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Thread: Accuracy claims of ancient archers.

  1. #25
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    The first year they shot 1440 rounds was 1957.
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    In the Red Kernowlad's Avatar
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    Fascinating discussion - one thing I believe archers of old had was time to practice - and they did that a lot. Probably more than Olympic athletes but there has to be a point where perfection in skill is hampered by imperfection in kit.

    Despite being nothing special at all, I was amazed at how quickly I got "quite" accurate and non archers who have seen me shoot think I'm some archery ninja. I'm not. But there's just something about flinging an arrow at around 320fps and absolutely thudding it into roughly the right part of the target beyond the range you can actually see it (maybe I need an eye test?) that's rather satisfying.

    But yes I do think claims of shooting through an eye at 300 yards or so are rather silly. Longbow archers relied on massive volleys of arrows to do damage not pin-point accuracy. Think mortar compared to snipers rifle.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kernowlad View Post
    Fascinating discussion - one thing I believe archers of old had was time to practice - and they did that a lot. Probably more than Olympic athletes but there has to be a point where perfection in skill is hampered by imperfection in kit.
    The interesting thing about primitive archers is that they possibly didn't have as much time to practice as a current Olympic archer. They had heaps of other things to do. These days, we typically have more ability to devote time to one activity because we offload the other stuff to specialists.

    Once you have enough variation in your gear, ie more than one arrow and no sights or exact distance ranging, no amount of practice is going to make a difference. You'll get lucky shots more than dead accurate ones.

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    In the Gold dvd8n's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andy! View Post
    The interesting thing about primitive archers is that they possibly didn't have as much time to practice as a current Olympic archer. They had heaps of other things to do. These days, we typically have more ability to devote time to one activity because we offload the other stuff to specialists.
    I believe that current thinking is that a hunter gatherer had way more leisure time than modern man. Some studies put the primitive working day at about 3-5 hours.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kernowlad View Post
    Longbow archers relied on massive volleys of arrows to do damage not pin-point accuracy. Think mortar compared to snipers rifle.
    Massive generalisation. This would have been the case against large bodies of foot soldiers or cavalry in set piece battles, but most fighting wasn't actually done in set piece battles. Siege warfare, skirmishing, raiding was much more common. And in these scenarios accuracy would have been desirable. If there's a tightly packed mass of men you can't miss, but when fighting a small spread out group the ability to hit an individual human or horse would be key. Not silly distances or aiming to shoot through the eye slits of helmets or such, but there's no doubt you would need to be able to hit stuff.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dvd8n View Post
    I believe that current thinking is that a hunter gatherer had way more leisure time than modern man. Some studies put the primitive working day at about 3-5 hours.
    Maybe. We'll never know what they did. We know what they didn't have, because nothing to make pinpoint accuracy was available to them regardless of their amount of practice or incentive.
    We can however, expect that they didn't bother practicing sneaking up to shoot something that they would eat. Getting food was a critical part of staying alive. You have all the incentive you need to do all the practice for real. I don't often practice making a sandwich and not eat the results.
    Keep in mind that hunting successfully involves sneaking up so that you are so close that it's hard to miss. You make accuracy less important if you don't have it.

    People just can't let go of theories of ancient accuracy skills and transfer them to ancient hunting skills, even when bowhunters today have drastically reduced ranges compared to rifle hunters.

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