a large-scale effort. Eg, arrowheads might be made in bulk in one county, and then transported across one or more county boundaries to an armoury that had shafts and feathers from elsewhere, and there assembled. Involvement in this industry would be a good way of measuring conquered territories' integration with the conquering state. Eg, the English retained control of Annandale, in Dumfriesshire, until 1384, ie 70 years after Bannockburn, and it would be interesting to know just how involved the puir wee Jocks got in the English national effort to produce arrows confused .

One of the things noted by some people discussing the replacement of the longbow with handguns is that bows were much cheaper than guns. However, it seems most unlikely to me that arrows were cheaper and easier to produce than powder and shot. As Gil notes, a skilled fletcher could work very quickly, but it took years of training to become such a craftsman, whereas anyone with the technical aptitude to make a round of tea and coffee could mix powder and cast bullets. During the American revolution, Benjamin Franklin urged that the rebel Continental Army adopt the longbow as its standard weapon, and if that had been achievable then I genuinely believe the rebels would have outshot the redcoats affraid . However, it would have taken years, if not decades, for the traitors to train their men to be effective archers and, more pertinent to this thread, it would have been impossible for them to whistle up an arrow-making industry to match it.

Getting back to 'real' history, there seems to have been a division of responsibility in medieval England between those supplying bows and those supplying arrows. Most archers would either have bought their own bows, or had them supplied by their immediate lords, and might be expected to turn up to a national muster with a few dozen arrows of their own. However, the state farao was responsible for the resupply that any serious campaign inevitably demanded.
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normanhurst
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PostSubject: Re: Arrow making…   Sun 12 Feb 2012, 18:19

According to wiki… A skilled long bowman could shoot about 12 shots per minute, a far greater number than the crossbow or the early involvements into the use of gunpowder.

At 12 shots per minute, 2 dozen arrows seems a trite inadequate, would people maybe an apprentice archer be charged to fetch more ‘ammo’ to the front line. I have to say I’ve never given it much thought despite being a keen archer in a misspent youth. In the clubhouse there were a number of devises for straightening arrows, and measurements of a few thou were taken into consideration… and duly held responsible for poor performances.

There is a long and lonely lane that cuts through a quite heavily wooded area of Canford Heath not far from me, its name has never meant anything until now, but now it does as you ref ‘arrowsmith’… and that’s its name… I shall have to research the local resources to see if there is a connection to arrow making.

Google brings up nothing with arrowsmith… where does one go for more info…

]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arrow
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PostSubject: Re: Arrow making…   Sun 12 Feb 2012, 19:35

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PostSubject: Re: Arrow making…   Mon 13 Feb 2012, 00:10

@normanhurst wrote:
According to wiki…
affraid affraid affraid affraid affraid affraid affraid affraid affraid Mad
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normanhurst
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PostSubject: Re: Arrow making…   Mon 13 Feb 2012, 00:44

Ok smart ass… no need to rub it in. Down yer in the forest I don’t have access to a library… and the mobile library has had the chop… where else can I get info. I was reading your post with interest, were you suggesting arrow tips from some dodgy arms dealer…

I grew up always believing the yew trees you see in and around old churches were there to supply the raw materials for bow making… for the defence of the village… I’m feeling a bit stupid again now. Was that ever the case… or just a myth… so where would the materials have come from to manufacture thousands of arrows… but wood warps and bends and shrinks as it dries out… stored arrows would bend… ideal for shooting around corners maybe.

You never see anyone in the films picking up discarded weapons… arrows, guns etc… and even in the cowboy films… after an injun attack there’s always dozens of arrows stuck in the old covered wagons… seems even the Indians couldn’t be bothered to go pick them up again…

There has to be more than a few minutes apiece to making them…

Bless you ferval for that info…
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PostSubject: Re: Arrow making…   Mon 13 Feb 2012, 00:54

I'm certain that I've seen accounts of muzzle loaders after ACW battles being found on the battlefield loaded 6, 8 and more times - someone picked them up, and only found they were jammed after loading them. Probably didn't even fire them - too risky!

Yes, wood does warp - that's the reason it has to be seasoned. Once that's done - frequently for masts it was done by dumping the timbers in a "mast pond" - it won't warp any more. You need a much thicker billet than most churchyard yews can supply - you need to have sapwood for the outside of the bow, and the denser heartwood for the inside, one to operate in tension, the other in compression - to make a decent self-bow.
It would take a lot more than a few minutes to make an arrow from scratch, that's why you would use different specialists each applying his or her own skills to their own part of the process.
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normanhurst
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PostSubject: Re: Arrow making…   Mon 13 Feb 2012, 01:05

Yes gil… I’m sure I’ve read that was the ideal reason for using yew.. as it was in two colour, light wood and dark wood… one colour best for compression… and the other colour for tension… I hope at least I got that right.

When the Mary Rose was lifted, which I was able to watch as I was working a tug on the Solent at the time… there was quite a lot on the TV about the number of bows found on board… once dried out and treated… they showed a documentary with… I forget his name… from all creatures… Robert Harvey is it… anyhow they were giving a few of the bows a try out… pretty impressive they were too. but they also explained the qualities required to make a bow… and like you say… not just any old bit of hedgerow.
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PostSubject: Re: Arrow making…   Mon 13 Feb 2012, 01:15

@normanhurst wrote:
Yes gil… I’m sure I’ve read that was the ideal reason for using yew.. as it was in two colour, light wood and dark wood… one colour best for compression… and the other colour for tension… I hope at least I got that right.

When the Mary Rose was lifted, which I was able to watch as I was working a tug on the Solent at the time… there was quite a lot on the TV about the number of bows found on board… once dried out and treated… they showed a documentary with… I forget his name… from all creatures… Robert Harvey is it… anyhow they were giving a few of the bows a try out… pretty impressive they were too. but they also explained the qualities required to make a bow… and like you say… not just any old bit of hedgerow.
Could it have been Robert Hardy? He's supposed to be an expert on the topic. The Mary Rose bows were a lot heavier pull than modern bows IIRC. Greater range & hitting power than previously suspected.
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normanhurst
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PostSubject: Re: Arrow making…   Mon 13 Feb 2012, 01:52

thats the chap... well done... i had him in mind until i went to enter his name, and then it completly escaped me. yes, exactly as i recall. they were really suprised how hard it was to pull, and i think they snapped a few in trying...
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PostSubject: Re: Arrow making…   Mon 13 Feb 2012, 02:01

No offence meant to you, Norman Embarassed - believe me, if I could get my hands on
those (of all parties) who have decimated UK library services study recently,
it wouldn't be a pretty sight. I can wholeheartedly endorse Jim Bradbury's 'Medieval Archer' (Ferval's 2nd link), which is the best book on the subject that I've read. Its only likely rival is Matthew Strickland's and Robert Hardy's 'Great War Bow', of which I've only seen a draft of the chapter about crossbows. Strickland is a medieval military history prof. at Glasgow, and very well respected. Hardy's a very skilled archer, as well as an actor, but his own book ('Longbow - a social and military history') isn't very serious.

As for dodgy arms dealers, the example I was thinking of was of arrowheads being made in Sheffield and then taken up to Norham Castle, on the Scottish border, though I can't recall where I read of it. As a good Lancastrian, I'm inclined to think that everyone in Sheffield and thereabouts is very dodgy indeed... Twisted Evil

By the later middle ages, many of the bows used by English archers were made of yew staves that had actually been imported from Spain, and turned into bows by English craftsmen. I believe there were regulations requiring English merchantmen trading with Spain to return with a certain number of such staves, along with their other cargo.

The 'Mary Rose' bows were indeed very hefty, with draw weights of up to c180lb. However, it's important to remember that these date from pretty much the very end of the period over which the English used the bow in warfare, during which there had been an 'arms race' between missile manufacturers and armourers. As armour got better and better over the centuries, it seems sensible to assume that bows got heavier and heavier. Also, the skellingtons of the archers brought up from the 'Mary Rose' were of very big men and often had seriously over-thick forearm bones (whatever they're called), presumed to be the result of practice with exceptionally heavy bows. At the same time, some authors and legislators in England were complaining about a decline in the number of good archers. All this leads me to conclude that most of the tens of thousands of archers who fought in the Hundred Years War, for example, were of more normal size and used less powerful bows (against weaker armour) than those who served Henry VIII.
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normanhurst
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PostSubject: Re: Arrow making…   Mon 13 Feb 2012, 11:01

Catigern… absolutely no offence taken… and I’m sure none given, why should you, despite what the others say I believe you’re a scholar and a gentleman… (at least some of the time). Yes… bit of a bummer with the library issue.

I think fervals done me proud with her links to the world of archery… what a little gem she is. It’s an interesting read for sure, but where do you get your hands on such publications… I tried for a long time googling all manner of things with ‘Fletcher, arrow, dart, shaft etc… and came up with some bizarre sites none of which brought me any nearer the point in question.

It seems a strange concept, the idea of a medieval arms dealer, dodgy or not… but as I’m a southerner and anything north of Salisbury is foreign… I’ll pass on getting drawn into Yorkist and Lancist spats.
Somehow you’ve now put the idea of a couple of Arthur Daley and dodgy Dell Boy characters in mind travelling the northern moors cutting a few deals with some right dodgy geezers.

Interesting post.
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PostSubject: Re: Arrow making…   Mon 13 Feb 2012, 11:52

Norm, do you use google 'scholar'? If you go to the usual google page, towards the top left on the black bar there's a small heading 'more'. That gives you a drop down menu with 'scholar' as one of the choices. Click it when you search for something. A lot of what's in it needs a personal or institutional log in but not everything and it tends to give you rather more authoritative material.
One good thing about wiki can be the list of references at the bottom of an entry. Following those up can be helpful.
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PostSubject: Re: Arrow making…   Mon 13 Feb 2012, 12:42

done that ferval... strewth, and it works... always worried about pressing buttons in case somefin dreadful happens or me bum drops off. wow... its like an alladins cave in there... big words... more than one syllable, i shall give it a go thanks. if you dont see me for some time... i maybe lost in there...
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PostSubject: Re: Arrow making…   Mon 13 Feb 2012, 22:43

Norman, your bum only drops off if you unscrew your navel.
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PostSubject: Re: Arrow making…   Mon 13 Feb 2012, 22:47

Nah, I tried that, it didn't work but I did dislodge enough fluff to make a huff.
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PostSubject: Re: Arrow making…   Tue 14 Feb 2012, 13:25

The glacier 'Ice man' carried arrows made of white poplar; not sure if you needed to know that - or you all probably did, anyway. I think his arrows were double shafted which means they have a straighter flight, with spin. On reflection, I am not sure about the spin. It's some time since I loaded my head with this kind of knowledge.

Regards, P.

For some reason this thread has gone very wide on my screen, like cinemascope.
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PostSubject: Re: Arrow making…   Tue 14 Feb 2012, 13:49

Does anyone know what the difference is between a long bow and a cross bow? Well their physical difference is obvious, of course, but what is the difference in range, accuracy and their general effectiveness as weapons? And does a cross bow use the same arrow as a long bow?
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PostSubject: Re: Arrow making…   Tue 14 Feb 2012, 14:08

P… are you referring to the glacier iceman as in ‘otzi’ found on the border between Austria and Italy some 20 years ago. Saw some fascinating docu’s about the man… amazing forensic stuff.


ID… what little I know about crossbows, just isn’t worth mentioning… but I believe there is a man around that does. Catigern seems to be well read on this subject, and you may even get away without too many emoticons, so far I don’t think I’ve seen one of a crossbow.


I’m still reading through all fervals links…
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PostSubject: Re: Arrow making…   Tue 14 Feb 2012, 15:31

@Islanddawn wrote:
Does anyone know what the difference is between a long bow and a cross bow? Well their physical difference is obvious, of course, but what is the difference in range, accuracy and their general effectiveness as weapons? And does a cross bow use the same arrow as a long bow?

Ohboyohboyohboy, lemme-at-it....

They used very different ammunition - a crossbow bolt/quarrel was much shorter and usually much thicker , and might be fletched with parchment or leather rather than feathers.

There's no simple answer to your other questions because the terms 'crossbow' and '(long)bow' each referred to widely varying weapons. The word 'longbow' doesn't appear until the mid 15th century, in a Paston letter that predates the earliest use recorded in the OED study , before which people just used the term 'bow'.

In general. crossbows Cool were much more powerful than (long)bows...

...One draws a bow with the strength of one's shoulders and arms, and all those muscles have to be used throughout the process of aiming and shooting. With a crossbow, spanning (drawing) the bow is a separate action to aiming and shooting it, which latter action merely involves (in terms of strength) supporting the weapon and holding it steady, rather than pulling against the bow (a crossbow's bow is called a 'prod'). A crossbow is either spanned with the aid of a mechanical device that means any wimp can span, eg, a 450lb draw-weight weapon (cf the most powerful longbows being c180lb), or with all the muscles of the back and legs, which means, eg, that I can span my 175lb crossbow no probs, even though I'd have trouble drawing even a 60lb bow... Embarassed

All of which means that most medieval crossbows were far more powerful and had a somewhat longer range than most (long)bows. They were also easier to shoot accurately, as the user could look along the bolt, as well as devoting all their strength to keeping the weapon steady.

However, (long)bows could be reloaded and shot much more quickly than crossbows, which was a crucial advantage (assuming the archers could be kept supplied with arrows). The most famous 'bow vs crossbow' exchange was that in the opening stages of the battle of Crecy , when the English archers easily drove off the Genoese crossbowmen in French service. Patriotic Englishmen have been claiming that the longbow was superior under all circumstances ever since the middle ages, but that claim falls flat in the face of the fact that English kings always employed at least a few crossbowmen, who were more useful for, eg, sniping duties during sieges. 38 crossbowmen appear on the Agincourt muster roll study , though there were several thousand longbow archers.

Cool What a Face drunken


Last edited by Catigern on Tue 14 Feb 2012, 16:34; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Forgot crucial aspect of post first time round...)
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PostSubject: Re: Arrow making…   Tue 14 Feb 2012, 16:04

Thanks a lot Catigern on a very imformative reply. I never thought bows and arrows would be interesting, but they are!
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PostSubject: Re: Arrow making…   Wed 15 Feb 2012, 14:01

Richard the Lionheart was mortally wounded by a crossbow bolt at the siege of Chaluz,(the crossbowman responsible was reputedly flayed alive afterwords)

There was a chap called Ralph Payne-Gallwey, who carried out some experiments with crossbows at the beginning of the 20th century. One example,probably a late model steel arbalest, fired a bolt 450 yards across the Menai Straits.

He also wrote a book about crossbows, in 1904,which is available online.

http://www.crossbowbook.com/
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PostSubject: Re: Arrow making…   Wed 15 Feb 2012, 22:52

Catigern,

One thing that has always intrigued me and I hope you can answer: The fletchings on a typical arrow, since they are made from bird flight feathers must have a "lift" side and a "drag" side, for want of better terms. They would also presumably have some sort of natural twist... birds flight feathers are anything but simple paddles.

Were the fletchings on arrows therefore carefully arranged on the arrow shaft no only to balance the flight but also to give a regular "spin" in flight, almost akin to the effect of rifling of guns/bullets? I have always assumed this to be the case, but have never read anything to confirm it.

EDIT : Oh, and while we're about it how were the fletchings actually attached to the arrow's shaft? Glue and a thread binding?
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PostSubject: Re: Arrow making…   Wed 15 Feb 2012, 23:12

I've never encountered any written claim that arrows were designed to spin to enhance accuracy, Badger, and Payne-Gallwey study , IIRC says explicitly that no crossbow bolt was ever designed to spin either, nor have I ever seen a modern arrow or bolt so designed Suspect . As for arrows fletched with ackchual feathers (again IIRC), each flight was from either the 'left' or 'right' side of a different feather* such that the arrow had a rough 'rotational symmetry' about the axis of the shaft. The upshot seems confused to be that those cunning medieval folk knew all about the aerodynamics of feathers, but tried to avoid such spoiling their arrows, rather than took advantage of such to improve their arrows.

Now, where did I hang my anorak... Embarassed

*rather than two being from opposite sides of one feather and the third
from either side a second feather, because having two flights that would
tend to impart spin in one
direction, and a third that would tend to impart spin in the other
direction, would impede accuracy.


Last edited by Catigern on Thu 16 Feb 2012, 00:01; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Can't spell 'symmetry'...)
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PostSubject: Re: Arrow making…   Wed 15 Feb 2012, 23:14

@Meles meles wrote:
Glue and a thread binding?

Yup, both for arrows, but just glue for a parchment or leather fletching for a crossbow bolt (note to self whilst in ubergeek What a Face mode - find out if there's a specific term for a crossbow bolt's 'fletchings'... study)
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PostSubject: Re: Arrow making…   Wed 15 Feb 2012, 23:36

the link ferval has given gives a lot of information regarding the type of feathers used... a very interesting read.
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PostSubject: Re: Arrow making…   Thu 16 Feb 2012, 20:18

@Islanddawn wrote:
Thanks a lot Catigern on a very imformative reply. I never thought bows and arrows would be interesting, but they are!

Spinners.

http://www.quicksarchery.co.uk/superbasket/category/1560/Fletchings-Spin+Vanes

Also the spine stiffness has to be correct to the draw weight of the bow (archer's paradox)

"In order to be accurate, an arrow must have the correct stiffness, or "spine", to flex out of the way of the bow and return back to the correct path as it leaves the bow. Incorrect spine results in unpredictable contact between the arrow and the bow, therefore unpredictable forces on the arrow as it leaves the bow, and therefore reduced accuracy."

The crossbow bolt has a flat trajectory compared to a longbow arrow.

This gave the longbow an advantage and was the origin of golf.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clout_archery

A King's Archer (personal bodyguard) had to be able to hit a shield on the ground, 8 times out of 10 at a furlong (220 yds)
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PostSubject: Re: Arrow making…   Thu 16 Feb 2012, 20:59

@Haesten wrote:
The crossbow bolt has a flat trajectory compared to a longbow arrow.
That generalisation applies only if the generalisation that crossbows were more powerful also applies. With any missile weapon, the required trajectory varies according to the distance to and elevation of the target. study

@Haesten wrote:
This gave the longbow an advantage and was the origin of golf.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clout_archery
What advantage could derive from a weapon being weaker, and therefore requiring a steeper trajectory when shot against any given target? Rolling Eyes

As for golf, the usual explanation that it began with shepherds knocking stones into rabbit holes with their crooks seems far more likely, given that that resembles golf far more closely...
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PostSubject: Re: Arrow making…   Thu 16 Feb 2012, 21:50

@Catigern wrote:
@Haesten wrote:
The crossbow bolt has a flat trajectory compared to a longbow arrow.
That generalisation applies only if the generalisation that crossbows were more powerful also applies. With any missile weapon, the required trajectory varies according to the distance to and elevation of the target. study

@Haesten wrote:
This gave the longbow an advantage and was the origin of golf.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clout_archery
What advantage could derive from a weapon being weaker, and therefore requiring a steeper trajectory when shot against any given target? Rolling Eyes

As for golf, the usual explanation that it began with shepherds knocking stones into rabbit holes with their crooks seems far more likely, given that that resembles golf far more closely...

If the longbow was weaker the crossbow would have prevailed, you need to check out 'Young's Modulus'.
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PostSubject: Re: Arrow making…   Fri 17 Feb 2012, 00:07

My knowledge of ballistics is more or less confined to naval ordnance, but I have to agree that the flatter trajectory indicates a higher initial velocity. The higher initial velocity can only be obtained by expending more propulsive power.
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PostSubject: Re: Arrow making…   Fri 17 Feb 2012, 10:01

A crossbow needs three times the draw weight of a longbow because of the short travel of the string, you also get problems with the initial acceleration of the string on a short bow, the arrow will leave the string on release rather than after the full travel.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HagCuGXJgUs&feature=grec_index
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PostSubject: Re: Arrow making…   Tue 21 Feb 2012, 20:37

Claiming that a (long)bow was inherently superior to a crossbow is like claiming that a spanner is better than an allen key Rolling Eyes ; they were different tools that were better or worse than each other under different circumstances and when used for different tasks. Those romantics jocolor who claim that the (long)bow was superior all round really ought to ask themselves whether they really do know more about this matter than the great 'archery generals', Edward I, Edward III and Henry V, who all made sure their armies included contingents of crossbowmen tongue .

That most crossbows were far more powerful than most (long)bows is not just a necessary correlation of their shooting a missile of comparable mass at a flatter trajectory, but is also attested by actual historical evidence study ... The Guild of Armourers of Angers issued statutes governing the grades of armour its members produced, according to which the best armour could stop a bolt from either a windlass-drawn crossbow or an arrow from a ordinary, wooden (long)bow, while a cheaper, lower-quality armour would protect against the arrow, but not the crossbow bolt. I'm sorry I don't have a wikipedia Laughing link or youtube Laughing clip to back this up...Twisted Evil
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PostSubject: Re: Arrow making…   Tue 21 Feb 2012, 21:58

They just did some tests with a longbow on the C5 Braveheart programme, the bodkin war arrow that smashed straight through the bone of a pig carcase was stopped by adding a quilted gambeson.

If you have a degree in engineering, all the technical details of two pieces of wood and a bit of string are in the back of Hardy's book.

Crossbow bolts are approx three times heavier than arrows, so the initial higher velocity is soon lost over distance, you can't shoot very light arrows/bolts from powerful bows/X, they will just shatter before clearing the stave, unless you use modern carbon arrows of course.
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PostSubject: Re: Arrow making…   Tue 21 Feb 2012, 22:28

Weight doesn't cause velocity to fall off - it tends to preserve it. That's one of the reasons why a 16" shell travels further than a 6" shell fired at the same MV and angle from the horizontal. Form drag causes the velocity to fall, and that's largely a matter of cross-sectional area. That increases as the square of the diameter of the projectile, mass increases as the cube. That's the other major reason why a 16" shell travels further than a 6" shell fired at the same MV and angle from the horizontal. The angle - well, in vacuo, the distance is proportional to the sine of twice the angle, hence 45 degrees igives the theoretical maximum range - actually, the fall in air density with increasing height means that the max is acheived at about 50 deg.

Can you explain to me why these, which I was taught to regard as the fundamental principles of ballistics, do not hold good in the case of bows, please?
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PostSubject: Re: Arrow making…   Tue 21 Feb 2012, 22:50

@Gilgamesh of Uruk wrote:
Weight doesn't cause velocity to fall off - it tends to preserve it. That's one of the reasons why a 16" shell travels further than a 6" shell fired at the same MV and angle from the horizontal. Form drag causes the velocity to fall, and that's largely a matter of cross-sectional area. That increases as the square of the diameter of the projectile, mass increases as the cube. That's the other major reason why a 16" shell travels further than a 6" shell fired at the same MV and angle from the horizontal. The angle - well, in vacuo, the distance is proportional to the sine of twice the angle, hence 45 degrees igives the theoretical maximum range - actually, the fall in air density with increasing height means that the max is acheived at about 50 deg.

Can you explain to me why these, which I was taught to regard as the fundamental principles of ballistics, do not hold good in the case of bows, please?

The aerodynamics of a thin 30 inch arrow is better than a stubby 10 inch bolt and the velocity of a 110 lb longbow arrow is not as high as my 30lb state of the art recurve and nothing like a 40lb compound.

Can you explain why the medieval longbow-men used lighter flight arrows for distance?
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PostSubject: Re: Arrow making…   Wed 22 Feb 2012, 00:22

W.F. Paterson (1990) published data from Stephen V. Grancsay about an experiment comparing a longbow and a crossbow that was spanned with a cranequin.



Type of WeaponDraw weightBolt weightSpeed of boltDifference
Longbow68 lbs.2.5 oz133.7 fpsNot much!!
Crossbow740 lbs1.25 oz.138.7 fpsNot much!!


Apparently the crossbow could use a heavier bolt without loss of velocity but any increase for the longbow would decrease the velocity.
The Mary Rose longbows are up to 185 lbs draw weight.
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PostSubject: Re: Arrow making…   Wed 22 Feb 2012, 00:23

Explain? No, it's not my area of expertise (as I pointed out above) but I'd hazard a guess - the lighter shaft would probably have had a higher terminal velocity.
I've just been refreshing my memory about the two different versions of 13.5" gun used in WWI battleships. Here are Wikimisleadia's figures (which accord fairly well with Preston's in "The Big Gun"
Shell H: 1,400 lb (635.03 kg)
Shell L: 1,250 lb (566.99 kg)
Muzzle velocity H: 2,491 ft/s (759 m/s)
Muzzle Velocity L: 2,582 ft/s (787 m/s)
Maximum range H: 23,740 yards (21,710 m) at 20°
Maximum range L: 23,820 yards (21,780 m) at 20°

From this, you may see why I questioned your assertion that weight of projectile reduces its range - for a given initial velocity.

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PostSubject: Re: Arrow making…   Wed 22 Feb 2012, 08:30

Yes the heavier arrow would leave the bow at a slower velocity like your heavier projectile.

The length of barrel of a naval gun (50 : 1) has the same effect as length of travel of a bow string, how far would a 16 inch projectile travel compared to a 6 inch if the 16 inch barrel was a mere third as long as the 6 inch?

There is absolutely no doubt that longbows at Crecy out ranged the Genoese crossbows, Edward had planned to lure the French to Crecy from the very start. He invaded the Cotentin of Normandy and then marched on Paris, he sent letters back before he left Caen for a levy of bowmen, bows, arrows and strings to meet him at the Somme. The Somme crossing was opposed by Genoese crossbows, the ford only allowed 8 abreast with the archers in the van, the archers were chest deep in water but the range would have been about 1,000 yards for the crossbows. The crossbows could not be reloaded in water as the linen strings would stretch (as they did later at Crecy) easily remedied on a longbow with a few twists, about 20 seconds to restring, a mechanical tool is needed for a crossbow.

At Crecy the crossbow men shot first and then cut their strings an ran under a hail of longbow arrows, they were actual trying to restring after a rain storm believing they were out of range of the longbows.
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PostSubject: Re: Arrow making…   Fri 24 Feb 2012, 06:39

For a brief diversion away from the arrow and into the world of modern armaments, how far could the mortar that we see in use in the WW11 films go and how accurate was it considering how short the barrel/tube was. They look such a lightweight, frail device did the barrels ever wear out in the same manner as a gun barrel.
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PostSubject: Re: Arrow making…   Fri 24 Feb 2012, 17:22

The 2" (carried, in my day, down to platoon level, but only as a smoke / paraillumination weapon) was only supposed to have a useful range of 500 yards. The larger 3" (the one you just dropped the bomb down the barrel, as opposed to the trigger-fired 2") started off with an effective range of about 1 mile, later redesigned to reach about 1&1/2 miles. Mosrtar barrels rarely wore out - the bomb was a loose fit, effectively a tube-launched rocket rather than a tight-fitting shell.
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PostSubject: Re: Arrow making…   Sat 03 Mar 2012, 20:32

Just watched an interesting program on the free view channels about weapons… I missed half of it but caught the majority of the part with Robert Hardy and the longbow… anyone any idea when the last action with the longbow took place in favour of the new black powder charged weapons. Has it ever had a use in more modern warfare, where silence and stealth was required?
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PostSubject: Re: Arrow making…   Sat 03 Mar 2012, 20:42

Surprisingly, Norman, the last time a longbow was successfully used in war against an enemy by a british force was in May 1940 when Lt Col John "Jack" Churchill, armed with a longbow and a claymore led a small unit of the Manchester Regiment (who were all themselves conventionally armed) in attacking a German patrol in northern France. Churchill launched the attack by shooting the German NCO, thus becoming the last known British soldier to have felled an enemy with a longbow. All the German patrol were either killed or taken prisoner. Similarly in July 1943 when landing in Sicily he led his Commando group with his claymore slung around his waist, a longbow and arrows around his neck and his bagpipes under his arm. Unsurprisingly Lt Col Churchill was nicknamed "Mad Jack". He once said "any officer who goes into action without his sword is improperly dressed."

The don't make 'em like that anymore do they?

EDIT: I think there are more recent cases of crossbows being used in stealth or anti-terrorism situations, but I don't know any details.
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PostSubject: Re: Arrow making…   Sat 03 Mar 2012, 22:05

Thanks for that meles… I had a feeling it was quite recent, but having made a fool of myself once today, I felt disinclined to do it a second time as I wasn’t sure.
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PostSubject: Re: Arrow making…   Sat 03 Mar 2012, 22:13

Of course I don't think Mad Jack's use of the longbow was sanctioned by his commanding officers which makes me wonder when was the last time a longbow was officially used as an offensive weapon.
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PostSubject: Re: Arrow making…   Sat 03 Mar 2012, 22:30

Not sure how "sanctioned" it was, but several LDV units did arm themselves, in part at least, with bows (I doubt they were proper longbows) until there were sufficient firearms to go round.
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PostSubject: Re: Arrow making…   Sat 03 Mar 2012, 23:45

@Haesten wrote:
There is absolutely no doubt that longbows at Crecy out ranged the Genoese crossbows...The crossbows could not be reloaded in water as the linen strings would stretch (as they did later at Crecy) easily remedied on a longbow with a few twists, about 20 seconds to restring, a mechanical tool is needed for a crossbow.

At Crecy the crossbow men shot first and then cut their strings an ran under a hail of longbow arrows, they were actual trying to restring after a rain storm believing they were out of range of the longbows.

Nonsense! Mad

The English archers at Crecy were shooting downhill from high ground, thereby artificially enhancing their range, while the Genoese were shooting uphill from low ground, thereby artificially reducing their range, so even if the longbows had been in range, but the crossbows not (which does not appear to have been the case), the encounter would hardly have been a fair test of comparative ranges. The most we can say is that the Genoese judged themselves to be in range when they paused to shoot, despite the disadvantage of their lower altitude, which, if anything, suggests that the crossbow would have the advantage in a fair test. The fact that the English drove the Genoese off can easily be explained by the far greater shooting rate of the (long)bow, which is quite unrelated to the matter of range.

By 1346 longbow archers themselves were using linen strings. What's more, it was far harder to unstring a longbow (with which the string is pulled taught when the bow is strung, but not drawn) than a wooden or composite crossbow, from which the string hung loose when the weapon wasn't spanned. It's most likely that the Genoese at Crecy used composite crossbows.study

No mechanical device at all was needed to (un)string a crossbow until the introduction of the steel prod (bow), which held the string taught at all times. In addition to being held taught, the string of a steel crossbow would be heavily waxed, rendering these weapons effectively waterproof. When steel prods were introduced, (un)stringing some of them required a 'bastard string', but that's just a slightly longer crossbow string with a couple of clamps or hook to attach it to the prod. The bastard string is attached and the crossbow spanned using it, which bends the prod, allowing easy (un)stringing, then the trigger is pulled, which leaves the bastard string hanging loose, whereupon it is removed. It takes longer to type out an explanation of this than to the perform action in real life.tongue

The claim that the Genoese at Crecy cut their crossbow strings is so bizarre as to cast doubt on the particular account study in which it appears as a whole: what purpose could cutting the strings have possibly served Suspect ? Other accounts study claim, eg, that the crossbow prods themselves were warped by the rain. All-in-all, it seems reasonable to consider that apologists for the Genoese may have falsely blamed the rain for their poor performance, by way of an excuse. What is particularly telling is that one of the situations in which the English consistently chose to use crossbows throughout the so-called 'longbow era' (ie, when they might have replaced said crossbows easily) was aboard ships and boats. It hardly seems believable that a weapon selected for use aboard boats and ships for over 400 years was likely to have been susceptible to damp...Rolling Eyes

...unless one believes that medieval English soldiers were generally stupid No . This, of course, is not impossible for 'longbow romantics', whose claims that longbows were superior under all circumstances imply that those English leaders who chose to employ crossbowmen (Edward I, Edward III, Henry V etc) weren't actually very clued up about medieval warfare. Rolling Eyes
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PostSubject: Re: Arrow making…   Sat 03 Mar 2012, 23:49

@normanhurst wrote:
Just watched an interesting program on the free view channels about weapons… I missed half of it but caught the majority of the part with Robert Hardy and the longbow… anyone any idea when the last action with the longbow took place in favour of the new black powder charged weapons. Has it ever had a use in more modern warfare, where silence and stealth was required?

The last time a contingent of longbowmen took part in a British battle appears to have been at Tippermuir, in Scotland, during the 17th century civil wars.

Some modern forces (including the Frog Foreign Legion and Indian Commandoes, IIRC) use crossbows for silent killing.study
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