Bows - Page 2

August 5th, 2004  
The Mongolian composite bow, hands down, was the best bow every made.
First off, the disign alone was unique. the composite material allowed it to be small for carrying on horseback, but also very powerful, the two bows that the mongolians carried into battle were quite thick. It is not true that these composite bows had a lower draw weight than the english lonbow. The longbow design itself wasn't very powerful, it was simply a straight piece of wood drawn back for power.
The principle of a compound mongolian bow was like that of todays modern compound bows, with a compressed design. The bows were made from horn, bone, wood and sinew, from animals.
The mongolian bow could be drawn back very far, much further than a longbow, thus creating a sharp angle with the string, this is why they used thumb rings, and not three fingers. The bows draw weight may have started out somewhat light, however like most bows the draw weight gains as you pull it back more, and with the recurve design of the composite bow, it became very powerful.
These bows had a draw weight easily exceeding 100 pounds, and a target range of 350 yards, and a maximum effect of I think 500 yards. This may not seem possible, but it makes sense. Longbowmen were usually just proffessional troops in the military. However mongolians were traned since childhood how to shoot a bow, and ride a horse. So of course these people could have very powerful bows. This also left them deformed, they had broken fingers, one arm was usually bigger than the other. These bows had a great effect on history, look how much land the mongolians conquored. As compared to the english longbow, which was also deadly weapon that also changed the course of battles, but not as greatly.
The Devil's Horsemen : James Chambers
August 30th, 2004  
Just to point out that in the heyday of the longbow it was the LAW in England that all able bodied men practiced archery. After church services on Sundays village greens all over the country would be full of practicing archers. This also applied to all spare time during the week.
These were Olympic standard experts, thousands of them!
As with their European counterparts they also suffered deformed limbs. The bows recovered from the "Mary Rose" reign of King Henry the VIII which sank in 1545 were utilised in tests. Many broke, but some still worked. The largest measured draw weigh was in excess of 170lb! Not weapons for babes. Ultimate range is one thing, but has anybody ever compared the accuracy of these bows?
A long bow shooter myself I limit my exertions to 50lbs, for recreational use I much prefer my 25lb bow I had made from Yew ‘Borrowed’ from a local Churchyard back in 1965…

August 30th, 2004  
Inerestingly I am a great observer of bow shooting styles.
Not compound bows though. I never draw back the arrow, but hold it in place and sweep the bow away from me in a big arc. Best I ever managed was school champion back in 1967 and 1968. Now it it just a relaxing hobby...
August 30th, 2004  
I'm a little confused. Where did the 170 lb draw weight bow come from? A sunken ship? If it was under water, how can it still be intact? And in the same working condition? Now you've got me all intersted.
October 17th, 2004  
I just thought I'd throw in that draw weight isn't the only contributing factor to distance and power. There are more things to consider in distance. You see, as long as the string is exerting a force on the arrow, it increases the arrow's velocity. Since Composite Bows have a more linear draw weight to pull length than Self Bows, Composite Bows can exert a more uniform force and achieve a longer distance and more power. (velocity = acceleration over time, acceleration decreases more slowly in a Composite Bow vs. a Self Bow)

Try it yourself: if you have a 28" draw for a Long Bow, see how much different it shoots at 25". Then compare that with a Composite. The composite will shoot closer to its maximum than the Long Bow will.

I can't for the life of me think of how you could get more distance with a light arrow in one bow, yet more power with a heavy arrow in another bow... I'm pretty sure it has something to do with the draw weight to pull length and also distance the string travels, but I'm having difficulty making the connection. Too many variables there...

I've idly been looking into Native American bows. Does anybody know how Composite Bows like the Eskimo Bows or Plains Bows which lack wood and are just sinew and horn/bone actually work? Like, does the bone bend backward, or what? Really having trouble picturing how something stiff like bone could be used in a bow because most of your power would seem to be in the tensile strength of the string (poor) Descriptions in your experience with Asiatic Composite Bows would be welcome as well.
October 19th, 2004  

When Mary Rose sank in 1545, swift burial within soft silt ensured the preservation of objects made of materials such as wood, leather, silk, wool and bone which rarely survives elsewhere.
By whatever miracle, the lack of oxygen in the silt some bows did indeed survive.
All was demonstrated by documentaries on British television recently.
By definition the longbow was a compound bow by utilising the softer inner wood with the harder outer.
When being used one would be under compresion whilst the other in tension. Recovered bows survived the arduous testing techniques of the 16th century.
The bow is supported, then it is drawn back by weights or screw jacks till it forms a perfect circle!
October 20th, 2004  
Interesting about the Mary Rose. Its fairly difficult to accurately compare the Mongol bow with the English Longbow since we do not live in the correct time -- neither is at its peak of use today. Probably the two best post-modern bows in history.
October 25th, 2004  
You are mistaken to think that the composite bow has a light draw and is ineffective. Hornbows have been made 200+lbs for examination bows, some of these still survive.

I myself have built many bows, english and composite.

Korean horn bows are still made to this day very much like they were hundreds of years ago. A 50 lb korean bow can easily cast an arrow 500 yards with an overdraw

Harry drake has made several hornbows that shot 600+ yards.

The asian bows have extremely long draws, 30-35 inches which gives them an extra powerstroke. The materials used are also highly efficient.

Horn and bone are two completely different matierals. Horn is extremely elastic while antler is less so, but when thinned they are quite flexible. The antler is backed with sinew, since the antler is brittle in tensile strength. So the antler undergoes little tension. The energy is not stored in the string, infact the string does not stretch at all and materials that do not stretch make better strings.

The first post mentions that the bows are small and weak. Take a piece of wood and bend it, now cut it shorter and bend it, you will find that the shorter one is harder to bend. Also take into consideration the materials. Sinew is 3 times more elastic then wood in tension, and horn is 3 times more elastic then wood in compression. Horn has the compression strength of carbonsteel.

When bows are used at 300 yards they are used in large numbers so accuracy is not a matter. is a good website to visit, it is the Asian Traditional Archery Research Network goes over the construction of a korean horn bow.

Asiatic bows are impressive, and there are written accounts of english viewing the power of turkish bows first hand and even taking some of the bows back to england. The problem however is the materials are hard to come by in england and it requires a year to make one, and the yew bow that you could make in a day is more economical because it takes great training to use the hornbow effectively on horseback

With standard arrows the armor piercing range of the asiatic bows is about 400 yards, the english bows being around 250-300 The records of 400-600-1000 yards are reached with flight arrows not suited to penetrate armor.
October 25th, 2004  
Having spent an hour or so in the local library an interesting fact has surfaced concerning the long range records achieved with short compound bows. They were fired with the shooter on his back and the bow braced against his feet. Hardly an efficient way of aiming, a great help in overcoming the large draw weights perhaps. Not very elegant and asking for possible wounding in the most embarrassing places if used in warfare!
October 25th, 2004  
Some composite bows were used this way, but turkish, korean, mongolian and several others were not. Chinese bows were sometimes used this way also.

I'm not sure what you mean by "Hardly an efficient way of aiming," I have tried this method and easier then the ordinary method because you can sight down your arrow. Also when bows are used at long ranges accuracy does not play a large factor. There is a point of diminishing return in distance as your arrow gets heavier with the bow draw weight, 100-120 would be ideal, because the bows maximum range is the same as the armor piercing range, however with a heavier bow you can shoot through armor inbetween the extremes, because the arrow has less power when shooting inbetween maximum and close up. Bows made over 120 or so lbs were used as military examination bows and as flightbows but were not practical for warfare.

i doubt you would get wounding shoot at an enemy 700 yards away. Using the bow with your feet greatly extends the range of the bow past 1000 yards. Contemporary hornbows shot with the feet can exceed 1000 yards easily.

Composite bows were generally used at closer ranges on horseback, hence the name hornbow. They were sometimes used at extremely long ranges with flight arrows but only to disrupt the enemy and demoralize, not create any major damage. Had they been used like english longbows, their effective range would have been 70-100 yards greater. So not an extreme advantage, but the method of shooting allows you to shoot almost twice as fast as the english method. (the arrow rests on the right side of the bow rather then the left, so you dont have to stick the arrow between the string and the bow)

Now if you compared them being used in simmilar ways, the composite bow dosnt have too much of an advantage, just a bit more distance, but the hornbow can be used on horseback, you can't make a yew bow 50 inches long.