Author Topic: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute  (Read 25525 times)

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Offline Ringeck85

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Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
« 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

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!
"It is how we choose what we do, and how we approach it, that determines whether the sum of our days adds up to a formless blur, or to something resembling a work of art."
-Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

(Ren', in Wytheville, VA)

Offline Ian.

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Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
« Reply #1 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.
ALways happy to help anyone get into heavy weight archery: https://www.facebook.com/bostonwarbowsbows/

Offline CraigMBeckett

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Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
« Reply #2 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


« Last Edit: December 18, 2011, 11:51:47 am by CraigMBeckett »

Offline Ringeck85

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Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
« Reply #3 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?
"It is how we choose what we do, and how we approach it, that determines whether the sum of our days adds up to a formless blur, or to something resembling a work of art."
-Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

(Ren', in Wytheville, VA)

Offline JackCrafty

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Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
« Reply #4 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.
Any critter tastes good with enough butter on it.

Patrick Blank
Midland, Texas
Youtube: JackCrafty, Allergic Hobbit, Patrick Blank

Where's the Rock?  Public Waterways, Road Cuts, Landscape Supply, Knap-Ins.
How Do I Cook It?  Light Colors: 200 for 24hrs then 300 to 400 for 4hrs, Cool for 12hrs.

Offline CraigMBeckett

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Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
« Reply #5 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.
« Last Edit: December 19, 2011, 11:07:15 am by CraigMBeckett »

Offline JackCrafty

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Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
« Reply #6 on: December 19, 2011, 04:46:21 am »
 :-X ;)
Any critter tastes good with enough butter on it.

Patrick Blank
Midland, Texas
Youtube: JackCrafty, Allergic Hobbit, Patrick Blank

Where's the Rock?  Public Waterways, Road Cuts, Landscape Supply, Knap-Ins.
How Do I Cook It?  Light Colors: 200 for 24hrs then 300 to 400 for 4hrs, Cool for 12hrs.

Offline peasant1381

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Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
« Reply #7 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.




Offline peasant1381

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Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
« Reply #8 on: December 19, 2011, 06:12:41 am »
Oops my mistake the shaft is NZ Tawa which has very similar properties to ash.

Offline Ringeck85

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Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
« Reply #9 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.

"It is how we choose what we do, and how we approach it, that determines whether the sum of our days adds up to a formless blur, or to something resembling a work of art."
-Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

(Ren', in Wytheville, VA)

Offline JackCrafty

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Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
« Reply #10 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.
Any critter tastes good with enough butter on it.

Patrick Blank
Midland, Texas
Youtube: JackCrafty, Allergic Hobbit, Patrick Blank

Where's the Rock?  Public Waterways, Road Cuts, Landscape Supply, Knap-Ins.
How Do I Cook It?  Light Colors: 200 for 24hrs then 300 to 400 for 4hrs, Cool for 12hrs.

Offline Ian.

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Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
« Reply #11 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.
ALways happy to help anyone get into heavy weight archery: https://www.facebook.com/bostonwarbowsbows/

Offline JackCrafty

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Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
« Reply #12 on: December 19, 2011, 03:46:03 pm »
Ian, I think you are saying that the actual armor would provide better protection.  I agree.
Any critter tastes good with enough butter on it.

Patrick Blank
Midland, Texas
Youtube: JackCrafty, Allergic Hobbit, Patrick Blank

Where's the Rock?  Public Waterways, Road Cuts, Landscape Supply, Knap-Ins.
How Do I Cook It?  Light Colors: 200 for 24hrs then 300 to 400 for 4hrs, Cool for 12hrs.

Offline Ian.

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Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
« Reply #13 on: December 19, 2011, 03:58:56 pm »
Yes, it wouldn't deform like tinfoil.
ALways happy to help anyone get into heavy weight archery: https://www.facebook.com/bostonwarbowsbows/

Offline peasant1381

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Re: Questions concerning Rate of "fire" per minute
« Reply #14 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.