Author Topic: More thoughts on longbow tactics  (Read 2173 times)

Justin Swanton

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Re: More thoughts on longbow tactics
« Reply #180 on: July 13, 2018, 09:43:44 PM »
I wonder if we could prevail upon Justin to redo the 3' individual frontage diagram with alternate ranks exactly behind each other (as they are in the 5' diagram).  At present they appear to be subject to drift.  I would like to see what difference this makes to elbow space.

As requested. This time I looked for an image of an archer with a more realistic pose.

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Patrick Waterson

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Re: More thoughts on longbow tactics
« Reply #181 on: July 14, 2018, 06:14:02 AM »
Thank you kindly, sir.

I am of course going to leap to the conclusion that each archer has sufficient elbow-room laterally as well as in depth; it looks to me as if one can draw a line perpendicularly outward from any archer's right shoulder (i.e. towards the right of the screen) and for at least 18" this line is free of any obstructions.

Individual frontage becomes significant when estimating the extent of a deployment.  Get it wrong and estimates of numbers suffer badly; the bigger the battle, the worse any distortion becomes.  It looks to me as if 3' individual frontage and 6' individual depth (the latter obtained by offsetting ranks) is the keynote for deploying longbowmen.  (This, it wil be noted, differs from my initial assumption that longbowmen could occupy a 3'x3' individual box.)

If I see any reason to revise this conclusion it will be revised.  For now, it looks to me as if whether longbowmen deploy in a line, wedge or anything else, 3' lateral spacing and 6' depth spacing (both figures including the archer himself) is realistic and the best offer so far.

If this was indeed how longbowmen fitted together historically, it suggests an emphasis on indirect shooting, with direct shooting as a last resort.  This in turn has implications for engagement ranges and in particular the range band at which longbow formations were most effective.
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Erpingham

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Re: More thoughts on longbow tactics
« Reply #182 on: July 14, 2018, 09:08:54 AM »
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But is not the operating space for any given archer is not the 2' gap in the rank ahead but the 3' space in the archer's own rank?

On a 3ft frontage, the gap between archers is 2 ft, whether its your rank or somebody elses.  Please refer to the videos referenced above for the space a warbow archer needs.  In that maximum two foot gap ahead are limbs and bows as part of the shooting process and, in some variants of our formation, a big stake.  I'll stick with a 4 ft minimum frontage.  At least you've acknowledged the six foot depth requirement :)

Thank you Justin for another useful graphic.  It is a very clean view, good for demonstration purposes, though we should envisage a rather more cluttered working environment with arrows stuck in the ground or lying in their arrow bags at the feet of the archers.  The archers themselves would be a little bulkier than these svelt chaps, with swords and bucklers and arrows in belts, plus perhaps padded armour.  There might also be field defences and the tools to make them.

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Justin Swanton

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Re: More thoughts on longbow tactics
« Reply #183 on: July 14, 2018, 09:40:36 AM »
Just to get a good an idea as possible of real spacings, here are archers with 4 feet between men of each rank and 3 feet between ranks.

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Patrick Waterson

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Re: More thoughts on longbow tactics
« Reply #184 on: July 14, 2018, 07:29:38 PM »
On a 3ft frontage, the gap between archers is 2 ft, whether its your rank or somebody elses.

Which frankly seems to me to be wide enough for a forward-pointing arm and a bow.  Is the imagined space requirement for a bow being turned on its side while an arrow is nocked?  If that is the case, how could anything less than a 6' gap suffice?  Or is there some other space-consuming element?

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... in some variants of our formation, a big stake.

Although would it not make more sense for the archers to shoot from behind a stake pattern rather than risk self-molestation from their own defences?
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nikgaukroger

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Re: More thoughts on longbow tactics
« Reply #185 on: July 15, 2018, 09:02:09 AM »
Is the imagined space requirement for a bow being turned on its side while an arrow is nocked?  If that is the case, how could anything less than a 6' gap suffice?  Or is there some other space-consuming element?


Why would you need to hold the bow parallel with the ground, which is what your comment implies?

Has anyone involved with this thread done much, if any, bow shooting? It all seems rather blundering around in the dark when it comes to the realities of archery to me.
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Erpingham

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Re: More thoughts on longbow tactics
« Reply #186 on: July 15, 2018, 09:38:18 AM »


Has anyone involved with this thread done much, if any, bow shooting? It all seems rather blundering around in the dark when it comes to the realities of archery to me.

I will confess that I have not done any archery.  But in this internet age, it does seem that everyone who has has made a video of it and shared it, so we are not quite as in the dark as all that.  Most importantly, we have examples of people shooting the right sort of bows on video.  Experience of archery with other types of bow may mislead. 
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Mark G

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Re: More thoughts on longbow tactics
« Reply #187 on: July 15, 2018, 10:08:14 AM »
We are indeed back to exactly where we were at least half a down pages ago.

Patrick and Justin refuse to believe you cannot hold a warbow perfectly vertical while drawing, therefore they will only accept arguments that make a narrow man frontage.

Everyone else has seen these things being used by chaps bending and twisting and therefore accept a wider spacing is needed.

P and j will ignore or deny any evidence cited that contradicts them.

The thread is ended where it began, as every one of these always does.  It's just a question if how many more pages of repetition it will take.

There is a pattern.

Justin has an idea and seeks confirmation he is right by starting a thread on his new idea(usually phrased as a question seeking his idea as the answer).

Pat finds an ancient source to support the theory (often totally anachronistic to the topic).

Others point out basic conceptual mistakes on the idea, p and j then dismiss those criticisms of pretend they are not raised, and we are off.
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Erpingham

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Re: More thoughts on longbow tactics
« Reply #188 on: July 15, 2018, 11:20:43 AM »
I don't think it helps really to personalise but I think there are methodological differences in many of these arguments.  Usually we have a range of types of evidence to hand; contemporary, analogy, reconstruction, science.  In this case, we are very short of direct evidence and we have to rely on our other sources.  We have to rely on speculation more.  Unfortunately, the lack of a contemporary core can be taken as a chance for free-form thinking, ignoring the evidence from our other sources :(

Anyway, we are a bit stuck in the mud on this one now.  We have gone beyond the original questions about how use of the weapon was co-ordinated on the battlefield without resolving them and have ventured into the equally thorny area of how the troops were deployed.  We have, I hope, demonstrated that a lot of "facts" about longbow warfare are theories which have hardened to dogma and they have stopped perfectly rational authors from thinking things through (I think the question of the relative space taken up by men-at-arms and archers is a classic of this).  Hopefully, those who have stuck with us thus far will have a greater appreciation of the uncertainties, even if they found no answers.
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Patrick Waterson

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Re: More thoughts on longbow tactics
« Reply #189 on: July 15, 2018, 08:48:02 PM »
Patrick and Justin refuse to believe you cannot hold a warbow perfectly vertical while drawing, therefore they will only accept arguments that make a narrow man frontage.

That is just so amusing, given the actual statements in the thread so far.

Why would you need to hold the bow parallel with the ground, which is what your comment implies?

My point precisely.  And yet 3' of lateral space is considered by some inadequate space for a longbowman's operation.

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Has anyone involved with this thread done much, if any, bow shooting?

Yes.  My instructor actually told me I was a 'natural archer'.  (He did not, unfortunately, add 'natural marksman'.)  What I have not done is shooting in formation, but I think I can make a shrewd guess at the space required.

We have, I hope, demonstrated that a lot of "facts" about longbow warfare are theories which have hardened to dogma and they have stopped perfectly rational authors from thinking things through (I think the question of the relative space taken up by men-at-arms and archers is a classic of this).  Hopefully, those who have stuck with us thus far will have a greater appreciation of the uncertainties, even if they found no answers.

As with recreating any 'lost' military system, logic meets guesswork part-way but establishing the boundary between them can be a challenge.
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nikgaukroger

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Re: More thoughts on longbow tactics
« Reply #190 on: July 15, 2018, 09:46:55 PM »
For interest as they are shooting warbows.

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Patrick Waterson

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Re: More thoughts on longbow tactics
« Reply #191 on: July 16, 2018, 06:20:05 AM »
Thanks, Nik.
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Erpingham

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Re: More thoughts on longbow tactics
« Reply #192 on: July 16, 2018, 09:01:39 AM »
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For interest as they are shooting warbows.

Great picture Nik.  Incidentally, note the archer on the left and how his kit bulks him out, as discussed above.

I don't think we will get any further on the frontage discussion as the same evidence is being interpreted differently.  We may, perhaps, console ourselves with the fact that no-one else seems to have settled this one either.

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