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  1. - Top - End - #301
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIX

    One more caveat to add to this that I just thought of. Naval archery.

    It's a pretty specific subset of general archery, but it does have its specifics. Since we're usually discussing warbows in medieval to late renaissance contexts, we need to talk about both galleys and sail-powered ships. Fortunately for us, the archery consideration changes only in degree.

    The thing about naval combat is, it's slow. Really slow. Even something like a small galley is much less agile than a formation of infantry - sure, two ships at ramming speed may give you as little time as an infantry charge, but anything other than that will keep the enemy in effective range for hell of a lot longer. This may be one of the reasons why we see such a wide dispersion of draw weights at Mary Rose, you may well opt to switch to a lighter bow if the situation allows for it.

    The oar-powered ships are better off here, in most circumstances. While they are definitely not faster over a long voyage, they have an option of going to ramming speed, and get a short sprint in that the sail-powered ships can't do. That lets archers to shoot for a shorter amount of time that the sailing ships can only match when crossing the T of a fromation (i.e. passing aship in range at 90 degrees, possibly as part of a failed ramming attempt, possibly as a tactic).

    The exact time you will be in effective range is hard to ballpark, but with galleys, we're talking in several minutes, possibly up to an hour or so. With sail ship, it could be several days if it's a stern chase and you start opening up at extreme ranges, but will probably be at the level of several minutes to several hours most of the time.

    For the most part, however, the solution to this problem was fortifications. Ships were built with mini castles on them, and that turned the entire thing into more of a siege "try to slap things that pop up" scenario, and woe upon whoever had the lower "castle".

    Restocking is even less of a problem here, because there is nothing stopping you from having a quiver with a few dozen arrows bolted on every meter of the ship.

    Spoiler: People ducking behind ship battlements when not shooting, 1330
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    Spoiler: Proof that artists *will* get things wrong no matter the era, 1310
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIX

    Quote Originally Posted by InvisibleBison View Post
    I find this rather surprising, given how long battles last and how quickly archers can shoot. Do you know why this was the case?
    Further to other replies about repeated drawing/bending being tiring, remember the draw weight of warbows - as discussed earlier in the thread, we're looking at somewhere in the region of 90 - 110+lbs minimum.

    While proper form dictates you draw with your back, you're still holding all that weight via a string on three fingers or a thumb plus 1 or 2 fingers, hence the strain on your forearm as well. You're also going to eventually get strain on the other arm holding the bow; locking your elbow is just asking for string slap, so you angle it out to the side (part of Martin's 'git gud'), meaning you have to learn to take the full weight via your muscles without skeletal/joint assistance.

    Quote Originally Posted by Martin Greywolf View Post
    That said, there are exceptions once again, even with regards to individual archers fighting. Agincourt saw English archers being in action pretty much for the full duration, and battle of Marchfeld/Morava field had action by cuman horse archers from dawn until noon.
    To add another famous battle onto that list, the Battle of Hastings, 14 Oct 1066 went on from approximately 9 am to dusk (around 5 pm at that time of year). While Norman/Saxon archery wasn't anything particularly notable, the battle itself is notable for the death of the Saxon king, Harold Godwinson, who may or may not have taken an arrow to the eye as immortalised in the Bayeux Tapestry.

    Spoiler: Not to the knee and no Xiahou Dun-style eye eating here.
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    Last edited by Brother Oni; 2021-01-12 at 08:54 AM.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIX

    Quote Originally Posted by Brother Oni View Post
    you're still holding all that weight via a string on three fingers
    Or on just two fingers. The long story short version is that the shorter the bow is, the less you can afford to put that third finger there. Early Magyar mounted archery used surprisingly long bows (~160cm), later cuman horse archery uses a two-finger direct draw. What that means for Cuman bows isn't clear, as there is not enough research there. Mongols used thumb rings (you can see it on many depictions, Suenaga scrolls among them), and it was them that really popularized them for Ottoman and eastern European area.

    Spoiler: Kitāb al-funūn by ibn akhī hizām, showing direct draw, Egypt, 1470
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    Spoiler: Italian fresco showing typical Italian bow of the time, two finger draw, 1275
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    Spoiler: Another italian example, two finger draw, late 15th century
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    Spoiler: Cuman horse archer from Velka Lomnica, two finger draw, 1275
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    Also note he's holding two more arrows in his drawing hand for speed shooting - no wonder since there's an angry king chasing him


    Spoiler: Cuman in Chronica Picta, two finger draw, 1350
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    It looks like the fingers are under the bow, that is an illusion, the metal bit near fingers is leading opponent's lance tip
    Also notice how dead guy shows us the bow isn't exactly short


    Spoiler: But switch to Germany, and you start to see longer bows and three finger draws, 1360
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    Last edited by Martin Greywolf; 2021-01-12 at 10:25 AM.
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIX

    Quote Originally Posted by Martin Greywolf View Post
    Spoiler: But switch to Germany, and you start to see longer bows and three finger draws, 1360
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    Are... are those war elephants? What exactly is this picture showing, anyway?

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIX

    Quote Originally Posted by Zombimode View Post
    Are... are those war elephants? What exactly is this picture showing, anyway?
    Battle of Beth Zechariah. It's from a Weltchronik, i.e. History of the world manuscript, much of which was based on the Bible at the time. And yeah, those are Seleucid war elephants, persumably the now-extinct north African kind. The authors couldn't have seen those (kinda obvious from the picture), since they went extinct sometime during the Roman era, but you did get occassional subsaharan or Indian elephant witnessed by an European - a travelling monk, or maybe one elephant was brought to Mediterranean coast as a rare curiosity, so whoever illustrated these probably had some reference sketches or descriptive reports.
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIX

    A question about swell of muzzle/muzzle band.

    As far as I know it's primary purpose is to make the barrel stronger, wiki talks about internal diameter increasing to make the loading easier, but it is present on cannons where internal diameter is uniform (at least to the limits of manufacturing techniques). Why it's specifically end of the barre l that needs that reinforcement, and not the middle?

    Additionally, was there any purpose to place it on a) any pistol ever b)cartridge revolver c)post-1900 automatic pistols? I know that rigorously answering that question would be inordinately hard, but if anyone who is knowledgeable about historical firearms can make a guess I'd be grateful.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIX

    Quote Originally Posted by Saint-Just View Post
    As far as I know it's primary purpose is to make the barrel stronger, wiki talks about internal diameter increasing to make the loading easier, but it is present on cannons where internal diameter is uniform (at least to the limits of manufacturing techniques). Why it's specifically end of the barre l that needs that reinforcement, and not the middle?
    It depends on how you cast that cannon, but if you do it in a vertical mold, with breech at the bottom and muzzle at the top, muzzle will be weaker because of faster cooling, and you can see that bronze cannons at least do have a tendency to split at the muzzle. The middle is reinforced by being thicker, but the muzzle still needs a bit extra, hence the flare. It also stops any splinters that crack off from the front from flying off.

    For the really early guns, we're talking Hussite era here, they reinforced the gun barrell just like they reinforced a barrell of beer, saw that it worked, and called it successful. It took a lot of experimentation to get from there to true muzzle swell.

    Quote Originally Posted by Saint-Just View Post
    A question about swell of muzzle/muzzle band.
    Additionally, was there any purpose to place it on a) any pistol ever b)cartridge revolver c)post-1900 automatic pistols?
    You'd need to look into barrell manufacturing process specs to answer that, but it could be that in some cases, that was how a barrell was always done, so they kept doing it. Remember, you have no infrared, no thermal cameras, no x-ray imaging of the blasted things, and no high speed cameras either, to study where they fail in detail. You have a camera at most, and guesswork from what's left.

    Edit: Link to a Napoleonic-era specific article.
    Last edited by Martin Greywolf; 2021-01-19 at 11:00 AM.
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIX

    Quote Originally Posted by Saint-Just View Post
    A question about swell of muzzle/muzzle band.

    As far as I know it's primary purpose is to make the barrel stronger, wiki talks about internal diameter increasing to make the loading easier, but it is present on cannons where internal diameter is uniform (at least to the limits of manufacturing techniques). Why it's specifically end of the barre l that needs that reinforcement, and not the middle?

    Additionally, was there any purpose to place it on a) any pistol ever b)cartridge revolver c)post-1900 automatic pistols? I know that rigorously answering that question would be inordinately hard, but if anyone who is knowledgeable about historical firearms can make a guess I'd be grateful.
    Sometimes the intention of the muzzle swell was to ease sighting of the weapon -- if the (exterior) muzzle diameter is the same as the breech diameter, then the weapon can be sighted by looking along the barrel. If tapered all the way to the muzzle, then when sighting over the barrel, the cannon would have a slight elevation. *See EDIT

    For more accurate shooting temporary rear and front sights could be added to the cannon, but most gunners preferred to aim along the barrel with good result. By the time of the American Civil War, you will start seeing more cannons made without a muzzle swell -- there was a desire to make cannons as light as possible and it was just an extraneous bit. Some still had the swell, but it was rare on new pieces like Parrott rifles, or the big smoothbore Rodman cannons.

    Similar reasons could exist in the early days of muskets -- occasionally you may see a reference to a "swamped" barrel. But with the introduction of at least front sights, it seems to have become uncommon for military weapons at least. For pistols? I have a single shot pistol with a muzzle reinforcement, but it has both front and rear sights. My guess is that if the barrel is on the thin side, a muzzle swell helps prevent the muzzle from becoming easily dinged and dented. A pistol is regularly inserted into a holster, so it may expect a little more wear around the muzzle. I doubt that a thin barrel would become dented so as to deform the bore (without really trying), so the desire to reinforce it may be more cosmetic.

    *EDIT -- While I have seen rifle and musket barrels that had muzzle swells equal to breech diameter, after checking my sources, on most muzzle-loading cannons the muzzle was a smaller diameter than the "base ring" (thickest part at the breech). However, the muzzle swell would still reduce the amount of elevation if sighting directly over the barrel. A slight amount of elevation may have been more acceptable.

    EDIT -- We don't actually know why cannons had muzzle swells. To add a little to the reason that Martin Greywolf gave, the manner in which the barrels were cast may also have been a factor. When cast muzzle up, the weight of the metal will cause the metal at the bottom to be denser, thus making the breech stronger. Additionally, core samples from renaissance-era bronze cannon show lower proportions of tin at the muzzle when compared to the breech. Apparently the tin migrated during cooling. This would make the metal at the muzzle more brittle, and "may" have encouraged the use of a muzzle swell. However, by the American Civil War even bronze cannons were starting to dispense with the muzzle-swell (e.g. Confederate copies of the Napoleon cannon).
    Last edited by fusilier; 2021-01-19 at 07:03 PM.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIX

    Quote Originally Posted by fusilier View Post
    Sometimes the intention of the muzzle swell was to ease sighting of the weapon -- if the (exterior) muzzle diameter is the same as the breech diameter, then the weapon can be sighted by looking along the barrel. If tapered all the way to the muzzle, then when sighting over the barrel, the cannon would have a slight elevation.
    This is a very stupid way of assisting aiming. You absolutely, positively don't want to waste expensive bronze and add hell of a lot of weight to a weapon you need to move than absolutely necessary - you could achieve the same thing with wood. Sure, the sighting was a nice side-benefit, but as a main reason? This would be one of those extraordinary claims that require extraordinary evidence.

    That's not even mentioning early cannon where reinforcing bands make sighting alongside a barrell harder, not easier - although at this point, accurate sighting doesn't really matter.

    Spoiler: Tsar Cannon, finished 1586
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    Or mentioning that many canons don't have swell the same diameter as the breech.

    Spoiler: Cast iron cannon from Chernihiv
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    Spoiler: Somewhat rare example of swell being larger than the breech, unknown provenance
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIX

    Quote Originally Posted by Martin Greywolf View Post
    This is a very stupid way of assisting aiming. You absolutely, positively don't want to waste expensive bronze and add hell of a lot of weight to a weapon you need to move than absolutely necessary - you could achieve the same thing with wood. Sure, the sighting was a nice side-benefit, but as a main reason? This would be one of those extraordinary claims that require extraordinary evidence.
    At no point did I say it was the main reason. There is a theory that muzzle swells were used due to poor casting techniques which caused the muzzle to be brittle. But this is speculation. Even after it was understood that a muzzle swell was unnecessary they remained in use for a long time.

    Manuals of the time mention different ways of sighting along the barrel. As I noted in my edit, sighting directly over the barrel would usually give a slight elevation even with a muzzle swell. This was often considered the maximum effective range, shooting at higher elevations was considered to be "firing at random"

    Tapered musket barrels without a swell are evidenced fairly early, but "swamped" barrels continued to be used for a long time. As you said why waste the metal on something that's not strictly necessary?

    That's not even mentioning early cannon where reinforcing bands make sighting alongside a barrell harder, not easier - although at this point, accurate sighting doesn't really matter.

    Spoiler: Tsar Cannon, finished 1586
    Show
    This cannon appears to have a breech diameter the same as the muzzle diameter, why do you think that would make sighting it harder? A line crossing the top points of the reinforcing bands at the breech and the muzzle would be parallel to the axis of the bore. So sighting along those two points would give point blank fire. Which is the way most gunners preferred to fire.

    It also appears to be a pedrero, a cannon used to launch stone cannonballs. These cannons had powder chambers of significantly smaller diameter than the barrel. When cast in nearly cylindrical form (as in this case) the metal was very thick around the powder chamber, but thin along the barrel walls. The use of stone allowed them to achieve similar velocities with lower pressure, so the walls could be thinner and the cannon was still safe. The Ottomans were known to cast such cannons muzzle down.

    Or mentioning that many canons don't have swell the same diameter as the breech.

    Spoiler: Cast iron cannon from Chernihiv
    Show
    Already referenced in my post.

    Spoiler: Somewhat rare example of swell being larger than the breech, unknown provenance
    Show
    This cannon does not appear to me to have a larger muzzle swell than base ring. Do you have a source with measurements?

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIX

    Some general information on how muzzle loading cannons were aimed. First some definitions from an 1862 Ordnance Manual (Ordnance and Gunnery, Benton). Italics are original:

    "The natural line of sight is a line drawn, in a vertical plane through the axis of the piece, from the highest point of the base-ring to the highest point of the swell of the muzzle, or to the top of the sight if there be one."

    "The natural angle of sight is the angle which the natural line of sight makes with the axis of the piece."

    "The dispart is the difference of the semi-diameters of the base-ring and the swell of the muzzle, or muzzle-band."
    Depending upon the type of cannon the natural line of sight would either yield a slight elevation, or zero elevation (for something like a howitzer).

    From at least the 1500s, the gunners' tools included a collection of various devices for aiming, and these would still have been familiar to a gunner in the mid-19th century. Some cannon had built-in front sights, but usually both rear and front sights were removable.

    There are instructions in old manuals about determining where the top of the muzzle is and marking it with a piece of wax -- if the cannon is placed on uneven ground, it was necessary to determine where the top was compared to a level horizon for proper aiming. The rear sight usually involved a plumb-bob to make sure it too was placed level.* Elevating and depressing the barrel would also throw the aim off to the left or right, depending upon which way the ground "tilted." For determining the elevation of the cannon a quadrant (which also used a plumb-bob) would be placed in the muzzle -- again it would determine elevation regardless of "tilt"

    If cannon were being placed more permanently (like during a siege), platforms were erected to provide a level base, so the annoying issues of determining where exactly the aiming points should be could be avoided.

    So after determining where the sights should be placed, the gunner would estimate the range and the angle needed, aim the piece, then remove all the sights/quadrants before firing the cannon. The fall of the shot would be observed. Recoil would mean that the cannon would have to be moved back into place, and it would need to be "re-trained" (aimed), adjustment being made to elevation if necessary.

    All trained and experienced gunners would know how to use the instruments for sighting the piece -- but in practice they often wouldn't bother. Experience taught them how the gun fired, and they simply eye-balled the piece without bothering with the sights. The renaissance-era gunnery tables were generally inaccurate anyway, and based on (incomplete) theory rather than experimentally determined.

    This is why the natural line of sight and natural angle of sight were important factors to understand when operating a cannon. A cannon-maker could adjust these values, primarily by adjusting the size of the muzzle swell (as the size of the breech is generally dictated by other considerations).

    This is not to say that there weren't metallurgical considerations, but that those considerations do not seem to have been well understood, or remarked upon. Some cannon profiles -- like howitzers or pedreros -- didn't really employ a swell, but usually had a ring. This muzzle-ring is often so short and thin, that the chase (the thinner section immediately behind it), would probably suffer from the same metallurgical defects. Even on some 16th century cannons with a proper muzzle swell, the swell was very short, again implying that the chase would have suffered from similar defects.

    Regardless of the reasons as to why swells may have been used, they were eventually determined to be superfluous. But there were a lot of things that were superfluous that stuck around cannons. Ornamentation, fancy rings along the barrels, handles, etc. There was a general trend of streamlining that reached its zenith in the 19th century, and swells were about the last thing to be removed. It is around this time, you begin to see more permanent front sights mounted to cannons too.

    Link to a 16th century "gunner's sight and level"
    https://catalogue.museogalileo.it/ob...Level_n02.html

    *EDIT -- conversely the plumb-bob could be used to "level" the cannon itself. But the design of the sight, meant that it could be slid to a position around the base-ring until it was level.
    Last edited by fusilier; 2021-01-20 at 05:15 PM.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIX

    Something that might be relevant to playground at alrge: I just finished a series about medieval slings and slinging, something that is somewhat relevant to DnD. It is a story in four parts, and you can find the first one here. As for the subsequent parts, well... you know how to use reddit, I'm sure.
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIX

    I do not read all that much historical literature, so forgive me if I am missing something obvious, but I am a little bit confused about evolution of crossbows. It is reasonably well-known that very heavy steel crossbows are inefficient, because of how heavy the limbs are and how short the stroke is. And some earlier crossbows with composite horn/wood construction had longer strokes and (it seems) lighter limbs for the same poundage. So if there is a need for a crossbowman to launch 70+ g bolts at 50+ meters/sec, is there is any reason you cannot make a man-portable crossbow with such performance with wooden or composite limbs?

    If the answer is yes what is the probable reason for steel? Cheaper cost? Durability? Was there high-power crossbows with organic limbs in 14th century and beyond (man-portable weapons, not siege engines)?

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIX

    Quote Originally Posted by Saint-Just View Post
    I do not read all that much historical literature, so forgive me if I am missing something obvious, but I am a little bit confused about evolution of crossbows. It is reasonably well-known that very heavy steel crossbows are inefficient, because of how heavy the limbs are and how short the stroke is. And some earlier crossbows with composite horn/wood construction had longer strokes and (it seems) lighter limbs for the same poundage. So if there is a need for a crossbowman to launch 70+ g bolts at 50+ meters/sec, is there is any reason you cannot make a man-portable crossbow with such performance with wooden or composite limbs?

    If the answer is yes what is the probable reason for steel? Cheaper cost? Durability? Was there high-power crossbows with organic limbs in 14th century and beyond (man-portable weapons, not siege engines)?
    You can - the Chinese had composite prod (limbs) crossbows with a long power stroke as early as the Warring States era (5th to 3rd Century BC).

    Composite prod crossbows didn't start appearing in Europe until the 12th Century AD, with steel prods started appearing in the following century. Steel prods didn't fully supersede the wooden/composite prods until the 14th century, as the wooden prod crossbows were more resistant to water and cold.

    If I had to hazard a guess, I would say it's due to metallurgy improving enough to make steel of a quality that's suitable for the stresses required. Since composite prods take a long time to cure (partly due to the glues of the time, partly because the glue has to fully impregnate the materials), making steel crossbows are much quicker, especially if your industry base is already geared up to make steel for other uses.

    However, despite how good steel is, it still doesn't bend that much, so you're forced to stay with a short power stroke. This leads to a cycle of wanting higher power crossbows which need stronger steel prods which means a shorter power stroke thus you want higher power crossbows, and so on.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIX

    I've got a question about plate and mail combos, as worn by the Ottoman, Mughal, and Persian Empires. Why did they develop these armors instead of full plate harness?

    Something like
    Spoiler: Full mail and plate combo
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    or

    Spoiler: Zirah Baktar
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    Obviously in the case of the ottomans, they had knowledge of full plate harness, and yet it seems like they stuck with plate and mail combos. Is it because the empire was outfitting them and cheapness/standardization was required, they provided better heat dissipation, a metallurgy issue, or it's just a complete unknown?

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIX

    Quote Originally Posted by Fuzzy McCoy View Post
    I've got a question about plate and mail combos, as worn by the Ottoman, Mughal, and Persian Empires. Why did they develop these armors instead of full plate harness?

    Something like
    Spoiler: Full mail and plate combo
    Show


    or

    Spoiler: Zirah Baktar
    Show


    Obviously in the case of the ottomans, they had knowledge of full plate harness, and yet it seems like they stuck with plate and mail combos. Is it because the empire was outfitting them and cheapness/standardization was required, they provided better heat dissipation, a metallurgy issue, or it's just a complete unknown?
    Could've been as simple as not having enough smiths with the skills for making the necessary large contiguous multi-thickness interlocking plates required, or having better things for those smiths to do than making armor.

    Climate and simplicity of outfitting is also definitely going to factor in. Mail will insulate less and gives good coverage without needing to be fitted, which is a great help when you're outfitting troops yourself rather than relying on familial wealth.

    Another factor could also be doctrine. The Ottomans employed heavily armored troops with bows or other ranged weapons to a degree that wasn't as common in Europe, especially for armored cavalry. The greater flexibility of mail would likely be better than plate for fiddling around with a bow.
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIX

    Quote Originally Posted by Saint-Just View Post
    I do not read all that much historical literature, so forgive me if I am missing something obvious, but I am a little bit confused about evolution of crossbows. It is reasonably well-known that very heavy steel crossbows are inefficient, because of how heavy the limbs are and how short the stroke is.
    And like any reasonable well knownknowledge, this is mostly wrong.

    First of all, you can't compare them to modern crossbows - no carbon fibers or anything similar, all you have is sinew, horn, wood and steel. With those three, there is a difference in weight, but it's not as drastic as you might think.

    Second problem is that force and weight of limbs isn't the whole picture. A heavier bow will have better performance when launching heavier bolts (conservation of momentum). There is also a top speed on how quickly a given spring returns to its original state, and this rate of return imposes a maximum top speed on how quickly a bow can launch a bolt, regardless of weight. All of these are interdependent and have complex relationships.

    Shortness of stroke, that is inefficient. Thing is, you can absolutely have longer stroke on medieval crossbows, and the best idea we have for why we don't see them is one Oni already mentioned - metallurgy. Or rather, mistrust of any bow material, because if you put too much strain on it, that thing will snap right next to your face.

    Quote Originally Posted by Saint-Just View Post
    And some earlier crossbows with composite horn/wood construction had longer strokes and (it seems) lighter limbs for the same poundage. So if there is a need for a crossbowman to launch 70+ g bolts at 50+ meters/sec, is there is any reason you cannot make a man-portable crossbow with such performance with wooden or composite limbs?
    Aforementioned conservation of momentum. The heavier the bolt is, the better a heavy bow will perform. If you take a 25g bolt and increase weight to 50 g, that is not really doubling the weight of mass that is accelerated, because that mass also includes bow and string in it. So the heavier the bow, the better it will perform if you double or triple bolt weight.

    Of course, the heavier the bow, the more energy it needs to move itself, so the whole thing is kind of like a complex adjustment of several sliders that depend on each other, and maxing out any one isn't necessarily a good thing. More maximum energy is useless if the efficiency is so bad most of it is wasted, less weight is not great if there is less total energy stored in a drawn crossbow.

    Quote Originally Posted by Saint-Just View Post
    If the answer is yes what is the probable reason for steel? Cheaper cost? Durability? Was there high-power crossbows with organic limbs in 14th century and beyond (man-portable weapons, not siege engines)?
    Most low poundage crossbows are made of wood. It's cheap, convenient and everywhere.

    Once you upgrade to composite or steel, convenience, cost and having a guy who knows how to make it are all factors. As is the perception, because even if there was little difference between steel and composite crossbows, the perception that steel is stronger could have played a role.

    All in all, I'd go for cost as the main reason, though not the exclusive one, since there is... a hell of a lot more research needed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fuzzy McCoy View Post
    I've got a question about plate and mail combos, as worn by the Ottoman, Mughal, and Persian Empires. Why did they develop these armors instead of full plate harness?

    Something like
    Spoiler: Full mail and plate combo
    Show


    or

    Spoiler: Zirah Baktar
    Show


    Obviously in the case of the ottomans, they had knowledge of full plate harness, and yet it seems like they stuck with plate and mail combos. Is it because the empire was outfitting them and cheapness/standardization was required, they provided better heat dissipation, a metallurgy issue, or it's just a complete unknown?
    Thing is, Europe had pretty much the same thing in coat of plates and brigandine, and even first plate harnesses, and those were actual most commonly seen armor types of the day. Full plate was absolutely brilliant, but prohibitively expensive - enough so that it was not affordable to even all the nobles.

    Quote Originally Posted by AdAstra View Post
    Could've been as simple as not having enough smiths with the skills for making the necessary large contiguous multi-thickness interlocking plates required, or having better things for those smiths to do than making armor.
    Thing is, we don't see full plate even for Ottoman sultans, and as the Japanese proved, if there is an advantage to getting full plate, the rich will absolutely pay through the nose for it.

    Quote Originally Posted by AdAstra View Post
    Climate and simplicity of outfitting is also definitely going to factor in. Mail will insulate less and gives good coverage without needing to be fitted, which is a great help when you're outfitting troops yourself rather than relying on familial wealth.
    Climate, not so much. Once you have a gambeson on, only thing that really matters to how quickly you overheat is the total weight. There probably is some small difference, but... just not that big of one.

    On the other hand, the ease of fitting is definitely a factor, we tend to see the decrease of plate components as European armies grow for this exact reason.

    Quote Originally Posted by AdAstra View Post
    Another factor could also be doctrine. The Ottomans employed heavily armored troops with bows or other ranged weapons to a degree that wasn't as common in Europe, especially for armored cavalry. The greater flexibility of mail would likely be better than plate for fiddling around with a bow.
    Not true in the slightest. English archers were entirely happy to use full plate, as did any other. We have ample evidence for that.

    Mughals aren't my cup of tea, but for Ottomans, I believe I can offer an answer.

    The thing is, they were ahead of their time. In several things, but the one that is relevant here is the army organization and size. They were able to field larger, more organized, more trained and more disciplined armies when compared to the Europeans (look at Mohacs, 60k vs 100k, but then logistics took their toll and we get 40k (at best) Hugarians against 80k Ottomans split into two armies), to the degree where I'd say that they had about reassaince organizational approach in 1400.

    And that meant similar equipment philosophy, where even a lot of the elite Janissaries had not that much in the way of armor - possibly none at all, the argument about chain mail sewn into their tunics rages on.

    This was met with quite some disdain from European knights who derided them as commoners, but that tended to... not work out so well for them, just aske the French at Nicopolis. Ottomans basically decided that quality was all fine and good, but they wanted medium quality of equipment, quantity of troops and high quality of training.

    Europe didn't lag behind for that long, 1400s are time of Hussites, Nicopolis and reformations and counter-reformations and assorted wars, where highly armored knights are proven to be, while not obsolete, not quite as dominant as they have been until now. I'd go as far as to say that true full plate armor, of the gothic german kinds (late 15th to early 16th century), is not very effective when you look at the big picture, something of a last swan song of knights.

    Impressive, to be sure, but you may as well grab thirty men with a mix of pikemen with a cuirass and serpentiners (is that what we should call guys with serpentines?) for the cost and get more bang for your buck. Or a few howitzers. Or light field cannons.

    After that, it's essentially a matter of cultural heritage when it comes to what exact bits the partial armor of the pike and shot era looks like. Europe with its long history of cuirasses picked those, Ottomans had their own thing in plate-reinforced mail. These are no longer meant to make you pracitcally immune to almost all weapons, they have more of a modern bulletproof vest approach of "they maybe will help you not get killed in some circumstances". And they all have their pros and cons, with cuirasses being able to resist pistol and some musket fire, but chain mail offering better protection in a melee.
    That which does not kill you made a tactical error.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Martin Greywolf View Post
    Thing is, we don't see full plate even for Ottoman sultans, and as the Japanese proved, if there is an advantage to getting full plate, the rich will absolutely pay through the nose for it.
    To support this point, the Sengoku era daimyo, Uesugi Kenshin, supposedly wore this set of Dragon armour:

    Spoiler
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    Quote Originally Posted by Martin Greywolf View Post
    And like any reasonable well known knowledge, this is mostly wrong.

    First of all, you can't compare them to modern crossbows - no carbon fibers or anything similar, all you have is sinew, horn, wood and steel. With those three, there is a difference in weight, but it's not as drastic as you might think.

    Second problem is that force and weight of limbs isn't the whole picture. A heavier bow will have better performance when launching heavier bolts (conservation of momentum). There is also a top speed on how quickly a given spring returns to its original state, and this rate of return imposes a maximum top speed on how quickly a bow can launch a bolt, regardless of weight. All of these are interdependent and have complex relationships.

    Shortness of stroke, that is inefficient. Thing is, you can absolutely have longer stroke on medieval crossbows, and the best idea we have for why we don't see them is one Oni already mentioned - metallurgy. Or rather, mistrust of any bow material, because if you put too much strain on it, that thing will snap right next to your face.

    Aforementioned conservation of momentum. The heavier the bolt is, the better a heavy bow will perform. If you take a 25g bolt and increase weight to 50 g, that is not really doubling the weight of mass that is accelerated, because that mass also includes bow and string in it. So the heavier the bow, the better it will perform if you double or triple bolt weight.

    Of course, the heavier the bow, the more energy it needs to move itself, so the whole thing is kind of like a complex adjustment of several sliders that depend on each other, and maxing out any one isn't necessarily a good thing. More maximum energy is useless if the efficiency is so bad most of it is wasted, less weight is not great if there is less total energy stored in a drawn crossbow.

    Most low poundage crossbows are made of wood. It's cheap, convenient and everywhere.

    Once you upgrade to composite or steel, convenience, cost and having a guy who knows how to make it are all factors. As is the perception, because even if there was little difference between steel and composite crossbows, the perception that steel is stronger could have played a role.

    All in all, I'd go for cost as the main reason, though not the exclusive one, since there is... a hell of a lot more research needed.
    All of the above seems very weirdly formulated. I understand or think that I understand all of the above, and I understood it before I wrote my question, that is why I phrased it as "confused" not as "I don't know"

    I never compared historical European crossbows with the modern crossbows. I compared them with earlier European and Chinese crossbows. Many factors you mentioned are true for all bows. Light bow will also have better efficiency when shooting heavier projectiles; efficiency gains for the light bow may be less than efficiency gains for the heavy bow but if it started with higher efficiency (usually) heavy bow will never be equally efficient.

    From the material standpoint it seems that it was possible to have at least composite if not wooden prod to have equal poundage with steel (specifically 14-15th century steel) while having longer power stroke (always better) and lighter limbs (also always better, though how much depends on the projectile weight). Broadly speaking I wanted to know: if 300 pounds composite is not up to the task of chucking the bolt of appropriate mass fast enough are you forced to go for less efficient steel or you can just have a bigger composite prod? (the answer seems to be yes, you can even from you).

    Thank you for pointing out people being cautious of overloading high-powered springs; I read about it a long time ago but forgot until you reminded me.
    Last edited by Saint-Just; 2021-02-09 at 07:07 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Saint-Just View Post
    It is reasonably well-known that very heavy steel crossbows are inefficient, because of how heavy the limbs are and how short the stroke is.
    I've heard this, but I've also read:

    The energy which a steel crossbow imparted to its projectile was greater than that given to an arrow by even the most powerful bow — draw forces in excess of a thousand pounds were common. Because the bow was short, relatively little of the energy was expended in accelerating the tips of the bow and most of its considerable force was applied directly to the bolt.
    . . .
    The energy stored in a tensed bow, when expended, drives not only the arrow, but also the bowstring or cord and the mass of the bow itself. It follows that a bow with less mass will be capable of driving its projectile (assuming a sufficiently small projectile mass) with greater velocity. The easiest way to reduce the mass of the bow while holding the force applied to the projectile constant is to make the bow stiffer and shorter.
    This comes from Guilmartin's work, Gunpowder and Galleys, which was originally written in the 1970s (although I have the updated 2003 copy, it says substantially the same thing). While I believe it is generally a good work, I have some issues with Guilmartin's specifics.

    Anyway, this seems to imply the opposite, that steel crossbows are more efficient because of the shorter stroke. My question is, does anybody have sources for the claims about efficiency in bows, and perhaps can explain the difference? (For example are they looking at different questions of efficiency or framing the question in such a way that they appear to come to the opposite conclusion).

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    Quote Originally Posted by fusilier View Post
    I've heard this, but I've also read:

    This comes from Guilmartin's work, Gunpowder and Galleys, which was originally written in the 1970s (although I have the updated 2003 copy, it says substantially the same thing). While I believe it is generally a good work, I have some issues with Guilmartin's specifics.

    Anyway, this seems to imply the opposite, that steel crossbows are more efficient because of the shorter stroke. My question is, does anybody have sources for the claims about efficiency in bows, and perhaps can explain the difference? (For example are they looking at different questions of efficiency or framing the question in such a way that they appear to come to the opposite conclusion).
    This is relatively easy and requires only knowledge of physics: the less limbs move the less energy they waste on moving the prod. This can be achieved by using stiffer materials or using shorter spring (limb) of the same material. Using longer limbs than strictly necessary to achieve desirable power stroke is wasteful energy-wise.

    All of the above assumes the same power stroke. By shortening the power stroke you always achieve less efficiency with the same power. Both for steel limbs compared to other steel limbs and for organic limbs compared with other organic limbs there is a general trend of more power stored -> less efficiency especially when confined to man-portable format. If you thicken the limb then you increase mass and shorten power stroke, if you lengthen the limb then you increase mass and the distance the limb moves (so effective mass of the prod increases more than physical mass) etc. Because people knew what they were doing 1200-pound steel crossbow does deliver more energy than 400-pound steel crossbow, but not thrice as much (despite often having heavier bolt which increases the efficiency for any crossbow). I am only confused about how moving between wood<->composite<->steel affects things, within the same category it's easier to understand

    Notice how compound bows use very stiff prods (so limbs move as little as possible) while going for the longest possible power stroke.

    The primary source (I admit that I actually haven't read it, only skimmed and read a simplified summary) would be http://bio.vu.nl/thb/users/kooi/thesis.pdf
    But after encountering those ideas for the first time I have seen them discussed (and broadly accepted) by people who actually make and shoot period-correct projectile weapons.
    Last edited by Saint-Just; 2021-02-09 at 07:03 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Saint-Just View Post
    This is relatively easy and requires only knowledge of physics: the less limbs move the less energy they waste on moving the prod. This can be achieved by using stiffer materials or using shorter spring (limb) of the same material. Using longer limbs than strictly necessary to achieve desirable power stroke is wasteful energy-wise.

    All of the above assumes the same power stroke. By shortening the power stroke you always achieve less efficiency with the same power. Both for steel limbs compared to other steel limbs and for organic limbs compared with other organic limbs there is a general trend of more power stored -> less efficiency especially when confined to man-portable format. If you thicken the limb then you increase mass and shorten power stroke, if you lengthen the limb then you increase mass and the distance the limb moves (so effective mass of the prod increases more than physical mass) etc. Because people knew what they were doing 1200-pound steel crossbow does deliver more energy than 400-pound steel crossbow, but not thrice as much (despite often having heavier bolt which increases the efficiency for any crossbow). I am only confused about how moving between wood<->composite<->steel affects things, within the same category it's easier to understand

    Notice how compound bows use very stiff prods (so limbs move as little as possible) while going for the longest possible power stroke.
    Thank you. The only thing I will observe, regarding energy, is that Work is Force x distance. So a lighter bow with a longer stroke will apply a lower amount of force, but across a greater distance. So "muzzle velocity" isn't simply a matter of force, but how long (or across how much distance) that force is applied? At least that's how interpret a longer stroke as being more "efficient"

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    Quote Originally Posted by fusilier View Post
    Thank you. The only thing I will observe, regarding energy, is that Work is Force x distance. So a lighter bow with a longer stroke will apply a lower amount of force, but across a greater distance. So "muzzle velocity" isn't simply a matter of force, but how long (or across how much distance) that force is applied? At least that's how interpret a longer stroke as being more "efficient"
    Yes. Proper warbows are often limited by the human physiology, so especially within the same era within the same tradition (English longbow vs English longbow, yumi vs yumi) it seems that draw weight can be taken as a simplified measure of how much actual power can be transferred to the projectiles. But given how inefficient a system can be there can be a huge difference between different engines - and steel-limbed crossbows are outperformed energy-wise by "lighter" longbows half of their draw weight (that is not to say that steel-limbed crossbows are bad or strictly inferior).

    In addition to the longer stroke there is a matter of force curve. "Draw weight" is the weight at the start of the power stroke and it invariably decreases by the end of it but it matters how much it decreases and in what way exactly. I do not how to put it into proper terms but depending on the shape and material of the bow during your initial draw weight may be very low (some hunting bows are almost straight even when strung) and linearly increasing to the max, or start higher and increase faster (pre-modern it's probably best exemplified by the horn/sinew composite bows, I am not sure whether there is a significant distinction between Korean, Mongolian or Turkish traditions). So while during the first 1mm bows with N draw weight would exert the same* force on the projectile, by the middle of the travel some will apply less force than the others and even more so by the end. That difference is (mostly) orthogonal to the bow vs crossbow, both bows and crossbows can have limbs of different materials and forms.

    *well, close enough to be considered the same
    Last edited by Saint-Just; 2021-02-09 at 08:22 PM.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIX

    Tod's Worshop -- circa 1400 BCE 960lb crossbow vs modern 150lb crossbow
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ghoVmc12vEs
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    Quote Originally Posted by Martin Greywolf View Post
    Spoiler
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    And like any reasonable well knownknowledge, this is mostly wrong.

    First of all, you can't compare them to modern crossbows - no carbon fibers or anything similar, all you have is sinew, horn, wood and steel. With those three, there is a difference in weight, but it's not as drastic as you might think.

    Second problem is that force and weight of limbs isn't the whole picture. A heavier bow will have better performance when launching heavier bolts (conservation of momentum). There is also a top speed on how quickly a given spring returns to its original state, and this rate of return imposes a maximum top speed on how quickly a bow can launch a bolt, regardless of weight. All of these are interdependent and have complex relationships.

    Shortness of stroke, that is inefficient. Thing is, you can absolutely have longer stroke on medieval crossbows, and the best idea we have for why we don't see them is one Oni already mentioned - metallurgy. Or rather, mistrust of any bow material, because if you put too much strain on it, that thing will snap right next to your face.



    Aforementioned conservation of momentum. The heavier the bolt is, the better a heavy bow will perform. If you take a 25g bolt and increase weight to 50 g, that is not really doubling the weight of mass that is accelerated, because that mass also includes bow and string in it. So the heavier the bow, the better it will perform if you double or triple bolt weight.

    Of course, the heavier the bow, the more energy it needs to move itself, so the whole thing is kind of like a complex adjustment of several sliders that depend on each other, and maxing out any one isn't necessarily a good thing. More maximum energy is useless if the efficiency is so bad most of it is wasted, less weight is not great if there is less total energy stored in a drawn crossbow.



    Most low poundage crossbows are made of wood. It's cheap, convenient and everywhere.

    Once you upgrade to composite or steel, convenience, cost and having a guy who knows how to make it are all factors. As is the perception, because even if there was little difference between steel and composite crossbows, the perception that steel is stronger could have played a role.

    All in all, I'd go for cost as the main reason, though not the exclusive one, since there is... a hell of a lot more research needed.



    Thing is, Europe had pretty much the same thing in coat of plates and brigandine, and even first plate harnesses, and those were actual most commonly seen armor types of the day. Full plate was absolutely brilliant, but prohibitively expensive - enough so that it was not affordable to even all the nobles.



    Thing is, we don't see full plate even for Ottoman sultans, and as the Japanese proved, if there is an advantage to getting full plate, the rich will absolutely pay through the nose for it.



    Climate, not so much. Once you have a gambeson on, only thing that really matters to how quickly you overheat is the total weight. There probably is some small difference, but... just not that big of one.

    On the other hand, the ease of fitting is definitely a factor, we tend to see the decrease of plate components as European armies grow for this exact reason.



    Not true in the slightest. English archers were entirely happy to use full plate, as did any other. We have ample evidence for that.

    Mughals aren't my cup of tea, but for Ottomans, I believe I can offer an answer.

    The thing is, they were ahead of their time. In several things, but the one that is relevant here is the army organization and size. They were able to field larger, more organized, more trained and more disciplined armies when compared to the Europeans (look at Mohacs, 60k vs 100k, but then logistics took their toll and we get 40k (at best) Hugarians against 80k Ottomans split into two armies), to the degree where I'd say that they had about reassaince organizational approach in 1400.

    And that meant similar equipment philosophy, where even a lot of the elite Janissaries had not that much in the way of armor - possibly none at all, the argument about chain mail sewn into their tunics rages on.

    This was met with quite some disdain from European knights who derided them as commoners, but that tended to... not work out so well for them, just aske the French at Nicopolis. Ottomans basically decided that quality was all fine and good, but they wanted medium quality of equipment, quantity of troops and high quality of training.

    Europe didn't lag behind for that long, 1400s are time of Hussites, Nicopolis and reformations and counter-reformations and assorted wars, where highly armored knights are proven to be, while not obsolete, not quite as dominant as they have been until now. I'd go as far as to say that true full plate armor, of the gothic german kinds (late 15th to early 16th century), is not very effective when you look at the big picture, something of a last swan song of knights.

    Impressive, to be sure, but you may as well grab thirty men with a mix of pikemen with a cuirass and serpentiners (is that what we should call guys with serpentines?) for the cost and get more bang for your buck. Or a few howitzers. Or light field cannons.

    After that, it's essentially a matter of cultural heritage when it comes to what exact bits the partial armor of the pike and shot era looks like. Europe with its long history of cuirasses picked those, Ottomans had their own thing in plate-reinforced mail. These are no longer meant to make you pracitcally immune to almost all weapons, they have more of a modern bulletproof vest approach of "they maybe will help you not get killed in some circumstances". And they all have their pros and cons, with cuirasses being able to resist pistol and some musket fire, but chain mail offering better protection in a melee.
    Do you actually have evidence of English archers using plate in places other than the legs and helmet? Because I did do some research on this to determine if it was correct before posting my earlier spiel. You see a lot of archers (or descriptions of archers) wearing plate on the legs, but mail or brigandine on their upper body, and I've yet to find an example of an archer wearing a proper plate cuirass. If plate really was not a meaningful hindrance to drawing a bow, why would these archers have fully articulated plate on the legs, but not on the arms or chest?

    Which come to think of it, should put a pin in the idea that Europeans didn't do this, so that part's definitely incorrect. But you do see more cases of Ottoman armored troops being equipped with bows in addition to their normal weaponry, rather than as their specialization.
    Last edited by AdAstra; 2021-02-10 at 02:51 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saint-Just View Post
    steel-limbed crossbows are outperformed energy-wise by "lighter" longbows half of their draw weight (that is not to say that steel-limbed crossbows are bad or strictly inferior).
    It's far worse than half, I think the ballpark estimate is 10:1 in favor of bows when you count raw poundage, mostly on account of short draw. Still, it really depends on whether you're counting kinetic energy, momentum, initial velocity or something else entirely - all of these are relevant for what the arrow in question can do, and all are interdependent.

    Quote Originally Posted by AdAstra View Post
    Do you actually have evidence of English archers using plate in places other than the legs and helmet? Because I did do some research on this to determine if it was correct before posting my earlier spiel. You see a lot of archers (or descriptions of archers) wearing plate on the legs, but mail or brigandine on their upper body, and I've yet to find an example of an archer wearing a proper plate cuirass. If plate really was not a meaningful hindrance to drawing a bow, why would these archers have fully articulated plate on the legs, but not on the arms or chest?

    Which come to think of it, should put a pin in the idea that Europeans didn't do this, so that part's definitely incorrect. But you do see more cases of Ottoman armored troops being equipped with bows in addition to their normal weaponry, rather than as their specialization.
    You didn't look all that hard then, this is something that has been well known among re-enactors for at least the last decade. On some of the following links, people in question are wearing jupons, which means you can't really prove or disprove whether they have a cuirass under there, but they at least have full plate legs, stringly suggesting full plate. Others are indisputably plate. Some even have helmets with visors down - I tired it out, and it's possible, but not great for your accuracy.

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    Since we were on a bit of a bow kick, I have a question about the interaction between strength and archery. As many of you may be aware, 3.5 D&D had mighty composite bows with a specific strength bonus seemingly to model draw weight. You took a penalty if your strength score was less than the specified draw weight and could add your strength modifier to damage up to the draw weight. In trying to come up with a more realistic system, I have a few questions about draw weights for those of you with experience or knowledge of archery:

    1. How much would strength beyond the minimum necessary to draw a bow help the arrow's speed/damage? If a person is capable of using an X lb bow, would a stronger person with an X lb bow be able to do more damage with it? Or would the extra strength only impact the speed with which they get fatigued and the length of time they can keep the bow drawn in order to aim?
    2. In the medieval era (say, 14th and 15th centuries), were there fairly fine gradations in draw weight (as we see today with exact poundage), or would bows be distributed/sold as "for someone of average strength" or "someone of exceptional strength" or similar?
    3. To get a bit more gamey, how much is it that raw strength affects one's ability to use a higher poundage bow vs. proficiency with bows writ large? My understanding is that, while a certain degree of form/proficiency is necessary to effectively use one's strength, beyond that it comes down to the strength of (a very particular set of) muscle, is that correct?

    Thank you for any assistance!
    Last edited by adso; 2021-02-10 at 10:03 PM.

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    To preface my comments - I'm speaking primarily from a modern target archery perspective. Martin Greywolf and I will disagree on the importance of a number of points as we have difference archery experiences.

    Quote Originally Posted by adso View Post
    1. How much would strength beyond the minimum necessary to draw a bow help the arrow's speed/damage? If a person is capable of using an X lb bow, would a stronger person with an X lb bow be able to do more damage with it? Or would the extra strength only impact the speed with which they get fatigued and the length of time they can keep the bow drawn in order to aim?
    To answer these questions, you need an understanding of how bows work and some finer details of the draw weight terminology.

    Bows and crossbows work by being essentially a big spring. You deform the spring when you draw it, putting energy into the system. When you release the string, the spring returns back to its original shape, imparting the released energy into the arrow.*

    If you pull the spring beyond its elastic limit into its plastic limit, it will deform and not return back to its original shape, thus imparting less power into the arrow. Pull it back far enough its plastic limit and the bow will break, normally with catastrophic effect (injuries up to and including amputations and fatalities are known with medieval crossbows breaking).

    So what is this elastic limit of bows? It depends on the bow's design and materials and is based on its intended draw length.

    This leads me onto the finer points of draw weight; by hanging about on this thread, you should be familiar with the concept of draw weights (90lb, 120lb, etc). There's actually a second measurement associated with draw weights, the draw length, so when we say a '90lb draw weight', what we actually mean is a '90lb draw weight at 30" draw length'.
    This rated draw length normally gets missed off, since people tend to all be about the same size, resulting in the majority of draw lengths being in between 28" - 30".

    So taking a 90lb draw weight at 28" draw length bow, if say a halfling used it, they would be unable to draw it back to that 28", resulting in a lower powered shot (the exact power delivered is dependent on the bow's force/draw curve and how far they managed to pull it back). The same would be for a normal sized but weak human - they would struggle to pull it back to the rated 28". This is known as short drawing.

    In comparison, a larger and strong person would be able to draw it back beyond that 28" and be able to get some additional power out of the bow (known as stacking) until they hit the elastic/plastic point. How much more is again dependent on the bow's force draw curve and its tolerances.

    A person significantly stronger but of the same size, would be able to shoot for longer, but wouldn't be able to put more power into the bow without altering their form/technique (this is known as over drawing) which may affect their accuracy. Whether this is significant or not, is one of those differences I mentioned in my preface.

    Bows have tolerances around their rated draw length and generally you can go beyond a couple inches with no ill effects. You may prefer longer limbs with a heavier draw weight and short draw (for example to get the string angle less acute) or shorter limbs with a lighter draw weight and stack (e.g. horse bows and other archery where space is at a premium), but the end effect is generally the same.

    *Releasing a drawn bow or crossbow without an arrow is known as dry-firing and is very damaging to the bow as the energy goes back into the limbs instead of the arrow. As an example of this, accidental dry firing is specifically excluded from the warranty of all modern bow or crossbow manufacturers I know of.

    Quote Originally Posted by adso View Post
    2. In the medieval era (say, 14th and 15th centuries), were there fairly fine gradations in draw weight (as we see today with exact poundage), or would bows be distributed/sold as "for someone of average strength" or "someone of exceptional strength" or similar?
    A bowyer would make a range of bows of different lengths and different draw weights, but would generally aim towards a certain standard. A potential archer would then test shoot a range of these bows (initially they would select a range based on the length of the bow versus the archer's height) to find a particular one that they liked or which suited them best.

    The standard depended on the culture and the requirements for the time - in England, the Unlawful Games Act 1541**, stated that 'All Men under the Age of sixty Years "shall have Bows and Arrows for shooting. Men-Children between Seven Years and Seventeen shall have a Bow and 2 Shafts. Men about Seventeen Years of Age shall keep a Bow and 4 Arrows - Penalty 6s.8d.'.
    This was expanded the following year by an Act of Parliament with a minimum target archery distance of 220 yds for men aged 24 years and above; in other words, you were legally required to be able to hit a target at that distance and were inspected regularly.

    It's important to note that serious archers have their bows made personally for them; bows are not like a gun which can be massed produced then fine tuned to a user's personal characteristics afterwards.

    **Incidentally, this Act wasn't repealed until 1960!

    Quote Originally Posted by adso View Post
    3. To get a bit more gamey, how much is it that raw strength affects one's ability to use a higher poundage bow vs. proficiency with bows writ large? My understanding is that, while a certain degree of form/proficiency is necessary to effectively use one's strength, beyond that it comes down to the strength of (a very particular set of) muscle, is that correct?
    This gets complicated as the higher the bow's poundage, there's a drop in efficiency as you need to make the bow bigger to handle the stresses - see the earlier posts on this page.

    While you can brute force the technique with lighter poundage bows (I did during my learner's course with a 29lb bow), once you start getting towards your limit, you rapidly learn how to draw properly, else you tire very quickly.

    I do agree that once you get the technique correct***, it's all down to your back muscles.

    Anecdotally, my Olympic recurve bow is rated for 38lb at 30" - I don't have a 30" draw length, so I effectively get a 36lb draw at 29". Why didn't I buy a 36lb at 29" bow? The shop didn't have them in stock.

    ***To emphasise the importance of technique, my archery club has a silver and gold para-olympian archer; I've carried her, her wheelchair and all her kit across a muddy field - she shoots a heavier draw weight bow than me.
    Last edited by Brother Oni; 2021-02-13 at 06:59 AM.

  29. - Top - End - #329
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIX

    Does anyone here know of weapons laws in Europe in the late 19th Century?

    I know there were a lot of concealed weapons, pocket pistols, cane swords, cane guns etc. Would it be legal to wear a sword openly on the streets of Paris or London or Vienna in, say 1870? It doesn't seem to come up in literature that I've seen.

    And if not, when did it become not the done thing for a man of a certain class to wear a sword in civilian life?
    Out of wine comes truth, out of truth the vision clears, and with vision soon appears a grand design. From the grand design we can understand the world. And when you understand the world, you need a lot more wine.


  30. - Top - End - #330
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIX

    Europe loved tiny pocket pistols in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. To the point where a lot of tiny .32ACP semiautomatics wound up serving in WWI armies because there were already companies cranking them or closely related models out in huge numbers for civilian sale.

    Restrictions in general didn't really show up until after The War To End All Wars.

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