Author Topic: Missile weapon ranges in WoR Terry Wise  (Read 1824 times)

Paul_Glover

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Re: Missile weapon ranges in WoR Terry Wise
« Reply #60 on: August 03, 2020, 01:30:25 PM »
Nicholas,

  You have found me being playful concerning a summary of what I believe I have seen from people rated as 'Grand Master Bowmen' in the modern age.  My purpose in stating the figures as I perceive them is to indicate that even for the very best archers then what we are really dealing with in the indirect mode is an area effect weapon, all be it with no more effect than the size of the 'arrow head' per individual shot; modified by the angle at which the arrows come in.  In other words a foot deep path in the last 6' to earth at the maximum range.

  Only if you believe the actual data to be better than the figures I suggest would there be any case to suggest that an indirect shot with a bow is anything other than a contribution to an area of effect.  I can see many reasons for suggesting or quoting worse figures but none for suggesting any that are better, unless you know differently.

  Concerning the Direct shot, yes, yet the certainty of it arriving at the target as intended is I feel higher than your reception grants to a shot against a target that pauses long enough for it to be stationary between time of release and time of arrival of the arrow at maximum range for a direct shot.  Here I find myself starting to get more confident in the efficacy of ambushes by the Welsh, in the Welsh wars set a 'good distance' about 100 yards from the roads they were interdicting.  The thing that kills accuracy in archery is uncertainty in the mind of the shooter, things that aid certainty greatly aid the effectiveness of a release.
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Re: Missile weapon ranges in WoR Terry Wise
« Reply #61 on: August 03, 2020, 01:33:47 PM »
Anthony,

  Thank you, I will look at the medieval section.  Just finding my way around right now.  I have Phillip's book and have been enjoying it.

  Where can I find out more about how Justin has been compiling his rules?


Paul.
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Re: Missile weapon ranges in WoR Terry Wise
« Reply #62 on: August 03, 2020, 01:41:24 PM »
Quote
Where can I find out more about how Justin has been compiling his rules?


Search under "optio" from the forum home page (its the name of the rules).  Justin may pick this up anyway and he is always keen to talk about his rules and how they work.

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Re: Missile weapon ranges in WoR Terry Wise
« Reply #63 on: August 04, 2020, 12:26:27 AM »
  You have found me being playful concerning a summary of what I believe I have seen from people rated as 'Grand Master Bowmen' in the modern age. 

Understood. Thank you.

  My purpose in stating the figures as I perceive them is to indicate that even for the very best archers then what we are really dealing with in the indirect mode is an area effect weapon

I completely agree with the conclusion.  :)
Although I would then posit, albeit without evidence,  that: therefore I doubt much firing occurred at > 100yds.

Just a question. And I have no idea. But were crossbow or early arquebus shot indirecty too? And if not, why not? I believe they all have similar muzzle velocities, so their range and flight times will be very similar. (Energy delivered will be different, but...)
« Last Edit: August 04, 2020, 12:43:25 AM by Dangun »
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Re: Missile weapon ranges in WoR Terry Wise
« Reply #64 on: August 04, 2020, 06:41:28 AM »
My own experience with weapons in any way relevant concerns:
  • A Mary Rose style reproduction longbow, based on the early, lesser interpretations of the draw weights
  • A Hunting crossbow that I practised a great deal with in my teenage years
  • A Heavy long barrel matchlock musket, based on an early C17th design that might have been used for the larger forms of 'birding'

I still use my longbow but had to let the other two go due to changing laws and different interpretations of what it was reasonable to own in different jurisdictions.

Clearly we are talking about a more primitive firearm than I have used, although some of the insights might be pertinent.  So the chief difference with the firearm, other than its length and lock was that I had complete certainty that it would not 'blow up'.  It was made of a modern steel, of good gauge and reputable source, by a gun maker that I personally knew and proofed at the central arsenal in the country.  Much to my colleagues' amusement I checked my musket each day after use, spending up to a couple of hours thoroughly cleaning, lightly oiling it then checking the closures on all of my black powder containers adjusting any imperfections with careful use of cold beeswax, cleaning the leather and the wood and metal so that I had confidence I knew the state of the equipment and would not have breakages in the field.  I also checked my match and if necessary dried it by my fire, there are some days however ingenious you are that the rain finds a way of getting into most places.  After a while I made my own match to assure the quality.

There is a world of difference in using such equipment when you are certain of its quality, that your powder is dry and your musket, equipment and match are ready.  One colleague was less careful and triggered a sympathetic detonation that ran across all of his powder.  Such accidents are historically recorded (so that was in a sense a success) although luckily he was standing vertically when the powder went off so just lost his beard, eyebrows and had burns to his face but was otherwise unharmed.  The point is that you think very carefully before opening a black powder closure and only ever do this as a deliberate act and not more often than you have need to.  Add into the mix poorer metallurgy and high profile incidents of weapons blowing up, I understand why in our period black powder weapons were used by skirmishers and I believe only ever used in the direct fire mode and when it most mattered on the battlefield.  I did have one opportunity to practice skirmish drills with my musket across one of the larger, one might say extended English Civil war battlefields and found it great fun but also nerve racking and we did our work by careful movement and by ambush.  The opposition tended to lack a sense of humour and at a different time I saw a colleague receive butt of musket in the face to deliberately break his nose.  You did your duty, but were careful not to get caught and as far as possible stayed close to your friends and to your standard.  When the penalty of things going wrong is not injury but death I get a sense of people only ever using a black powder weapon to have deliberate effect of which they could reasonably be sure.

The story is similar with a crossbow in that you seek to carefully load it and are very conscious of the destructive power of the prod and how easily the trigger can be squeezed.  Again, to me it is a weapon that invites deliberate use.  You would perhaps have to try it for yourself to understand the emotional dimension of using the crossbow as a weapon, but to me it is something for a deliberate target in my bead, unless you know of contrary references.

The emotional dimension of the longbow is entirely different and it is why archery ranges are controlled by excluding people from them, with drills and procedures to ensure there is no one ahead of the shooting line, particularly when the shooting line is moving.  Trusting your arrow to the sky is then a joy as you work with your skill with the weapon.  It is a weapon well suited to indirect use and I believe the drills that come to us from the age of Henry VIII reflect my understanding of accounts of practice in an earlier age, it was not all about shooting at the butts.  Again your purpose matters.  I have never been in a jurisdiction where a longbow was a legal hunting weapon.  But I can say that my first loose of the day is often my best and satisfies the criteria of a killing hit.  So, if you are going hunting, or are perhaps charged to take down senior figures amongst the enemy ranks as Kelly De Vires indicates that Dark Age Court archers were, then you only take aim when the circumstances are right to kill through a direct shot.  Yet if the opposition know to only charge you from beyond direct fire range or they will suffer, then since all looses become in effect indirect you loose as early as your arrow stocks and resupply arrangements allow, because this is a weapon with which you can shape the battlefield, once you can get the opposition making decisions through the lens of fear.

Does this make sense?
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Andreas Johansson

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Re: Missile weapon ranges in WoR Terry Wise
« Reply #65 on: August 04, 2020, 07:02:56 AM »
But were crossbow or early arquebus shot indirecty too?
There are certainly contemporary illustrations of early handguns being fired at high angles, but the ones I can think of offhand where the target is shown are in sieges, and may reflect nothing more than men on ground level aiming direct fire at defenders atop walls.

Here's an example.

Olaus Magnus has a pretty definite image of crossbows being used for indirect shooting, but his reliability is suspect (and his physics Aristotelian).
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Re: Missile weapon ranges in WoR Terry Wise
« Reply #66 on: August 04, 2020, 11:29:59 AM »
Quote
Olaus Magnus has a pretty definite image of crossbows being used for indirect shooting, but his reliability is suspect (and his physics Aristotelian).

Though he is a bit limited in his medium of expression - I'm sure he didn't intend his indirect shooting to take place at such short distances.

Though I don't have any practical experience to draw upon, I take an interest in military archery.  I think we are at risk from being unclear on our terms.  Medieval archers seem to have done two types of target shooting, one against a standing target and the other against a target on the ground (a clout).  Standing targets were not simply shot at with a flat trajectory shot - at longer ranges they used "underhand" shooting, which is thought to mean they sighted under the hand of a raised bow arm.  It's hard to tell what range this sort of target was regularly shot at, but shooting fields with butts at either end suggest a range up to 140 yds for butt shooting, and there are historical records of competitions at similar ranges.  Above that, presumably indirect shooting was practiced.  From both experiment and 16th century sources that 200-240 yd ranges with standard "livery" arrows (the Mary Rose type) were expected.

To me, at least, our thinking was shaken up by Mike Loades contention that longbowmen rarely shot "parabolically" and usually engaged at shorter ranges.  Whether he was right or not, it did shift thinking away from ever extending ranges shown to be possible by the Mary Rose type bow. 
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Re: Missile weapon ranges in WoR Terry Wise
« Reply #67 on: August 04, 2020, 11:40:18 AM »
Just for the purposes of discussion, using Agincourt as a rough guide, I assume that there were about 5000 archers in Henry's army. I will assume that during the course of the battle, each managed to shoot a total of around 50 arrows each. If we assume that half of the French dead were killed by archery, this is assumed to be around a total of 5000 (dead). This makes about one death for each 50 arrows shot.

How does this accord with people's interpretation of ancient archery effectiveness on the battlefield? I would be interested in any comments.

P.S. Please note that my figures are 'ballpark' and not meant to be strictly in accordance with sources.
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Re: Missile weapon ranges in WoR Terry Wise
« Reply #68 on: August 04, 2020, 11:55:11 AM »

Though he is a bit limited in his medium of expression - I'm sure he didn't intend his indirect shooting to take place at such short distances.
While I don't have the accompanying text at hand, I'm sure the range is supposed to be much greater than it looks like, yes.

Quote
Standing targets were not simply shot at with a flat trajectory shot - at longer ranges they used "underhand" shooting, which is thought to mean they sighted under the hand of a raised bow arm.
Which is funnily inverted to the musket-age rule that depending on range you should aim at the enemy's waist, knees, or feet. (But logical enough; bows don't kick as muskets do.)

Quote
Above that, presumably indirect shooting was practiced.  From both experiment and 16th century sources that 200-240 yd ranges with standard "livery" arrows (the Mary Rose type) were expected.
Do the 16C sources say what effect was expected at ~200 m? Is this the "annoyance" shooting we were talking about in another thread?
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Re: Missile weapon ranges in WoR Terry Wise
« Reply #69 on: August 04, 2020, 11:59:34 AM »
Seems like a good moment to note there is a bit of a move away from "arrow storming" at the moment e.g. this piece by Thom Richardson, formerly of the Royal Armouries

Rethinking the longbow

While the bows have ‘become’ more powerful than we used to think, the ‘arrowstorm’ beloved of English archery enthusiasts has diminished. We used to talk about resupply of arrows as if it was a natural and simple process, but the Privy Wardrobe accounts show otherwise.

Each archer had two sheaves of arrows to last a campaign, and would probably go into battle with just one of them. So all the statistics of how many arrows an archer can shoot in a minute are very much put into perspective by realising that such an arrowstorm could last just three minutes, then the arrows were gone. Once we are aware of that, we can see it happening in the sources: at Poitiers in 1356 the English archers ran out, and tried to recover spent arrows. At Towton in 1461 the Lancastrian archers ran out of arrows, and suffered the indignity of having the Yorkists shoot their own arrows back at them. So the vision moves away from darkening the sky with arrows like the Persians’ at Thermopylae towards a smaller number of accurately aimed arrows shot from very powerful bows by highly skilled and practised professional archers.


This would be more in line with Loades' thinking too.  Looking at arrow supply limitation against likely shooting rate does help to contextualise tactics.  Where I have my doubts on Richardson's view would be "aimed arrows...by highly skilled and practiced professionals".  I'd go competent archers at area targets myself.



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Re: Missile weapon ranges in WoR Terry Wise
« Reply #70 on: August 04, 2020, 12:15:29 PM »
Quote
Do the 16C sources say what effect was expected at ~200 m? Is this the "annoyance" shooting we were talking about in another thread?

Yes, that's the one.  Even John Smythe, great longbow advocate, didn't see a lot of point in it. 
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Re: Missile weapon ranges in WoR Terry Wise
« Reply #71 on: August 04, 2020, 12:53:08 PM »
I’d expect that to be true of all shooting until cartridge ammunition (at the earliest).

So long as ammunition is a logistical effort to procure and transport, or reloading has a meaningful time component, you have to wonder why spend those factors on an annoyance?

If you judged it might provoke your opponent into breaking formation and loss of discipline then that might be a cost worth spending, as horse archers seem to do with flight arrows hoping to provoke a charge.

But other than that, it’s just effort spent getting to the field which has no return.

But can you convince gamers that only their slingers can shoot as often as the like, and everyone else just gets a volley before melee.

That Wrg 7th fatigue for shooting which everyone hated seems quite reasonable I think.  As does the very close DB ranges
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Re: Missile weapon ranges in WoR Terry Wise
« Reply #72 on: August 04, 2020, 03:38:17 PM »
Again, using Agincourt as an example, assume 5000 archers in Henry's army, each with the ability to discharge 12 arrows in a minute within their 'effective' range. Then this makes a total of 60,000 arrows discharged in a minute. With a 'hit' accuracy of even as low as 1%, this is 600 'hits' on a body of troops 'in a minute'. In a 'body' of French knights of say 1000, the ability of this to cause disorder and confusion is very significant; even if the 'hits' are neither actually fatal nor physically crippling.

So the key criteria for the archery is not actually the 'numbers' killed (or physically disabled) NOR the specific range (up to 200 yards), it is the tactical 'timing' of the potential disorder effect and hence the ability of the English army to exploit it in melee.

In that sense therefore, (effective) massed (foot) archery was a tactical  'shock weapon' rather than an 'attritional' one unlike horse archer attacks agaisnt a stationary, defensive target.

I would contest therefore, that there are really only 2 'ranges'; direct and indirect and that even though 'casualties' are important, it is more the disruptive effect of massed infantry (volley) archery that is the more significant tactical effect rather than the specific numbers of casualties related to the details of 'penetration against distance'.

In Tactica 2, this is reflected in a 'Missile Halt' test required of (any) formation that receives a minimum of 3 missile hits in a Turn. Casualties on a unit are recorded and so the attritional effects missile fire are  therefore also reflected in the rules.
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Re: Missile weapon ranges in WoR Terry Wise
« Reply #73 on: August 04, 2020, 04:23:36 PM »
Quote
I would contest therefore, that there are really only 2 'ranges'; direct and indirect and that even though 'casualties' are important, it is more the disruptive effect of massed infantry (volley) archery that is the more significant tactical effect rather than the specific numbers of casualties related to the details of 'penetration against distance'.

Simon, although you reject only 2 range bands, I'm not sure how you deal with archery and distance.  Do you have a single range in which all archery has a blanket effect? 
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Re: Missile weapon ranges in WoR Terry Wise
« Reply #74 on: August 04, 2020, 05:03:07 PM »
Anthony,
For the sake of simplicity in wargames rules, it's probably only a single 'effective' range that's needed although for massed infantry archers shooting indirectly (clout) then 'all ranks' could be considered as shooting whereas for 'direct shooting', probably only the front rank figures would be eligible.

However, this latter consideration would then introduce the need for some adjustment to reflect relative 'effective penetration' and so then things start to become more complex. Is this necessary? That's up to the games designers.

I Tactica 2, only front rank figures are counted as shooting and there is only a single (effective) range. 6s are needed to hit. This is really as basic a simplification as you can get but in terms of the game, it seems to work fine (with the Missile Halt) rule. Players might argue that Sparabara should be allowed all figures to shoot but then if you make static 'fire' defence too effective in a game, then it affects the character of the game that you get to play.

Personally, I (and most others I've met) prefer games of manoeuvre and melee.

Next Monday's game is early Achaemenid Persians v Greek Hoplite so I'll let you know how that one goes. Previous such games have proven to be fairly equally balanced with the Persian advantage in cavalry and the Greek advantage in melee. Persian archery CAN be very effective occasionally but tends NOT to be sufficient to stop an aggressive Greek Phalanx (usually).

Bye the bye, I am actually very interested in the details of the art of archery and bow-making. I did buy a book on making longbows (The Archer's Craft) when living in Australia but never did actually get around to trying to make one (out of lemonwood or Osage Orange wood let alone Yew). I bought a flat bow instead and then broke it whilst stringing it one day. I did get a few shots off 'on the range' before that though (with aluminium arrows). It had a 40lb draw-weight so was reasonably manageable even for a beginner. It was good fun whilst it lasted.

When it comes to composite bows like the Mongols' horse bows though, that's an art about which I have only read.

In gaming terms, I think that notwithstanding all the very interesting discussion about missile penetration v distance, rates of 'fire', ammunition etc., care is needed for rules writers to not create ancient wargames which can be 'dominated' by 'static' missile fire but where missile fire does definitely have significant potential to influence the course of the combat effectiveness of units in the 'game-deciding' melees.  Hence the simple approach.
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