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Blunt, hunting arrowhead?

Posted: Wed Jan 13, 2010 12:25 pm
by IDEEDEE
Just a query from a non-archer.. Does this image seem to show a lady using "blunts" to shoot a hare/mutant rabbit...or is it me? (Not me in the picture, me as in me getting the wrong idea :)).
The "blunt" looks like the kind of thing wot folk shoot at me at shows. I hadn't come across this arrow type in a hunting context before. Is that kind of arrow unusual for small game (or is it just my non-archer ignorance showing)? The pic is from the Taymouth Book of Hours.

Re: Blunt, hunting arrowhead?

Posted: Wed Jan 13, 2010 12:32 pm
by sally
Is it not just a flattened chisel sort of shape tip? I'm not an archer, so theres aprobably a name for them that eludes me, but I'm sure I've seen some that are broad and flat

Re: Blunt, hunting arrowhead?

Posted: Wed Jan 13, 2010 12:39 pm
by IDEEDEE
Hi Sally.

Yes, I wondered that. Before I blew the picture up I was wondering if it would turn out to be one of those slightly crescent-headed heads that there was a thread about last year, but it turned out not to be. A chistle head would be more accurate than a blunt, I assume (mind you, she couldn't get much nearer). .

Re: Blunt, hunting arrowhead?

Posted: Wed Jan 13, 2010 1:01 pm
by Phil the Grips
Could be either- though for small game, as shown, I'd be inclined to go with the idea of a blunt head as this is a consistent feature of shooting small game up to the modern day (even to the point of using no head at all in some places). After all the rubber blunts used for safety in combat archery aren't called "rabbit blunts" for nowt ;)

Tod of Tods Stuff does a nice repro of these in horn.

Re: Blunt, hunting arrowhead?

Posted: Wed Jan 13, 2010 1:15 pm
by John Waller
Agree with Phil. Blunts are quite common for use on birds & small game and feature on a number of period illustrations.

Re: Blunt, hunting arrowhead?

Posted: Wed Jan 13, 2010 4:03 pm
by EnglishArcher
Yes it's either a wooden, or leather-covered wood blunt. Used particularly for rabbits and small game.

Two reasons:

1) If you use a typical swallow-tail hunting head (designed for bringing down deer and boar and stuff) you'll shred a rabbit; which then doesn't make for such good eating

2) The skin (fur) is valuable; and much less so with a bloody great rip through both sides from a swallow-tail.


Your choice of arrowhead depends on what you're hunting:

For large game a broad, swept swallow-tail. This will cause massive bleed-out and quick death (you don't want to be chasing your dinner all over the countryside AFTER you've shot it!)

For fowl, a crescent shaped head. For years, these were thought to be 'rope-cutters' - but not by anyone who actually tried to cut a rope with one! And despite the recorded evidence of them being used for killing birds all the way back to the Romans! The crescent head has enough impact to kill, but the shape of the head doesn't allow penetration through the feathers so you don't liquefy the internals of your goose.

For smaller birds, a round metal blunt. There's enough blunt force trauma to kill a small bird but it won't get stuck in the tree when you miss.

For Frenchmen, a quarrel-sided armour-piercing bodkin. ;)

Re: Blunt, hunting arrowhead?

Posted: Wed Jan 13, 2010 4:45 pm
by Marcus Woodhouse
You eat Frenchmen?

Re: Blunt, hunting arrowhead?

Posted: Wed Jan 13, 2010 6:07 pm
by The Iron Dwarf
Marcus Woodhouse wrote:You eat Frenchmen?
dont you?

Re: Blunt, hunting arrowhead?

Posted: Wed Jan 13, 2010 8:07 pm
by EnglishArcher
Marcus Woodhouse wrote:You eat Frenchmen?
Nah - they taste horrible. But that doesn't stop me hunting them.

Re: Blunt, hunting arrowhead?

Posted: Thu Jan 14, 2010 1:49 pm
by Langley
It looks like an illustration of a blunt used both for hunting and target practice. The end is round rather than chisel shaped and there is a short pin sticking out the front which allows it to be shot at wooden targets without destroying them. Part of the reason for huting with these is you are shooting often in woods and upwards and you would really like to get your arrow back - especially if you are actually poaching. Arrows are usually pretty distinctive to the maker and you don't want his lordship finding something stuck up one of his treees which looks like your handiwork...

Re: Blunt, hunting arrowhead?

Posted: Fri Jan 15, 2010 8:16 am
by Brother Ranulf
Oliver Jessop's "A New Artefact Typology for the Study of Medieval Arrowheads" (1996, referred to in an earlier thread) gives H5 as a "blunt-ended arrowhead with socket" for hunting birds, hares, rabbits and other small game. Dimensions are suggested (although almost no archaeological examples are known) as about 20 to 45 mm long and 10 to 25 mm wide - the material is given as wood or leather and the evidence is almost entirely from manuscript illustrations. First seen in the 12th century, such arrows would also be used for shooting practice at targets.

I have a 12th century bestiary illustration of an archer shooting magpies from a tree with just such a blunt arrow, which is clearly without fletchings. Less chance of the arrow becoming entangled in the foliage?

It seems that many medieval archery devotees are even now unaware of Jessop's immensely valuable work on this subject, meaning that the hugely flawed and unreliable Museum of London typology is still being treated as the last word on medieval arrowheads, which it definitely isn't. Jessop's paper is available online as a .pdf file here:
http://ads.ahds.ac.uk/catalogue/adsdata ... 92_205.pdf

Re: Blunt, hunting arrowhead?

Posted: Fri Jan 15, 2010 10:05 am
by EnglishArcher
Agreed. Jessop's typology is far superior to the rather arbitrary MoL typology.

Re: Blunt, hunting arrowhead?

Posted: Mon Jan 18, 2010 2:16 pm
by Langley
EnglishArcher wrote: For fowl, a crescent shaped head. For years, these were thought to be 'rope-cutters' - but not by anyone who actually tried to cut a rope with one! And despite the recorded evidence of them being used for killing birds all the way back to the Romans! The crescent head has enough impact to kill, but the shape of the head doesn't allow penetration through the feathers so you don't liquefy the internals of your goose.
Spot on here English! I got fed up wiht hearing that rubbish and spent quite a bit of time in the Prado in Madrid where there are quite a few individual mediaeval paintings showing the crescent head in use on both crossbow and upright (I hesitate to use the word Long for European ones). I looked at evey painting they had showing archery over the course of a weekend and I could find none showing it used for anything else. I now spread the word evey time I do a show... I am convinced of it having done the basic research.

Re: Blunt, hunting arrowhead?

Posted: Mon Jan 18, 2010 2:40 pm
by EnglishArcher
For those who want more empirical research on the topic I highly recommend the articles Mark Stretton wrote for 'The Glade' magazine.

Re: Blunt, hunting arrowhead?

Posted: Mon Jan 18, 2010 3:14 pm
by John Waller
EnglishArcher wrote:For those who want more empirical research on the topic I highly recommend the articles Mark Stretton wrote for 'The Glade' magazine.
Do you mean the ones where he managed to cut a rope with a forked arrow? :devil:

Re: Blunt, hunting arrowhead?

Posted: Mon Jan 18, 2010 5:14 pm
by EnglishArcher
Do you mean the ones where he managed to cut a rope with a forked arrow?
John - I think you should say '...he managed to cut a rope with a forked arrow eventually' :D

Re: Blunt, hunting arrowhead?

Posted: Mon Jan 18, 2010 5:20 pm
by John Waller
EnglishArcher wrote:
Do you mean the ones where he managed to cut a rope with a forked arrow?
John - I think you should say '...he managed to cut a rope with a forked arrow eventually' :D
Sorry. Couldn't resist. :wink:

Re: Blunt, hunting arrowhead?

Posted: Fri Jan 22, 2010 9:05 pm
by IDEEDEE
Query satisfied... :D

That's what I love about this forum... So many nice folk, with so much knowledge...

The Jessop reference was really useful.

And I now know how to shoot a rabbit properly... :)

Cheers folks.

Re: Blunt, hunting arrowhead?

Posted: Sat Jan 23, 2010 11:32 am
by gregory23b
"And I now know how to shoot a rabbit properly... "

elmer fudd.gif
elmer fudd.gif (13.72 KiB) Viewed 3802 times

Re: Blunt, hunting arrowhead?

Posted: Sat Jan 23, 2010 11:47 am
by Brother Ranulf
SSSh!! Be VEWY,VEWY quiet . . . .wabbit twacks!

Re: Blunt, hunting arrowhead?

Posted: Sat Jan 23, 2010 6:48 pm
by Marcus Woodhouse
"first taketh thee ye Elmer..."

Re: Blunt, hunting arrowhead?

Posted: Mon Jan 25, 2010 3:04 am
by Sir Thomas Hylton
EnglishArcher wrote:
Marcus Woodhouse wrote:You eat Frenchmen?
Nah - they taste horrible. But that doesn't stop me hunting them.
It what the mustard was invented for.

Re: Blunt, hunting arrowhead?

Posted: Thu Jan 28, 2010 12:10 am
by IDEEDEE
:D