Gun vs Bow


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akodo
July 10, 2006, 02:52 AM
a friend of mine threw this info at me and asked for my opinion, and I in turn ask for yours

http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=d20modern/bp/20040309a

important bits

Question: I have used both bows and .22-caliber handguns, and I want to know if the creators of this system have ever shot either one. You've given the bow a range increment of 40 feet, when a .22 has only a 20-foot range increment. Are you people crazy?

Response (in part): If we were to model just how a given weapon's accuracy falls off throughout its maximum range, the mechanics would not only be much more complicated, but also probably different for each type of weapon.

The result of this abstraction is that sometimes a game effect doesn't precisely match your expectations of reality. For example, a .22-caliber pistol may be more accurate than a bow at 30 feet in real life, but in the game the pistol has taken its first range penalty while the bow hasn't. In both real life and the game, however, the bow turns out to be much more accurate at 200 feet.

All that said, I'm somewhat surprised that you find a standard, non-match-grade .22-caliber pistol more accurate than a compound bow beyond a very short range. We each have our different experiences in life, I guess.

It was the italiced part I was asked about, as an owner of both a compound bow and .22 pistols

Ill go into my thinking, but woudl appreciate any thoughts you all ahve on the subject

My first thought is, no, i'd count on the 22 pistol delivering more hits at all ranges. Take a look at olympic level archery, the target is not terribly far away nor terribly small (expecially when compared to say, biathalon targets) but the accuracy of pistols and bows at shorter range is somewhat comparable.

However, simply due to the law of gravity, and an arrow's much slower speed, you don't have to get very far out in terms of yardage to have relatively long flight time, so you have to correct much sooner and much more for distance. The fact is when you talk about midevil armies slinging arrows and xbow bolts at eachother from around 100 yards, they weren't selecting individual targets, they were firing en-mass at the general vicinity of a group of enemies.

For one, the flight time is such that these archers were aiming there weapons twenty feet above the target area, if not more. It is pretty hard to target the head of your opponent, when to do so you have to 'hold over' 20 feet, it makes it hard to tell if you are holding over exactly 20 feet, or 22 (a clean miss) or 18 (a wounding shot, maybe a miss) and that is if you do everything else perferct.

Two, to further complicate issues, a target at 80 yards and a target at 90 yards are going to require as different a holdover, due to the pull of gravity, as a faster bullet is going to require at 300 vs 400 yards. Hence, a small mistake in your range estimation is gonig to result in your shot hititng a lot different spot than expected.

Third, and relatively minor, a longer flight time is going to allow for wind to have longer to push the projectile around, and as an arrow is less dense than a lead bullet, you ahve more surface area per unit of weight, so the wind will be able to move it farther.

That's why except for relatively close range shots, bows were used to rain arrows down on a specific area, best described as trying to hit a 10 ft x 10ft square anywhere from 50-150 yards out...It's also why being on a castle wall really increased your range.

Bows did have two things going for them, reusable ammo made it much less expensive to have troops train, and second, you can get your own visual feedback from where your shots are going with a bow. With a rifle, if you miss the target, you get no data on where or how you missed.

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Cosmoline
July 10, 2006, 03:07 AM
I'm not sure about that game system, but I got in a similar argument with the author of that Sharpes' series. He insisted that a squad of trained bowman with English selfbows could outfight any rifle-armed squad until the advent of repeating smokeless rifles in the 1890's. He maintained that the only reason for the abandonment of longbowmen was the enormous amount of training they required. Of course this is hogwash, but the respect for these archaic weapons borders on religion for some. A fight between a squad of men with Springfield Rifle Muskets and some guys shooting arrows at them would be short and one-sided. It reminds me of that yankee general who insisted that no reb bullet could hit him--right before one fired from hundreds of yards distant blew his head off. Even during the Napoleonic era with their more primitive bullets the rifles totally outclassed any bow.

Gifted
July 10, 2006, 03:41 AM
The first matchlocks weren't much better than the bows in effective range. Beyond 50 yards or so, you couldn't be sure where the ball went, and I dont' think they messed with shooting beyong 100, if that. The Crossbow was easier to use than the long bow, and was taking over, until the firearm came along, and make even it obsolete. Penetration, ease of use, and simplicity made the gun the better choice.

Cosmoline
July 10, 2006, 05:17 AM
But matchlock muskets are to rifle muskets what Drake's frigates are to Nelson's ship of the line. Not all muzzleloaders are equal. By the 1860's the muzzleloaders were devestating rifles able to fire highly lethal conical bullets out to 400 yards with good accuracy and even further with a sharp eye.

akodo
July 11, 2006, 03:05 AM
yes, you can't be sure wehre the ball is giong beyond 50 yards with the most primitive firearms, and the same with arrows.

Still, even primitive firearms are thowing their projectiles faster, so you at least have a much larger danger area. And if you are firing at a general mob of individuals rather than a single man, getting your lead ball in the vicinity may be enough to do some damage, surely more damage than arrows nosediving into the dirt 100 yards short of the target group.

Cosmoline
July 11, 2006, 03:13 AM
To get back to the original question, though, the .22LR may be old but it's not primitive. Even out of a handgun it's exceptionally accurate. With iron sights a skilled shooter can easily hit a man-size target at 100 yards. With a good rifle a skilled shooter can hit tin cans at that range easily. There is some serious bullet drop as you get out past 150 and 200, but the accuracy is still surprisingly good. Better than any arrow.

Kaeto
July 11, 2006, 07:11 AM
Also in that system a .44 magnum does the same damage as a .500 S&W.
and a 9mm does the same as a .45 acp.

CajunBass
July 11, 2006, 08:18 AM
Totally off topic.
It reminds me of that yankee general who insisted that no reb bullet could hit him--right before one fired from hundreds of yards distant blew his head off.

That would be General John Sedgwick, commanding 6th Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, near Spotsylvania Courthouse, Virginia.

It happened on (or near) this spot.

http://i21.photobucket.com/albums/b292/CajunBass/Other%20Stuff/battlefield011.jpg

http://www.civilwarhome.com/sedgwickdeath.htm

Preacherman
July 11, 2006, 12:13 PM
The old "bow-versus-gun" argument has many sides to it, but there are some fundamental, unalterable facts that are beyond dispute.

1. The longbow unquestionably had the best rate of fire of any distance weapon until magazine rifles came along. Single-shot breech-loading firearms came a bit closer to the bow than muzzle-loading firearms, but a good, trained rifleman would only get off 5-6 aimed shots per minute at 200 yards with one. An archer would get off at least twice that many arrows at the same distance in that time.

2. The longbow and crossbow were accurate out to 150-200 yards with relative ease (given a trained archer, of course). Until the invention of rifled firearms, no musket could be guaranteed to hit an individual target at much beyond 70-80 yards.

3. Up through the Napoleonic Wars, any squad of longbowmen would have overwhelmed any squad of musketeers on any battlefield. Period.

4. It's quite true that the problem with longbows (and, to a lesser extent, crossbows) was the enormous amount of time it took to train an archer, and the very high degree of physical fitness and dexterity that was required. It could take 3-5 years to train an archer to basic competency. A musketeer could be trained in 3-5 days.

5. Rate of fire notwithstanding, the bow was surpassed as a military weapon with the invention of rifled barrels. A rifleman could stand back beyond the range of the bow and shoot the archer. The former's slower rate of fire (before the invention of magazine-loaded rifles) would have meant that the bowmen could have closed to within archery range and nailed him: but they would have taken heavy casualties in so doing. Whereas an infantry company with muskets of the Napoleonic era would have been wiped out by a company of longbowmen, the same infantry company in the Civil War era, equipped with muzzle-loading rifles, would have more than held their own at longer ranges. (Of course, at short ranges, the bow's rapidity of fire would soon tell.)

Mannlicher
July 11, 2006, 12:18 PM
I hardly see where electronic role playing games is very important at all to discussions of firearms.

Zero_DgZ
July 11, 2006, 12:23 PM
I'm not sure about that game system, but I got in a similar argument with the author of that Sharpes' series. He insisted that a squad of trained bowman with English selfbows could outfight any rifle-armed squad until the advent of repeating smokeless rifles in the 1890's.

Now, this is probably my ninja gene kicking in again, but if I were given the choice between a halfway decent longbow or compound bow versus a halfway decent muzzle loading musket (flint or caplock, take your pick) I would pick the bow any day.

I don't know about you, but given a comparable amount of ammo for each I could loose a hell of a lot more arrows than musket balls, and I could see where they're going and what I'm hitting more effectively. The musket may have an overall range advantage (debatable, mideval archers were routinely harpooning armored knights with up-to-date longbows at 200 yards) but the bow probably has a consistient accuracy advantage, not to mention volume of fire.

But no matter how you slice it, it's one of those statistical things. Either shooter, bow or musket, could score a headshot right off the bat and the battle is won. A more interesting question would be lining up a whole bunch of soldiers with either weapon and seeing which one the law of averages allows to survive.

My money's on the archers purely for mobility and volume-of-fire reasons. The archers can shoot faster and they can move while reloading while the musketeers cannot.

Vern Humphrey
July 11, 2006, 12:37 PM
I think we should remember there was a time when both firearms and bows were in use -- and people who had experience with both began to move away from the bow and toward the musket.

I can recall reading a discussion written in the 1500s (I wish I could find a copy) where an experienced soldier explained the disadvantage of the bow -- it couldn't be used effectively by sick and weak men. And men on campaign were expected to get sick and weak in those days. He said something like, "After a few months hardly a few can shoot strong shoots."

MechAg94
July 11, 2006, 01:22 PM
I thought, to maintain a high rate of fire, the archers put their arrows in the ground in front of them. Moving would definitely slow them down. Probably wouldn't change the outcome though.

Oleg Volk
July 11, 2006, 01:22 PM
Black powder may be hydorophilic, but bowstrings (also true for crossbows) were quite vulnerable to moisture also. Bad weather affected them as badly or worse than flintlock firearms. Bows did not have instantly available bayonets, either.

JesseJames
July 11, 2006, 01:38 PM
It reminds me of that yankee general who insisted that no reb bullet could hit him--right before one fired from hundreds of yards distant blew his head off.

That would be General John Sedgwick, commanding 6th Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, near Spotsylvania Courthouse, Virginia.

It happened on (or near) this spot.

So that's how he died. I remember Grant mentioning his death in his memoirs but didn't comment on how he died. Said he was a promising officer.
Guess he got too cocky.
As for a bow and arrow. There are some extremely wicked hunting broadheads out there on the market. Those ones with the chisel tip bone penetrator and the flick-out blades on impact for maximum wound channel come to mind.
Think about it. The more you move when you get shot by one of these the more damage it does to your innards.

Glenn Kelley
July 12, 2006, 01:15 AM
To be paid an English longbowman had to put 10 arrows into a mansized target at 200 yards in a miniute.The limiting factor here is flight time,those arrows were going around 200 fps so the target had lots of time to move.The bodkin they used to penetrate armor wouldn't be a good hunting head.A good book is" The Longbow" by Hardy.

Target archery is routinely shot at 80 yards.Olympic bows are light,a lot of them are around 35#.

My hunting setup is a 60# longbow,wood arrows with 2 blade Grizzly broadheads.I limit my shots to 25-30 yards on deer because of the movement factor,but it is probably lethal past 100 yard.

Accuracy is a function of the user not the weapon.A bow without sights takes a lot of practice to master.A compound with sights is much easier.Probably about the same as an iron sighted 22.

AJAX22
July 12, 2006, 01:39 AM
To be paid an English longbowman had to put 10 arrows into a mansized target at 200 yards in a miniute.The limiting factor here is flight time,those arrows were going around 200 fps so the target had lots of time to move.The bodkin they used to penetrate armor wouldn't be a good hunting head.A good book is" The Longbow" by Hardy.


I visited Warwick england and was privilaged to see a modern day reinactor demonstrate the long bow, he put 10 broad head arrows into a man sized target made of two crossed reeds so acuratly almost every shot carried a shaving of reed with it. and he did it in about 30 seconds not a minuite. I believe the range was 100 paces.

I think the real thing to consider is training, archery requires regular practice and training to be acceptable, a musket or a .22 pistol at 20 feet any schlub with a few hundered rounds of practice can be good enough to get the job done.

gezzer
July 12, 2006, 02:04 AM
Note indians are not in charge, This must be a joke question, pick any Bow and any firearm avail today will KYB.

akodo
July 12, 2006, 04:08 AM
1. The longbow unquestionably had the best rate of fire of any distance weapon until magazine rifles came along. Single-shot breech-loading firearms came a bit closer to the bow than muzzle-loading firearms, but a good, trained rifleman would only get off 5-6 aimed shots per minute at 200 yards with one. An archer would get off at least twice that many arrows at the same distance in that time.

2. The longbow and crossbow were accurate out to 150-200 yards with relative ease (given a trained archer, of course). Until the invention of rifled firearms, no musket could be guaranteed to hit an individual target at much beyond 70-80 yards.

See, this contradicts what I have read and seen on the subject. At long range, archers are not selecting individual targets, but firing volleys into a mass of men. At long distances, with an arching flight, a targeted individual would have ample oportunity to move out of the way.

For example, on Nova's secrets of lost empires they built a trebuchet
the expert longbowman stated his bow's max range was 300 yards, but of course this was with high arching shots. They set a dummy at 200 yards and he tried to shoot it. His arrows were digging into the ground around the vicinity of the target, and he probably could have eventually pegged it, with enough time, but it wasn't a shot he could regularily, or even occasinally land.

does anyone have a speed of arrows, be it compound bow or longbow, or whatever?


3. Up through the Napoleonic Wars, any squad of longbowmen would have overwhelmed any squad of musketeers on any battlefield. Period.

Why weren't the native americans successful vs guns then? Even the earliest pre Declaration of Independance fights, the natives were choosing to use guns if they were available, but still used the guerilla (sp?) style warefare of surrounding the enemy in the woods and attacking at relatively close ranges (definately not beyond max range, or even half max range of bows) a tactic that would seem to encourage the use of bows, but they chose guns whenever possible. Note, of course, these were flatbows not longbows

Also, in japan they had many many highly trained archers, yet these troops fell quicly before early muzzleloading firearms. It wasn't a case of the archery troops inflicting heavy losses, and taking a few themselves but wern't able to train replacements as fast as the gunusers, it was on the battlefield defeats

4. It's quite true that the problem with longbows (and, to a lesser extent, crossbows) was the enormous amount of time it took to train an archer, and the very high degree of physical fitness and dexterity that was required. It could take 3-5 years to train an archer to basic competency. A musketeer could be trained in 3-5 days.

Again, it is not difficult to learn how to fire a bow, put arrow here, pull back, release. Firing a gun is more difficult. The deal was once you knew how to fire a gun, you could simply point the gun at the enemy, regardless of his distnace, and pull the trigger. Sure, at longer ranges, say 200-300 yards, aiming at head level or top of hat put the bullet into the chest, so you had a relatively simple task. Archery on the other hand, the difficult learning curve was that teh projectile is slow, hence you had to be a very good judge of distance, and know how to correlate that distance into X degree of upward direction. It took a lot of practice to know that at 125 yards you aimed up 15degree, but at 150 yards that same shot would fall 10 feet short, so you aimed 20 degrees up, or 25 or whatever.

We all know that at extreme rifle ranges, 500+ a small misjudge on the distance can create a miss because the bullet's drop causes it to go under or over the target, with a bow, this problem starts a whole lot earlier and gets a whole lot worse.


5. Rate of fire notwithstanding, the bow was surpassed as a military weapon with the invention of rifled barrels. A rifleman could stand back beyond the range of the bow and shoot the archer. The former's slower rate of fire (before the invention of magazine-loaded rifles) would have meant that the bowmen could have closed to within archery range and nailed him: but they would have taken heavy casualties in so doing. Whereas an infantry company with muskets of the Napoleonic era would have been wiped out by a company of longbowmen, the same infantry company in the Civil War era, equipped with muzzle-loading rifles, would have more than held their own at longer ranges. (Of course, at short ranges, the bow's rapidity of fire would soon tell.)

again, say at the time of the napoleonic wars, with wellingtons rifles and a few other regiments like it finally forging the way, aimed riflefire was devistating, but slow. Armies even of nepolianic eras and before had access to rifling (hell, it wasn't a new feature during the french and indian war) but continued to choose smooth bores because rate of fire was so much higher that the increased accuracy of the rifle was irrelevant.

50caliber123
July 12, 2006, 04:24 AM
Bows vs guns, I think an arrow has to hit a vital organ to ensure an instant kill or K.O. A bullet from a musket (most are big-bore .50cal or bigger) would have better stopping power. Stopping power plays a huge role in combat. Don't forget that people shot in limbs usually lost said limbs in the civil war battles.

Preacherman
July 12, 2006, 05:01 AM
Akodo, some good points, but you've also missed some salient features.

At long range, archers are not selecting individual targets, but firing volleys into a mass of men. At long distances, with an arching flight, a targeted individual would have ample oportunity to move out of the way.

Quite correct - but they were facing precisely that target, large bodies of men, and that continued to be the target right through the Napoleonic wars. An individual couldn't move out of the way because he was surrounded by his formation. Check out the three great "longbow victories" of the English against the French and you'll see what I mean.

Why weren't the native americans successful vs guns then? Even the earliest pre Declaration of Independance fights, the natives were choosing to use guns if they were available, but still used the guerilla (sp?) style warefare of surrounding the enemy in the woods and attacking at relatively close ranges (definately not beyond max range, or even half max range of bows) a tactic that would seem to encourage the use of bows, but they chose guns whenever possible. Note, of course, these were flatbows not longbows

Yes, but it's also a question of the terrain and the opponent. In thickly wooded terrain (i.e. the whole of North America in the Colonial period, except for cleared farmland) you won't find large bodies of men forming up against one another. The ranges were much shorter, and the tactics different. Also, as you point out, the Indian bows had far less range and power than the English longbow. A large number of the early Colonials did, in fact, use longbows: but given the immense amount of time needed to attain and retain competency, a firearm was by far the easier choice.

Also, in japan they had many many highly trained archers, yet these troops fell quicly before early muzzleloading firearms. It wasn't a case of the archery troops inflicting heavy losses, and taking a few themselves but wern't able to train replacements as fast as the gunusers, it was on the battlefield defeats

Japanese fighting wasn't on the same lines as Western warfare. It was far more individualistic (champion vs. champion), and the entire samurai class wore armor - something not found in European warfare. Tactics were very different too. Japanese bows were also relatively short-ranged.

Again, it is not difficult to learn how to fire a bow, put arrow here, pull back, release. Firing a gun is more difficult. The deal was once you knew how to fire a gun, you could simply point the gun at the enemy, regardless of his distnace, and pull the trigger. Sure, at longer ranges, say 200-300 yards, aiming at head level or top of hat put the bullet into the chest, so you had a relatively simple task. Archery on the other hand, the difficult learning curve was that teh projectile is slow, hence you had to be a very good judge of distance, and know how to correlate that distance into X degree of upward direction. It took a lot of practice to know that at 125 yards you aimed up 15degree, but at 150 yards that same shot would fall 10 feet short, so you aimed 20 degrees up, or 25 or whatever.

Not with the smoothbore muskets and their predecessors. Accurate aiming with a Brown Bess (the ultimate development of the flintlock smoothbore musket) was impossible, due to inaccurate barrels and balls that didn't fit the bore. Beyond 70-80 yards, you'd be lucky to hit a man-size target! Infantry fire was therefore used as massed volleys against an opposing formation, and opposing units would often get within 50 yards of one another before letting fly. Needless to say, casualties were massive on both sides, as it was hard to miss at that range! Only rifled firearms could reach further with accuracy: the Baker rifle gave good "combat accuracy" out to 300 yards or so, but there were only a few Rifle regiments, and they were largely used as skirmishers and scouts, instead of in the line, as were the "regiments of the line" equipped with smoothbore muskets.

The first war in which aimed rifle fire was of major significance was the Crimean War - and even there, it was not conclusive, as much of the fire was against opponents who were entrenched or behind embankments. The US Civil War was the first really major test of this "new technology", to the detriment of several hundred thousand participants.

Trebor
July 12, 2006, 10:20 AM
Again, it is not difficult to learn how to fire a bow, put arrow here, pull back, release.

What an amazing oversimplification. The English War Bow had a draw weight in excess of 80 pounds. It took years to train an archer to shoot bows of that weight. Archer skeletons found on the Mary Rose show physical demormities to the bones on the shoulder and arm on the right side caused by years of firing heavy poundage bows. It is quite difficult and time consuming to train men to fire the type of bows that are useful in combat.

Trebor
July 12, 2006, 10:28 AM
Here's a link I stole from Oleg to an interesting discussion of this issue on another site. It's worth a look.

http://www.myarmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=1321

Trebor
July 12, 2006, 10:32 AM
To go back to the original poster's question. Here's where the game designers make their mistake:

In both real life and the game, however, the bow turns out to be much more accurate at 200 feet.

They honestly believe a bow is more accurate than a .22 at 200 feet. Obviously, they've never seen Bullseye Pistol shooters compete at 50 yards. That's 150 feet and a good shooter can knock the "X" out of the target.

The designers are basing their weapon effectiveness ideas on faulty assumptions. It's a common problem with game systems.

Cosmoline
July 12, 2006, 01:29 PM
Now, this is probably my ninja gene kicking in again, but if I were given the choice between a halfway decent longbow or compound bow versus a halfway decent muzzle loading musket (flint or caplock, take your pick) I would pick the bow any day.

I'm talking about rifle muskets, not matchlocks. If you seriously think that a Civil War era squad could be outdone by bowmen, you're smoking some pretty good stuff. The bowmen would literally be torn to shreds, esp. since they have to stand up and stand still to be effective, while the riflemen can hide behind cover and move around easily.

Again, you guys simply don't appreciate the ENORMOUS technological difference between the matchlocks of the English Civil War era and the rifle muskets of our own Civil War. Like I said it's like the difference between Drake's medieval man o' wars and a Napoleonic ship of the line. The first was a dinky little tub with incredibly slow and ineffective cannons. The latter was a phenomenal war machine that could blow foes apart many miles distant and impose national power anywhere on the planet. To the modern mind, though, they see sails and cannons and figure they're all the same thing. Just like they see a muzzleloader and they think they're the same.

The first war in which aimed rifle fire was of major significance was the Crimean War

Nonsense. The American long rifles had a serious and substantial impact on the outcome of the Revolutionary War.

1. The longbow unquestionably had the best rate of fire of any distance weapon until magazine rifles came along. Single-shot breech-loading firearms came a bit closer to the bow than muzzle-loading firearms, but a good, trained rifleman would only get off 5-6 aimed shots per minute at 200 yards with one. An archer would get off at least twice that many arrows at the same distance in that time.

I'm sure a guy trained with a sling could get a high rate of fire too. But it wouldn't matter. The longbowmen going against matchlocks might hold their own, but against rifle muskets with Minnie Balls they'd be ripped apart after the first volley. There are hundreds of thousands of Federal and Confederate dead who could tell you how effective those old muzzleloaders are.

Preacherman
July 12, 2006, 01:59 PM
Cosmo, a couple of points:

The American long rifles had a serious and substantial impact on the outcome of the Revolutionary War.

Sorry, but this isn't true. The American rifles were in the hands of frontiersmen, and gave a tactical advantage when those men acted as skirmishers and snipers - but they did not equip the majority of American units, which used smoothbore muskets. The rifle-equipped sharpshooters in the American war served the same purpose, and had much the same impact, as the English Rifle Regiments in the Peninsular War (the latter being modelled on the American experience of the British forces).

The longbowmen going against matchlocks might hold their own, but against rifle muskets with Minnie Balls they'd be ripped apart after the first volley. There are hundreds of thousands of Federal and Confederate dead who could tell you how effective those old muzzleloaders are.

Agreed - but you're arguing off the point. I was saying that in terms of rate of fire (not long-distance accuracy), longbowmen were superior to anything until the arrival of the magazine rifle. This remains true even against rifled muzzle-loaders: the rate of fire of the latter weapons was actually slower than the earlier Brown Bess smoothbore muskets, due to rifling resisting the loading of the ball. I fully agree that the rifled weapons would clobber the archers outside the latters' effective range - but if they got to within effective range, their rapidity of fire might swing the balance in a force-on-force engagement. I guess we'll never know . . .

rbernie
July 12, 2006, 02:13 PM
The bowmen would literally be torn to shreds, esp. since they have to stand up and stand still to be effective, while the riflemen can hide behind cover and move around easily.Now *that* is an interesting point.

Does the rifleman have the advantage of mobility and cover vis-a-vis his archer counterpart? 'Twould seem so.

Cosmoline
July 12, 2006, 03:15 PM
Sorry, but this isn't true.

I was JUST reading a battle-by-battle account from the Rev. War someone had compiled, comparing success rates of Colonials who had riflemen with those who did not. The results were interesting, and when coupled with the antecdotal evidence and the legendary impact of the long rifles, contradict the version you support. Though I concede that I too was taught that the rifles didn't matter (albeit by a liberal anti-gun prof). I'm going to go buy that book now and do some more research.

but if they got to within effective range, their rapidity of fire might swing the balance in a force-on-force engagement. I guess we'll never know

What's effective range? 50 yards? I still have my doubts. The traumatic impact of a minnie ball vs. an arrow with a warhead are quite different. I know medieval arrows were pretty fearsome, but they didn't tear people's limbs off. Put it this way--I'd MUCH rather take my chances with arrows at close range than minnie balls. Against matchlock New Model Army soliders, though, I think the longbowmen would clean house. I wonder if such a head-to-head conflict ever actually took place.

Lonestar
July 12, 2006, 03:21 PM
Smoothbore muskets vs bow and arrow is a toss up, but the advent of rifling and the self contained cartridge did the Native Americans and most bow and arrow carrying cultures in.

Vern Humphrey
July 12, 2006, 03:31 PM
Again, it is not difficult to learn how to fire a bow, put arrow here, pull back, release.

It's very hard to learn to shoot a bow, particularly a longbow -- try it some time.

It's impossible to learn to fire one.:neener:

Vern Humphrey
July 12, 2006, 03:32 PM
Smoothbore muskets vs bow and arrow is a toss up, but the advent of rifling and the self contained cartridge did the Native Americans and most bow and arrow carrying cultures in.

"It is the copper cartridge that has done us in."
-- Sitting Bear, Kiowa Chief.

GEM
July 12, 2006, 03:38 PM
In San Antonio, some gentlemen were breaking into a car. The owner ran out with his hunting bow and was shot dead.

I always did like Green Arrow though. We could have a thread on whether you should carry OC or a boxing glove arrow.

Sorry for being silly here.

roscoe
July 12, 2006, 03:46 PM
In San Antonio, some gentlemen were breaking into a car. The owner ran out with his hunting bow and was shot dead.
The mistake was running out - he should have shot them silently from a concealed position.

Stevie-Ray
July 12, 2006, 08:46 PM
rifling and the self contained cartridge did the Native Americans and most bow and arrow carrying cultures in.Naw, we just learned how to use guns and blended in.:D


Strange, I group better with my bow than most of my handguns. And shooting a bow is a lot of fun. But I always have preferred firearms.

Ferrari308
July 12, 2006, 09:00 PM
When I was younger I fired a longbow at summer camp, and it was very difficult to do. It takes a lot of stregnth to pull the arrow back against the string! The bow was nearly as tall as I was back then. Aiming is very difficult to do as well. I often missed the whole hay stack.

When I was in college ROTC, we had .22 rifles for accuracy training. From all 3 positions, standing, kneeling, and prone I could put a bullet through a quarter sized bulls-eye 100 feet away 9 out of 10 times. It took no training. It was easy. Even as our instructor was telling us about how to breath, how to squeeze the trigger, all that did not seem to matter much. Any bozo could pick up a gun and hit a target. Thinking about it, I don't remember anyone missing the big paper targets. Even the worst shooters didn't miss by more than 3 rings from bullseye.

Cosmoline
July 12, 2006, 09:07 PM
I had a St. Charles yew selfbow for awhile. It was fairly close to the English longbows. Very heavy pull, upwards of 80 lbs., but even it wasn't as heavy as the old ones. The real things had well over 100 lbs. of pull, something no modern archer would tolerate for long. Learning how to volley fire with those massive bows took a lifetime of training. They were very different from the far lighter Chinese-style crossbows or light horseback bows of the east. They were also very different from the primitive Amerindian bows.

quazi
July 12, 2006, 10:06 PM
Also in that system a .44 magnum does the same damage as a .500 S&W.
and a 9mm does the same as a .45 acp.
I really like the d20 Modern system. Too many game systems try to be realistic by having every different caliber do different damage. The increments used when dealing with dice are usually to large for this, and it leads to unrealistically large differences between weapons. You end up with characters that can take dozens of hits from a .32 acp without blinking, but get cut in half by a .357 mag (this is an exaggeration, but it works well to get my point across). I think that d20 Modern is actually more realistic by lumping different weapons into broad categories. Mouse guns typically do 2d4 damage, the normal combat calibers do 2d6, and the magnums do 2d8. This does lead to some cartridges of significantly different power being lumped together, and it favors weapons with higher capacity over more power. However, I believe that it leads to better roleplaying. A player will pick a weapon that suits their character, because most handguns aren't too wildly different.

You have to keep in mind that d20 Modern wasn't designed to be realistic, but rather to emulate the over-the-top action of hollywood. I think it does that quite well. There are some things that I don't agree with. I don't think they show significant advantage of rifles over handguns, and I really don't like how they handled shotguns (admittedly, shotguns are very hard to accurately represent in pen-and-paper RPGs). That's why as GM I simply tweak the rules however I want.

d20 Modern is a good system, they just went for simplicity over complication. Probably not the best system for realistic action, or if you're a gear freak when it comes to your characters.

Sorry about the long, off-topic rant.

Glenn Kelley
July 12, 2006, 11:00 PM
Bows like guns can be used in different ways.The english bowman could be accurate at 200 yards but facing a massed force making the range was all that was necessary.That is the same criteria that was required of the smoothbore.The bowman could practice to a level of accuracy that the smoothbore could not achieve.

The race to put the most weapons in the field definitely goes to the musket and maintaining those numbers was easier.Therefore the change to firearms.

Indians.
Some Indians did not use the bow as a weapon of war.The Iroquois for example.The horse bows of the plains indians were highly specialized.They were used at close range from horseback.Quick short shots then veer the horse away from the animal.For these natives the gun was necessary as they didn't really have a long range weapon.

The Cheerokee on the other hand had a short hunting bow and a warbow that closely resembled the english longbow.

carebear
July 13, 2006, 12:17 AM
If you have a disciplined force moving and firing on command and by the numbers and use a modicum of tactical sense in terms of terrain you're going to have an advantage over most tribal-type enemies with an individual "heroic warrior" type mentality.

Even if the Zulu, about as disciplined as tribal armies get, had used the bow systems they were familiar with, I'm reasonably sure they would have continued to lose against laagered Boers with muzzleloaders.

Tactics and terrain, and discipline, counted for more than the incremental differences between early gunpowder and more primitive weapon systems.

In fact, I've read a couple of military historians who would make Alexander's combined arms army an even bet (or even favorite) against Wellington's army at Waterloo. (partly figuring Alexander and his Captains wouldn't have made as many mistakes as the French)

akodo
July 13, 2006, 08:42 AM
Yes, but it's also a question of the terrain and the opponent. In thickly wooded terrain (i.e. the whole of North America in the Colonial period, except for cleared farmland) you won't find large bodies of men forming up against one another. The ranges were much shorter, and the tactics different.

The thick woods and short range and guerilla tactics all point to a fast firing short range bow, yet they chose guns.

And while there weren't huge lines of men on a clear field, along the roadway or wherever the troops were marching, yes, they did form up. Of course this forming up when marching through the woods and getting attacked was a mistake, they woudl have been better off scattering off the road and diving for cover, and basically using the same indian style fighting against the indians. But they didn't, they fell back to what worked on the continent, and got shoulder to shoulder with eachother. This was the same tendancy that the 'swamp fox' used against the british in the revolutionary war.

To cite another PBS show, they recently did one on the 'war that made america' refering to the french and indian war, where they had many examples of the brits forming up even in small numbers.

Also, as you point out, the Indian bows had far less range and power than the English longbow.

as you point out, the ranges were much shorter, thick woodlands and all, hence the greater strenght of the longbow vs flatbow was pretty irrelevant, you didn't need the strenght to shoot 300 yards max in a long arching trajectory, 100 yards woudl be a long shot. Hence, again, the benifit of guns which had a longer max range (regardless of how innacurate they were at individual targets beyond 50 yards, those primitive lead balls were capable of going fargher than arrows, and the first part of getting a successful hit is getting the projectile TO the target) is irrelvant. The armor punching power of guns was also irrelvant as the troops of the time wore cloth. As I say, this all adds up to supposedly favoring bows, at least bows as invisioned by some people I tend to disagree with.

I stick by my argument that the Indians were correct to use guns, because even at these close ranges, bows were too inaccurate for selecting and hitting individual targets, and too weak, hence they used guns.


A large number of the early Colonials did, in fact, use longbows: but given the immense amount of time needed to attain and retain competency, a firearm was by far the easier choice.

I've never heard this before, can you point me in the direction of more information?

Japanese fighting wasn't on the same lines as Western warfare. It was far more individualistic (champion vs. champion), and the entire samurai class wore armor - something not found in European warfare. Tactics were very different too. Japanese bows were also relatively short-ranged.

Again, I am going to disagree. While there was a lesser degree of formation and marhing in unison and all that, they were still large bodies of men clashing into eachother. And no, only the upper crust, equivalent to the european knight, (the samurai) that had armor, and it was leather and laquer (sp?) not metal, so it wasn't like you needed a gun to punch through it. There were many bushi of class other than a samurai, who were full time professional fighting men, just not of that higher class and not entitled to bear the daisho (katana and wakazashi) Below them were the ashigaru, peasants with minimal training, who made up the bulk of armies. These ashigaru are exactly the people who got teppo guns and decimated archery units. And regarding Japanese bows, they were in fact quite long range. They were using composite bows, a superior technology that never really spread to the west, in both their Yumi (very similar to the english longbow) and the Dai-kyu, which was in size about the same as a longbow, but as it was designed to be used from horseback, the two arms of the bow were of very different size, you held it on the bottom thrid, not at the middle. When Europeans first made contact with japan, they noted the extreme range and accuracy of japanese archers (again, refering to volley fire), yet in just a short period, the tepo gun armed troops ruled the roost.

Not with the smoothbore muskets and their predecessors. Accurate aiming with a Brown Bess (the ultimate development of the flintlock smoothbore musket) was impossible, due to inaccurate barrels and balls that didn't fit the bore. Beyond 70-80 yards, you'd be lucky to hit a man-size target! Infantry fire was therefore used as massed volleys against an opposing formation, and opposing units would often get within 50 yards of one another before letting fly.

Yet it was these very same inaccuate guns that drove the bow from the battlefield. It wasn't like bows were just leaving the world stage when Naepoleonic or even revolutionary war style muskets were taking their place (both smoothbores). Bows had exited the world stage, at least on the modern european battlefield quite some time before rifled firearms found their way into the hands of troops.

Yes, beyond 70-80 yards, with a smoothbore you would be lujcky to hit a mansized target...but that was still 30 yards farther than a bowman could hit a mansized target. But the truth was, neither group was firing at mansized targets, they were firing at masses of men, and just as the smoothbore guns opened up the range at which individuals could be targeted, it also opened up the range at which masses could be targeted. It took a lot less training to bring smoothbore fire to bear against an opposing mass of troops at 200 yards. Further, longbows jsut weren't able to toss arrows beyond the 300 yard mark. Smoothbores, no matter how innacurate, at least had a chance of 'getting lucky' and pegging an enemy at that range, and wiith enough men firing, those small chances add up. Of course, it was more effective to march 100 paces closer than to sit just outside of 300 yards and burn gunpowder and inflict a few casualties.

When you add that these guys who could barely hit a man sized target at 75 yards only shot the gun in practice probably 5 times, it makes you wonder what could have been accomplished if armies had been willing to invest money in gunpowder and lead for practice, just like traditional bow troops. Further, armies had long ago figured out that if you cannot point straight ahead and hit a distant target, pointing it up in the air will get you more range...yet this same tactic was never moved over to smoothbore musketry. Aside from telling the line to fire at the hats at 200 yards, knowing it woudl hit in the chest, no method of extreme arching trajectory was ever practiced by gunners. Take a look at buffalo rifles, with an arching trajectory, they are pushing a mile in range and still able to hit a 5ftx5ft target. A smoothbore is a hell of a lot less accurate, but the ball flies at about the same speed. No way a smoothbore musket could hit a 5x5 target at a mile, but what about a 50ftx50ft at half a mile? With practice and observation, it should have been possible. It's just that these techniques were never really implimented with guns. With a smoothbore, you jsut train the guy to point straight ahead, pull the trigger, and reload. The gun, being so different than bows, and superior on the battlefield even in the limited way they were used, it just never occured to the powers that be how much more these instruments were capable of. I think this is reflected in how even with smoothbores (because not everyone had rifles in the colonies, plenty of hunting and shooting was done with smoothbores) colonialists who spent their lives hunting were sure outshooting the british at long range...and by that I mean selecting individual man sized targets at the 100 yard mark, because these hunters never thoguht of practicing arching volley fire to engage troops at 500+ yards, even if the tool was capable of doing it.

Of course, even once it was established that some of the earliest post civil war rifles were capable of volley fire reaching the 1 mile mark, the technique was rarely used.

roscoe
July 13, 2006, 02:41 PM
How about quick drawing and throwing a knife like James Coburn in the Magnificent Seven? I figure it is better to carry a knife because, hell, he could throw it quicker than a man could draw and fire. I reckon I could, too.

Vern Humphrey
July 13, 2006, 03:06 PM
How about quick drawing and throwing a knife like James Coburn in the Magnificent Seven? I figure it is better to carry a knife because, hell, he could throw it quicker than a man could draw and fire. I reckon I could, too.

Old Chinese saying, "Man who throws knife in fight better have at least two knives.":p

akodo
July 13, 2006, 04:20 PM
What an amazing oversimplification. The English War Bow had a draw weight in excess of 80 pounds. It took years to train an archer to shoot bows of that weight. Archer skeletons found on the Mary Rose show physical demormities to the bones on the shoulder and arm on the right side caused by years of firing heavy poundage bows. It is quite difficult and time consuming to train men to fire the type of bows that are useful in combat.

I think you are getting the cart before the horse. Yes, lonbows had very heavy pulls, but there is no evidence that it took years of training on lesser bows before one could shoot a full pull longbow...there are no records or finds of 20, 40, 60 lb training bows to my knowledge, at least not for the average peasantry. Having to chop wood evey day, haul pails of water, etc etc generally toughens you up.

Regarding the archer skeletons...this deformity does not show a prerequisite of heavy training, it shows the results of years of doing the exact same thing.

Bone abnormalities actually show us a lot about the life of midevil people. Weavers show bone abnormalites too, as do lifelong skullery maids.

MechAg94
July 13, 2006, 06:57 PM
Pulling an 80lb bow is not always hard. Doing it 10 or 20 times a minute for 15 minutes accurately gets harder. Maybe someone else can chime in, but I have heard or read that the English bowmen were required to train one day a week and that in times of war a good portion of the population was spending much of their spare time making arrows and bows.

Musketeers can be trained easier, the muskets can be made and stored away, and the powder and shot can be mass produced more easily.


I remember form Texas History class in school there was an indian tribe on the Gulf Coast that used a 6 foot long bow. Karankawa I think. Only found one link that is almost worthless on the weapon.
http://www.texasindians.com/karankf.htm

Bart Noir
July 13, 2006, 08:56 PM
The first war in which aimed rifle fire was of major significance was the Crimean War

I also think this is in error. During the Mex-American War the US had at least one unit (regiment?) that had rifled muskets, which I think was called the Mississippi Rifles. My memory bank says they were led by one Jeff Davis, who had political fame in a later war. And I think they made a big difference during at least one battle. Buena Vista? I can't remember, but this was roughly 10 years before the Crimean bloodshedding.

Bart Noir

Vern Humphrey
July 13, 2006, 09:12 PM
I also think this is in error. During the Mex-American War the US had at least one unit (regiment?) that had rifled muskets, which I think was called the Mississippi Rifles. My memory bank says they were led by one Jeff Davis, who had political fame in a later war. And I think they made a big difference during at least one battle. Buena Vista?

All correct except for one point -- they were not rifle muskets, but Model 1841 rifles. The Model 1841 was shorter than a musket, caliber .54 round ball, and originally not equipped to take a bayonet.

The rifle muskets first came out in 1855. They were musket-length, and designed for the .58 calber minnie ball -- and, as Infantry-of-the-line weapons, were equipped with bayonets.

During the Civil War, many M1841 were reamed out to .58 caliber and re-rifled. The front sights were set back to allow for mounting a bayonet.

Glenn Kelley
July 13, 2006, 10:07 PM
Why did the gun replace the bow?
Most of europe used crossbows.They were slow,heavy and not as energy efficient as the longbow.They had nothing on a gun.
The english used the longbow.At the time of Henry VIII they were still in use but the supply of yew to make them was sourced in Spain.After the split with the RC church that supply was tenuous.

To put a couple of things straight.A long bowman was capable of killing accuracy to 200 yards not the 40-50 as stated above.

It was stated above that there are no examples of practice bows.Until the work on the Mary Rose there were no examples of war bows either,they were used till they wore out and discarded.

The 200 ft mentioned in the game is less than the distance Olympic recurves are shot at.When I was well practiced I could put 4 out of 5 arrows in the kill zone of a deer target at 70 yards.Barebow.doesn't take a lot to be a better shot than me.

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