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Thread: What's better: bow or crossbow?

  1. #1 What's better: bow or crossbow? 
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    I often wonder, is a bow better than a crossbow? Or is it the other way round?

    A bow is the basic long distance weapon. Easy to make (come on!! it's a stick with a rope ^^) and you can fire more arrows with it than with a crossbow; But it's not precise, so sometimes takes time for aiming (not convenient when a angry lunitic wants to kill you ^^).

    A crossbow is the opposite: it's harder to make, fires 1 arrow whiles you take 15 in the torso, and precise (I tested it on a dummy with an armor. I did a head shot^^). So tkes time for loading but rather quick for firing.

    So both take time, but then there's the circomstances in which you're in....

    -in the case with the angry luni running after you (doesn't he ever get tired lol), I guess the best solution is to have a loaded crossbow (with you're a bad aimer), or a bow if he's quite far and you're a good bowman.

    -when you're on a wall, and a big armies armies coming to kick your ass (can always hope), best to have a bow: shoot a lot of arrows with 99.999% of hitting an ennemy. Even on field, shoot as many arrows as possible, and leave the rest to the infantry ^^

    So, after a long discussion on this, neither wins because it depends on your experience and your situation. So this was pointless , you've jut wasted 5min


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  3. #2  
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    During the hundred years war, the English used the long bow while the French used the cross bow. The English won Crecy, Poitiers, and Agincourt as a result?


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  4. #3 Re: What's better: bow or crossbow? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by celtic_warrior
    So both take time, but then there's the circomstances in which you're in....
    You answered your own question. It depends on who's preparing for war, and who the conscripts will be. Obviously if you have a lot of money and industry, but hastily trained soldiers, the crossbow "wins". If your soldiers have been shooting coneys all their lives, a modest outlay for bows and arrows will do fine.
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    the cross-bow strikes me more as a weapon that suits guerilla warfare rather than the open warfare for which the long-bow is better suited
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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  6. #5  
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    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR
    the cross-bow strikes me more as a weapon that suits guerilla warfare rather than the open warfare for which the long-bow is better suited
    How so?


    Was guerrilla warfare even happening then on any meaningful scale? Typically morale on all sides was pathetic, but guerrilla tactics hinge on excellent morale.
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    probably not - however, if i had been a contract killer in them days, i'm sure to have used a cross-bow

    what i really was trying to show was that the cross-bow is more of a stealth weapon
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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  8. #7  
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    it depends on what your using it for and when in the development of both, i hate people asking worthless questions that have no importance or reliavence to history. such as is Napoleon the same as Hitler? or whats your favorite war? or what if rome never fell? worthless question, which could only be asked by someone completely outside academia
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  9. #8 Re: What's better: bow or crossbow? 
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    So what you're adding ishmaelblues is "it depends, you noobs"?




    Quote Originally Posted by celtic_warrior
    in the case with the angry luni running after you
    But that was rarely the case. Medieval soldiers in most battles would (rightly IMO) sooner desert than prove their bravery, if they could get away with it. Men on both sides were pressed into service, sometimes literally forced to fight at swordpoint, more often as a dreaded obligation. We were serfs and slaves motivated by debt and fear of punishment. Morale was that bad.

    In place of morale, stood discipline. Because soldiers lacked the spirit to fight, our betters commanded us through the motions of fighting. They had to physically line us up and promise a shot in the back from those archers in second row, if we stepped out of line. There is no room for free action here. Tactics, weapons, and hierarchy evolved to best compel large numbers of common men through those motions kings and generals desired to see. Basically, the contest was about which side would break first.

    Some weapons are better suited to regimented battle. An important difference between the crossbow and longbow, here, is that the crossbow fires straight line-of-sight, while the longbow fires in an arc above friendlies, who can hold off the enemy with pikes and armour for example, or, less nobly, with the general lack of enthusiasm on both sides. So you can pack a lot of longbowmen together (so they don't wander off), space the rows a number of paces, and have them all fire upon an enemy they can't even see (and don't want to see). The crossbow requires men positioned with nothing between them and the enemy - a terrifying whites of the eyes demand. It's alright on a wall. On the field, we had to spread out and after firing step back through a loaded line, which could then fire, and so on. This required tons of discipline to choreograph.

    IMO the crossbow is a mercenary weapon. I agree with MarnixR it's good pick for assassins too.
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    I have just had a look at the mechanisms for a crossbow. One of the most obvious differences between the crossbow and the normal bow which strike me straight away is that once the string on the crossbow has been drawn back and locked; thats it for the tension, where as with a normal bow, the soldier is in a far better position to be able to control the amount of tension which he applies to the string.
    The hand of time rested on the half-hour mark, and all along that old front line of the English there came a whistling and a crying. The men of the first wave climbed up the parapets, in tumult, darkness, and the presence of death, and having done with all pleasant things, advanced across No Man's Land to begin the Battle of the Somme. - Poet John Masefield.

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  11. #10  
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    Right. By adjusting the tension and firing in an arc we vary the range. Longbows act kinda like artillery behind a fixed line. And the way we did battle really did involve guys in tight formation normally commanded to hold a position, awaiting further orders.

    The idealized open field arrangement is a group with longbows protected by a group with long pikes. The bowmen keep firing over the heads of their buddies up front, and whittle down the enemy. Add a cynical dose of reluctance to the soldiers, with heartless disinterest by both side's commanders, we can see how many lives were lost just standing there and taking it.
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  12. #11  
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    Quote Originally Posted by mathman
    During the hundred years war, the English used the long bow while the French used the cross bow. The English won Crecy, Poitiers, and Agincourt as a result?
    I think it's generally agreed that this had more to do with tactics though. The English would place the archers in front during battles. When the battle started they would quickly set up long, sharpened stakes in the ground pointed toward the enemy, and then pour fire into the French as they charged. Once the enemy reached the stakes and started picking their way through them, the archers would fire one last point-blank volley of arrows before the English knights and foot-infantry charged forward past the archers to engage the enemy. Usually the archers would also have light swords, clubs, or hatchets and would join in the melee if needed.

    The French, on the other hand, would usually put their archers in back so that they were better protected. They could fire arrows for a while over the heads of the advancing footmen and knights, but they had to stop when their own advancing troops got too close to the enemy line. The result was that not only were the English archers able to fire for longer, but the last few volleys of arrows were fired directly into the enemy at very close range, while the French were always firing at relatively long range over people's heads.

    The fact that the English would usually hold their line stationary while the enemy charged and only have their own footmen and knights rush forward past the archers at the last second also meant that when the melee started the French troops were already tired from having to sprint toward the English for 300 meters or so, while the English troops were rested.
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  13. #12  
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    Advantage of a Cross bow for an officer who wants to keep his troops in line is that, you can "cover" an area with it, at very little effort. A bow user would have to constantly hold the string back in order to accomplish the same effect.


    I get the impression that Crossbows were only very good at short range, however. I know the armor piercing ones only worked up close. I think it goes to what leohopkins was saying. Since you can't adjust the tension, it's probably pretty hard for a soldier to accommodate the arc on a long range shot.
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  14. #13  
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    Quote Originally Posted by mathman
    During the hundred years war, the English used the long bow while the French used the cross bow. The English won Crecy, Poitiers, and Agincourt as a result?
    Do you know how the French used the crossbow? I know the English usually used the lowbow as more or an artillery capacity than as a precision weapon. Hundreds of longbows aimed high and in concert with synchronized releases to saturate an area with lots of high velocity wood and iron.

    If crossbows were used the same way they would have far less of a rate of fire, and their distributed mass of fire would have mitigated their longer range.
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    Crossbows could be aimed in high arc saturation fire, as well as point target fire, the same as longbows. Advantages of crossbows include ease of use and powerful discharge with minimal energy expenditure while longbows were fast, powerful and accurate in the hands of highly trained users. A popular contemporary belief is that crossbows and longbows were battlefield competetors and their use was segregated to opposing armies. They were simply two different tools to be used as the situation merits.

    Why doesn't anyone ever talk about slings? Now there's an interesting, understudied weapon in historical warfare.
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    Crossbows had been used since the 5th century BC by the Chinese. Relatively easy to use and make, crossbows were excellent weapons for people who needed training how to use a weapon and fast. Considering the crossbow also packs a mean punch and was capable of puncturing plate armor at a certain distance mean it was an effective counter to the heavily armored men-at-arms that dominated European battlefields during the Medieval period. Longbows, like composite bows, were very tricky to make and the bower was a figure similar to a blacksmith in skill and expertise. Longbows required a lot of physical strength and training to be used effectively. England's yeomanry practiced using the longbow one day every week according to law I believe so the English had a large reserve of longbowmen to call upon. Also new evidence has arisen that the English victory at Agincourt may have been due more to the relatively narrow avenue of attack that the French were stuck with and the mud that helped immobilize the heavily armored French chevalier rather than the the Longbow's legendary ability to penetrate armor.
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    From a similar discussion in another thread:
    Quote Originally Posted by Kukhri
    Arrowheads rarely penetrate plate armour. Modern tests prove that the comparatively malleable point is mangled on impact. Instances of British bowmen besting French crossbow wielding knights in armour are under serious review by historians. The common reference is the battle of Agincourt, where an outnumbered army of lower class longbowmen routed a French army largely composing of plate armoured nobles. Recent analysis indicates that the arrows would have been ineffective, and accounted for only minutes of heavy contact as the bulk of the French army closed the distance. The massive casualties taken by the French are now attributed to natural funnels created by the terrain where crowd dynamics forced a sort of stampede and toppling effect. The armoured French fell into the particularly viscous local mud as it was raining, and the plate armour created suction, preventing escape. They drowned, or were butchered by the Brits with daggers and shortswords.
    Crossbows could be fired from a kneeling or prone position. European crossbowmen even took advantage of mobile cover by wearing a "kite" shield on their back, which was exposed to fire while reloading.

    On the move European, Byzantine and Arab bowmen would often carry a small buckler type shield roughly 18" in diameter. They might also work in tandem with shield bearers carrying spears and javelins.
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  18. #17  
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    So, would you say that, in general, a crossbowman could wear heavier armor than a longbow man, without losing as much effectiveness?

    It seems like Longbows would have had a longer life after flintlocks, however, since they still had advantages the flintlock didn't have, whereas most of a crossbow's advantages seem to be identical to those of a flintlock.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    So, would you say that, in general, a crossbowman could wear heavier armor than a longbow man, without losing as much effectiveness?
    Generally, no. They would normally be armored similarly and carry the same sidearms. At times, they would even wear full plate armour. In latter days, both longbow and crossbow wielding soldiers would carry a pistol, in earlier times short swords, daggers and hatchets were carried. As previously mentioned, the two weapons have distinct advantages which account for their parallel usage.

    In fact, it's not even a question of longbow vs. crossbow. There are many different types of each in east Asia where both were in common usage. First, for the purpose of this discussion, I will lump long bows and heavy bows together, each with a heavy draw weight or long pull. The construction depended on available materials. Basically similar in function to Yew made English longbows, Japanese Yumi bows were made of bamboo, wood and leather. They were built in excess of six feet tall and garnered energy by a long, slow arrow release. Heavy bows were often carried by dismounted knights, as with Japanese Samurai and the Korean Hwarang, or among highly trained common soldiers as with the Mongolians and other Steppe peoples. Mongolian compound bows were made of composite materials like horn, wood and sinew, joined with strong glue. Mongol heavy bows were known to have up to 180lb pull. Mongolian and Chinese foot bows had an even higher draw weight. The user would lie on his back, plant feet on the bow, and tug on the string with both hands for full extension.

    As in Europe, powerful crossbows were easily distributed among soldiers of moderate skill and used to effect.

    This is a very simplistic synopsis of a complicated subject. The point is that if one weapon were better than another, the lesser would be selected out of existence rather than find worldwide utility over many centuries.
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    my opinion: crossbow for short distances
    bow for long distances
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  21. #20  
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    Quote Originally Posted by archaeologist
    my opinion: crossbow for short distances
    bow for long distances
    Historical employment does not substantiate this. There are many things to consider in regard to range. Fletching, arrow/bolt weight, length of stroke and pull strength all contribute.

    War arrows were heavy and inflexible and many quoted estimates of range don't account for this. It is said that ancient Turkish bowmen could send an arrow almost 850 yards, but these were arrows designed for range and nothing more.

    The cut (shape) of the fletching would alternatively stabilize or create drag on the missile. Compared with arrows, crossbow bolts were often aerodynamically poor with leather, paper (card), wood and less often, feather fletching.

    Crossbows had a stronger pull with the option of hand spanning which may have fired at anywhere from 100lb 500lbs, or mechanical spanning which gathered even more power. I have heard of a mechanically spanned steel crossbow that may have fired at up to 3,000lbs but I cannot confirm this and if true, it would be far from the norm. The disadvantage was that it had a short stroke, thus less time to accelerate. It is said that crossbows have a flatter trajectory over short range. A 80lb long bow might drive an arrow at equivalent range of a crossbow with double it's pull strength. I have seen heavy bows with 180lb pulls in European and Asian arsenals, but this seems to be the limit of what a highly skilled archer can pull and were rare. These cannot have been capable of sustained fire, with 75lb - 80lb being the norm. Highly skilled Japanese archers were known to have been capable of firing for 24 hours continuously in training. Even so, the Roman writer Flavius Vegetius speaks of archers being chosen from the strongest soldiers in the legion.

    For brevities sake, the longbow generally outranged a crossbow but not by much. Crossbows were hardly short range weapons. In any case, slings were said to outrange both and an important part of the range race.
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    granted you know a lot of about archery and its weapons, i was just stating my opinion based upon preference not war time facts.

    but thanks for the details, it was interesting.
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    Back to the matter of archer armour, I came across and interesting account of a crossbow wielding English peasant carrying a frying pan as a shield.

    Sorely in need of cash, Richard I "Lionheart" heard that there might be buried treasure in the vicinity of the nearby castle, Chalus. Richard's reputation preceeding him, the owner of the castle fled, leaving a few knights and peasants in defence. As the unarmed King Richard was surveying the area, a young peasant wielding a frying pan in one hand, and a crossbow in the other, drove a bolt into the nape of Richard's neck. Later in his tent, the king broke the shaft trying to remove it. The surgeon "butcher" eventually and violently removed it, but not before gangrene had set in, which was to be his death.

    A pan is roughly the size of a buckler and though a bit unwieldy, would have been an appropriate shield.
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  24. #23  
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    I would imagine that any 'relatively' thick piece of cast iron would make a fantastic shield against both arrows and bolts. I would think chain mail to be the WORST type of armor to guard against arrows and bolts, simply because of the way an arrow could slip into the rings and push them apart. if the head gets past the armor, it's all over.

    Either way, I'd say a 'skilled' archer would have the benefit over a 'skilled' crossbow-man. I give the credit to the archer, because a 'skilled' archer must know more about his weapon, how it functions, and how to make his shot than a 'skilled' crossbow-man. because of the wider arch, the lower test-strength, and longer string action is why I side with the bowman. I would think he has to comprehend more about his weapon than anyone else.

    A skilled warrior with a sling, though, if he was accurate, would be much more of a problem to contend with than either an archer OR a Crossbowman. the sling is more about leverage than string. The science behind a sling is incredible, making an accurate shot not only hard, but very dependent on more factors than the bow projectiles.
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    Maybe that's the saddest part of technological progress, at least in weapons. The unskilled guy with the newer weapon wins over the more skilled guy with the older weapon. Not always true, of course, but it seems like the newer the weapon, the less overall skill it takes to use it, at least at a basic level.

    Which leads me to a question: Were there any especially skilled crossbow men who might be seen as a parallel to the English Longbow men? Is there any sense that the crossbow, like the longbow would be substantially more effective in the hands of a highly skilled user?
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    Although I usually dont get into the 'which is better' arguments (as they are based on opinions most of the time), this particular topic has peaked my interest.

    The long bow is solely responsible for the great English victories of Crery and Agincourt, not to mention countless lesser confrontations. English boys had to, by law, practice with small bows from an early age. By the time these boys were placed in battle years later, they could have had more than a decade of experience, and could draw a 60-100 pound long bow. Yes, the bow needed skill, and yes, the cross-bow was more powerful in terms of punch, but the long-bow had a much greater range. That, matched with its quick reload and release times, make it far superior in battle.
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  27. #26  
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    Crossbows were more effective vs plate armor, especially from an elevated defensive position.

    They were more accurate in close range, and required less training as the bow to use effectively.

    The speed barrier was lessened by having teams of two working together, one loading a backup, while the other shot. It's safe to assume that if someone was a good enough shot, and undoubtedly war has breed some that were, multiple assistance would load for them, increasing their rate of fire to compete with that of a skilled archer.
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  28. #27  
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    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    Crossbows were more effective vs plate armor, especially from an elevated defensive position.

    They were more accurate in close range, and required less training as the bow to use effectively.

    The speed barrier was lessened by having teams of two working together, one loading a backup, while the other shot. It's safe to assume that if someone was a good enough shot, and undoubtedly war has breed some that were, multiple assistance would load for them, increasing their rate of fire to compete with that of a skilled archer.
    Have to disagree with you on that last paragraph: as the range of a crossbow was roughly a quarter of a long-bow, the french (who stuck with the crossbow even after Crery and Agincourt!), were defeated time and again when large, organized armies met. Having said that, the crossbow has the advantage of needing very little training to use, and yes, the bolts fired were far more devastating, at close range. Probably the best situations for a crossbow being superior to a long bow would be close combat fighting, castle defence, and gorilla warfare.

    By the way, have you ever tried to load one of those suckers ? I have, and let me tell you, a full-sized cross bow is no easy thing to load! The romans had a good idea, using the ballista, which had two sprocketed wheels and turning cranks to pull back the 'string' (which was usually animal gut, I believe).

    My wife and I are active archers, and although I stick to a lighter bow than the 80-100 or more pound long-bows, if I had the upper body strength, I'd love to shoot over 200 yards!
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    Quote Originally Posted by CShark
    Have to disagree with you on that last paragraph: as the range of a crossbow was roughly a quarter of a long-bow
    This reflects one of many common misconceptions about crossbows. Please read above posts.

    Quote Originally Posted by CShark
    By the way, have you ever tried to load one of those suckers ? I have, and let me tell you, a full-sized cross bow is no easy thing to load! The romans had a good idea, using the ballista, which had two sprocketed wheels and turning cranks to pull back the 'string' (which was usually animal gut, I believe).
    This was a form of "mechanical spanning" and was common in crossbows. It seems that you used a manually spanned crossbow, which does not offer the same power or range of most powerful war crossbows. Drawing a heavy war bow was no easy task either.

    Quote Originally Posted by CShark
    The long bow is solely responsible for the great English victories of Crery and Agincourt, not to mention countless lesser confrontations.
    Taken from another thread:
    Quote Originally Posted by Kukhri
    Arrowheads rarely penetrate plate armour. Modern tests prove that the comparatively malleable point is mangled on impact. Instances of British bowmen besting Frech crossbow wielding knights in armour are under serious review by historians. The common reference is the battle of Agincourt, where an outnumbered army of lower class longbowmen routed a French army largely composing of plate armoured nobles. Recent analysis indicates that the arrows would have been ineffective, and accounted for only minutes of heavy contact as the bulk of the French army closed the distance. The massive casualties taken by the French are now attributed to natural funnels created by the terrain where crowd dynamics forced a sort of stampede and toppling effect. The armoured French fell into the particularly viscous local mud as it was raining, and the plate armour created suction, preventing escape. They drowned, or were butchered by the Brits with daggers and shortswords.
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  30. #29 Re: What's better: bow or crossbow? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by celtic_warrior
    I often wonder, is a bow better than a crossbow? Or is it the other way round?

    A bow is the basic long distance weapon. Easy to make (come on!! it's a stick with a rope ^^) and you can fire more arrows with it than with a crossbow; But it's not precise, so sometimes takes time for aiming (not convenient when a angry lunitic wants to kill you ^^).

    A crossbow is the opposite: it's harder to make, fires 1 arrow whiles you take 15 in the torso, and precise (I tested it on a dummy with an armor. I did a head shot^^). So tkes time for loading but rather quick for firing.

    So both take time, but then there's the circomstances in which you're in....

    -in the case with the angry luni running after you (doesn't he ever get tired lol), I guess the best solution is to have a loaded crossbow (with you're a bad aimer), or a bow if he's quite far and you're a good bowman.

    -when you're on a wall, and a big armies armies coming to kick your ass (can always hope), best to have a bow: shoot a lot of arrows with 99.999% of hitting an ennemy. Even on field, shoot as many arrows as possible, and leave the rest to the infantry ^^

    So, after a long discussion on this, neither wins because it depends on your experience and your situation. So this was pointless :lol:, you've jut wasted 5min
    REPLY: Depends on who was using them. The English bowsmen were the best ever. Though the crossbows could out range them, the English bowsmen could get off 5 or 6 shots for every crossbow shot. Crossbows took much more time to reload. It took many years of training to be an English long bowsman . This ability of English bowsmen was the desicive factor in many battles. With the the French in particular. They would run forward, fire off 6-10 shots and run back. This compromised any advantage the crossbowsmen had severely. These were English longbowsmen. No one at that time were any sort of match to them. Hello Pong, ...Dr.Syntax
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    I agree, it depends on who was using them. Specifically, what training they had. The crossbow had an advantage that the early matchlocks and later flintlocks had: it took relatively little training to prepare an army to use them.

    The long bow, on the other hand, took years of training. But a well-trained bowman was deadly on the battlefield and could put more arrows in the air than any crossbowman.
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  32. #31  
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkinWalker
    put more arrows in the air
    In many situations archers had no clear sight of the enemy - but just raining arrows on a spot could be effective.
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkinWalker
    I agree, it depends on who was using them. Specifically, what training they had. The crossbow had an advantage that the early matchlocks and later flintlocks had: it took relatively little training to prepare an army to use them.

    The long bow, on the other hand, took years of training. But a well-trained bowman was deadly on the battlefield and could put more arrows in the air than any crossbowman.
    REPLY: Hello skin walker. We agree about that anyway. I read a truly great historical novel about all that titled : The Bowsman by Cornwall ? Not sure about that name, but I will never forget the story. Really got into how all those battles were fought and such. Anyway that is where I learned about the English bowsmen. Good night, Dr.Syntax ...The book is titled :" The Archer " and was written by Bernard Cornwell. A prolific writter with many truly wonderful historical Novels regarding English history of all eras. Some of the SHARPE SERIES are OK and some are quite good. In my opinion his best works are not part of this series. THE WINTER KING, THE ARCHER, HERETIC , GALLOWS THIEF are books I have read and consider quite good. ...DS
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    Most references here about the employment of missiles seem to assume they were always used in large scale engagements. Keep in mind that like today, most armed conflict was usually small unit actions where accuracy and stopping power was of great importance. The general consensus that we've reached is correct. They are employed differently by soldiers with different abilities.

    Quote Originally Posted by dr.syntax
    The English bowsmen were the best ever.
    Of all the people who used this prehistoric weapon around the world, why do you think they were the best? The English practice of requiring ten years of training for archers was mirrored in many warrior cultures. Not sure how one one determine that a British archer was better than a 14th century Indonesian or Peruvian bowman.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kukhri
    Most references here about the employment of missiles seem to assume they were always used in large scale engagements. Keep in mind that like today, most armed conflict was usually small unit actions where accuracy and stopping power was of great importance. The general consensus that we've reached is correct. They are employed differently by soldiers with different abilities.

    Quote Originally Posted by dr.syntax
    The English bowsmen were the best ever.
    Of all the people who used this prehistoric weapon around the world, why do you think they were the best? The English practice of requiring ten years of training for archers was mirrored in many warrior cultures. Not sure how one one determine that a British archer was better than a 14th century Indonesian or Peruvian bowman.
    REPLY: We disagree, there is nothing wrong about that whatsoever. I have the belief that the English had refined both the construction of thier yewwood long bows and the training of the archers, or bowsman, to a degree unequaled historically. I guess the HUNDRED YEARS WAR which actually lasted a good bit longer than 100 years, between England and France was the highpoint, so to speak , of the employment of these highly valued troops. Once the lines of regular infantry met and engaged in their utterly brutal stuggles, the bowsmen were to the rear of the fighting. The english had a special name for these men also and I cannot recall it. The name for the men who used sword,axe,dagger,shield to slash and stab, and bash thier oppenents to death or die trieing. Was it MEN AT ARMS ? Anyway, this English archery tradition goes back to prehistoric times as far as I know and predates the ROMAN ERA in Britain which was a long era itself. About 400 years I think. Wikipedia puts the dates at AD 43 to 410 AD. I am not sure this is correct. I know Julius Caesar himself made the initial foray into Btitain and that would have been back in 55 and 54 BC. And also wiki answers there is new evidence that the Romans ocuppied parts of Britain 50 years prior to 43 AD. So I guess there is no clear answer as to exactly when they first occupied it. But it is clear they did so for at least 377 years. This was considered by many Britains to be a very good thing. Once the ROMANS left a very long series of invasions and wars ensued. There is a lot of truth in that phrase PAX ROMANA, the peace of Rome. Anyway nice talking to you. Your Friend Perhaps ? ...Dr.Syntax
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kukhri
    Of all the people who used this prehistoric weapon around the world, why do you think they were the best? The English practice of requiring ten years of training for archers was mirrored in many warrior cultures. Not sure how one one determine that a British archer was better than a 14th century Indonesian or Peruvian bowman.
    Indeed the reclusive Sentinelese, who fiercely resist all overtures by anthropologists, are known to employ "an excellent flatbow with high accuracy against human-sized targets up to nearly 100 metres.".
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    "I have the belief that the English had refined both the construction of thier yewwood long bows and the training of the archers, or bowsman, to a degree unequaled historically."

    I believe you were asked why, do you have a reason?
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    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    "I have the belief that the English had refined both the construction of thier yewwood long bows and the training of the archers, or bowsman, to a degree unequaled historically."

    I believe you were asked why, do you have a reason?

    REPLY: The historical record of the so called: 100 years war. It is well documented by many sources. Quite frankly, these other archers were puny in size of numbers of them if nothing else. Also, from everything I have read: The English bowsman, archers of that era have nothing approaching equals or anything close to it from any era or area. That is my opinion. The French tried for more than 100 years to achieve archery equivalency, including hiring foreign crossbow mercenaries and failed. ...Dr.Syntax
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    "English use of longbows was effective against the French during the Hundred Years' War, particularly at the start of the war in the battles of Crecy (1346) and Poitiers (1356), and most famously at the Battle of Agincourt (1415). They were less successful after this, taking casualties at the Battle of Verneuil (1424), and being completely routed at the Battle of Patay (1429) when charged before they had set up their defensive position." -wiki

    Is it possible that it was not the bowman in and of itself, but the way the bowman was used?

    For example if you compare individual archers from different cultures using different technologies, your results will be different than if you compare the tactics used in battle by the generals of those cultures and how the archers as groups fit, and as individuals fit into their groups.

    Consider Spartans, who may or may not have been the best individual melee combatants, but they did have a great leadership. No doubt there were individuals in opposing armies who were better, but on the battlefield it is not necessarily a matter of how skilled you are, or how well armed/armored, but how well organized you are.

    Also, it is noteworthy that Generals generally get to make up their own minds, it was probably a general who convinced the king to enforce archery training, and it was probably future generals who were able to benefit most from this legislation.



    Just because the english archers were present at a few battles they killed many people at, doesn't mean they were the best.

    You need to consider what makes an individual soldier the best, as it's clearly not skill, because the most skillful soldier wont make it far in basic if he doesn't follow rules.
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    As I see it, a major difference between a layman and one who truly grasps military history is understanding that the outcome of war is not dependent on a single weapon. Winning a battle is about employing "combined arms". An archer would not be useful without the correct employment of infantry. Nor would they be effective without slingers, or any number of crew served weapons like ballista and emplaced staff slings. Cavalry were used to deny mobility and act as a quick response force, putting pressure on footmen. This only scratches the surface of complexity in combined arms utilization and neglects the most important factors of combat in this time such as position, logistics, weather, disease, public support, ect. If one were to arbitrarily attribute English success to a single weapon, why not assume their billmen or halberdiers were the best in the world?

    The yew longbow itself was well constructed, but why would you call it superior to a Japanese yumi longbow, or an Alaskan compound bow, or a Chinese foot bow. It's just a bit different and could be matched in power by those with alternate construction. In fact, the reason for the selection of yew was that the English isles had no wood capable of short stroke power. A longbow is an easy way to draw energy out of poor bow wood.

    Again, historians no longer attribute English victory to longbowmen in many of their classic wins such as Agincourt.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kukhri
    As I see it, a major difference between a layman and one who truly grasps military history is understanding that the outcome of war is not dependent on a single weapon. Winning a battle is about employing "combined arms". An archer would not be useful without the correct employment of infantry. Nor would they be effective without slingers, or any number of crew served weapons like ballista and emplaced staff slings. Cavalry were used to deny mobility and act as a quick response force, putting pressure on footmen. This only scratches the surface of complexity in combined arms utilization and neglects the most important factors of combat in this time such as position, logistics, weather, disease, public support, ect. If one were to arbitrarily attribute English success to a single weapon, why not assume their billmen or halberdiers were the best in the world?

    The yew longbow itself was well constructed, but why would you call it superior to a Japanese yumi longbow, or an Alaskan compound bow, or a Chinese foot bow. It's just a bit different and could be matched in power by those with alternate construction. In fact, the reason for the selection of yew was that the English isles had no wood capable of short stroke power. A longbow is an easy way to draw energy out of poor bow wood.

    Again, historians no longer attribute English victory to longbowmen in many of their classic wins such as Agincourt.


    REPLY: Everything I said is in agreement as to being part of a co-ordinated effort and such. As far as whether they were superior to one group or another, the fact that they NEVER confronted each other makes it a question I can not answer. I would expect some of the actual weapons themselves still exist. Do you know if this is true or not ? I do NOT know. If they do exist it seems feesable to recreate accurate reproductions to test for range, how far they can fire an arrow. This could at least be established. Has anyone done such a comparison with any of the different weapons that you are aware of? ...Dr.Syntax
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    No English Longbows exist, the common explanation is that they were made so cheaply that none lasted. I don't accept this, because they could be kept for quite some time--much more than has passed anyway--by someone with the mind to.

    I believe that, despite their cheapness, someone would have passed one along to their children who would pass it on, so on and so forth; unless dire circumstances, such as miserably cold winters, demanded that the bow be used in a more immediately necessary manner, such as to burn for warmth.
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    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    "English use of longbows was effective against the French during the Hundred Years' War, particularly at the start of the war in the battles of Crecy (1346) and Poitiers (1356), and most famously at the Battle of Agincourt (1415). They were less successful after this, taking casualties at the Battle of Verneuil (1424), and being completely routed at the Battle of Patay (1429) when charged before they had set up their defensive position." -wiki

    Is it possible that it was not the bowman in and of itself, but the way the bowman was used?

    For example if you compare individual archers from different cultures using different technologies, your results will be different than if you compare the tactics used in battle by the generals of those cultures and how the archers as groups fit, and as individuals fit into their groups.

    Consider Spartans, who may or may not have been the best individual melee combatants, but they did have a great leadership. No doubt there were individuals in opposing armies who were better, but on the battlefield it is not necessarily a matter of how skilled you are, or how well armed/armored, but how well organized you are.

    Also, it is noteworthy that Generals generally get to make up their own minds, it was probably a general who convinced the king to enforce archery training, and it was probably future generals who were able to benefit most from this legislation.



    Just because the english archers were present at a few battles they killed many people at, doesn't mean they were the best.

    You need to consider what makes an individual soldier the best, as it's clearly not skill, because the most skillful soldier wont make it far in basic if he doesn't follow rules.

    REPLY: My own experience was that it was to a considerable degree, EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF once the battles began. I am not saying it was even typical of THE VIET NAM WAR. I only know of what I took part in. I have spoken with Korean War Veterans who recall that war, as similar in this regard, for what is worth. They served in the units they served in and no doubt it was different in many ways depending on what unit and the specific time periods served with these units as to these sorts of things.
    Also, i do rcall all of the officers being BEHIND US. NOT IN THE FRONT LINES, BUT WELL BEHIND US. THAT IS WHAT I RECALL. A VERY MUCH SAFER PLACE TO BE. I ALSO RECALL THE OFFICERS GETTING MEDALS AND SUCH FOR JUST ABOUT ANYTHUNG THET COULD DREAM UP AS TO WHY THEY SHOULD GET THESE MEDALS. AND THAT THE ENLISTED MEN RARELY GOT ANY SUCH MEDALS NO MATTER WHAT THEY DID. ...DS
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    And this reflects on wars that English long bowman were present at, how?

    Do you recall stories about the American revolution where British troops lined up in orderly ranks, as compared to American's who experimented with guerrilla tactics?
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    Quote Originally Posted by dr.syntax
    As far as whether they were superior to one group or another, the fact that they NEVER confronted each other makes it a question I can not answer. I would expect some of the actual weapons themselves still exist. Do you know if this is true or not ? I do NOT know. If they do exist it seems feesable to recreate accurate reproductions to test for range, how far they can fire an arrow. This could at least be established. Has anyone done such a comparison with any of the different weapons that you are aware of? ...Dr.Syntax
    Comparison of dissimilar weapons and warriors is largely fatuous and the stuff of shallow television shows. Too often on the internets, posters confidently proclaim "Samurai ninjas are teh best evar cause they has katanas". It's meaningless and this discussion should be steered away from the topic. The important thing here is to correct misconceptions about history because once it's rewritten, it's difficult to turn back.

    As to how far bows could fire, range generally took a backseat to stopping power. Heavy war arrows were designed to penetrate a variety of armor to maximum effect, even if it sacrificed flight time. Other factors include rate of fire, potential for sustained fire, ease of use, accuracy and ability to carry and produce ammunition in foreign lands.

    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    No English Longbows exist, the common explanation is that they were made so cheaply that none lasted. I don't accept this, because they could be kept for quite some time--much more than has passed anyway--by someone with the mind to.
    There are over one hundred surviving examples of British longbows, mostly dating back to the 16th century.
    http://www.experiencefestival.com/a/...ows/id/5023326
    Replicas were between 150lbs and 200lbs, exceeding the heaviest examples I am aware of. 180lb bows seems to be the usual limit and are fairly common about the world, but 200lb is astounding.

    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    Do you recall stories about the American revolution where British troops lined up in orderly ranks, as compared to American's who experimented with guerrilla tactics?
    I believe this mainly to be the product of over-flattering American historians. The British military had been exposed to various forms of irregular warfare around the world for centuries. American revolutionaries weren't so clever as to be the first to figure out that when avoidable, going head to head with well drilled British columns was hazardous. Most deciding battles were purely conventional.
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    Interesting, I didn't think America invented guerrilla tactics, if that's what your implying. But nonetheless, thanks for the information.

    as far as bows from the 1600s existing, I was referring to pre renaissance longbows. That is, bows that were used during the periods that bows were used most extensively, the late 1200s to early 1400s, I believe, the time surrounding the hundred years war, if I'm not mistaken. I'm no history buff so feel free to correct this.
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  47. #46 I wish to thank you.... 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kukhri
    Quote Originally Posted by dr.syntax
    As far as whether they were superior to one group or another, the fact that they NEVER confronted each other makes it a question I can not answer. I would expect some of the actual weapons themselves still exist. Do you know if this is true or not ? I do NOT know. If they do exist it seems feesable to recreate accurate reproductions to test for range, how far they can fire an arrow. This could at least be established. Has anyone done such a comparison with any of the different weapons that you are aware of? ...Dr.Syntax
    Comparison of dissimilar weapons and warriors is largely fatuous and the stuff of shallow television shows. Too often on the internets, posters confidently proclaim "Samurai ninjas are teh best evar cause they has katanas". It's meaningless and this discussion should be steered away from the topic. The important thing here is to correct misconceptions about history because once it's rewritten, it's difficult to turn back.

    As to how far bows could fire, range generally took a backseat to stopping power. Heavy war arrows were designed to penetrate a variety of armor to maximum effect, even if it sacrificed flight time. Other factors include rate of fire, potential for sustained fire, ease of use, accuracy and ability to carry and produce ammunition in foreign lands.

    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    No English Longbows exist, the common explanation is that they were made so cheaply that none lasted. I don't accept this, because they could be kept for quite some time--much more than has passed anyway--by someone with the mind to.
    There are over one hundred surviving examples of British longbows, mostly dating back to the 16th century.
    http://www.experiencefestival.com/a/...ows/id/5023326
    Replicas were between 150lbs and 200lbs, exceeding the heaviest examples I am aware of. 180lb bows seems to be the usual limit and are fairly common about the world, but 200lb is astounding.

    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    Do you recall stories about the American revolution where British troops lined up in orderly ranks, as compared to American's who experimented with guerrilla tactics?
    I believe this mainly to be the product of over-flattering American historians. The British military had been exposed to various forms of irregular warfare around the world for centuries. American revolutionaries weren't so clever as to be the first to figure out that when avoidable, going head to head with well drilled British columns was hazardous. Most deciding battles were purely conventional.


    REPLY: I wish to thank you for your informative postings in this thread and others. I have learned a lot from you and thank you for ir. Where you a medic sir ? From your AVATAR I thought you might be, or have been one. All the veterans I have met hold the Medics and Corpsmen we served with in highest regard. About the most dangerous job one could have for one important reason, and to have someone devotiing their very lives to aiding the injured, in at times extremely dangerous situations, they hold an honored place in the memories and hearts of every veteran I have ever known. ...Dr.Syntax
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    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    No English Longbows exist, the common explanation is that they were made so cheaply that none lasted. I don't accept this, because they could be kept for quite some time--much more than has passed anyway--by someone with the mind to..
    Actually, a relatively large number have survived, from the Tudor period at least. There are also at least two pre-historic (not sure of the dates) bows found in bogs, one in Germany, t'other I can't recall.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kukhri
    I believe this mainly to be the product of over-flattering American historians. The British military had been exposed to various forms of irregular warfare around the world for centuries. American revolutionaries weren't so clever as to be the first to figure out that when avoidable, going head to head with well drilled British columns was hazardous. Most deciding battles were purely conventional.
    Yes. Contrary to a lot of strange historical myths that have popped up, the Continental Army fought exactly the same way as the British army. And indeed, the Americans didn't start winning many battles until the Continental Army got lots of European-style drill training from French advisers...

    It turns out there are very good reasons for the "line up and shoot" style of fighting with muskets, mostly related to reload times and ranges. David McCullough's 1776 has lots of interesting information on what fighting was like in the American Revolution.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dr.syntax
    REPLY: I wish to thank you for your informative postings in this thread and others. I have learned a lot from you and thank you for ir. Where you a medic sir ? From your AVATAR I thought you might be, or have been one. All the veterans I have met hold the Medics and Corpsmen we served with in highest regard. About the most dangerous job one could have for one important reason, and to have someone devotiing their very lives to aiding the injured, in at times extremely dangerous situations, they hold an honored place in the memories and hearts of every veteran I have ever known. ...Dr.Syntax
    Thanks for the kind words. I am currently stationed at Ft. Bragg. Thank you as well, for your work in Vietnam.

    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    Contrary to a lot of strange historical myths that have popped up, the Continental Army fought exactly the same way as the British army. And indeed, the Americans didn't start winning many battles until the Continental Army got lots of European-style drill training from French advisers...
    I am amused on the occasions when Americans insinuate France is indebted for the U.S.'s liberating efforts during the World Wars. The fledgling country may never have come to be without France's aid.
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    Deleted by Dr.Syntax. Some times I disgust myself with some things I say. This was one of those times. ...DS
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kukhri

    As to how far bows could fire, range generally took a backseat to stopping power. Heavy war arrows were designed to penetrate a variety of armor to maximum effect, even if it sacrificed flight time. Other factors include rate of fire, potential for sustained fire, ease of use, accuracy and ability to carry and produce ammunition in foreign lands.
    Would you say that the use of heavier projectiles gave bows an advantage in arc fire situations, where the arrow is going up into the air and then falling back down toward its target from overhead?

    In every depiction or example I've seen of a cross bow, they tend to have very small, light bolts.

    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    "I have the belief that the English had refined both the construction of thier yewwood long bows and the training of the archers, or bowsman, to a degree unequaled historically."

    I believe you were asked why, do you have a reason?
    I'm sure the English longbow had a very highly developed tradition behind it, which would have motivated military commanders to make as effective use of them as they could, if only for the sake of the soldiers' morale.

    If you go back to the earliest interactions between the Romans and the original Celts who lived on the British Isles, they were said to be incredibly tall. To me, that implies they would have been able to use larger bows than the Romans could.

    If their goal were to fight against the Romans, then the smart move would be not to specialize too much, because you need a little bit of every kind of soldier in order to prevail. But, if you're just serving in their military, then the smart move would be to totally specialize, so that your people will stand out, and be seen as a very valuable contributor in Roman war efforts. Why not choose something you know the Romans can't do as well as your people?
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    Would you say that the use of heavier projectiles gave bows an advantage in arc fire situations, where the arrow is going up into the air and then falling back down toward its target from overhead?

    In every depiction or example I've seen of a cross bow, they tend to have very small, light bolts.
    Unless my elementary understanding of physics and math fails me, if fired in high arc, an arrow should have the same velocity coming down as going up, minus drag. Force = Mass x Acceleration. You can develop energy by driving a light, aerodynamically poor projectile at high velocity as from a crossbow. You can do so by sending a heavy arrow at lower velocity as from a bow. These weapons often intersect in ability as bows and crossbows were produced in many different configurations. The ammunition fired was not even uniform. It was common practice for an archer to carry heavy arrows for point targets as well as light arrows for long range harassing fire.

    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    If you go back to the earliest interactions between the Romans and the original Celts who lived on the British Isles, they were said to be incredibly tall. To me, that implies they would have been able to use larger bows than the Romans could.

    If their goal were to fight against the Romans, then the smart move would be not to specialize too much, because you need a little bit of every kind of soldier in order to prevail. But, if you're just serving in their military, then the smart move would be to totally specialize, so that your people will stand out, and be seen as a very valuable contributor in Roman war efforts. Why not choose something you know the Romans can't do as well as your people?
    An archer can fire a bow larger than himself. Japenese archers used 7 foot tall longbows which they began to draw above their heads, then brought down to a lower level as the bow flexed and became shorter. In any case, big bows aren't better, they are different. As I said, longbows derive power from less suitable bow wood. Another way of doing so is by creating a compound bow, built from laminated wood and horn as the Romans were known to use. Flavius Vegitus wrote that the legion's archers or "sagittarii" were selected from the strongest soldiers, for their ability to draw the powerful bow. Sagittarii also used cheap, easily made, fully tanged arrows as opposed to socketed, western European arrows.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kukhri
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    Would you say that the use of heavier projectiles gave bows an advantage in arc fire situations, where the arrow is going up into the air and then falling back down toward its target from overhead?

    In every depiction or example I've seen of a cross bow, they tend to have very small, light bolts.
    Unless my elementary understanding of physics and math fails me, if fired in high arc, an arrow should have the same velocity coming down as going up, minus drag. Force = Mass x Acceleration. You can develop energy by driving a light, aerodynamically poor projectile at high velocity as from a crossbow. You can do so by sending a heavy arrow at lower velocity as from a bow. These weapons often intersect in ability as bows and crossbows were produced in many different configurations. The ammunition fired was not even uniform. It was common practice for an archer to carry heavy arrows for point targets as well as light arrows for long range harassing fire.
    This is all true, except that wind resistance is proportional to velocity squared, rather than just being proportional to velocity. A faster moving object encounters a greater amount of wind resistance than a slower moving object.
    So, in theory, a slower moving heavier object should retain more of its force over a longer distance than does a faster moving, lighter object.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drag_%28physics%29 (Air is considered to behave more or less as a fluid, for drag purposes)

    This is part of why cars start to get very bad mileage if you push them to speeds much higher than about 80 mph. This is also part of the reason spear guns are often used in underwater combat, rather than bullets. Bullets only have a very short effective range in water, before they slow down to the point where they'll barely even pierce your skin.

    http://kwc.org/mythbusters/2005/07/m...oof_water.html
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