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JoGrix
08-18-2012, 04:43 AM
I have a character (Elf) who's best talent is archery. (Not that it's cleched, his brother can't hit the broad side of a barn from a decent distance.)

I was wondering/hoping if someone could possibly help me out with some common jargon for archery and appropriate uses there of.

Also, (although if you want to just recommend a good, inexpensive, book or website that works to), I was hoping someone could explain different types of bows that might be available to the generic, medieval High Fantasy world, how easy they would be to learn for a single character (or relearn, he hasn't been allowed to handle a bow at all for two and a half years.) And what would be some feasible yet odd shooting locations (trees, flat on the ground, on horseback) and what type of availible bow is best for each.

Lastly, if someone could mention some common shooting mistakes made by the beginner/self taught that could be corrected without physically touching a bow or arrow by the instructor. (Because my character is a sea lawyer- I didn't touch the weapon! I was just showing her how to properly...)

Yes, I've tried looking, but since all I know about archery is that Hawkeye from Avengers and the Yellow Mystic Power Ranger both use bows, I don't know which books/websites are the best places to find answers.

Anninyn
08-18-2012, 05:02 AM
I actually learned archery for a bit. I was really, really bad, so I stopped after awhile, certainly didn't do it for long enough to answer in depth. But, is it possible there's an archery or re-enactment group in a nearby area to you? They're usually full of historical-minded peoples that could help with your advice... and there'll be no better way to know what mistake you can make with archery and how they can be corrected than to learn it yourself.

MattW
08-18-2012, 05:12 AM
I'm no expert, but have you started with Wikipedia?

There are several fair articles that get into the basics of bows and archery. Longbows, flatbows, recurve, composite are all appropriate.

If the character hasn't used a bow in 2 years, they would lose some of the muscle strength needed (epsecially a heavy draw longbow which take years to develop). they would retain the concept of archery - I don't see how hard it would be to practice up to any former level of skill. It's mostly mental and good habits (lighter draw would be easier to start with).

Any of the body postitions, draw length, or aiming could be corrected by observation.

Trebor1415
08-18-2012, 11:05 AM
You are asking way too much to cover here. You need a good decent background in the subject first.

I suggest wiki as a good place to start as well. Try "archery" , "primitive archery", "history of archery", "self bow," "long bow," "Turkish archery" and see what else looks good.

I will give you one tip: The type of bows available depend on the culture. The climate in the region also makes a difference.

In Europe the wooden self-bow was common. This is a one piece bow carved from a stave. It requires a strong wood like Yew (preferred) or Ash (common 2nd choice). It does require skill to make, especially if the bow is made for war and not sport. I've read of regulations that prohibited bowyers from working at night because the lamp light was not as good as natural sunlight and they couldn't see their work as well, which led to an inferior bow.

The English Longbow is a type of self bow, but obviously not the only example.

In the Mid East composite bows were more common. These were made of multiple materials such as wood, horn, sinew and leather and glue. This was partially a development due to scarcity of wood and some other reasons. Many compositive bows are also recurves. In many cases a composite bow can be shorter than a self bow of the same draw weight. This makes it a better weapon for horsemen.

Figure out what kind of culture you are basing your world on, plus the climate, and that will help you figure out what kinds of bows are most appropriate for your story

taichiquan.panda
08-18-2012, 11:22 AM
Wiki is an awesome tool and easy to search through.

Side note: did you know the crossbow was invented in China?

Cyia
08-18-2012, 06:05 PM
If you have a Renaissance festival or faire in your area, you might check it out. There's usually am archery demonstration and a few weapon-masters who can give you some information on bows as well as swords and fighting with them. They're often eager to share their craft if asked.

ULTRAGOTHA
08-18-2012, 09:56 PM
Archery is popular right now due to The Hunger Games. Check out an archery range in your area.

Also, where do you live? There might be a local chapter of the SCA (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/www.sca.org)near you with an archery practice.

jaksen
08-18-2012, 09:59 PM
Take a class.

There's nothing like learning to string your own bow, feeling the weight of it in your hand, sighting down the arrow, the tension in the string when you pull back, the release at letting go.

Seriously, this was the only sport I ever excelled in. Largely self taught on a cheap little bow from Sears, I flew arrows across the fields of my neighborhood. My cousin and I could do this for hours. As a severe asthmatic, most sports (at the time)* were off limits to me. But I could shoot an arrow and took Archery several times to fulfill phys-ed requirements in college.

Having said all that, I don't recall most of the terminology, though I do recall an elderly neighbor showing me 'how to stand' when shooting. We had an old target set up and he hit that bullseye eight times out of ten. I get a strange thrill remembering that day and all the neighbors coming out to watch Mr. Whitman shoot the target.

Anyhow, take a class.

*Not a lot of asthma medications in the 60's and after fainting in gym class a few times, I was excluded from most activities.

Trebor1415
08-18-2012, 11:09 PM
Btw, I also agree with everyone who said you should try it yourself. I did a lot of archery in the SCA and what you learn by doing will complement what you learn by reading.

If you look into a class make sure you do "Traditional archery" with a recurve or a selfbow. Do not take a class that uses a modern compound bow if you want to learn more about traditional archery. It is different enough to really skew your perception.

Unimportant
08-19-2012, 12:59 AM
Stores that sell bows and archery equipment usually have a small in-store shooting range where you can try a bow before you buy it. Go shopping and handle some bows, if nothing else.

Also, arm guards! Yikes. Twang the inside of your forearm with a bowstring once and you'll wear an armguard for the rest of your life.

Raventongue
08-19-2012, 03:09 AM
Bows are not carried strung. They're unstrung after use and then strung again before you go hunting/into battle/whatever. Otherwise they aren't going to last you long. I seriously don't know any fantasy that doesn't get this wrong and it makes me want to strangle Tolkien with a live snake.

thothguard51
08-19-2012, 04:27 AM
Archers carry extra cords, and keep them dry.

Wet weather affects the way an arrow flies as does wind.

As has been said, bows are generally only strung right before use.

Practice makes perfect as archery is a lot about muscle memory as well as sighting. It take years of practice to be a good archer.

Many archers make their own bows and not all wood is acceptable for bows.

Crossbows are slow to reload compared to a standard bow. Archers using a standard bow can get off 3 shots generally for every 1 a cross bow fires. Sometimes more...

Archers generally hung around with other archers because the troops often times thought of them as less since most archers were not good pikesmen, shieldmen, or sword fighters.

Shoot from horseback while in motion...very difficult, but not impossible with enough practice. The horse has to be trained very well as well so that it does not deviate from what the archer expects.

Emermouse
08-19-2012, 04:51 AM
It cheeses me when writers have the slender or characters with more feminine traits use bows. I'm no expert on archery, but if we're talking medieval bows, there's a reason archeologists can tell archers' skeletons from other kinds of skeletons; it takes considerable muscle strength to pull back a medieval bowstring. Not to mention, using one is very aerobic exercise with the constant stringing and pulling and whatnot. So don't fall into the trap of having a waif-like character fight with a bow.

Yeah, probably should have stayed out of this thread but couldn't resist the opportunity to air a pet peeve.

Cath
08-19-2012, 05:05 AM
Uh, feminine does not equal weakling. Be very careful with your words, Emermouse.

Emermouse
08-19-2012, 05:09 AM
Uh, feminine does not equal weakling. Be very careful with your words, Emermouse.

You're right. I should be more careful, especially since I'm a girl. I just resent the idea that so many bad writers have who treat the bow as a "chick" weapon.

Trebor1415
08-19-2012, 05:34 AM
Uh, feminine does not equal weakling. Be very careful with your words, Emermouse.

True, but the English Longbow as used for war commonly had a draw weight of up to 100 pounds.

That took training from childhood to use and the archer skeletons found on the Mary Rose showed significant skeletol deformation from years spent working up to shoot bows of that weight followed by continual practice.

This required extreme upper body strenth, including the muscles of the back, not just the arms/shoulders, and I think it is fair to say that this put the use of this style of bow out of the reach of both Medieval and modern women.

Medieval combat required more pure strength and muscle than modern combat and this put women at a considerable disadvantage if they did have to take up arms in defense. There's just no getting around that. It doesn't make women "weaklings," but it does reflect that, generally, they don't have as much upper body strength as men.

debirlfan
08-19-2012, 05:38 AM
Another thing - there are two kinds of archers - those who aim and "instinctive" shooters. Most people aim - I was one of the much rarer instinctive types (and was my high-school archery champ 35 yrs ago.) Ditto what someone said re twanging your inner arm on your bow holding arm. Until I got a really long guard, my arm was always purple in one spot or another.

Your archer will also build up callouses (or wear a hole through) his/her fingers from pulling back the string/holding the arrow. And if they haven't shot in a year or two, then their old bow is going to be far too heavy at first.

JoGrix
08-19-2012, 07:26 AM
Ok, to the people who suggested I take a class, there are a number of reasons, not the least of which are financial and temporal that this is not an option for me at this time. Ditto on the temporal and SCA. Although I'd like to try it at least once with someone who knows how to teach in the future, when I'm not in the position I am now.

As for Wikipedia, I find that it's too confusing half the time to get answers unless I'm looking for something specific and don't need to chase links through articles to get the nuggest of information I need. Although I did try, a couple of times actually.


I think, though, that the long bow is not the weapon that my MC would use, because his original training was at the hands of a group of nomadic warriors who specialized in mounted combat primarily. Wiki says a "recurved bow".

I'll make sure to note things like his difficulty in drawing the bow and blisters since it's been so long for him. Although, given that he's going to be teaching his cousin about archery during that two year period, not to mention horseback riding, self defense, and unarmed combat lessons, would he loose all of his conditioning, I mean, the callouses yes, but wouldn't staying active in general help him?

As to Emermouse's pet peeve, the MC will later take up blacksmithing as a hobby (verra long story) so rest assured that's not a trap I intend to fall into.



I'd sill appreciate a good book, though, if someone could make a recommendation?

Trebor1415
08-19-2012, 09:32 PM
Do some specific research on turkish archery, mongol archery and such. There's the ones who were known for the use of bow on horseback.

This page has some good info.

http://www.tirendaz.com/en/?page_id=3

As to books, my references run towards the English Longbow, as that is my interest, so I don't know what books to point you towards for mroe middle eastern stuff.

EDIT: Btw, you aren't in Michigan by any chance, are you?

Tivoli
08-20-2012, 01:52 AM
Lastly, if someone could mention some common shooting mistakes made by the beginner/self taught that could be corrected without physically touching a bow or arrow by the instructor.

I took a unit of archery in college. One thing I remember often doing incorrectly as a beginner was having an inconsistent draw, or not choosing a consistent "anchor point" sometimes I would draw only to my cheek, and other times I would pull to my ear before releasing, but until I saw a video of myself shooting, I didn't realize I was doing anything inconsistently.

Once I got better, I tended to imagine the base of my thumb lining up with the backmost bony point of my jaw, just under my earlobe.

Have you tried watching instructional videos on YouTube? That may be a good resource if you don't have the time to try it yourself, and would probably be more illustrative of the actual physical actions than a written text.

Unimportant
08-20-2012, 03:08 AM
As for Wikipedia, I find that it's too confusing half the time to get answers unless I'm looking for something specific and don't need to chase links through articles to get the nuggest of information I need. Although I did try, a couple of times actually.
This is part of why writing historical fantasy is a lot harder than it looks. It can take a heck of a lot of time and effort to do the necessary research. Because it's not enough to just have a list of facts; the author has to understand it as a whole in order for those facts to be woven into a cohesive scene. It's where the 'write what you know' comes in.

As others have suggested: YouTube is likely to have lots of amateur videos. Your public library is likely to have lots of reference texts.

Dave Hardy
08-20-2012, 05:11 AM
You could always start in a library. Honestly, the basic terminology of archery shouldn't be too hard to find. The rest is a pretty big subject, as you have seen, but with a modicum of persistence one can grasp it. Part of the problem in giving a simple answer is "generic Medieval Fantasy" which I suppose might be sort of like Western Europe, or not. It's your fantasy after all. :Shrug:

Personally, I read about the basics of Ancient/Medieval weaponry in Edward Tunis's books. They were simply written, and expertly illustrated. If archery is very important to your story, maybe you should get a bit more enthused about it and the world-building you need to make it fit in.

Evaine
08-20-2012, 10:28 PM
Just don't have him "firing" the bow. It's "shoot" or "loose" - guarenteed to send archers round the bend! (especially the ones involved with historical re-enactment!)

JoGrix
08-21-2012, 12:43 PM
There were some gems in there, points of research that I can use. Thanks for the suggestions, the website, and the author. Those look like they'll really help.

No, I'm not in Michigan (as much as I love the Red Wings...)

I don't know if my library would have much because it is small, although they did just build that new addition so it's possible.

frimble3
08-22-2012, 04:42 AM
If you know what book you want, they might be able to get it for you through the InterLibrary Loan system.

third person
08-22-2012, 09:34 AM
This guy (http://www.youtube.com/user/lindybeige)1 absolutely knows his shit when it comes to medieval weaponry (http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLCA860ECD7F894424&feature=plcp)2
A little on what he has to say about bows. Many more points in other videos (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3GHzSg5P-Jw)3

Oldbrasscat
08-26-2012, 10:49 PM
This guy (http://www.youtube.com/user/lindybeige)1 absolutely knows his shit when it comes to medieval weaponry (http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLCA860ECD7F894424&feature=plcp)2
A little on what he has to say about bows. Many more points in other videos (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3GHzSg5P-Jw)3


oh, he is amazing! Good, if simplified physics, and just the proper amount of scorn to put it all in perspective.

Speaking to the snapping yourself with the string topic, my daughter did manage to snap herself on the chest this morning, but she was trying out my stance, which is a bit more side on than hers. Because her arms are shorter, but we are using the same bow, when I pull back, the string touches the left side of my left breast, but she pulls back to the middle of her chest. So, purple nurples are really a function of your arm length as compared to your draw length, as well as your stance. If you don't want body contact, keep the foot closest to the target back, so that your body is naturally twisted just a little towards the target.

As for accuracy, shooting slightly downwards, at about 30 ft, I can put 4 of 6 arrows in a 4 inch square target most of the time. But that's shooting in my front yard, at a paper raccoon tacked to a cardboard box, with no one shooting at me. YMMV. :)

ClareGreen
08-30-2012, 10:37 PM
Just don't have someone stringing their longbow while lying down behind a log. It's not big, and it's not clever. :)

fireluxlou
09-07-2012, 03:33 AM
It cheeses me when writers have the slender or characters with more feminine traits use bows. I'm no expert on archery, but if we're talking medieval bows, there's a reason archeologists can tell archers' skeletons from other kinds of skeletons; it takes considerable muscle strength to pull back a medieval bowstring. Not to mention, using one is very aerobic exercise with the constant stringing and pulling and whatnot. So don't fall into the trap of having a waif-like character fight with a bow.

Yeah, probably should have stayed out of this thread but couldn't resist the opportunity to air a pet peeve.

Well in Wales they are called Welsh longbows and were used by women, there was even a Lady of a castle in Camathenshire,South Wales, in early medieval period, who defended her castle with a longbow against the Normans, she wasn't successful but she and her ladies fought, her husband was out on battle against the Normans. They were always fighting for land and independence from one another. Wales used to be made up of little kingdoms, run by its own royalties.

All noble lady's were trained with longbow as a hobby and sport and were very well trained and skilled archers in their own rights. When I was in school we used to do re-enactments of it as part of Welsh history. We were taught that the men would go out and kill the pheasants and the women would then play shoot it when it was brought home. They'd have contests with each other. It was entertainment more than anything.

Archery was a great tradition in Gwent, South Wales, practised by both sexes as observed by Gerald of Wales in his writings of Wales.

This is what I remember from Castle tours in Wales and Welsh History lessons

Emermouse
09-07-2012, 03:48 AM
Yeah but chances are these Welsh women didn't look like waifs. They probably had arm muscles like you wouldn't believe.

Tanydwr
09-23-2012, 05:32 PM
If it helps, according to an 'Old and Forgotten English' word-of-the-day type calendar I had last year, the index finger, or trigger-finger, was known as the shoot-finger in medieval times, precisely due to use of the bow. Might be a useful dialogue/prose element, particularly as your character is an archer.

However, you might want to confirm this. I'm no expert.

kuwisdelu
09-23-2012, 10:22 PM
True, but the English Longbow as used for war commonly had a draw weight of up to 100 pounds.

There are many kinds of bows and many forms of archery that do not involve the English longbow. Talks of archery and combat always end up rather European-centric, ne?

Trebor1415
09-23-2012, 11:23 PM
There are many kinds of bows and many forms of archery that do not involve the English longbow. Talks of archery and combat always end up rather European-centric, ne?

Good point. Do you have any info on the draw weight and strength requirements for "combat" style bows of any of the other cultures?

Another point to consider is whether the targets are armored or unarmored. If armor is not worn a much lighter bow can be effective where that same bow might be totally useless against a well armored opponenet.

dirtsider
09-24-2012, 07:11 PM
Here are two links that might be of use to you:

www.tradnj.com (http://www.tradnj.com) - Traditional Archers of New Jersey: sounds more like bowhunting but also appears to have a forum section where you can ask questions

http://alleghenymtbows.com/ - Allegheny Mountain Bow Co.: looks like they make bows in the "traditional" manner. Another place to ask questions

kuwisdelu
09-25-2012, 02:02 AM
Good point. Do you have any info on the draw weight and strength requirements for "combat" style bows of any of the other cultures?

Another point to consider is whether the targets are armored or unarmored. If armor is not worn a much lighter bow can be effective where that same bow might be totally useless against a well armored opponenet.

It's difficult to find good sources, but it seems the Japanese yumi typically ranged from 30-90lbs draw weight. It was also designed asymmetrically to be drawn while standing, kneeling, or on horseback. Combat was typically done at shorter distances. Enemies were often armored, but with lighter armor than European counterparts.

Oldbrasscat
09-26-2012, 03:53 AM
I use a recurve with a 30 lb draw, because I don't shoot often enough to be in good enough shape to shoot a heavier one. The men usually use something closer to 50 lb if they aren't shooting regularly. A bigger person can use a heavier bow, so if I ever get back to shooting every day, I probably won't get up to much more than 50 lbs pull, being somewhat petite.

My husband is 5'10 and finds my bow a cute little toy.He would probably use something with a 60 lb pull, in his current state of physical fitness. If he were to shoot regularly, he would most certainly move up to a 70 lb bow, or even to go to an 80 lb pull.

I'm very jealous.:rant:

kuwisdelu
09-26-2012, 07:12 AM
I use a recurve with a 30 lb draw, because I don't shoot often enough to be in good enough shape to shoot a heavier one. The men usually use something closer to 50 lb if they aren't shooting regularly. A bigger person can use a heavier bow, so if I ever get back to shooting every day, I probably won't get up to much more than 50 lbs pull, being somewhat petite.

My husband is 5'10 and finds my bow a cute little toy.He would probably use something with a 60 lb pull, in his current state of physical fitness. If he were to shoot regularly, he would most certainly move up to a 70 lb bow, or even to go to an 80 lb pull.

I'm very jealous.:rant:

Does being able to use a bow with a greater draw weight offer any advantage in this day and age other than bragging rights? I would assume accuracy would be more important. Honest question, I've not done archery in an organized setting, but I'd be interested in beginning kyuudo if only there were a dojo anywhere near.

Trebor1415
09-26-2012, 12:43 PM
Does being able to use a bow with a greater draw weight offer any advantage in this day and age other than bragging rights? I would assume accuracy would be more important. Honest question, I've not done archery in an organized setting, but I'd be interested in beginning kyuudo if only there were a dojo anywhere near.

You generally want a heavier draw weight for hunting.

For target shooting, you can get a bit flatter trajectory with a heavier bow. This is especially true as the range increases. For close range, say up to 20 yards or so, there's not much difference between a 30 and 50 pound bow in terms of accuracy or perceived trajectory. Now, if you need penetration, like for hunting, then the heavier bow will be better, even at close range.

If you are shooting at 50 + yards I've noticed the flatter trajectory of a heavier bow reduces the amount of hold over you have to do on the target and makes it a bit easier then with a lighter draw weight.

BDSEmpire
09-27-2012, 02:53 AM
I got to shoot my neighbor's hunting bow once. It was a compound bow with some ridiculous draw weight that then multiplied due to those lovely pulleys and extra strings. When you get the string pulled back past the "break" you suddenly feel the tension shift and what was a heavy, hard pull is now resting fairly easily in your hands. Except, you know for a fact that there is a TON of energy pent up in that chunk of metal and plastic and if you aren't especially careful then you'll tear your forearm off or worse, send the arrow somewhere undesirable.

I hit my target, a haybale of ill-repute, and got to see that bladed arrow power right through that chunk of compressed matter into and through the back fence until it clattered to a stop in the alleyway behind where we were shooting.

I've shot regular bows plenty of times and prefer the lighter draw weights because the heavier ones are much rougher on your fingers. Besides, these are vicious haybales I'm taking out (or the grasslands behind them, or sometimes a passing cloud if the arrow hits the ground and skips) not some woodland animal. If I were to hunt with this stuff I'd definitely want a lot more power behind my shot.

Hahaha here's an image for you - picture an arrow hitting the ground at speed out towards your target and then hitting a bit of a ramp in the dirt or grass and ZOOMing back up into the air until gravity finally brings it down. There can be a lot of excitement with archery, especially of the unintentional kind.