Primitive Archer

Main Discussion Area => English Warbow => Topic started by: Ringeck85 on December 17, 2011, 01:06:20 am

Title: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
Post by: Ringeck85 on December 17, 2011, 01:06:20 am
Hello all war bow enthusiasts!

As someone who's interested in building strength and getting into war bow shooting in the near future, I have a question.  Well, I have several:

Is there a historical source that indicates how fast per minute medieval archers would ideally loose their arrows?  I'm referring to this as "rate of fire" though I realize that there might be better ways of saying it. And how many at a time did they have on hand for this? How important is volume of arrows to your practice of the English war bow?

I remember hearing something about an archer needing to shoot at least twelve arrows per minute at a roughly man-shaped target 200 paces away.  But what source is this from, or is it misinformation or an anachonism?  I've seen a video of someone fire 10 arrows per minute going against a crossbowman (who got in 5 or 6 bolts, I forget), but is this a good rate of fire or not?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HagCuGXJgUs (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HagCuGXJgUs)

I've watched a lot of warbow shooting on youtube, but seem to see everyone focusing on distance shooting and the rolling shot, and taking their time with nocking and fully drawing their arrows.  Do any of these groups focus on the rapid "fire" needed to be considered more of a battle-oriented archer?  Or is that not deemed as important a focus as is range or accuracy?  Do you not do the rolling release when you're going for speed?

I would like to develop shooting speed myself, and I wanted to know if anyone focused a lot on this.  How do you develop shooting speed?  Is the fastest way to shoot a war bow from having the arrows stuck in the ground, or is there a better way?

I've seen videos of horse archers using the Kassai method holding their arrows in the bow hand, and using that to fire at incredible speed: Kassai can shoot 12 arrows in 17 seconds!  Is there a similar effort to develop rapid fire in warbow shooting like this?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nVYyEg3N9nI

I know that Kassai usually uses much lighter draw weights for horse archery, so perhaps this rate of fire is impossible for a war bow, but is it possible to get a similarly impressive result?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this, whether this is important to you in practicing the war bow, and especially any historical sources you know of that might indicate the ideal firing rate of someone using a war bow.

Thanks!
Title: Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
Post by: Ian. on December 17, 2011, 10:43:45 am
You have to think of the application; the English used the bow over long range when aimed shots over a distance was needed, most of the speed shooting is done at targets very close like the video you posted. And the bow in the video is only 110lb so below what would have been used in the period. Most heavy bow archers agree that 6 or 7 aimed arrows a minute is all that you would keep up with. And even then I doubt it would be continual the English didn't carry that many arrows into France for them to be wasted. oh and no one knows where the 12 arrows a minute quote came from its just something historians who know no better like to bat around.

If you want to do speed shooting then you need a horsebow, it isn't practical or historical to do it with a heavy bow.
Title: Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
Post by: CraigMBeckett on December 18, 2011, 10:14:18 am
Quote
oh and no one knows where the 12 arrows a minute quote came from its just something historians who know no better like to bat around.

Ian is correct here, I have tried unsuccessfully to track this claim down even though it is mentioned by a number of Historians/writers on history most of whom use the "fire" word in  their "quote" from a supposed letter that mentions that an archer recruit was sent home as he failed to meet the target of 12 per minute.  (How exactly a minute could be counted when the few clocks around only displayed hours and then not very accurately is anyones guess.)

As for

Quote
I realize that there might be better ways of saying it.

What is wrong with:
rate of shooting
rate of discharge
rate of loosing

All of which apply more correctly to archery
Craig


Title: Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
Post by: Ringeck85 on December 18, 2011, 01:33:14 pm
Rate of loosing, ok I'll use that.

Thank you both for your insightful points.

I recently thought of a few things adding to that, though not necessarily backed up by any sources as of yet.

-I've been of the opinion that volume of arrows (which in my mind became equated with rate of discharge) in a rough zone was more important in a medieval battle than accuracy or penetration power (only a very small percentage of who you fight is going to be encased in steel, and even then there are gaps), but perhaps a concentrated volley is even more important than that, and getting the volley land where the enemy is (a form of accuracy).  And with a concentrated volley, you'd be loosing arrows at a rate that isn't necessarily top speed, if bowmen even concentrated on this at all.

-the main effect of archery on enemy formations would be to disrupt or slow them down.  You might not die being hit with an arrow, but it would sure scare you and slow you down!  And being under a barrage of arrows would be a very demoralizing thing, like being under an artillery barrage almost.  You'd either reach the close combat exhausted, demoralized, wounded, or in broken formation.  And so rate of discharge might not be as important to causing this as concentrating the arrows more accurately by range zones.  Are there any sources that mention this idea?

-Pitched battles, even in the later middle ages and Renaissance, were rarer, were they not?  Many things I've read indicate that siege warfare was much more common, and even then assaults on a defensive position rarer than just cutting off supplies. So in the event of an assault, a bowman would not necessarily have focused on insane rates of loosing if they were ducking under a castle wall or a pavise shield where they'd have all the time in the world to renock and draw.

Anyway, thank you for your posts, that's a good clarification.  I wonder if rate of discharge was even all that important to horse archers, some of whom would have used composite bows with just as high of draw weight as warbows if claims of their range are to be believed.  Would be quite a challenge for them too, and maybe the zillion arrows per minute thing is more of a modern way of showing off than a historically accurate feat for medieval archery.

Your thoughts?
Title: Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
Post by: JackCrafty on December 18, 2011, 01:50:16 pm
Ring, there is so much talk out there on this subject that a quick search will yield enough reading material for months.  ;)

I've read many accounts of battles and the ones that seem the most accurate are those that describe archers shooting at specific targets with accuracy and penetration being very important.  In addition, arrows can be seen before they hit.  The shorter the distance, the less time the target has to react. Arrows are not very effective against armored targets at long range, so horses and lightly armed troops would be the most likely long range targets of a volley.  But I would imagine that leaders would try to get the archers as close as possible in any case.
Title: Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
Post by: CraigMBeckett on December 18, 2011, 07:50:44 pm
I think debate on the accuracy or otherrwise of the English Bowmen will rage on as there will always be those who believe either way with no way of convincing the other side. All that can be said for accuracy is that the statutory requirement of shooting  at the buts was done at all ranges including long range, and at all these ranges they shot at relatively small targets.

Quote
In addition, arrows can be seen before they hit.  The shorter the distance, the less time the target has to react. Arrows are not very effective against armored targets at long range, so horses and lightly armed troops would be the most likely long range targets of a volley.

While you can see arrows approaching you would have difficulty telling exactly where the arrow will fall and may dodge into the flight, in addition when large numbers are flying it would be very difficult to ascertain which one of the thousands in the air is coming close to where you are and, wether on horse back or on foot, when in a mass of men advancing on the enemy there would be very little room to dodge.

I won't get into the debate on the effectivness of arrows against armour except to say our ancestors were not stupid, if the weapon was not effectve it would not have been used, if it was not efffective why did the English develop their forces such that the majority of the men were equipped with the inneffective weapon, as for effect at distance, if not effective why waste your weapons, why not save them until the enemy was close and how come so many armoured knights, who never came close to the English lines, were killed? In addition how did 5,000 men, (or is it 9,000 depending on who you believe), armed with such an ineffective weapon defeat an army of more than 5 times their number when most of those who attacked, with the exception of the mercenary crossbow men, were well armoured.

Craig.
Title: Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
Post by: JackCrafty on December 19, 2011, 04:46:21 am
 :-X ;)
Title: Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
Post by: peasant1381 on December 19, 2011, 06:10:54 am
Ring
If you want to set some goals for yourself try these. Once you have a decent poundage bow and a sheaf of military arrows get yourself a chest sized sheet of metal around 1mm - 1.6mm and shoot at it at long range - anything say from 150 to 240 yards - what ever you can manage. Look at shooting all of your 24 arrows one after another. Don't try and rush it just shoot at a nice steady rate around 4 - 6 shots a minute. Try it with your arrows through your belt and then with your arrows stuck in the ground. Alternatively set 4 marks at different (long) distances and shoot 1/2 a doz at each. One thing you will discover - your arrows will penetrate the metal plate at long range.

This is a 1.2mm plate hit at around 165 yards. 70g ash arrow with a machined tudor bodkin shot from a 110lb pacific yew bow.
(http://i86.photobucket.com/albums/k95/peasant1381/IMG_0221-1.jpg)
(http://i86.photobucket.com/albums/k95/peasant1381/IMG_0220-1.jpg)
(http://i86.photobucket.com/albums/k95/peasant1381/IMG_0219-1.jpg)
Title: Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
Post by: peasant1381 on December 19, 2011, 06:12:41 am
Oops my mistake the shaft is NZ Tawa which has very similar properties to ash.
Title: Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
Post by: Ringeck85 on December 19, 2011, 01:35:02 pm
That sounds like an excellent thing to test once I get to that poundage!

Question, do you ever put a layer of padding behind that sheet of metal that would symbolize a gambeson/jack?  I think that that is a crucial element that is often missing in "armor penetration" tests.  Arrows might penetrate the armor, but might not penetrate far enough past the shock absorbent padding (which would have been worn under the armor of the time)  to be a debilitating wound.

A thought, anyway, though not necessarily informed by experience (yet!).  How much does that padding make a difference in how the plate absorbs the shock of the blow?  I know it makes a world of difference with plate or mail against a sword blow.  Without the padding, you get broken bones from the blunt trauma of impact; with the padding, you're a lot safer.

Title: Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
Post by: JackCrafty on December 19, 2011, 02:43:58 pm
There's several sources for very good tests on this subject.  Here's just one of many:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KCE40J93m5c&feature=related

People argue over the data and how it is collected and analyzed.  They throw in their own "reasoning" as well.  I won't beat on this dead horse.  The tests are clear.
Title: Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
Post by: Ian. on December 19, 2011, 03:14:30 pm
Jack I can promise you that the barebow test is false, there is no way 2mm carbon steel would deform like that. I have made armour and worked a lot of steel that plate looks more like 1.2 mm mild. I think its more advertising of his bows.

I don't think there is a good test done yet because there are just to many variables to take into account.
Title: Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
Post by: JackCrafty on December 19, 2011, 03:46:03 pm
Ian, I think you are saying that the actual armor would provide better protection.  I agree.
Title: Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
Post by: Ian. on December 19, 2011, 03:58:56 pm
Yes, it wouldn't deform like tinfoil.
Title: Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
Post by: peasant1381 on December 20, 2011, 03:36:05 am
Yep you need real armour to do a kosher armour test. What we've set out to show with the metal plate is that an arrow still has considerable powers of penetration at long range. Ballistic curves and terminal velocity etc.
Title: Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
Post by: Ian. on December 20, 2011, 10:10:53 am
I was taking more about the Barbow video that was trying to be something it wasn't, I know Keiths post was about accuracy its a good type of shooting to do that I think we should do more of it.
Title: Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
Post by: CraigMBeckett on December 20, 2011, 10:38:31 am
Yep you need real armour to do a kosher armour test. What we've set out to show with the metal plate is that an arrow still has considerable powers of penetration at long range. Ballistic curves and terminal velocity etc.

The question, in this context, then becomes "What is Real Armour"? As far as I am aware the single most extensive metalurgical testing of medieval armour revealed that the majority of the plate was not steel but iron with only a few extant examples actually being steel. The deformation and penetration of iron plate armour would be considerably different to that of any steel, mild, or of higher carbon content. I would also suggest that if armour is still extant then it is likely to have been of better quality than that which has not survived. Which leads us back to the fact the English saw fit, over an extended period, to develop an artillery arm or indeed developed their armies into artillery regiments with supporting Men at arms, now if the armour of the day made its wearer effectively immune to bow shot why would they have persisted and why did the English succeed in numerous engagements when overwhelmingly outnumbered by plate wearing adversaries mounted on well barded horses. By the way we are talking of the armour that was used during the majority of the 100 years war not that which was produced towards the end of the period.

Craig.
Title: Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
Post by: Ringeck85 on December 29, 2011, 01:57:54 am
I don't know about the "armor was almost all iron", I'll see if I can find any articles or research that might debunk that.   About that, brief q: do you all think that plate armor was designed primarily to defend against arrows, or against edged weapons like swords?  It certainly works well against the latter, as sword techniques of the time rely on getting the point in gaps of the armor, or using the weapon as an improvised club or leveraging device for grappling.


Anyway, before I get off topic on that,

Let me try this at another angle.  Rapid loosing as a technique and not a quantity of arrows"per minute".  As in, not the rate of discharge, but the speed at which the arrow is drawn and loosed.

It would be a waste of arrows to try to discharge as many as possible within a longer stretch of time, I think that's the consensus.

But would the arrow have more or less penetrating force depending on how long the archer held the arrow at full draw?  I see a lot of videos of the long range shots, the archers take their time at full draw, or rotate the bow upwards after achieving full draw with the arrow point angled downward at first.

Does this improve the energy/speed of the arrow (and thus improving its range), or would holding it at full draw for that long make the arrow lose stored kinetic potential?

The bows the Byzantines used weren't warbows by a longshot  (they used composite bows similar to those used by nomadic groups and other mediterranean and middle eastern cultures' they also used crossbows at this time, too but this passage refers to the former), but here is what the Strategikon says right away about training an individual soldier:

"He should be trained to shoot rapidly on foot, either in the Roman or Persian manner.  Speed is important in shaking the arrow loose and discharging it with force.  This is essential and should be practiced while mounted.  In fact, even when the arrow is well aimed, firing slowly is useless."

("Maurice's Strategikon; translated by Geoge T. Dennis, pg. 11)

Now, do you think that his advice regarding rapid draw/loosing is completely unrelated to warbow archery centuries later?  Or does Maurice have a point here?

At what point of time does aiming an arrow become counter productive to the speed at which the arrow is loosed?  And if this is a case of comparing apples to oranges (which it likely is, I just want to see what you guys think about the quote), why are the shooting mechanics of warbows so vastly different to their composite ancestors/contemporaries in the East?
Title: Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
Post by: bow-toxo on January 08, 2012, 11:18:57 pm
Hello all war bow enthusiasts!

As someone who's interested in building strength and getting into war bow shooting in the near future, I have a question.  Well, I have several:

Is there a historical source that indicates how fast per minute medieval archers would ideally loose their arrows?  I'm referring to this as "rate of fire" though I realize that there might be better ways of saying it. And how many at a time did they have on hand for this? How important is volume of arrows to your practice of the English war bow?


Thanks

      It is reported that archers were expected to shoot at least ten aimed arrows a minute. [a minute was first recognized in the 15th century]. The Duke of York struck off four of his 300 archers who failed the test following the 1415 siege of Harfleur that began Henry V's French campaign. This is of course with a powerful warbow, and modern warbow archers have not been able to better it. It is a different story and a much easier feat with a light weight bow.  Standard minimum issue was a sheaf of 24 arrows, sometimes two sheafs or even three sheafs have been reported. Concerning accuracy, a Vevetian visitor reported that any decent English archer, whether shooting level or with elevation, would hit within a half palm of his mark. Good luck on your project.                                                                                                                       

                                                                     Erik   
Title: Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
Post by: Ringeck85 on January 09, 2012, 03:09:14 am
Thank you Erik.  I have a question for you:  What specific primary source or sources does that information come from?  Some of the people here do not think that is from an accurate, primary source, it might be BS made up by a secondary source.  Do you know specifically where that comes from?  Because I've heard of the 12 arrows per minute thing before, but I've never read the specific source that says that.

Title: Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
Post by: bow-toxo on January 09, 2012, 04:57:40 pm
Thank you Erik.  I have a question for you:  What specific primary source or sources does that information come from?  Some of the people here do not think that is from an accurate, primary source, it might be BS made up by a secondary source.  Do you know specifically where that comes from?  Because I've heard of the 12 arrows per minute thing before, but I've never read the specific source that says that.
I don't have more specific information than that. What part do your "people here" have a problem with ? Did they also question the two finger salute ? Mark Stretton, as close to a mediaeval longbowman as exists today, couldn't quite equal the shooting speed quoted. It sounds right to me. Take it or leave it.
Title: Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
Post by: Ringeck85 on January 09, 2012, 08:03:04 pm
You have to think of the application; the English used the bow over long range when aimed shots over a distance was needed, most of the speed shooting is done at targets very close like the video you posted. And the bow in the video is only 110lb so below what would have been used in the period. Most heavy bow archers agree that 6 or 7 aimed arrows a minute is all that you would keep up with. And even then I doubt it would be continual the English didn't carry that many arrows into France for them to be wasted. oh and no one knows where the 12 arrows a minute quote came from its just something historians who know no better like to bat around.

If you want to do speed shooting then you need a horsebow, it isn't practical or historical to do it with a heavy bow.

Quote
Ian is correct here, I have tried unsuccessfully to track this claim down even though it is mentioned by a number of Historians/writers on history most of whom use the "fire" word in  their "quote" from a supposed letter that mentions that an archer recruit was sent home as he failed to meet the target of 12 per minute.  (How exactly a minute could be counted when the few clocks around only displayed hours and then not very accurately is anyones guess.)

By "these people" I meant people who have posted in this very thread before you. Here is what they said, emphasis put by me in bold. If you can't provide a citation for the information you're providing, I can't trust it as historically accurate. 

Not saying I disagree with you, but, where the heck does that quote that I've heard come from?  What are the primary sources for the battle of Agincourt, anyway? And are any available online? I'll ask around and see what I can find.
Title: Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
Post by: Ian. on January 09, 2012, 09:12:05 pm
You do need to quote names and dates with information like that Bowtoxo other wise it is worthless.

And Mark is indeed good but he and others like Simon Stanley and Joe Gibbs in fact anyone who is able to shoot a heavy bow agrees that 6 or 7 a minute is a realistic goal. Don't get me wrong you can do 20 a minute if you want to but that would be 20 wasted arrows. Its important to remember that the archers who fought in the 14 and 15th century's were far better than anyone today, of those that shoot today none of whom would be considered good enough to serve as archers. I do not doubt that these archers could do 12 well aimed shots a minute but at that rate the archer would be spent after a few minutes. When you have thousands of archers you can be a little more efficient.
Title: Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
Post by: bow-toxo on January 10, 2012, 01:52:50 pm
You do need to quote names and dates with information like that Bowtoxo other wise it is worthless.

 I did quote names and date and situation. More than one chronicler, including Jehan de Wavrin from the French side, reported on Henry V's invasion of France, I don't know which one provided this information. I invite you to look it up.  Concerning minutes, the wooden clocks used in the 14th century were marked in hours and can be adjusted by balance weights to excellent accuracy. In the 15th century, the century cited, the clock faces were further divided into minutes for the first time.
Title: Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
Post by: Ian. on January 10, 2012, 02:17:20 pm
 "The Duke of York struck off four of his 300 archers who failed the test following the 1415 siege of Harfleur that began Henry V's French campaign."

"Concerning accuracy, a Vevetian visitor reported that any decent English archer, whether shooting level or with elevation, would hit within a half palm of his mark."


Neither of these are references, a reference is something that points us to the place where we could read the source ourselves. I could spend years trying to track down that particular piece of information. What you have there is hear'say.
Title: Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
Post by: bow-toxo on January 11, 2012, 01:51:40 am
""Concerning accuracy, a Vevetian visitor reported that any decent English archer, whether shooting level or with elevation, would hit within a half palm of his mark."

Neither of these are references, a reference is something that points us to the place where we could read the source ourselves. I could spend years trying to track down that particular piece of information. What you have there is hear'say.
I can add that the Venetian visitor was Giovanni Mihiel in 1557. I don't have his present address but you can look him up along with his letters on the internet. I hope that will help in your search for authenticity.
Title: Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
Post by: Ringeck85 on January 11, 2012, 01:28:23 pm
I think I have reprised my earlier opinion that "rate of discharge" was so important to warbow archery.  Rather, I think a lot of people would agree that the unity of a volley (which would necessitate being at the speed of the slowest archers) and the concentration of fire would be more important.

And referring to the Strategikon quote, I think it might be a misinterpretation that the author meant "firing rapidly" meant loosing as many arrows as possible in a short time.  I think rather in the context, to get the most speed and power out of the arrow with that kind of bow, it's about drawing and loosing as quickly as possible, and being able to loose an arrow or two, and then put the bow up and bring out the spear (as was a training exercise).  So, mainly advice to a horse archer with a composite bow in that context.

Back to the warbow, here's a couple quotes for ya that we might be familiar with:

Quote
Then the English archers stept forth one pace and let fly their arrows so wholly [together] and so thick, that it seemed snow. When the Genoways felt the arrows piercing through heads, arms and breasts, many of them cast down their cross-bows and did cut their strings and returned discomfited.

And

Quote
Then ye should have seen the men of arms dash in among them and killed a great number of them: and ever still the Englishmen shot whereas they saw thickest press; the sharp arrows ran into the men of arms and into their horses, and many fell, horse and men, among the Genoways, and when they were down, they could not relieve again, the press was so thick that one overthrew another.

From Froissart's account of Crecy, the translation can be found here:
http://www.shsu.edu/~his_ncp/Crecy.html


So I think the 6-7 per minute makes a lot more sense in the context of volley fire.  Could archers have loosed 12 per minute or so?  Most likely good archers could when pressed, but it probably wasn't battle practice, for many reasons listed, mostly already mentioned in the thread already.


So unless someone can hunt down that specific quote about the "minimum requirement" (which even if it had been a requirement, doubtless they wouldn't have often actually gone to that maximum rate as it would not have been as effective as measured, concentrated volleys; another thought, could this have been a requirement for a small, elite unit of warbow archers as opposed to the rank and file that made the majority of the english numbers?) which I have looked a little for too, looks like my question regarding this has been answered, unless anyone else wants to offer their thoughts?
Title: Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
Post by: Ian. on January 11, 2012, 02:02:41 pm
I will have a look for that quote Bowtoxo, when I have a few minutes that is.

Ringeck - I think you have summarised in nicely, we know the archers were more accurate than we are today, could shoot further, pull heavier bows. But the physics haven't changed, their fitness level would have been similar to ours and the time it take to pick up and arrow and nock it on the string can only be improved so much. What we can achieve today should be seem as a bare minimum of what we could estimate an English archer could do.
Title: Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
Post by: Dag on January 11, 2012, 02:22:32 pm
Not to make a science project out of anyone's children but, it will be interesting to see how many of these children shooting heavy bows (for their respective age) turn out in a few years.  I have noticed several kids in various warbow society videos shooting along with their parents and such. If they choose to stick with it as they grow up perhaps that will give us a new insight on the progression and capabilities of a medieval archer.

Again, I don't want to cause a stir by talking about people's children like they're an experiment because they are certainly not.
Title: Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
Post by: Ringeck85 on January 11, 2012, 04:40:20 pm
Indeed, Dag.  I am both proud and envious of what some of the younger warbow archers are already able to accomplish, and I believe they will be the premier leaders on the subject in both knowledge and skill in not too long a time if they keep at it.

I can only hope to achieve a lighter weight warbow draw (my goal is to get to 100 lbs if I can, but not to hurry and injure myself), and that will take me a few years of dedicated practice, and some better instruction once I can get myself to some of the current experts.

This is slightly off topic (though maybe I could start a second thread with it?), but I think it would be awesome if we had a "triathalon" sort of thing with warbow archery contests, blunt sword sparring (either sword and buckler or single falchion/messer would probably be most appropriate for archers), and Medieval/Renaissance folk wrestling or maybe dagger play.  It would unite martial artists with warbow archery and vice versa, and it would be a hell of a lot of fun!
Title: Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
Post by: Dag on January 11, 2012, 04:57:59 pm
Yeah its great to see a strong representation of younger archers enjoying this sport.

That triathalon is something I would be extremely interested in! I am a part of the SCA and have some of that type of sword skills. I know that live steel is a lot different from rattan weapon fighting but for what its worth i can say I have some training. But yes, archery contest, falchion/messer combat would be so much fun!
Title: Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
Post by: CraigMBeckett on January 12, 2012, 05:02:39 am

      It is reported that archers were expected to shoot at least ten aimed arrows a minute. [a minute was first recognized in the 15th century]. The Duke of York struck off four of his 300 archers who failed the test following the 1415 siege of Harfleur that began Henry V's French campaign. This is of course with a powerful warbow, and modern warbow archers have not been able to better it. It is a different story and a much easier feat with a light weight bow.  Standard minimum issue was a sheaf of 24 arrows, sometimes two sheafs or even three sheafs have been reported. Concerning accuracy, a Vevetian visitor reported that any decent English archer, whether shooting level or with elevation, would hit within a half palm of his mark. Good luck on your project.                                                                                                                       

                                                                     Erik   

Good day Erik and a happy new year to you, I have not read the posts from here on yet so forgive me if I ask a question already raised.

I have often read various reports of the "test" you refer to yet have never seen the actual text of the report quoted or managed to source it, and because the usual quote takes the form of "failure to attain the required rate of fire" a term not used then and although as you say the minute was recognised by the 15th C. there were few instruments that could display such to any form of accuracy, and therefore the general populance would have had difficulty counting out a minute as they had no referance to what constitutes a second, remember we have been exposed to accurate timepieces that show seconds since we were children and were taught to count in approximate seconds in junior school. So I am doubtful of the veracity of such claims. Do you actually have a copy of the letter in which the failure is mentioned?

Craig,

***EDIT*** It seems that the question was asked!
Title: Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
Post by: CraigMBeckett on January 12, 2012, 05:23:26 am
I don't know about the "armor was almost all iron", I'll see if I can find any articles or research that might debunk that.   

About that, brief q: do you all think that plate armor was designed primarily to defend against arrows, or against edged weapons like swords? 

would the arrow have more or less penetrating force depending on how long the archer held the arrow at full draw?

Does this improve the energy/speed of the arrow (and thus improving its range), or would holding it at full draw for that long make the arrow lose stored kinetic potential?

"He should be trained to shoot rapidly on foot, either in the Roman or Persian manner.  Speed is important in shaking the arrow loose and discharging it with force.  This is essential and should be practiced while mounted.  In fact, even when the arrow is well aimed, firing slowly is useless."

("Maurice's Strategikon; translated by Geoge T. Dennis, pg. 11)

Now, do you think that his advice regarding rapid draw/loosing is completely unrelated to warbow archery centuries later?  Or does Maurice have a point here?

At what point of time does aiming an arrow become counter productive to the speed at which the arrow is loosed?  And if this is a case of comparing apples to oranges (which it likely is, I just want to see what you guys think about the quote), why are the shooting mechanics of warbows so vastly different to their composite ancestors/contemporaries in the East?

Ringeck85, Happy New Year to you.

Taking your points in turn,

I look forward to the result of your research on armour, iron or steel but think you will be disapointed.

Regarding plate armour and what was it designed to counter sword or arrow, I lean towards the latter as it can be shown that as bows (both Longbows and crossbows) became more prevalent on the battle field and as the crossbow increased in power then plate armour was developed and improved while swords and other edged weapons remained the same.

Regarding rapid release and not holding bows at full draw, The longer a bow made of natural materials is held at full draw the more the hystereses with its subsequent loss of available energy. I am trying to remember where I read an article on this so I could point you there but so far have failed. So to answer your question a rapid release provides for a more powerful shot, all things being equal, so Maurice had a point.

As for "At what point of time does aiming an arrow become counter productive to the speed at which the arrow is loosed?  I have no idea, but remember that the English used their archers to put large numbers of arrows into the mass of the enemy, I doubt that most were aimed at particular persons rather than a pont where the enemy were or were likely to be, but as the enemy got closer the need to shoot accurately became paramount, otherwise you probably died on the weaponds of the man you missed. A Slow miss is as bad as a fast miss.

Craig
Title: Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
Post by: bow-toxo on January 14, 2012, 12:21:59 am
[
                             


 there were few instruments that could display such to any form of accuracy, and therefore the general populance would have had difficulty counting out a minute as they had no referance to what constitutes a second, remember we have been exposed to accurate timepieces that show seconds since we were children and were taught to count in approximate seconds in junior school. So I am doubtful of the veracity of such claims. Do you actually have a copy of the letter in which the failure is mentioned?

Craig,

***EDIT*** It seems that the question was asked!

Happy New Year to you, Craig.  I dont have a copy of the original transcript. Concerning the accuracy of mediaeval timepieces, I have owned wooden copies of 14th century weight driven timepieces with weighted balance as used by monks for prayer time. Adjusting these weights produced perfect time matching my Timex for the 13 hours it ran without resetting. Marks for the hours soon became further subdivided into quarter hours. A clock with a dial indicating minutes was illustrated in a 1475 manuscript by Paulus Almanus, and larger clocks predate my wall clock.

  @ Ringeck85  Roger Ascham, writing in warbow time advises that the loose must be so lytle that it may be perceyued better in a mans mynd when it is done, than seene with a mans eyes when it is in doing. and no hanging on the string. Ascham practiced at the butts with other Englishmen training for war and his words are valid. Please, no more silly claims that he was describing idle rich sport shooters.
Title: Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
Post by: CraigMBeckett on January 14, 2012, 09:54:37 am
Happy New Year to you, Craig.  I dont have a copy of the original transcript. Concerning the accuracy of mediaeval timepieces, I have owned wooden copies of 14th century weight driven timepieces with weighted balance as used by monks for prayer time. Adjusting these weights produced perfect time matching my Timex for the 13 hours it ran without resetting. Marks for the hours soon became further subdivided into quarter hours. A clock with a dial indicating minutes was illustrated in a 1475 manuscript by Paulus Almanus, and larger clocks predate my wall clock.

Erik,

As you say you have done it I accept your premise that a medieval type clock could be adjusted to be accurate. However you would need an accurate timepiece to perform the adjustment, something lacking back then. However that aside even if all the clocks in Europe around the time of Agincourt (not that there were that many in relation to populace) were as accurate as modern ones they generally only displayed the hour with some possibly displaying minutes. A check on Wikipedia (yes I know the probity of some of the things published there is highly questionable) however according to the font of net knowledge the first appearance of a clock face displaying minutes is (as you point out) in an illustration dated 1475 , some 59 years after Agincourt the campain from which the slow archers were supposedly either returned to England or not taken to. Now even if there were clocks around that displayed minutes (something that even in the 16th Centuary was rare with the majority aparently only displaying 15 minute intervals), there were none that accurately displayed seconds, and it is the exposure to accurate second displays that enables people to "accurately" count minutes.

Craig.
Title: Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
Post by: bow-toxo on January 14, 2012, 06:42:19 pm
Erik,

 the first appearance of a clock face displaying minutes is (as you point out) in an illustration dated 1475 , some 59 years after Agincourt the campain from which the slow archers were supposedly either returned to England or not taken to. Now even if there were clocks around that displayed minutes (something that even in the 16th Centuary was rare with the majority aparently only displaying 15 minute intervals), there were none that accurately displayed seconds, and it is the exposure to accurate second displays that enables people to "accurately" count minutes.

Craig.

Not "the first appearance of a clock face displaying minutes" but  the oldest available illustration of one.  You really don't need seconds to know that a quarter hour contains
15 minutes, and a further division , possibly off by ba second or two, is [like a fistmele] enough for non industrial measurement.
Title: Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
Post by: CraigMBeckett on January 15, 2012, 11:12:39 am
Not "the first appearance of a clock face displaying minutes" but  the oldest available illustration of one.  You really don't need seconds to know that a quarter hour contains
15 minutes, and a further division , possibly off by ba second or two, is [like a fistmele] enough for non industrial measurement.

It apparently is the earliest indication of such a clock face, or do you know of an earlier one? Clocks are not my thing but I do know that to be a clock the mechanism must chime the hours or more, if there are no chimes then the mechanism is a time piece so it is probably wrong to call the early dials "clock faces".

Craig.
Title: Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
Post by: Steve H on January 29, 2012, 08:35:58 pm
Just a quick note on armor and hardness

Tests on armour from the castle Sherbourg 34 samples taken from 21 armours
1 iron
8 low carbon steels of which 4 had been hardened
25 medium carbon steels of which 16 were hardened

Of 108 specimens tested produced during the 80 year period between 1435 to 1515
9 were of iron
61 were low carbon steels of which 9 had been hardened
38 were of medium carbon steels of which 25 had been hardened

From the Rhodes specimens 22 samples
2 were made from iron
11 were of low carbon steels of which 3 had been hardened
9 were of medium carbon steels of which 5 had been hardened

Many of the armours tested contained inclusions ferrite /perlite and slag

NB modern medium carbon steel contains 0.5% to 0.8% carbon this is what the samples were compared against for the above.

References

Willims AR 1986 Fifteenth Century Armour from Churburg a metallurgical study Armi Antiche 3-82
Walter J Karcheski, Thom Richardson, The Medieval Armour from Rhodes ISBN 0 948092 41 6 Royal Armouries Museum in conjunction with the Higgins Armoury Museum Appendix 3 Alan Williams 150-151

I hope this helps put into context how durable the armour of the time was.  Please bare in mind that these existing examples were possibly of good quality hence they haven't been broken down and reused hence why they survive today and are possibly of superior quality when compared to the mass produced munitions armour of which very little survives today.

In addition I have information on Rockwell hardness scores for most of the armour indicated above and for later 16C armour if I get chance I will post this also.

Regards

Steve


Title: Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
Post by: CraigMBeckett on January 30, 2012, 10:55:02 am
Steve H,

Thank for the info, look forward to your info on hardness.

Do you have dates for the armour from castle Sherbourg and Rhodes?

Craig.
Title: Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
Post by: bumppo on January 30, 2012, 03:11:25 pm
Reference for 1415 exchequer records for the Duke of York, reporting an incident in which 4 archers are removed from the rolls for failing to shoot the necessary ten arrows a minute.

The manuscript is in the National Archives, in the exchequer records (E) and the call number for the manuscript is E101/45/19. You can get copies through the National Archives website either sent to you via e-mail or as photocopies. A word of warning - you need to be able to read exchequer script and latin to be able to decipher it!

https://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/recordcopying/default.aspx

As far as what a minute was, its very doubtful it matches our understanding of 60 seconds. Musicians did keep time, oarsman on ships kept time, astronomers measured time very accurately with various mechanical clocks. One of the most important functions of timekeeping in the middle ages was for religious purposes, signaling times for prayer etc. and a variety of devices were used to keep track of the hour.... candles, sundials, clocks..... and its very probable Harfleur had a clock tower in 1415, but most certainly would not have had a minute hand.

My way of thinking leads me to the simplest solution, somebody just counted a simple cadence, or maybe sang or played a short song at a certain tempo, probably an older archer skilled in this test. He was probably taught how to do it the way a musician would have been taught to play a song, or monks to chant....... by ear. This to me means there had to be some variation to the length of this test, and was not exactly 60 seconds. However it probably served to be good enough or accurate enough to designate which archers were deemed worthy to keep in the army.


Title: Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
Post by: CraigMBeckett on January 31, 2012, 10:01:25 am
Reference for 1415 exchequer records for the Duke of York, reporting an incident in which 4 archers are removed from the rolls for failing to shoot the necessary ten arrows a minute.

The manuscript is in the National Archives, in the exchequer records (E) and the call number for the manuscript is E101/45/19. You can get copies through the National Archives website either sent to you via e-mail or as photocopies. A word of warning - you need to be able to read exchequer script and latin to be able to decipher it!

https://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/recordcopying/default.aspx

As far as what a minute was, its very doubtful it matches our understanding of 60 seconds. Musicians did keep time, oarsman on ships kept time, astronomers measured time very accurately with various mechanical clocks. One of the most important functions of timekeeping in the middle ages was for religious purposes, signaling times for prayer etc. and a variety of devices were used to keep track of the hour.... candles, sundials, clocks..... and its very probable Harfleur had a clock tower in 1415, but most certainly would not have had a minute hand.

My way of thinking leads me to the simplest solution, somebody just counted a simple cadence, or maybe sang or played a short song at a certain tempo, probably an older archer skilled in this test. He was probably taught how to do it the way a musician would have been taught to play a song, or monks to chant....... by ear. This to me means there had to be some variation to the length of this test, and was not exactly 60 seconds. However it probably served to be good enough or accurate enough to designate which archers were deemed worthy to keep in the army.

Doubt that the service is available for a "Foreigner" such as I so why don't you get a copy and post it on here, something written in 15C is no longer in copyright.

Thanks for the info by the way.

Agree with you over time keeping.

Craig.
Title: Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
Post by: Ian. on January 31, 2012, 11:18:04 am
I have requested the document, its not available online it seems. I think it would be interesting to get some value as this question is quite common.

Its estimated to take a week so I will keep you posted.
Title: Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
Post by: Ringeck85 on January 31, 2012, 02:34:09 pm
Excellent, that source in public access would be enlightening to be sure.  Thank you, Ian for requesting that document!
Title: Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
Post by: CraigMBeckett on February 01, 2012, 12:51:04 am
I have requested the document, its not available online it seems. I think it would be interesting to get some value as this question is quite common.

Its estimated to take a week so I will keep you posted.

Thanks for doing this Ian, I look forward to seeing it. If what Bumpo says it correct then my belief that this document did not exist was wrong. Do you read medieval Latin?

As a matter of interest is there a charge for this service from the National Archives?

Craig.
Title: Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
Post by: Ian. on February 01, 2012, 07:13:57 am
I must admit I dint think anything like this existed. I think there will be a charge but I have to wait for the Archives to E-mail me.

I don't read the language, but I know some that do and I am prepared to spend some time translating it. I do want to be able to read it one day. I may post it on a few armourer forums as I know many of them can read it.
Title: Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
Post by: Ian. on February 01, 2012, 09:07:10 am
Reply Received - they have said that the information I requested is not easy to find and will need an independant researcher to look into it. So two options, One I will request the whole document make it avaliable to others and we will find the reference. Or if someone is close to the Kew records office where the document is kept if that person doesn't mind spending a little time looking at records the national archives staff would be willing to give free advice.

Thoughts?
Title: Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
Post by: bumppo on February 01, 2012, 02:11:26 pm
We went over this topic in October 2010 in another post. I found a reference to the ten rounds a minute in Juliet Barkers "Agincourt", 2005, page 303.

"two days before the departure from Harfleur, his numbers had been reduced to eighty men-at-arms and 296 archers (four of the latter had been struck off because they could not fire the required minimum ten aimed arrows per minute." This refers to the Duke of York

I contacted Ms. Barker about the remark, and she gave me the National Archive reference number. I cannot say if the record was accurately interpreted or not and it would be great to see the original records. I contacted the National Archives and was given an estimate for the researcher to find the records. I can't remember what the exact cost was, just that it was pretty darn expensive.

Ian, if you get an estimate, I'd be willing to chip in towards the expense to see this to a conclusion. I can't make it to Kew any time soon, its a long way from Alaska!

There are so many questions in that one line, I don't think we will ever know. What did "aimed" mean, what does "minute" mean, why being so short of men, would the Duke of York send anyone home? It seems he had already lost almost half his men at Harfleur..... Did those archer deliberately fail the test guessing what was ahead of them?

Title: Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
Post by: Ian. on February 01, 2012, 02:39:14 pm
Yeah I have requested copies of everything, there may be more good stuff hidden there. Nit picking here but if she has said 'fire' then it hasn't been translated perfectly.  ;D

Although it seems like a small amount Richard Wages book does have some interesting figures about how much the crown requested and how much was sent. It shows that there was some very accurate accounting going on, I will have to find the page again.

Thanks for the offer as well.
Title: Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
Post by: peasant1381 on February 02, 2012, 04:02:18 am
Rate of shot is just the tip of the iceberg, ten aimed arrows in a minute, aimed at what and at what range? Now imagine trying to replicate it. What poundage of bow, what arrow? what target?
Title: Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
Post by: CraigMBeckett on February 02, 2012, 07:28:56 am
I must admit I dint think anything like this existed. I think there will be a charge but I have to wait for the Archives to E-mail me.

I don't read the language, but I know some that do and I am prepared to spend some time translating it. I do want to be able to read it one day. I may post it on a few armourer forums as I know many of them can read it.


My son has finally got around to going to uni, starting in a week or so, and is going to study archaeology as one of his subjects, so I would think that there should be someone in his department or elsewhere at his university that reads the language, so if you post it or send it to me I may be able to persuade him to find someone to translate it.

Craig.
Title: Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
Post by: Ian. on February 02, 2012, 10:15:07 am
That's good to know Craig thanks, I have requested all the pages of the document so we will just have to wait and see what that entails.
Title: Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
Post by: bow-toxo on February 03, 2012, 12:41:59 am
Rate of shot is just the tip of the iceberg, ten aimed arrows in a minute, aimed at what and at what range? Now imagine trying to replicate it. What poundage of bow, what arrow? what target?
To list the obvious; Warbow poundage, 100-150 pounds. Warbow arrow 30-31 inches long, tapered 1/2" or 28" parallel 7/16" with tapered shaftment. Mark [target] 4" disc.
Attempted accuracy as described in a 1557 intelligence report to Venice ;"there are few among them, even those who are moderately practiced, who will not undertake at a convenient distance, either aiming point blank or in the air [as they generally do that the arrow may fly farther], to hit within 2 inches [un mezzo palma] of the mark". Better get started. Good luck.

                                                                                        Erik
Title: Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
Post by: peasant1381 on February 03, 2012, 03:16:39 am
Why are you telling me to get started and wishing me good luck Erik?
Title: Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
Post by: CraigMBeckett on February 03, 2012, 07:28:00 pm
We went over this topic in October 2010 in another post. I found a reference to the ten rounds a minute in Juliet Barkers "Agincourt", 2005, page 303.

"two days before the departure from Harfleur, his numbers had been reduced to eighty men-at-arms and 296 archers (four of the latter had been struck off because they could not fire the required minimum ten aimed arrows per minute." This refers to the Duke of York

I contacted Ms. Barker about the remark, and she gave me the National Archive reference number. I cannot say if the record was accurately interpreted or not and it would be great to see the original records. I contacted the National Archives and was given an estimate for the researcher to find the records. I can't remember what the exact cost was, just that it was pretty darn expensive.

Ian, if you get an estimate, I'd be willing to chip in towards the expense to see this to a conclusion. I can't make it to Kew any time soon, its a long way from Alaska!

There are so many questions in that one line, I don't think we will ever know. What did "aimed" mean, what does "minute" mean, why being so short of men, would the Duke of York send anyone home? It seems he had already lost almost half his men at Harfleur..... Did those archer deliberately fail the test guessing what was ahead of them?

Hi bumppo,

Hopefully we will finally see if the quotation is in anyway accurate. One other thing that I find puzzeling and is one of the reasons that I doubted the varacity of the claim is that, as I understand it, the archers went through tests and training when they reported to the place of muster, this would have happend prior to embarcation in England, now if the men passed muster as they must have done to be accepted and transported to France, why then did they fail a test that must have been similar to those that they passed in England?

Craig.
Title: Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
Post by: bow-toxo on February 04, 2012, 01:00:18 am
Why are you telling me to get started and wishing me good luck Erik?

I thought by your question that you wanted to revive the old time shooting. To do that, you would have to begin as soon as possible. In the old days they got started at age five or six. Good luck would be helpful in accomplishing it.
Title: Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
Post by: peasant1381 on February 04, 2012, 05:27:58 am
I take it Erik that you don't look at every post in the Warbow section. Either that or it's is an excellent attempt at a wind up. Anyway 10 arrows a minute. So there is  a primary source which states that fact. You can bet your backside it won't say what draw weight the bows were. You said 100- 150lbs. I think that's being rather generous. Any half decent modern war bow archer could manage 10 in a minute at 100lbs (and I include myself in that). What I was actually trying to say in my previous post was that even though 10 arrows a minute has been proved to be a benchmark for selection, would there have been other criteria as well? And if we were to try and replicate this selection test without that knowledge what other standards would we include, like the arrow for instance 1/2" - 3/8" like you said but what wood?- ash shaft? poplar shaft? Type 10 head ? Heavy plate cutter head? 7 inch fletch square cut or with the trailing edge left on ? Or the bow, 120lbs plus or 130lbs plus?
I do hope this is a little clearer than my previous post.

Best Regards
Keith Collier
Chairman of the English War Bow Society New Zealand
And one of the few people to post videos of himself (and others) actually shooting a heavy draw weight longbow) on this forum
Title: Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
Post by: bow-toxo on February 04, 2012, 04:16:12 pm
I take it Erik that you don't look at every post in the Warbow section. Either that or it's is an excellent attempt at a wind up. Anyway 10 arrows a minute. So there is  a primary source which states that fact. You can bet your backside it won't say what draw weight the bows were. You said 100- 150lbs. I think that's being rather generous. Regards
Keith Collier
Chairman of the English War Bow Society New Zealand
And one of the few people to post videos of himself (and others) actually shooting a heavy draw weight longbow) on this forum

 There was no need for the primary source to state draw weights as we have a pretty good idea what they were from the Mary Rose find. Congratulations on your duplication of the skills of the Agincourt archers. Mark Stretton considered seven seconds to be the maximum that he could manage from a powerful warbow. Concerning your other questions, please dont expect me to make the arrows for you . Im sure you can do your own research.

                                                                       Cheers,
                                                                       Erik
Title: Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
Post by: peasant1381 on February 04, 2012, 09:45:08 pm
I'm sure when Mark (I will ask him to clarify that) was referring to heavy draw weight he would've talking about bows in the 140lb plus range. Do you seriously believe that 10 arrows in a minute from a 100lb bow  is not attainable by a modern archer?
And why would I want you to make arrows for me. I make my own and I have more than enough thankyou.
Perhaps I still haven't made my point clearly enough yet. So I'll give it another go.
The point that I'm trying to make is the difficulty in trying to replicate the test that resulted in the sending home of those archers in 1415 (maybe they were too sick to draw effectively). I presume that they would've had to shoot at a distant mark but how distant. The distance would (for the modern archer) determine what sort of arrows to be shot.
The main problem for the modern archer however is the draw weight. If it's around a 140lb average then there isn't anyone who can do 10 in a minute in the first place.
Title: Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
Post by: Ringeck85 on February 04, 2012, 11:25:19 pm
I suppose that even with a 10 arrows per minute "test", we don't know enough of the particulars to accurately replicate such a test.  We can try (emphasis on try with all possible humility involved)  based on the limited information we do have to extrapolate such a test, but the results would doubtlessly be in some form of contention.

We don't know for certain what draw weight was used; it's not obvious.  The Mary rose bows, our best evidence but still a hundred years removed from the period in question, vary considerably in draw weight, do they not?   isn't it about 80-180 lbs, with the average being around 130? that's still a huge range.  I personally think it varied considerably according to the archer's capabilities.  I don't think all archers back then, even if they trained from early childhood, would have cared much about draw weights because this isn't something they measured with a modern scale.  The archer's skill in delivering the results (relative accuracy at different ranges, and perhaps to a lesser degree rate of shooting) would have mattered more than the draw weight.  A higher draw weight would have assisted in power and range, but not necessarily in speed of discharge. I suppose the question is, which is more important?  Volume of arrows (rate of shooting), concentration of arrows (volley unity and accuracy) or the range and power you can send? (draw weights, et all) If an archer is more skilled at about 100 lbs. draw weight, he likely would have used a bow he was comfortable with than a 150 + heavy weight, and shot to the best of his ability.  So in order to replicate a modern test, you'd need several archers shooting at different weights to try to get as much information as possible, and that would require getting a lot of archers together and for a long time.  Time, accommodations, and  probably a lot of money, to get the experts to participate in such a test.

We don't know for certain what arrows were used in tests back then and how much these arrows varied, though we can approximate and extrapolate based on what information we do have.  So again, we'd have to shoot with a variety of arrows from each bow to get an idea of what might have delivered the best results.  I suspect for a military archer, they would have used some sort of arrow intended for military use, but how standardized was this arrow?  We could use the three types of arrows by EWBS standards and try them out, say 4 of each for each individual test.

And we are also not absolutely sure what kind of target was used. "Pricks" (I think that's Ascham's term for target butts?  I could be wrong) perhaps would have been fairly simple to set up, and perhaps a 4" target may have been used, but I think this is unlikely at a very long range (due to the difficulty of hitting such a small target at anything greater than 50 yards/meters what have you).  Still, challenge! 

So, if we were to try to get a test together of this magnitude, it would be a big deal:

1. Several archers (I'd say 4-5 minimum) with a variety of bows (yew and meane wood) and draw weights likely available or average at the time (say, 90-150 lbs. or so).  Each archer would have a different skill level, each bow would have different qualities.  You'd then make a statistical analysis of the results, but for such results to be conclusive you have to repeat the test as many times as was humanly possible. 

2. Have different ranges and different targets for the archers to shoot at: say a man-sized target or a targeted area at 200 meters (higher range can be achieved, but we're trying for accuracy and this would be a challenge enough) or so; 150 meters, 100 meters, 50 meters, and maybe 20, with the closer ranges (50 and 20) having smaller targets to aim at.

3. Have the archers try for accuracy at each target within a time limit for each (so, give them a minute or so with twelve arrows available, and they try to loose all of these arrows at each target).  Naturally, due to the strenuousness of this task (and arguably nigh impossibility with heavier draw weights), there would need to be a considerable break of time between each test of range so that our testing archers do not get too tired.

4.  summary: 4-5 archers with a range of draw weights and bow types against some form of target agreed upon; 12 arrows (4 of each different replica type) allowed within a minute at 200 meters (repeat a few times); 12 arrows allowed within a minute at 150 meters (repeat); 12 arrows allowed within a minute at 100 meters (repeat); 12 arrows allowed within a minute at 50 meters (repeat); and for fun, 12 arrows allowed within a minute at 20 meters.

Anyway, you all will probably agree that something like this (note: I am probably a little off on the numbers)  would be an absolutely insanely challenging and expensive undertaking.  And what would the results even say about historical archery?  What would be the point?  All we'd be doing is comparing a few modern archers' abilities based on the limited information we have and having fun with it by challenging ourselves, by seeing what we could do.

That said, something like the above would be insanely awesome to try and videotape, too.  Maybe one day. . .

Anyway, hopefully a good translation of the latin text will provide a few clues to such a rate of shooting test, but I suspect it's probably vague or cursory information at best. 
Title: Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
Post by: bumppo on February 05, 2012, 01:42:34 am
We went over this topic in October 2010 in another post. I found a reference to the ten rounds a minute in Juliet Barkers "Agincourt", 2005, page 303.

"two days before the departure from Harfleur, his numbers had been reduced to eighty men-at-arms and 296 archers (four of the latter had been struck off because they could not fire the required minimum ten aimed arrows per minute." This refers to the Duke of York

I contacted Ms. Barker about the remark, and she gave me the National Archive reference number. I cannot say if the record was accurately interpreted or not and it would be great to see the original records. I contacted the National Archives and was given an estimate for the researcher to find the records. I can't remember what the exact cost was, just that it was pretty darn expensive.

Ian, if you get an estimate, I'd be willing to chip in towards the expense to see this to a conclusion. I can't make it to Kew any time soon, its a long way from Alaska!

There are so many questions in that one line, I don't think we will ever know. What did "aimed" mean, what does "minute" mean, why being so short of men, would the Duke of York send anyone home? It seems he had already lost almost half his men at Harfleur..... Did those archer deliberately fail the test guessing what was ahead of them?

Hi bumppo,

Hopefully we will finally see if the quotation is in anyway accurate. One other thing that I find puzzeling and is one of the reasons that I doubted the varacity of the claim is that, as I understand it, the archers went through tests and training when they reported to the place of muster, this would have happend prior to embarcation in England, now if the men passed muster as they must have done to be accepted and transported to France, why then did they fail a test that must have been similar to those that they passed in England?

Craig.

Hey Craig,

I'm skeptical myself whether anything meaningful will come out of the records or that its true in the first place. You're right, they were in the Duke's retinue as archers in the first place, sent across the channel at great expense, now he decides to test them again and they fail? Doesn't make sense. Maybe they had dysentery or were sick in another way, could they have been recruits from another profession, porters maybe, who wanted to be archers? They must have known marching to Calais would mean fighting the French, and that every able bodied man was necessary. Which brings me to what I think is a really important question: How bad did you really have to be to fail this test? So what if they could only loose 8 arrows a minute, or even 4? Wouldn't they still have some sort of value on the battlefield? I know from my own very poor efforts, its a "relatively" easy matter to shoot eight to ten rounds a minute with the arrows on the ground next to you. I am not hurrying in any way and still manage to shoot 4 in 35 seconds from a 100lb bow.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fgMBwbnBH7s

The only explanation I can think of for the Duke to get rid of anyone seemed to be that he was strapped for cash and couldn't afford to keep anything but the best in his ranks. Didn't he have to take out a 2nd mortgage, and a 3rd and a 4th  ;D on his castle to afford the venture in the first place?

Walt (bumppo)

Title: Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
Post by: Ringeck85 on February 05, 2012, 02:56:33 am
Another suggestion that's already been mentioned, is that maybe the archers wanted to fail in order to leave the ranks and go home.  It's not as if they all expected to win at Agincourt, they were outnumbered and tired from their retreat from the French.  I would imagine the temptation to desert would be high, but they'd need to find some sort of honorable excuse to do so.  That's if this "test" thing ever actually happened.  If I thought I was going to get ridden down by a French knight or die from dysentary, or in general not have such a fun time, I would think about desertion, just need to figure out a way to get away with it without being caught and hanged, or whatever the execution was for desertion for the English army back then.

The Duke of York having a cap on how many people can be in his elite unit of archers makes sense too, as far as can he afford them.
Title: Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
Post by: Ian. on February 08, 2012, 01:13:52 pm
Okay I have word form the Archives, seems a little much at 65. They broke it down into 13 per unit and there being 5 units contained in the file, and as before they are not willing to copy only the unit/page we need.

So if we are all happy to put this one on hold for now I will see about arranging a visit when I have the time; I cant promise this will be any time soon.

I will ask around and see if anyone I know lives closer to Kew than I.
Title: Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
Post by: CraigMBeckett on February 08, 2012, 10:03:04 pm
Okay I have word form the Archives, seems a little much at 65. They broke it down into 13 per unit and there being 5 units contained in the file, and as before they are not willing to copy only the unit/page we need.

So if we are all happy to put this one on hold for now I will see about arranging a visit when I have the time; I cant promise this will be any time soon.

I will ask around and see if anyone I know lives closer to Kew than I.

Ian,

Thats a pity, but it is only what I expected, coming from Australia where the government charges you for almost everything I doesn't surprise me.

We have waited a long time for this so wating for a wgile longer will not hurt, its a pity I don't know anyone who lives in the area but my aquaintances are from Wales and the Midlands, will have to talk to them and see if anyone is heading to London in the near future.

Craig.