How deadly would Longbows be in the age of modern medicine?

Their goal usually is to hit the target, their problem is that they think of a gun as a “magical death wand”, not realizing shooting accurately is a rather difficult learned skill. They never target shoot. I’ve pumped more rounds thru a firearm in a single day than most of them ever shoot in their lifetime. Last time I was shooting, the last 10 rounds I fired I got 5 in the 10 ring, and all but 1 within the 8 ring, and that was with my brother’s new 9mm. Totally unfamiliar weapon that I had never fired until that day. They would be likely to miss the target entirely, even with their own gun.

Back on the actual topic, I would expect arrows to be about as lethal as the smaller handgun rounds. Say .32cal, although the nastier arrowheads might bring it up to about 9mm or so.

Adding to this, if we imagine the OPs scenario of refighting the battle of Agincourt excactly as it was, I doubt to many of the French recipients of arrows would have been saved, even if you had a crack team of medical personell standing by, as the Frenchies would have been trampled in the mud and suffocated long before help could reach them. It wasnt arrows that was the big killer at Agincourt, it was mud and a huge crowd being funneled into a narrow enclosure.

As for the efficiancy of a gang-land longbow-armed shootout - I’ve seen historians argue that a band of longbowmen from Agincourt could easily outrange, outshoot and cause much more damage than a crack company of riflemen at the battle of Waterloo some 400 years later - granted, not AK-47s we’re talking about, but I’d imagine a hail of arrows to be pretty damned lethal even with modern medicine standing by.

That’s the way it was portrayed in the last documentary I saw on the subject. The more I see of them, the more archers come across as right bastards :stuck_out_tongue:

I shot myself in the hand with a .32 when I was a kid. The worst thing about it was holding my hand out the window so I wouldn’t get blood on the upholstery of Dad’s car. :slight_smile:

One of my favourite issues of Scientific American was about bow technology. The bow pictured on the cover was a composite (horn, wood and something else) recurve. The caption mentioned that the bow could launch an arrow 1/4 mile (and presumably cause grave injury to its target). I would imagine something like that at point blank range would be pretty devastating.

I’ve never bowhunted, but my brother does religiously. Even with modern rigs and expanding broadheads, they are surprisingly non lethal, and anything less than a lung or heart shot(barring the rare head/throat shots that nobody aims for anyway) means we get to spend hours tracking the deer while it bleeds out slowly.

So… I would expect the same thing from people. Head or heart would be pretty much assured death, as would a lot of the neck. A lung shot would be treatable, but a double lung shot(which is unlikely) would probably be fatal in minutes. Pretty much anywhere else, barring clipping one of the major arteries in a position that is difficult to deal with, would probably have a quite high rate of survival and recovery, since a broadhead merely cuts, it doesn’t destroy tissue like a bullet does.

They were still using muzzle loading muskets at Waterloo, weren’t they? The Brits had some rifle units, but they were muzzle loaders as well. Which mean you’ve got to stand up, and not move, for about a minute to reload for each round fired. I wouldn’t want to do that with longbowmen with a 10 second reload time firing at me either.

You know what you call soldiers who fight fair? Losers.

This sort of Longbow would be extremely deadly. :wink: First thing I thought of when reading the subject.

Bear in mind that a lot of the killing at Agincourt was by archers equipped with mallets, axes, and swords against French knights too crowded-together to properly defend themselves, as well as the dagger-thrusts into the wounded already mentioned. And the English men-at-arms (the armored knights and the like) killed with their usual assortment of melee weapons as well.

Also, although there was a cavalry charge at Agincourt, the main attack was by dismounted men with shortened lances used like spears or pikes.

Archery was a huge factor in all three of the great battles of the Hundred Years’ War (Crecy, Poitiers and Agincourt), but the real bulk of the killing at Agincourt occurred with hand weapons at the points of collision of the battle lines. Essentially the French got forced into an overcrowding situation where, physically exhausted and too cramped to move freely or handle their weapons, they were killed in bulk.

If they were shooting compound bows with sights, they would. But if they are shooting instinctively, with a longbow as the OP stipulates - or using more modern bow technology, a recurve - they wouldn’t lose any accuracy. I’ve tried compounds, but I vastly prefer shooting instinctively, and holding the bow sideways has no effect on your accuracy. You can shoot while crouching, standing, sitting, and while holding the bow vertical or horizontal (with the top of the bow tilting to the right if you are right handed and left if you are left handed) and shoot accurately. Your mind and body makes the proper adjustments; you just have to trust it and shoot.

I agree with most of the posters here. Longbows wouldn’t be that deadly with modern medicine. A shot to the head (provided it doesn’t just bounce off the skull) or to the heart or a major artery could kill you quickly. Otherwise, the arrows just don’t impart enough force to kill one quickly.

That could well be. The big advantage of early firearms over bows was not that they did more damage, but that they were a lot easier to use. The English longbowmen trained nearly from birth to use that weapon, and built up so much upper-body strength that you can tell who was a bowman just from their bones. An unpracticed soldier probably wouldn’t even be able to draw one of them. With muskets, though, you can just conscript any old peasant from your kingdom and hand them a gun each and get a credible fighting force.

Also, how bulky’s a half-hour’s worth of longbow ammo compared to a couple of powder horns and, what, two or three pounds of lead shot?

Not to mention the labour involved in fletching that many arrows.

AIUI Agincourt longbows could penetrate plate armor, so I wouldn’t count on them being all that less damaging than carbines. I would expect wounds to the head, neck and chest to be about equal to gunfire; abdomen and extremities not so much. When you factor in the tetanus vaccine, yeah, we could save a lot, if they live long enough to get to us.

That would be sinew. Horn on the compression side, sinew on the tension side, and wood in the middle.