Reply To: Bows and archery

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Great points on the crossbow bolts and power stroke/draw length. A longer draw isn’t necessarily better, and a good reminder on qualities of ammunition being an important factor is a great addition to the topic. Apologies that the physics calculations go way over my head at the moment but I will take a closer look at them when I can.

I know that shorter arrows tend to be stiffer as well (stiffer in terms of arrow spine), which means that they would perhaps flex less in flight (not always good; you want just the right amount of arrow flex) and upon impact.

I am Not sure that European longbow arrows were necessarily all that long. I’ve seen some models suggesting some could have had arrowshafts as long as 32″, but I would consider that more of a maximum length.

I think the Mary Rose arrow shafts which were recovered, from what I remember, averaged at maybe 30″. Granted, their arrows could have been an inch or two longer, but if we say 30″ as a rough average, and we (assume or infer from the sources we have?) guess? that the arrow draw length is drawing to the base of the arrowhead at the longest draw that is safe, that is probably roughly a “to the ear” or slightly longer draw for an average arm-length person.

Maybe the arrows, while comparatively heavier than most Eastern archery arrows, were also a little shorter than average to deliver a good, stiff stabby strike? I know that Manchu and Japanese bows had an incredibly long, 35-37″ draw length (though they used the length of the arrow, and NOT a specific anchor point, as far as I know, unlike say, other historical Mediterranean, Ottoman Turkish, Arab, and Persian archery styles which Did have a variety of different anchor points specified in texts, see the Armin Hirmer videos below)

Like, if we think of an arrow delivering a similar-ish (caveat: I’m sure there are a LOT of differences, and my grasp of physics is absolutely terrible!) kinetic energy to a thrust from a sword blade. A more rigid sword blade would penetrate more easily. Wouldn’t the same be the case for an arrow or crossbow bolt?

A thought on that. Shorter and stiffer=better for penetrative qualities, which with more combatants armored on average (?? is this even the case? I know that lamellar armor, more prevalent especially for horseback fighting, in east Asia and eastern Europe, is excellentt protection vs. most arrows and a good deal of crossbow bolts as well), armor penetration going into arrow design makes a good bit of sense, though it isn’t everything. A LOT of military grade arrows were Not necessarily designed specifically for armor penetration, and yet were shot from relatively heavy weight bows anyway for good range and power.

Some youtubers worth mentioning who have some excellent archery related videos that might relate directly to what we’re talking about:
rydragon has some excellent thoughtful videos on his list:

Armin Hirmer is also an excellent archer with great understanding of form, as well as a LOT of different draw styles:

Scott Rodell showing some Manchu archery style:

Yes, the controversial Shadiversity stuff. He likes to ramble on, and again I halfway agree with him that what he demonstrates is a plausible technique (but I don’t think it was the majority used at the time, and not all historic artwork examples can be said to exemplify this without some big chunks of salt) but he does make his unorthodox technique work fine for him:

I think there are a few other videos that show him shooting higher weights (I don’t think weight is the issue with this style, just adjusting the form you need to; it does seem that you’d need to practice this draw variant or the more standard version, either way, as they don’t lend themselves to doing at the same time)

And I’ll throw in a Tod Cutler classic as well:

I’ll probably have a little more to add in a bit. In summary:
Yay short bolts being a good thing potentially! And were European longbow arrows necessarily all that long?