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Discussing: Range for bows

Range for bows

Does anyone have an approximate range for different kinds of bows? I read the lovely archery article on the site, but didn't find anything about range. What's the maximum distance your target can be if you want to shoot a long bow? What about a recurve one? Cross-bow?




Re: Range for bows

Dwim, I am not knowledgable, but vaguely remembered some sites I had seen in the past after watching Henry V. Here's what I found at

"The longbow implies a weapon of greater length than the 4 foot bow used on the continent." There follows various quotes of lengths from 5 to 6 feet. With this type of bow, effective range is given by the various authorities as 180 to 250 yards. A skilled archer could shoot 10 to 12 arrows a minute.

also some other useful archery topics here

Another nice site

This site gives a crossbow range of 300 m, crossbows had a slower rate of fire, more like 2 to 4 arrows a minute.

The Saxon shortbow had a range of about 200 m, and "Only three foot long and drawn to the chest, the short bow was not a very effective fighting weapon...Against unarmoured people they can be used to some effect, but such battles were rare... "

The recurve is effective at 200-250 m. I couldn't find a rate of fire.

Any historical reenactors out there?




Re: Range for bows

Partly depends, in M-E, who your archer is, I would guess, Dwim, in that from what I gather, strength and height have a big bearing on how strong a draw you can pull effectively, and therefore what your range is, and what your accuracy is at a given range.

Way back in July on the H-A list I asked a question about the range of an elven longbow - I was specifically thinking of a war-bow, the sort of thing Legolas got given by the Galadhrim, rather than a short hunting bow - and got lots of interesting speculation: I'll cut and paste some of the comments below...

Rociriel said:

Assuming "our" physics/calculus rules to be in effect in ME, and
taking into account the greater strength of Elves, about 175
straight yards...a VERY rough guess. It's about 150 for a pretty strong human male.

Jillian Baade said:

From my husband, a former B grade Aussie champion bow hunter, a heavier draw bow gives you:

A/. the ability to hit your target much harder, that is, one would use a
heavier draw bow to shoot an elephant than a rabbit.

B/. a little extra range.

That said, it is quite possible Legolas's war bow was a VERY heavy draw, in
war you really want to hit hard what you shoot at. A couple of hundred yards
is unlikely for a short bow, more likely under a hundred. I always felt that
the Nazgul was quite close when Legolas shot it.

Interesting comment that sheer physical strength has little to do with what
weight of bow one can draw, several local archers report some women figure
the 'trick' of a heavy draw bow and pull a heavier draw than men.

Isabeau said, after I'd asked her how heavy a draw Heth pulls:

OK. I'm not the great archery expert here, so if someone knows better feel
free to correct me. As far as Heth's bows go--the one she shot her first
Mumak with was pretty puny, a damaged longbow she'd cut down to a shorter
length so she could use it as a horsebow. She had a longbow she used when on foot as well, like the other Rangers. My understanding is that a traditional English longbow derives its strength at least in part from its great length. Heth had to get right up on the Mumak, and thanks to Arcag she was able to, or she wouldn't have been able to touch it. The bow she got from the booty of that particular kill, a black Haradrim bow, was a very nice laminate
recurve bow. Horse nomad laminate recurves were supposed to be very powerful despite their shorter length. She carried that one on foot or horseback until Elrohir gave her his, an Elven recurve, which is, of course, far nicer than the nice bow she already had.

As to what she draws----hmmmmm, Heth's a lot stronger than I ever was. I do
make mention of the fact that Elrohir's bow is heavier than what she's used
to. I'm figuring about twice what I can pull, which makes it about a #90
draw. Again, someone feel free to correct me.

Then Mike got in on the physics and said:

Another thought. The energy a bow can impart to an arrow comes from two
things, draw weight and length. If you were to make a chart, where you
pulled the bow with a scale and created a graph of draw weight at each
inch of draw length, the total energy available to propell the arrow
would exactly equal the area under the curve. The taller you are, the
longer the maximum length you could draw a bow. I measured myself. I
am 70 inches (1.78 M) tall, and the distance from the base of my thumb
on the hand that would hold the bow to the furthest I could pull a
string is 32 inches (81 cm), or 45% of my height. Elves were very tall.
I read somewhere Galadriel was 6 ' 4" (1.93M), though she was said to
be the tallest of all recorded Elf women. Male Elves were even taller.
If Legolas was say, 6' 6" or 2 M, he could draw a bow more like 35
inches (89 cm). Since at least 6 inches is wasted length, because the
string is set back from the hand hold, you are talking a difference of
29/26, or a natural 11% advantage in energy between a person 6' 6" and
a average height modern man, if both could draw the same weight.

This then morphed into a thread on the height of canon Elves/Dunedain, but you get the general idea. Don't know if any of that helps, since I bet your archer isn't an Elf, but see what you can do with it...




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