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Gun vs Bow

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by akodo, Jul 10, 2006.

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  1. akodo

    akodo Member

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    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.
     
  2. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    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.
     
  3. Gifted

    Gifted Member

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    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.
     
  4. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    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.
     
  5. akodo

    akodo Member

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    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.
     
  6. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    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.
     
  7. Kaeto

    Kaeto Member

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    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.
     
  8. CajunBass

    CajunBass Member

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    Totally off topic.
    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.

    [​IMG]

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

    Preacherman Member

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    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.)
     
  10. Mannlicher

    Mannlicher Member

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    I hardly see where electronic role playing games is very important at all to discussions of firearms.
     
  11. Zero_DgZ

    Zero_DgZ Member

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    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.
     
  12. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    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."
     
  13. MechAg94

    MechAg94 Member

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    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.
     
  14. Oleg Volk

    Oleg Volk Moderator Emeritus

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    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.
     
  15. JesseJames

    JesseJames Member

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    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.
     
  16. Glenn Kelley

    Glenn Kelley Member

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    longbow

    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.
     
  17. AJAX22

    AJAX22 Member

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    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.
     
  18. gezzer

    gezzer Member

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    Note indians are not in charge, This must be a joke question, pick any Bow and any firearm avail today will KYB.
     
  19. akodo

    akodo Member

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    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.
     
  20. 50caliber123

    50caliber123 Member

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    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.
     
  21. Preacherman

    Preacherman Member

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    Akodo, some good points, but you've also missed some salient features.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.
     
  22. Trebor

    Trebor Member

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    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.
     
  23. Trebor

    Trebor Member

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  24. Trebor

    Trebor Member

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    To go back to the original poster's question. Here's where the game designers make their mistake:

    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.
     
  25. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    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.

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

    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.
     
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