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Ask me about archery, longbows especially.

Discussion in 'Research' started by John McDonell, Jun 5, 2012.

  1. Jabrosky

    Jabrosky Banned

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    I wonder which would make less noise, a hunting firearm or an old-school bow and arrow? I would think that would be an important difference if you're hunting and you don't want to spook prey or inadvertently summon predators.
     
  2. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

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    I'm not sure I understand the question. I have to assume you mean prior to the actual shot.

    If that's the case, then it would depend on the firearm and period. A modern firearm is virtually silent before the shot. Any hunter would already have a round chambered. The only sound before the bang would be the click of the safety disengaging (which can be performed quietly) and the hunter's body motion when raising the rifle.

    Antique firearms, like wheel locks, flintlocks, and similar muskets, are quite different. Depending on design there can be a loud click, and even a flash of powder in the musket's pan before the charge ignites. Other bore-loaded guns might use a percussion cap firing system which significantly improves ignition.

    A bow is quiet in draw, but there are things that can complicate the sound issue. A string rubbing on clothing, for example. The release of the string causes a snapping sound as limbs release stored power. This can be dampened by placing silencers where the string contacts each limb. Common materials for silencers were hide or felt. In modern times, hunters use rubber. Some hunters place tabs further down the string, above and below the knocking point and centered to the limb's tip. The intention there is to dampen vibration.

    I've seen deer jump at a bow shot, usually an instinctual hop or duck in reaction to a twang, and luckily avoid an arrow. But, for the most part, once the arrow is loosed, it's too late (within acceptable ranges). Dependable ranges, hunting with a standard hunting bow, are around 20 feet with a far reaching maximum of 40-50'.

    Firearms are far more effective hunting tools for one main reason...range. The difficulty curve, regarding the animal noticing the hunter, skyrockets in closer ranges. For the most part, bow hunters wait to draw until their prey's attention is focused away from their position. Distance and range alleviates much of that concern, along with concerns over sound.
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2014
  3. Jabrosky

    Jabrosky Banned

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    Actually I was referring to the actual shot itself.
     
  4. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

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    The firearm, of any caliber, is a lot louder. The exception might be a subsonic round that has been suppressed. That would probably be close in decibel strength to the sound of a bow string.

    For a firearm though, sound of the shot wouldn't matter. Even the slower (common) rounds like a 45 ACP travel 700+ feet per second. That's too fast for an animal's reaction to make a difference in close quarters. Hunting calibers are significantly faster than a .45, which is a defensive pistol cartridge. Even big bore elephant guns, like the 375 H&H Magnum travel over 2000 FPS. The sound barrier is 1128 FPS.

    At longer ranges, hunting rifles used to reach out and touch someone, travel a lot fast than that. They'll impact the target before the sound even reaches their ears. The animal won't react until struck.
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2014
  5. X Equestris

    X Equestris Maester

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    So here's a question: how would horse archers like the Mongols, Scythians, Parthians, etc. have carried their bows while on the march or when they weren't actively engaging? The illustrations I have found point to a scabbard attached to the saddle, but I'd like to confirm that if someone knows for sure.
     
  6. Laurence

    Laurence Inkling

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    I just read this entire thread and I couldn't help but register to the forums. Thanks so much Maiden, Allen, Valent, Quesh, Jonathan and Malik.

    Sword thread here I come.

    EDIT: Here's a question. The English are always pictured with longbows, but it's been said multiple times here that longbows are entirely unideal for hunting. If that's the case, what would the hunting bows of western Europe have been like?
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2015
  7. Malik

    Malik Archmage

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    Small.

    You only need about 20-30 lbs. of pull. If that. My wife is 100 lbs, and takes small game with a recurve that IIRC is in the 25-lb. range. I've seen her make an 80-yard shot on a still target (a foam buffalo, so a BIG target) with it. A simple 40-lb. stickbow will put a traditional hunting arrow completely through a deer and out the other side. My hunting bow is 55 pounds, and it is a rocket launcher as recurves go. Heavy, fast, flat-shooting, and makes catastrophic holes in critters. War bows could have been 100 lbs or more. That's like hunting with a Barrett .50 cal. You can; you just don't need it.

    One big thing here is that, with a lighter bow, you have a shorter bow, so it's easier to carry and draw without being seen. The sight of a bowstick going vertical, with the limbtip moving from one side to another like a speedometer needle, is enough to make a deer run into the next ZIP code. Nothing in nature moves like that. Also, you can draw a lighter bow slowly, which gives you an edge on stealth; you could draw it s-l-o-w-l-y without alerting your prey. Pulling my 55# recurve to full draw over ten seconds is murderously difficult. I can't imagine it with a 100+ pound longbow. Yow.

    Glad you enjoyed it. Welcome to Mythic Scribes.
     
    Laurence likes this.
  8. Tom

    Tom Istar

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    Hey, welcome to the forums! Hope you like it here.

    Now for your question. Let's see--Western European hunting bows would probably have been self bows, smaller than longbows, but still made of a single piece of wood. Their draw weight would have ranged anywhere from 30 to 90 lbs (sorry I can't provide the metric; this is off the top of my head), depending on what kind of game they were used for. 30 pounds may not sound like a lot, but 30 lbs is just a little below the minimum draw weight for the bow season for deer here in New York.

    Historians have speculated that ancient/medieval Western Europe knew of the composite or recurve bow, such as the type the Mongols used, but evidence for this is rare.
     
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  9. Laurence

    Laurence Inkling

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    There is a race in my story based on the ancient Chinese, so I'll keep the composite bow mostly to them for now. My westerners can make do with short self bows for hunting and longbows for battle! Am I right in thinking that the Chinese would have both fought and hunted with their composite bows?
     
    John McDonell likes this.
  10. wordwalker

    wordwalker Auror

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    I'd like to know how much the Chinese and other non-Mongol Asian cultures used recurve bows myself; odds are the Chinese invented them first but they didn't catch on as well as in the steppes.

    But a real signature weapon of Chinese armies was the crossbow, often mass-produced and fired in mass formations, or even the repeating crossbow as far back as 400 BC
     
  11. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

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    I believe the recurve was invented by the Assyrians. Maintaining a shorter length, while increasing power, made it valuable for their horsemen.
     
  12. Laurence

    Laurence Inkling

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    Is it likely that the ancient Chinese may have used both composite and recurve bows for hunting and in battle when on horseback? Crossbows in battle when not on horseback? Or can you not generalise that much?
     
  13. Tom

    Tom Istar

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    I'm not sure about crossbows, but yes, they generally would have used recurve/composite bows on horseback. Recurves are short, but due to their design they have a much higher draw weight than a self bow the same length/size. Their combination of power and small size makes them the best candidate for horseback archery.
     
    Laurence likes this.
  14. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    This video may have been posted in the thread already so please bear with me if it's a double post (a forum search on Lars Andersen didn't find and I didn't look through all 24 pages). I found it quite impressive, but my knowledge of archery is very limited so I don't know how complicated or how well known these techniques are.

     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 10, 2017
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  15. Laurence

    Laurence Inkling

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    That video gets amazing from like 1:15 onwards.

    Arrow left around the bow.
     
  16. wordwalker

    wordwalker Auror

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    Wow indeed. And a lot of it makes sense, as ways to combine the pictoral records and what a battle archer might really need to do (as opposed to a sports or maybe a hunting archer, taking more time per shot).

    Now if only they could get some of those moves onto TV's Arrow, I might almost stop grumbling about working a bow faster than three gunmen work their trigger fingers.
     
  17. Gurkhal

    Gurkhal Archmage

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    Great thread with many interesting parts in it. The only problem I would see for writing is that if a character pulled off the kind of stunts in the video the average reader would dismiss it as unrealistic. :(
     
  18. Tom

    Tom Istar

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    That video was amazing. I've never seen anything like that. I felt vindicated when the uselessness of back quivers was pointed out--I've been griping about their tendency to spill arrows for years. 3 shots in less than 2 seconds. Unbelievable. Makes me feel slow at 3 in 8 seconds.

    I feel the temptation to bump my own archer character up to a Lars Andersen level of awesome, but I don't think it would be realistic. Tom's only about seventeen, so I don't think he would have the experience or the muscle development to shoot at such a high skill level.
     
  19. wordwalker

    wordwalker Auror

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    Another point: how heavy is that bow Lars is using? That kind of speed can't be easy with a serious warbow. (Then again, if you knew your enemies weren't at long range or with heavy armor, this kind of speed-bow might be just what you wanted anyway.)
     
  20. Tom

    Tom Istar

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    It looked to be quite powerful--his arrows were able to punch through both chainmail and the gambeson beneath at close range. I'd estimate that its draw weight clocked in at approximately 80-90 pounds.
     
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