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Ask me about archery, longbows especially.

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

  1. Malik

    Malik Archmage

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    My wife and I were plinking the other day, standing at two different points in the yard shooting at the same target, from about 15-20 yards. She shoots a 30-lb. recurve; I shoot a 55-lb. recurve.

    My arrow is the wooden one, which, even with a simple target tip, broke her aluminum arrow in half on contact.

    It's hard to overstate the power of a well-tuned, hunting-weight bow inside about 30 yards.

    [​IMG]

    Her next shot then broke my arrow, because that's how we roll.

    [​IMG]
     
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  2. Ned Marcus

    Ned Marcus Minstrel

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    Does anyone know how long it would take to reload a crossbow?
     
  3. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Auror

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    Anywhere from a few seconds to never if you’re too weak, heh heh. But seriously, Huge differences here. The Chinese had a (weak) repeating crossbow, then you have the windlass, others have different cocking mechanisms... so, there’s no single answer.
     
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  4. Ned Marcus

    Ned Marcus Minstrel

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    Thanks. I imagined there would be differences. I've read stories where characters seem to just use the crossbow once, then toss it aside and pull out a sword, and was never sure how accurate that would be. I guess it depends on how far away the enemy is.
     
  5. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Auror

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    How far away and which crossbow. The heavy, slow draw weights are an issue of energy efficiency... with a crossbow of a draw easy to cock, the short limbs aren’t going to match the power of the longbow... hence the insane draw weights of crossbows. They need to be that way to match the power of a longbow. The real advantage of a crossbow was its relative accuracy for someone with limited training.

    Caveat, that’s how my brain recalls looking into the issue many years ago.

     
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  6. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    I don't know of any historical examples where the crossbowmen turned into swordsmen on the fly. A crossbow is cumbersome, heavy, and expensive. A soldier isn't going to just toss it aside. Plus, can you picture hundreds of crossbows littering the field of battle? It'd look like Keystone Kops Go To War.

    Crossbowmen tended to be specialists, a kind of unit of artillery, with a specific role on the battlefield (or in siegecraft). I'm not sure about the training issue; I'll yield to others on the point. I do know that crossbows were a weapon of choice for city militia, but I think that had more to do with how to defend walls than any other factor. The crossbowmen in the field I know about were all mercenaries (this is 14thc-15thc).

    Were crossbows used in China? India? Africa?
     
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  7. Malik

    Malik Archmage

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    You could also just heft it like a bat and beat the crap out of someone with it if you couldn't get it loaded in time.

    I would not want to get hit with one. Yeeowch.

    [​IMG]
     
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  8. MorioKitsune

    MorioKitsune Acolyte

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    I would be afraid in shooting myself in the foot with the foot stirup way of cocking a crossbow. For me I always prefer the using a bow normally a recurve, never got into stick and twig shooting and i think compounds are cheating.
     
  9. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Auror

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    The Chinese used crossbows a little, almost bid on an example once when I was single and had money, LOL. Compared to longbowmen... yeah, the crossbow is easier to use for the layman to just pick up and point. Now, lobbing bolts long distance would still take a certain skill and experience. How much of a big deal it was, who knows, but the crossbow’s reputation was one of accuracy and ease of use in period. Of course, it also had major drawbacks. How does one string a thousand pound draw weight crossbow in the field? This kept strings on the crossbow whereas the longbowman could tuck their strings away to stay draw. Instead of keep your powder dry, keep your string dry, heh heh. Seems there was a battle where this reputedly came into play, another one of those English kick the crap out of French deals.
     
  10. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    >. Instead of keep your powder dry, keep your string dry, heh heh. Seems there was a battle where this reputedly came into play, another one of those English kick the crap out of French deals.

    Crécy. 1346. The French had a whole contingent of Genoese crossbowmen. When a rainstorm broke out just as everyone was deploying, the crossbowmen either didn't or couldn't (I'm inclined to the latter--these guys were pros) unstring their bows to keep the strings dry. The battle is a whole course in What Not To Do.

    Strikes me this is a good example of where realism won't do in fiction. If I serve up a big set-piece battle, and one side wins in part because of rain, the reader's going to feel cheated. Doesn't matter that it's how it could and did happen; story trumps realism.
     
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  11. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Auror

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    Thanks Skip, that name escaped me completely, LOL.

    I dunno, I think it could be pulled off. In particular from the loser’s side. But, battles or so inherently dramatic, if done well, it’ll work.
     
  12. Malik

    Malik Archmage

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    You cock it first, then set the arrow on the skein afterwards.

    The roller nut, which holds the skein, sits on a simple axle (more complex axles appeared later), with a steel-reinforced notch (the "sear") locking against the end of the trigger, which was basically a big, angled steel bar. It takes some oomph to release the trigger, which is why the levers are so big. Even if you did load it as you cocked it, it would be almost impossible to fire accidentally.

     
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  13. MorioKitsune

    MorioKitsune Acolyte

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    Ah thank you for the explaination. Still I am not sure about leaning over something with that much stored energy...
     
  14. Ned Marcus

    Ned Marcus Minstrel

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    I was thinking of fantasy examples :) Usually when someone used a crossbow, then dropped it to use a sword. If they were still alive after, then they'd pick it up.
     
  15. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    I'm generally pretty tolerant, but I think that would jar me. A crossbowman and a swordsman are just two different sorts of soldiers. Plus, as per Malik, I'd be worried someone else on the battlefield would pick it up and brain me with it from behind.
     
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  16. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Auror

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    I know in D&D games we had adventurers tossing crossbows aside all the time, LOL. I don’t recall reading this in a book, but I’m sure it’s done.

    In war, impractical, but in an “elite fighting force” adventure, it does seem kind of manly and better than fixing a bayonet, heh heh. Depends on the story whether it would work.
     
  17. TheKillerBs

    TheKillerBs Inkling

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    So you don't think a crossbowman would have a backup weapon in case things go south, and if things did go south, they would not leave their primary weapon behind to pull out their potentially life-saving backup weapon?
     
  18. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    So, if you're defending a castle or a town, things going south means you've pretty much lost. Time to surrender.

    Out on the field of battle, if things go south, you are only a rather small contingent in a larger army. Time to withdraw or just plain run. If you're a crossbowman and the enemy is within arm's reach, you were in trouble a long time ago.

    That said, pretty much any man-at-arms would have had a dagger. That's for if you run and they catch you. :)

    For fantasy yeah sure, have at it. I'm just saying how things look from here. I'm pretty sure musketeers and other gunners didn't carry swords either. I'm absolutely open to seeing evidence to the contrary though. I'm a socio-economic historian, not a military one.
     
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  19. TheKillerBs

    TheKillerBs Inkling

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    Sure. I mean, not necessarily but 999 times out of 1000, this is the case.

    Or you got ambushed and didn't have time to withdraw or run.

    Or an arming sword. One-handed swords, much like daggers, were mostly backup weapons.

    Most gunners actually did carry swords, up to the 19th and (possibly) the early 20th century. Here's a bit about the swords of the Royal Artillery Gunner's sword from the early 19th century: Royal Artillery Gunner's Sword (Peninsular War, War of 1812, Waterloo)
     
  20. Ned Marcus

    Ned Marcus Minstrel

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    I agree. The actual story I was thinking of (can't remember the title) it was an assassin with a small crossbow and knives. And another similar one where it was a crossbow and sword. But for the battlefield, it wouldn't work.
     
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