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Postby EnglishArcher » Sun Jul 05, 2009 9:30 pm

I think we could both go on for a LONG timing berating the quality of WOTR re-enactment archery and how little it actually relates to 'living history'!

:D


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Postby Marcus Woodhouse » Mon Jul 06, 2009 8:41 am

Time to do something about it then.

Though deja vu strikes at this point.


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Postby Allan Harley » Mon Jul 06, 2009 6:41 pm

Some households/companyes are changing the way archers are used on the field

But the difference is that we are subject to stringent H&S when used in reenactment

Once you've loosed an arrow there is no going back, always the chance to pull a sword or stave blow

It is watered down, and personally believe that only the first shaft loosed would be anything like coordinated


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The Longbow in War & Reenactment

Postby glyndwr 50 » Mon Jul 06, 2009 9:12 pm

I must agree with the last post ,We can't compare how the longbow was used in war and try to re.create it in the reenactments.As for how the comands were given on the battle field for loosing arrows is under some rather interesting discussion. But will we ever know how or what orders were given ? or maybe just maybe and don't quote me on this ,there was some other method of getting a command or order over to many men on mass . Instead of the shouting orders as one person said. (Because the human voice tends to get lost out of earshot over a long distance ).Could it be that there was a visual method ,like the use of a flag .This use of a flag when raised ment prepare to shoot ,this told all archers to nock and hold there bows ready to draw & loose .Then as the flag was lowered all the archers drew back and loosed in one flowing movement.This is purely an idea and I have no historical facts to proove other wise ,but I do know that archers were summond to assemble by the use of a flag .So why not have the commands done with the flag .As I have said its only an idea ,but if such a visual way of using a flag was done then at least there was a better chance of all archers loosing at the same time .As somebody stated earlier on you could not hold a longbow waiting for everbody else to get ready .Its got to be in one flowing movement ,which is a few seconds .Draw Loose ,no aim just let go .You would not know where your arrow went just how far,you may hit a horse or rider ,you may even miss compleatly but a hail of arrows hitting a rank of charging horse will certainly do some damage if the arrows all hit home at the same time .And cause a lot of confusion to say the least. The distance must have been a deciding factor here ,if you loosed to soon your arrows would fall to short to late and they would overshoot .Therefore they must have worked out the arrow range before ,and if all arrows were loosed at a given time and with the knowledge that when loosed would hit there targets there must of been some way of getting this command to everybody at the same time .Shouting would be a total waste of time what with the noise and confusion going on all around .Does anybody have any similar ideas .



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Postby Langley » Wed Jul 08, 2009 11:57 am

I've seen very effective volleys done by Captain of Archers raising a sword (Prepare - you should automatically re-nock when you have loosed one volley). Dropping the sword should result in a smooth Draw and Loose which should produce a release of most arrows simultaneously or within a secod or so. The important thing is, if you miss the loose, do not shoot alone. Re-enactors are used to arrows all arriving in a shower and preparing to take them by leaning in to them so they land on helmets rather than feet. That hurts in thin mediaeval boots believe me. An arrow loosed after the rest is likely the one someone gets in an eye because they are looking up to aim their next shot.



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Postby Colin Middleton » Wed Jul 08, 2009 1:33 pm

Attilla the Bun wrote:Am I the only one who looked at the thread title and went dum-de-dum-de-dum-de-dum, dum-de-dum-de-di-do...


No, but I blame my wife for that! :evil:


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Postby Colin Middleton » Wed Jul 08, 2009 1:43 pm

Langley wrote:Re-enactors are used to arrows all arriving in a shower and preparing to take them by leaning in to them so they land on helmets rather than feet. That hurts in thin mediaeval boots believe me.


Tell me about it! I'm not playing target again until I get some sabatons. I swear that our archers aim for my toes!

G32b, English Archer, thank you for the explanations, they were very enlightening. I'm not an archer, so have a very limited understanding of these things. Just about everything I know about archery is because I'm good friends with our archery captains.

As Allan said, some of the Fed groups have started using archers a bit more 'agressively'. After the stuff he got our archers doing a Warwick, they all got very excited and are really looking forward to doing similar things at future Fed battles.

Best wishes.


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Postby gregory23b » Wed Jul 08, 2009 6:05 pm

Any time Colin, at your service.


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Postby EnglishArcher » Mon Jul 13, 2009 2:52 pm

At Agincourt we have a relatively large number of archers in a very restricted space. We use a combination of techniques to make it safe, interesting for the public and involving for the archers:

There is one captain of archers but several sergeants. Each sergeant is responsible for about 20 archers. The archers only listen to their sergeant (who gets his orders from the Captain)

The archers are drilled to move in blocks (following their sergeant's commands). This allows different groups of archers to be doing different things at the same time.

We use a number of formations on the field including a single line, double-line and wedge formation.

The captain uses a range of visual signals to control the archers en masse, including orders for shooting, holding fast, moving.

No archer is allowed on the field until they have taken the drilling practice. Almost all newbies bitch and moan about having to undertake about 2 hours of training (it normally takes that long - training archers is like herding cats!) but once they're on the field during the battle they really appreciate it.


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Postby Tod » Tue Jul 14, 2009 11:03 am

After Tewkesbury at the week end I could see the same problems with archers as there are with musketeers. Firstly as the left was the furthest from the Capt. we couldn't hear him, second as he was slightly up hill we could see his sword behind all the other archers. That resulted in most of us on the left loosing our arrows as the right did, all be it slightly behind them. I was almost at the end and I could easily see the bows on the right being drawn and loosed.
In the world of bang sticks this ends up being a ripple fire, I can't see that archers would be much different.



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Postby Chris, yclept John Barber » Wed Jul 15, 2009 12:50 pm

Volley shooting becomes necessary on a re-enactment battlefield purely for Health & Safety reasons, as the Yorkist archers discovered on Saturday at Tewkesbury.

Their Captain called the 'nock - draw - loose' sequence without reference to what was happening on the battlefield, and they found themselves looking up to aim just as Lancastrian volleys came in. After he was forcefully persuaded of the error of his ways overnight, the Sunday shoot was safer because he only ordered the loose when there wasn't an incoming volley.

If the archers didn't shoot together, any archer might find himself looking up at the business end of an incoming shaft at any time. With the enemy shooting in volleys, they can look down at the right moment and take any hits on the helmet.

So volleys aren't authentic, true, because the shooting would have been 'as fast as you can, boys - here they come!'. But they are safer.

It would be good to see an archery captain signalling with a flag, though.


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Postby Colin Middleton » Wed Jul 15, 2009 1:01 pm

Well Chris, we've got enough archers to try it!


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Archers at tewkesbury

Postby glyndwr 50 » Wed Jul 15, 2009 10:05 pm

I must admit that being on the yorkist side at tewkesbury had its down side .We were being hit quite often by the lancastrian archers ,many helmets were ringing from there loosed arrows .The wind was in the favour of the lancastrians and our arrows were falling well short of there targets ,so much so that many of there arrows were falling on or behind our lines .All you could hear was the clang of arrows hitting helmets or the odd cry of of falling archers as the arrows hit home .Also there arrows were comming in very fast and hard ,and I hate to admit this but there arrows were well on target .I was hit three times on the helmet and twice on the body .and as I lay on the ground I got one in the back and in the leg .One even stuck in the ground by my helmet .I got up and remember saying to my butty next to me sod this for a game of soldiers ,we are sitting ducks out here .Even my wife who was giving out water and who was well back behind our lines had arrows landing near her .Well done to you lads ,I had a great time .Lets hope next year the winds blowing in the other direction and it will be us finding our targets .


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Postby Simon Dakin » Fri Sep 11, 2009 1:06 pm

On a battlefield, wouldnt a company of archers, say about 20, be commanded by a captain or vintner? Wouldnt he in turn be commanded by someone fron the 'Lord' using something like a flag? Worked well in the film Bravehart (sorry to mention it).

In reenactment battlefields, I think companies of archers, briefed in advance to advance, shoot, retreat etc look good / realistic and meet H & S regulations?



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Postby Man from Coventry » Fri Sep 11, 2009 2:51 pm

Simon - some good points some of which have been raised in previous threads. Have a look at the "How to do Battle better" and "Combat archers" threads for example.

Command of archers, ranks unit sizes (or for that matter any kind of troops in the Wars of the Roses) is unclear. No real evidence from English sources.

In reenactment battlefields, I think companies of archers, briefed in advance to advance, shoot, retreat etc look good / realistic and meet H & S regulations?


Your quite right they would. Unfortunately there are a number of factors which make this difficult to achieve, but which we're trying to overcome.
- Due to the fragmented nature of WOR re-enactment and popularity of bills vis a vis archers means most groups have only a handful of archers. Few groups have a reasonable number save with the exception of the Savilles and so archery blocks are made up of individuals who have not drilled or worked togerther previously, making all but the simplest routines more difficult (sadly there aren't the training sessions as at Agincourt.)
- Most battle scripts just have the archers playing ping-pong as this is easy. Partly because most battle plans are written by billmen and planning shooting needs careful thought and control to ensure that the public don't get in the line of fire. This often results as at Tewks with the archers in a private battle miles away from the public.
- If you are lucky to have such a script, unfortunately its a sad fact but most re-enactors will not read it, its also a struggle getting individuals to take on command roles.

However there are some good battle scripts which do use archers in a more interesting fashion, Blore Heath is one such and the recent Kenilworth event was another, where the archers do manouvre on the field get to shoot at billmen and where you can shoot at your own rate etc.




[/b]


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Postby Captayne Mandylyon » Fri Sep 11, 2009 3:57 pm

gregory23b wrote:"You're talking about re-enactment archery - that is, a small number of lightweight bows in a relatively compact area. "

Absolutely and no claim to otherwise.


"I believe the idea of a precision volley of arrows is a modern re-enactment fantasy, "

I would re-emphasise the point that it is about controlling archers for safety and more importantly because most battles are scripted and are timed (makes me yawn in fact) added to the seemingly minute numbers of arrows it all looks a bit cack.

I do recall the days of WOTR archery where a few rounds ended up as a free shoot. I would and could just say loose or keep loosing until I called fast.

As most reenactment battles are tiny in scale compared to the real thing it is easy to do.

I totally and utterly agree with 99% of your post and at least to me I am a long time convert, but also realise the needs in a reenactment setting, sad to say that WOTR archery has become a watered down shadow of its former self where the timing is done with tedious slowness and arrows are exchanged, no element of concern seems to be there. Not to mention it seems to be the place where non-combatants hang around taking the easy route.

I do remember being shot at at the same time as shooting back, that gets you woken up in quick order.



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Postby Captayne Mandylyon » Fri Sep 11, 2009 3:58 pm

gregory23b wrote:"You're talking about re-enactment archery - that is, a small number of lightweight bows in a relatively compact area. "

Absolutely and no claim to otherwise.


"I believe the idea of a precision volley of arrows is a modern re-enactment fantasy, "

I would re-emphasise the point that it is about controlling archers for safety and more importantly because most battles are scripted and are timed (makes me yawn in fact) added to the seemingly minute numbers of arrows it all looks a bit cack.

I do recall the days of WOTR archery where a few rounds ended up as a free shoot. I would and could just say loose or keep loosing until I called fast.

As most reenactment battles are tiny in scale compared to the real thing it is easy to do.

I totally and utterly agree with 99% of your post and at least to me I am a long time convert, but also realise the needs in a reenactment setting, sad to say that WOTR archery has become a watered down shadow of its former self where the timing is done with tedious slowness and arrows are exchanged, no element of concern seems to be there. Not to mention it seems to be the place where non-combatants hang around taking the easy route.

I do remember being shot at at the same time as shooting back, that gets you woken up in quick order.




I remember those fun days wher it still hurt.

I fought for Baron De Carter in the Battle Of Ice House Hill at Avoncroft, where the Guild of Saint Tudwald, unarmoured, fought the White Company archers.

It's amazing how a fully drawn blunt in the Knackers focusses your mind on how effective a buckler can actually be!

We were routed, but still defiant. :-D



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Postby Langley » Fri Sep 11, 2009 4:40 pm

All that Gregory23b says plus the relatively low numbers of arrows available. You have to eke them out a bit usually. Shooting in volleys is safer because the best way to receive a shower is to look down and bend forward so your steel hat takes the arrow and not your lightly clad foot (or just the terrible once in my case, caught in the cod piece). If everyone shoots within a few seconds of each other it is much easier to do that on the shout of "'Ware Arrows". (At least the dreadfl "Incoming" seems to have petered out).
Back to the topic - I am not aware of any good evidence other than that already mentioned for verbal commands used at the time but have always suspected myself that the "Loose" is superfluous. I draw, steady adn loose my 60lb bow in one reasonably fluid movement and yes, you have to use your shoulders to get that last few inches where a great deal of the power is hiding and holding for more than a heartbeat introduces wobble and inaccuracy. Perhaps Loose was used as the opposite of fast as a eneral command that people were free to shoot and was indeed only issues at the commencement of an engagement wiht Fast being used to end.

Whatever - without good evidence we will just have to come to an agreement on what was most likely consistent with safety but I for one would love to do away with nock, draw, loose. Even nock is superfluous after the initial one - you should automatically renock once you have shot. Perhaps mark and shoot would do hte trick?



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Re: The Longbow in War & Reenactment

Postby Ghost » Fri Sep 11, 2009 4:58 pm

glyndwr 50 wrote: Instead of the shouting orders as one person said. (Because the human voice tends to get lost out of earshot over a long distance ).Could it be that there was a visual method ,like the use of a flag .This use of a flag when raised ment prepare to shoot ,this told all archers to nock and hold there bows ready to draw & loose .Then as the flag was lowered all the archers drew back and loosed in one flowing movement.This is purely an idea and I have no historical facts to proove other wise


At Agincourt the first volley was loosed on the throwing of a baton by Thomas Erypingham. I doubt this would be a single volley more of a ripple down the line. After that it was "as fast as you can lads" without much further command - archers would instinctively chane from lofting to flat as the range closed.
Last edited by Ghost on Fri Sep 11, 2009 5:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.


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Postby behanner » Fri Sep 11, 2009 5:01 pm

Ok butting in here from the other side of the pond.
To be perfectly honest Fed type battles are boring. The one I saw in person there a good number of years ago was dreadful and wasn't capturing anyone's imagination. Videos I've seen over the years look the same. They are just plain look droll.
A good battle can be done, just look at Hastings.
They have a reasonably highly developed combat system that could be used as a model.
If more intense archery fire is desired then look into the various types of clear eye protection is availible. You should be able to find something that blends well into the face and helmet and as for the few MOPs who won't realize that its just for safety aren't worth the bother.



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Postby Ghost » Fri Sep 11, 2009 5:10 pm

I remember those fun days wher it still hurt.

I fought for Baron De Carter in the Battle Of Ice House Hill at Avoncroft, where the Guild of Saint Tudwald, unarmoured, fought the White Company archers.

It's amazing how a fully drawn blunt in the Knackers focusses your mind on how effective a buckler can actually be!

We were routed, but still defiant. :-D
[/quote]

It's coming back more and more but subject to attending groups being happy amd sufficently experienced. We were at Avoncroft this year and the attempt to storm the house while subject to cross fire from archers/crossbowmen from all the house windows was erm - intense but adrenalin charged.

Flat shooting into massed bill/men-at-arms units at small scale re-enactments is also becoming more common. We did it at the Kelmarsh/Agincourt (the final flat volley into the french armour sounded like machine gun fire :wink: ), Avoncroft, Kennilworth etc.


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Postby Ghost » Fri Sep 11, 2009 5:13 pm

You should be able to find something that blends well into the face and helmet


a visor and bevor per chance ?


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Postby behanner » Fri Sep 11, 2009 6:27 pm

Ghost wrote:
You should be able to find something that blends well into the face and helmet


a visor and bevor per chance ?


problem is that just sends you down a different sort of inaccuracy road. Although you could have a romping good time if you added full face protection to the mix.



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Postby Man from Coventry » Fri Sep 11, 2009 7:03 pm

I do remember being shot at at the same time as shooting back, that gets you woken up in quick order.


Yes nostalgia ain't what it used to be, I remember being winged by a crossbow bolt in the shoulder, shot by Graham Smith from a range of all of 12 feet, whilst sprinting up the stairs from Wingfield undercroft, and Bill Withers caught an arrow in the face at that event too. Happy days.

Patrick am I right in assuming that you are the Patrick of Patrick & Edwin fame, affectionately (sic) known as the Guild of Pratts by the big Hitch ?

Not to mention it seems to be the place where non-combatants hang around taking the easy route. As one of the endangered breed of combatant archers, I'd have to agree with this also - the vast majority of archers don't want to fight hand to hand, which also inhibits what you can do.


[As one of the endangered breed of combatant archers, I'd have to agree with this also - the vast majority of archers don't want to fight hand to hand, which also inhibits what you can do to a degree.
You have to eke them out a bit usually.
I don't find arrow supply a problem usually, certtainly not at Fed events with their policy of paying for breakages. Other events like Tewks they can be in short supply.

The volley rules for safety, also only really apply if you are shooting at archers - who are lofting arrows shooting them back at you (the usual ping-pong session). If lofting at Billmen (which rarely happens currently) there is less of an issue they do not have a reason to look up, so realistically non-volley shooting can be done in this instance.

As Ghost more realistic shooting is being done at Avoncroft, Kenilworth and hopefully also Blore, and direct shooting is now aregular feature of the fed firepower display.


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Postby Allan Harley » Sat Sep 12, 2009 2:07 pm

quote][Ok butting in here from the other side of the pond.
To be perfectly honest Fed type battles are boring. The one I saw in person there a good number of years ago was dreadful and wasn't capturing anyone's imagination. Videos I've seen over the years look the same. They are just plain look droll.
A good battle can be done, just look at Hastings.
They have a reasonably highly developed combat system that could be used as a model.
If more intense archery fire is desired then look into the various types of clear eye protection is availible. You should be able to find something that blends well into the face and helmet and as for the few MOPs who won't realize that its just for safety aren't worth the bother./quote]

IN the last few years the way archers/gunners and horses on the field in Fed "battles" has started to change

Just ask the stavemen at Warwick this year when the close order troops parted and they took volleys of arrows at close range

Or Avoncroft with archers and gunners loosing out of the house to keep the armoured men pinned down

Combined a staves and archers as one unit -

Kenilworth - roving archer block, blasted apart by guns

These are a start, and all positive assistance to make things:
1: better
2: accurate
3: More enjoyable
4: exciting

within the constraints of H&S will be considered and used


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Postby gregory23b » Sat Sep 12, 2009 2:48 pm

"Yes nostalgia ain't what it used to be, I remember being winged by a crossbow bolt in the shoulder, shot by Graham Smith from a range of all of 12 feet, whilst sprinting up the stairs from Wingfield undercroft, and Bill Withers caught an arrow in the face at that event too. Happy days. "

I was standing next to Michael Perry when he loosed, Bill was unseen until his head popped up from the undercroft, he was behind another, that was possibly you then. What happened next was interesting, but that is for a camp fire reminisce, not a forum ;-)

I remember that event very well, as guests of the Staffs.


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Postby Colin Middleton » Mon Sep 14, 2009 1:08 pm

Perhaps the Fed battles 'look crap' because we can't get the numbers of archers togeather that we want. Other than that little niggle, I think that the way the modern Fed battles are going is fantastic.

Now back to memorising my battle script...


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Postby the real lord duvet » Mon Sep 14, 2009 1:41 pm

Colin Middleton wrote:Perhaps the Fed battles 'look crap' because we can't get the numbers of archers togeather that we want. Other than that little niggle, I think that the way the modern Fed battles are going is fantastic.

Now back to memorising my battle script...


as someone who watches all the battles because when gunning we spend a lot of time watching others doing things and as a commentator who has to try to make battles interesting to the public.

no matter how you dress it, no matter how much movement, shouting, skill etc

its still 2 lines of blokes in a field twice the size of a football pitch hitting each other with long sticks..............

we might do 3 clashes but the 3rd one looks very similar to the first (except with casualties?), few events have enough bodies to fill the field with exciting events (the FED at least try to change tactics, have set peices etc)


then again - from what i've been told by veterans. WAR is boring. When it isn't boring, its frightening instead. or your dead.



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Re: Archers at tewkesbury

Postby Langley » Mon Sep 14, 2009 3:09 pm

[quote="glyndwr 50"]I must admit that being on the yorkist side at tewkesbury had its down side .We were being hit quite often by the lancastrian archers ,many helmets were ringing from there loosed arrows . Well done to you lads ,I had a great time .Lets hope next year the winds blowing in the other direction and it will be us finding our targets .

quote]

Glad to be of service Glyndwr. Actually, we heard a rumour that Robert Hardy was shooting on the Yorkist side and wearing a red surcote. anyone wearing red on your side may have come in for a bit more directed shooting than normal...



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Postby Soren » Fri Oct 02, 2009 7:44 pm

I was thinking about the visual or verbal commands situation. I'll give an example of Towton. I don't know how many of you have ever shot bow in a heavy snow but it is a pretty unique experience. The heavy snow dampens the sound of everything around you, especially quiet sounds. A voice command can still be heard if the commander has a good voice, though somewhat muffled. If the Lancaster line loosed their arrows and were short and the Yorkists returned fire and were dead on, wouldn't it make more sense in that type of 'camoflauged' situation to use a visual signal? That way you'd keep the element of surprise. I can just imagine when the Yorkists figured out the 1st volley at them was short, many began to pretend to be hit just to phyc out the enemy. I, too, think that a visual command would be more intimidating than a verbal. Just the physchilogical effect knowing, visually that (Agincourt for example) their commander just gave a signal and that you can see that the arrows are sent and now you just wait in silence, or cussing, as death comes on fletched wings.


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