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Arrows vs armour

Aldarion

Inkling
I wasn't picturing magic instead of armor; rather of how magic would be used to reinforce armor. Rather than just a spell cast over the whole thing, I was envisioning having to do as much work in the spellcraft as in the metalcraft.

You mean embedding magic into armour during the forging process? Then you would still have just the usual pieces of armour, just reinforced.

Tolkien did something similar to that with Daggers of Westernesse, which was then copied by George Martin for his Valyrian Steel.
 
So many variables, and I never trust tests against mail. I remember some idiots testing “double mail” that was butted... what a waste of time. One of the big problems is that textile armors didn’t survive, so it’s difficult to know exactly what people were wearing beneath. Linothrax recreation has been able to stop arrows with impressive effectiveness from point blank. I hada conversation with a guy years back who spoke of doing tests on leather armor at a museum in Britain, and it was way better than anyone expected. Wish I still had contact with this guy, but alas... A mail/gambeson combo would be formidable as heck. Take the high end double mail and... it’d be hell getting through that stuff.

Old time breastplates could stop the old time bullets, but the cost was prohibitive. Double mail against an old bullet, with a good gambeson, would be very interesting due to the energy absorption/distribution properties which are similar to some modern body armors.
 

Aldarion

Inkling
So many variables, and I never trust tests against mail. I remember some idiots testing “double mail” that was butted... what a waste of time. One of the big problems is that textile armors didn’t survive, so it’s difficult to know exactly what people were wearing beneath. Linothrax recreation has been able to stop arrows with impressive effectiveness from point blank. I hada conversation with a guy years back who spoke of doing tests on leather armor at a museum in Britain, and it was way better than anyone expected. Wish I still had contact with this guy, but alas... A mail/gambeson combo would be formidable as heck. Take the high end double mail and... it’d be hell getting through that stuff.

Old time breastplates could stop the old time bullets, but the cost was prohibitive. Double mail against an old bullet, with a good gambeson, would be very interesting due to the energy absorption/distribution properties which are similar to some modern body armors.

True; although that depends on who is doing the tests and how. Problem is, to my knowledge, even historical sources are kinda inconsistent. Going off the top of my head, Muslim sources state how Crusaders (during Third Crusade IIRC) walked around looking like pincushions with all arrows sticking out of them. On another occasion, a king (English?) had to be put into jousting mail, as battle armour was not sufficient protection from infantry warbows. I interpret that with first example being one of cavalry bows, which tend to be weaker than infantry counterparts: missile cavalry is uniquely suited for such harrassment tactics, whereas the second occasion - taking place aboard a ship - is indication of power of infantry bows.

However, fact that mail armour was supplemented by shields - first very large shields, which then got progressively smaller - may indicate that early mail at least was not effective against arrows, but that latter riveted mail combined with gambeson may have been "good enough" protection, if inferior to full plate.

Also, I am not sure mail-gambeson combo was worn often, if at all. Aketon and under-armour padding would naturally be thinner than gambeson which was intended to serve as armour on its own.

EDIT: Linothorax and leather armour were actually quite good against arrows, problem is that under battlefield conditions they literally fell apart in fairly short order.
 

Yora

Maester
During the crusades we would be dealing mostly with mail over gambesons. An arrow piercing mail would lose a lot of energy, and a gambeson is really effective at stopping stabs. Arrows could easily get stuck in the mail without having fully penetrated the gambeson, or only causing minor nicks to the skin.

Some centuries later we have full plate armor, were such a thing would be a lot less likely to happen.
 

Gray-Hand

Minstrel
Figuring this stuff out with any accuracy is difficult, so I appreciate the videos you've uncovered.

If the materials are hard to replicate, battle conditions are even more difficult. Most of the time you fire an arrow up into the air to hit a random target from a mass of infantry a hundred feet away. Most of the time those infantrymen are in old, cheaper versions of armor. The arrows come unpredictably from above, not straight on into the chest where your armor is strongest, nor with precision aim into the eyes of your visor. Can you dodge an arrow falling from above? But what if there's soldiers standing all around you panicking about the arrows coming at them? And does an archer fire at full draw on the twelfth shot after a half day of marching on meager rations?

I also wonder if the longbow would really be the bow of choice if you were, say, hunting poorly armed goblins in a dungeon. The extra draw strength seems like a way to tire out with slower, overkill shots. Can a bow be designed to let you adjust the draw strength right before the boss fight? Kind of a serious question.

Although volley fire was often used in battles on the open field, archers were most definitely required to shoot accurately at single targets, particularly during sieges, both on attack and in defence. In general, volley fire is more effective at long range, where the flight time of the shot makes precise aiming at a moving target fairly useless. Individual target selection is more appropriate up close, where making an individual shot count against a close enemy takes priority.

In terms of whether a full strength pull would be possible after a long march, half rations an a poor nights sleep - yes, easily. This isn’t putting in your 30 practice shots on a Sunday morning with a hangover - this is a battle against an active opponent who will kill you. The adrenaline would make every pull feel light as a feather - although accuracy and stamina would probably suffer.

In terms of whether the pull weight can be adjusted for a ‘boss fight’ - the answer is yes. If the enemy is wearing weaker armour, you don’t have to draw back the string as far. You can get that a long bowman foraging for, say rabbits wouldn’t bother drawing the full 200 pounds into his shot.
 

Yora

Maester
Using a longer string would mean that you need to bend the bow less to get both your hands into the position where you can hold it to aim.
 

AlexK2009

Dreamer
I remember seeing a documentary that showed a crossbow bolt would not penetrate plate on its own but putting a blob of wax on the tip let it sticl long enough to penetrate. I was only a kid at the time so this may have suffered from the research flaws you mention and I am unaware of any mention of putting wax on arrowheads.



Inspired by statement in "Bullets vs armour" thread.



That is... well, it depends. On the armour, and on the arrow. Properly made and maintained plate armour was more-or-less impervious to arrows even at point-blank. Problem is, medieval armour would have impurities, and was not always well maintained.

This is the only really accurate video I know of (as in, replicates properties of both arrows and armour of the period):

Most other videos make mistakes which result in biased outcome (either too weak bows - low draw weight, inexpert archer, wrongly-made arrow heads; or else too strong or too weak armour - inaccurate materials, inaccurate shaping etc.). This test however:
1) Guy shoots a 200-lbs longbow. As I recall, Mary Rose longbows were about 150 - 200 lbs draw weight. So, historically accurate.
2) Arrows are made by a full-time fletcher and arrowsmith, by medieval methods.
3) Armour is also made by an armourer who specializes in smithing with 15-th century smithing methods, and who also does conservation metalwork.

They first did some test shots. At 25 meters, arrow has energy of 109 joules. He also states that he shoots at 160 lbs, but can shoot at 200 lbs; however, 160 lbs bow was more likely the one used for warfare, as a 200 lbs bow tires archer out too quickly (so what I got from that is: you train with 200 lbs bow so that you can actually utilize 160 lbs bow in battle). Both bow and arrows are based on the Mary Rose finds.

Armour is based on 1390 breastplate; it has physical design and carbon content of the original, as well as its weight and dimensions. Thickness is 2,5 mm in the center, and tapers off to 1,5 mm at the sides. Original breastplates would max out at 0,6% carbon content, while this piece has 0,5% carbon content so it is closer to the average. It is also made the same way as the original (e.g. air-cooling). Plate is backed by riveted mail and arming doublet. Everything is placed on ballistic gel, which compresses like human body would; the only shortcoming I can see is that ballistic gel has no bones, and even bullets can deflect off e.g. ribs.

In tests, arrow penetrates mail and padding as if it weren't there, but simply deflects off the plate.

Also, arrows are not reusable. Unless they miss, the head breaks off at the impact. However, case-hardened arrowheads do bite more than non-hardened arrowheads.

EDIT:
Later part of the test includes addition of textile armour over plate. It acts as "arrow catcher", and stops arrows from exploding. It also reduces impression on the armour - there are no deep dents from when textile armour was used over the plate

At 10 meters, with no textile again, arrow makes deeper impact but still fails to get through.

This is good addition to the video by scholagladiatoria:
 
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