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Archers

Posted: Sun May 24, 2009 6:35 pm
by gallois
I recently posed a question to the Fraternity of St George regarding what is known about commands given to archers during the 100 years war. I am interested to know wether the archer companies used volleys and if they were used like snipers too.
I know about the 'nestroque' command by Sir Thomas Epingham at Agincourt mentioned in The Old Commadore. but there are so many variations of the meaning of nestroque that I dont believe it was a general term known to English Archers.
The ILAA suggest 'archers ready, loose!' I have also heard of 'knock your arrows, draw, loose'
I would like to hear your comments?

Posted: Sun May 24, 2009 9:30 pm
by Marcus Woodhouse
The most knowledgeable fella I know about this is Roland, who posts here sometimes as Flesh & Blood.
He once described the "sniping" of an "English" archer (given that as many of them were Welsh, breton or Norman) as being someone saying "Look at that posh bastard having a drink... right we'll 'ave 'im" cue 100 archers losing at the poor SOB at the same time.
I look at archers as medieval machine guns, as area denial weapons and at crossbows as being more of a sniper/anti armour tool. Mind you i am biased in that I do prefer to use a crossbow myself. :D

Posted: Sun May 24, 2009 9:46 pm
by chrisanson
Mind you i am biased in that I do prefer to use a crossbow myself.
strange young man

Posted: Tue Jun 02, 2009 7:18 pm
by Jim Smith
chrisanson wrote:
Mind you i am biased in that I do prefer to use a crossbow myself.
strange young man
Hello

Erm

My name's Jim and I er...

"Go on, it's alright..."


Well, I erm, I use a crossbow now and then but I can handle it.


Crossbow - not just a peasant's weapon but a foreign peasant's weapon.

Posted: Tue Jun 02, 2009 8:15 pm
by Sir Thomas Hylton
Why do I suddenly remember & am reminded of those adverts from the 1970's, or even earlier.... All because the lady loves Milk Tray :shock: :? :lol: 8)

Posted: Tue Jun 02, 2009 9:14 pm
by James The Archer
Black powder is the way to go, none of this string stuff, go boom, you know you want to :twisted:

Posted: Tue Jun 02, 2009 10:18 pm
by chrisanson
Jim Smith wrote:
chrisanson wrote:
Mind you i am biased in that I do prefer to use a crossbow myself.
strange young man
Hello

Erm

My name's Jim and I er...

"Go on, it's alright..."



Well, I erm, I use a crossbow now and then but I can handle it.


Crossbow - not just a peasant's weapon but a foreign peasant's weapon.

handbags at sunrise?

Posted: Tue Jun 02, 2009 10:22 pm
by Jim Smith
chrisanson wrote:
Jim Smith wrote:
chrisanson wrote: strange young man
Hello

Erm

My name's Jim and I er...

"Go on, it's alright..."



Well, I erm, I use a crossbow now and then but I can handle it.


Crossbow - not just a peasant's weapon but a foreign peasant's weapon.

handbags at sunrise?
Only if I( can crouch/cower behind a castle wall while I reload... :D

Posted: Tue Jun 02, 2009 10:25 pm
by chrisanson
Jim Smith wrote:
chrisanson wrote:
Jim Smith wrote: Hello

Erm

My name's Jim and I er...

"Go on, it's alright..."



Well, I erm, I use a crossbow now and then but I can handle it.


Crossbow - not just a peasant's weapon but a foreign peasant's weapon.

handbags at sunrise?
Only if I( can crouch/cower behind a castle wall while I reload... :D

deal!

Posted: Tue Jun 02, 2009 11:45 pm
by Sir_John_Thomas
Surely sirs you mean nine pounders at dawn, much more civilised

:D

Re: Archers

Posted: Wed Jun 03, 2009 8:51 am
by Ghost
gallois wrote: I know about the 'nestroque' command by Sir Thomas Epingham at Agincourt but there are so many variations of the meaning of nestroque that I dont believe it was a general term known to English Archers. quote]
Juliet Barker in her latest book on Agincourt gives an interesting alternative. According to her research the point at the battle that the order is heard by the french eyewitness was not at the stage were the english are to "loose arrows" but at the point when Henry commands the army to upstakes and to advance toward the french line. The eyewitness records that Henry's "Avaunt Banner" command is given after the "nestroque" order.

Ms Barker suggest the nestroque order was in fact a general order for the army to advance and the result of the french miss hearing "Knee Stretch" ......an order not to disimiliar to the L+M and Fed order to advance: "Knee Bend".

Makes you wonder

Posted: Wed Jun 03, 2009 4:12 pm
by Marcus Woodhouse
Thing is here omae, when you shout "Knee bend" i always have to fight the urge to follow it with "Arm stretch, rah, rah, rah........."

Posted: Wed Jun 03, 2009 9:58 pm
by Jim Smith
I suppose you could always form a cheerleader squad Marcus... :wink:

Posted: Thu Jun 04, 2009 5:18 pm
by Marcus Woodhouse
You would only moan because you know more MOP would be watching me then you silly people with your sticks and make beleive swords.

Archers orders

Posted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 6:55 pm
by Honourius III
I always give the order 'Archers, Archers Mark your targets , (rather than Nock), Draw, Loose. Then continue with Mark, Draw, Loose as the volleys continue.

Re: Archers orders

Posted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 9:03 pm
by Fox
Honourius III wrote:I always give the order 'Archers, Archers Mark your targets , (rather than Nock), Draw, Loose. Then continue with Mark, Draw, Loose as the volleys continue.
Since you can't hold a war bow drawn, I've always wondered why the order is given in three parts.

Surely the order should be given to either Draw or Loose, as such a command would have to encompass both actions.

Posted: Thu Jul 02, 2009 10:20 am
by Marcus Woodhouse
"Kill them" makes sense.

Re: Archers orders

Posted: Thu Jul 02, 2009 11:20 am
by Medicus Matt
Fox wrote:
Surely the order should be given to either Draw or Loose, as such a command would have to encompass both actions.
Not 'FIRE!' then?

Re: Archers orders

Posted: Thu Jul 02, 2009 12:39 pm
by Colin Middleton
Fox wrote:Since you can't hold a war bow drawn...
Why not? Granted you're unlikley to be able to hold a powerful bow for VERY LONG at draw, half a second so that everyone looses togeather should be reasonable.

I got to draw a 90lb bow at Warwick and holding it for a moment wouldn't have been impossible. It was drawing it in the first place that hurt my shoulders!

Posted: Thu Jul 02, 2009 12:42 pm
by Marcus Woodhouse
Ohh look at his gorgeous muscles.

Re: Archers orders

Posted: Thu Jul 02, 2009 1:44 pm
by Fox
Colin Middleton wrote:
Fox wrote:Since you can't hold a war bow drawn...
Why not? Granted you're unlikley to be able to hold a powerful bow for VERY LONG at draw, half a second so that everyone looses togeather should be reasonable.
Hopefully someone more knowledgable will turn up and confirm this, but I was under the impression that drawing a war bow was different from drawing the longbox usually used in re-enactment; the motion uses the shoulders and chest in a single "unfolding" motion that is concluded possibly with a pause, but that you would not want to [possibly rather than couldn't] hold on someone elses command.

Posted: Thu Jul 02, 2009 3:48 pm
by Stephen Dobson / Rab
Fox, while not claiming to be more knowledgeable, that is my understanding also.

Posted: Thu Jul 02, 2009 5:10 pm
by Skevmeister
One of the guys I work with he has a warbow. And his is based on teh pundage and strangth of those on the Mary rose, and when he shoots his, its much more of a fluid motion. It is sort of a bend, pull, aim loose. I have tried to draw this bow, and I nearly dragged my man bits into my throat with the strain.

Even if you where very strong, you I would porffer that you wouldn't want to hang on to it that long, if you where going to do it many many times.


Alixx

Posted: Thu Jul 02, 2009 6:33 pm
by Mordengaard
Having stood around shouting "Nock, Draw, Loose" as well as having been on the... er... nocking drawing and loosing end, I'd much rather just have "Archer's Ready!" (checks to make sure everyone's got an arrow nocked and a target picked) "Loose!" (watches everyone draw and loose prettily). Saved slowcoaches from holding up a volley and people wobbling off target due to having tired arms. Also saves late shots from zipping toward shield walls unexpectedly.

Posted: Thu Jul 02, 2009 7:16 pm
by Attilla the Bun
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...








I'll get me smock

Posted: Thu Jul 02, 2009 7:24 pm
by Marcus Woodhouse
(Which be 'angin' oop at lower field.)

Posted: Fri Jul 03, 2009 8:14 am
by Mark
When shooting in the Bow you do hold it at full draw, but only for a heartbeat,enough to let your body and therefore your aim, settle.
Oggie (Buckinghams Retinue)

Posted: Fri Jul 03, 2009 8:32 am
by gregory23b
"Since you can't hold a war bow drawn, I've always wondered why the order is given in three parts. "

For Colin mainly.

It is poor practice to hold a draw for very long, as they say a bow is 90% broken at full draw.

We can hold them at full draw if at lower draw weights and made of certain materials, still not a good idea.

As for the three commands, they are merely to control the shooting, we started with three commands but realised that it meant waiting for people to catch up meaning a longer hold for others so we wetn as follows:

First command (not repeated in any round of shooting)
Knock

Then 'Mark and Loose"

this meant a rough two seconds or so for drawing and loosing.

You could keep up a quick rate and control the speed.

Fast! for stop, all arrows unshot are unknocked

Round of shooting recomences with knock.

Until the mark and loose commands are given the arrows are at knock.

but two worked very well and was as safe as others and meant fewer people lagging.

Posted: Sun Jul 05, 2009 7:44 pm
by EnglishArcher
You're talking about re-enactment archery - that is, a small number of lightweight bows in a relatively compact area.

On a true battlefield your furthest archers could be 300 yards away, or more. As anyone who's been on a re-enactment battlefield will know you can't hear commands from more than about 20 yards away.

So verbal commands are worse than useless.

You cannot rely on verbal commands rippling down through chains of sergeants, vintenars, etc. Either horns, drums or visual signals would be required to keep troops synchronised.

Which raises the next question: why do the archers need to be synchronised?

I believe the idea of a precision volley of arrows is a modern re-enactment fantasy, designed to look good for the public (and the movies!) and which has little real tactical benefit. Two or three seconds between the first and last arrow is still effective - it's not as if the recipients can dodge and weave their way through the arrows if they're slightly further apart!

Linked with this are the mechanics of shooting a heavy arrow a long distance - the practical application of the warbow. Shooting heavy bows does NOT have its roots in Victorian target shooting, unlike most re-enactment archers. Shooting a heavy bow is a far more... visceral... experience - somewhere between power-lifting and throwing a javelin (for want of a better analogy). To shoot effectively requires a fluid technique, which invariably means each archer has a slightly different style and timing. Very difficult, in fact, to synchronise (from 300 yards away!)

Posted: Sun Jul 05, 2009 7:55 pm
by gregory23b
"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.