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(TFT) More long bow reflections

Well, I guess I have to say that the Black Death probably had more to do with the French winning the Hundred Years War than the military supremacy of their mounted knights and their ability to withstand the effects of the longbow. The French had bows too -- crossbows. But an English bowman could get off five or six shots in the time it took a French crossbowman to fire once. A discrepancy that won the battle of Crecy many decades before Agincourt. And while I agree that we can't discount the deadly force that bullets pose, it's also a fact that most bullets fired in any battle never wounded anybody either. Yet the foolishness of sending massed charges against gun fire continued well into the twentieth century.

I grew up thinking the English longbow was the ultimate pre-manufacturing technology bow. I've learned a bit more since then and I know that other bows -- laminated, recurved, etc. -- may have actually out-performed the old cloth-yard shaft, but there is no doubt that a six foot long yew bow could put a three foot long arrow clear through a suit of decent armor at a hundred paces -- and it didn't make much difference if there was a body in there or not. Yes the shot had to be dead on to penetrate that well, but these guys practiced a lot. There were laws on the books in the UK until the 1950's (unobserved) that required Englishmen to practice at the butts weekly. And you don't need to penetrate the armor every time to incapacitate the target. A neck wound, leg wound, even a hand wound would put a serious hurt on a guy -- and don't forget old Harold who got shot in the eye by a Norman archer.

The long bow is a bad news weapon. But it has to be used at range. It's worse than useless in a hand to hand fight, Legolass notwithstanding, and it is typically limited to lower class fighters (Robin of Loxley being a possible exception). No historical sword wielder would use a bow. Swords throughout all cultures have traditionally been marks of gentry, if not nobility. Gentlemen fight face to face. Even to this day, we issue rifles to the troops and pistols to the officers.

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