About Archery (Shadwolf)

Archery was a devastating weapon on the battlefield, but only if used properly.  There is obviously a maximum range at which they can fight, but there is also a minimum range.  I the enemy is too close, you are not getting optimum power on you arcs.  Additionally, it is nigh impossible to pick a specific target and hit it while it’s on the move in a battle.  No one who ever tried this tactic had any degree of success.  This is one of the reasons the English archers were so successful.  The English found that you did best by dropping volley after volley indiscriminately into the enemy ranks.  Once he began to close, you had to worry about hitting your own troops.  If the enemy got even a few men into the ranks of your archers, every infantryman would kill several times his number and a horsemen would resemble a scythe going through wheat.  Not only did they have the advantage over the archer in close combat, but he could not even fire back.

Of interesting historical note is the response to archery and, ultimately, to guns.  These weapons were best against heavily armored opponents.  The response was to create faster, more lightly armored troops.  These could rush in on the archers quickly with minimal losses and destroy them.  Terrain was a big issue as well.  There is an important concept known as the military crest of a hill.  If you place missile troops atop a hill, they can kill enemies at range, but anyone coming up the hill is sheltered from their fire.  The modern response is to place your troops slightly down the slope of the hill.  In the case of archers, this is often difficult to accomplish with any sort of discipline.  Gunmen can crouch or go prone with ease, but an archer has to stand on this uneven ground in some attempt at a formation.  When defending himself, he gains less advantage from the higher ground than a melee fighter would.

An archer as a solo character had additional problems.  A bow cannot be carried strung for any length of time.  Doing so weakens the arms of the bow.  Stringing one is a difficult process and cannot be accomplished in a crisis situation.  It is doubtful the enemy would stop and wait for a minute while you string your bow.  Additionally you can only fight targets that are at a significant range.  The common historical response for an archer to close combat was to throw your bow at the enemy to give you an extra second to draw a knife.  There are also several historical stories of archers attempting to use an arrow as a dagger.  Most of these stories end with a dead archer.

2 Responses to “About Archery (Shadwolf)”
  1. Interesting footnote: the English longbow has now been found to have been so powerfull because it was wielded by inexpensive peasants. Though moderately successful at range, its real power lies in the fact that the thousands of cheap archers could drop their bows and pick up clubs.

  2. another pile of horse manure…ever done any of the things you spout rubbish about?

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