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  #1  
Old 08-05-2010, 12:15 AM
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Leikela Leikela is offline
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Question How do you wear a longbow across your back?

How do you wear a longbow across your back?

I'm doing some research into the use of the longbow from the 1200s-1400s and am curious about how archers would carry their longbows when walking or riding a horse. Obviously it couldn't always be in their hand, and I've seen depictions of longbows worn across their backs. How was this done? Was there a holster for it, or were the bows simply looped across the quiver or the shoulder? Were they strung, or not?

Also, how would you make the string for your longbow if you were a woodsman from this time period?

Thanks!
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  #2  
Old 08-05-2010, 12:34 AM
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Seven Arrows Seven Arrows is offline
 
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Default Re: How do you wear a longbow across your back?

Long bows were carried unstrung. You don't string a self bow until you're ready to use it.
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Old 09-16-2010, 10:34 AM
equin equin is offline
 
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Default Re: How do you wear a longbow across your back?

Was wondering if you ever found out how they wore or carried their longbows on their backs. Reason I ask is because I'm on crutches and can't hold one in my hands while I'm moving about. So far, I have to hang it by my neck, like a big uncomfortable necklace, while I move around.
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  #4  
Old 09-16-2010, 11:27 AM
RogerB RogerB is offline
 
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Default Re: How do you wear a longbow across your back?

If you have a tip protector on the lower limb (that holds the string in the string notches while the bow is not strung), you can still carry the bow on your back, just slide the upper loop down the limb far enough that you can use the string like a rifle sling and the weight of the bow will keep it close to your back. This is really more comfortable than trying to carry it on your back strung.
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  #5  
Old 09-16-2010, 11:51 AM
Redbow Redbow is offline
 
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Default Re: How do you wear a longbow across your back?

They (Archers of old) never did carry longbows slung over their backs!
The linen bowstrings of the time were far to valuable to be used as a carrying device.

Question: how long is the longbow?
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  #6  
Old 09-16-2010, 01:02 PM
equin equin is offline
 
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Default Re: How do you wear a longbow across your back?

Quote:
Originally Posted by RogerB View Post
If you have a tip protector on the lower limb (that holds the string in the string notches while the bow is not strung), you can still carry the bow on your back, just slide the upper loop down the limb far enough that you can use the string like a rifle sling and the weight of the bow will keep it close to your back. This is really more comfortable than trying to carry it on your back strung.
Excellent idea for when it's unstrung. Thanks, Roger. I was wondering, though, about how to carry it while strung so I can walk (or more like hobble around on crutches) around my backyard to practice, and I think I found something that might work:

http://www.bowtote.com/product.html
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  #7  
Old 09-16-2010, 01:07 PM
equin equin is offline
 
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Default Re: How do you wear a longbow across your back?

Oh, and I guess to answer the original poster's question, I can only assume the medieval war bows were left unstrung and kept in some kind of bow sock or bow case while traveling. My guess is that while wrapped and protected, they could have tied some loop material to sling it over their shoulders or back, much like a back quiver, or perhaps placed it in some kind of bow scabbard attached to their horse?
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Old 09-16-2010, 02:33 PM
Bowjack Bowjack is offline
 
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Default Re: How do you wear a longbow across your back?

"How do you wear a longbow across your back?"

When you come home late after a day of hunting and didn't tell the wife you'd be late because you were tracking a deer.
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Old 09-16-2010, 06:36 PM
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Default Re: How do you wear a longbow across your back?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bowjack View Post
"How do you wear a longbow across your back?"

When you come home late after a day of hunting and didn't tell the wife you'd be late because you were tracking a deer.




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Old 11-14-2010, 05:19 PM
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Leikela Leikela is offline
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Red face Re: How do you wear a longbow across your back?

Thank you for all your answers! Does anyone know what a medieval (not a current) bow scabbard would look like?

Also, for RogerB especially, but also anyone who knows - can you clarify your answer? I've having trouble visualizing the description: "just slide the upper loop down the limb far enough that you can use the string like a rifle sling".

Thanks!
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  #11  
Old 11-14-2010, 08:44 PM
Uncle_Lijiah Uncle_Lijiah is offline
 
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Default Re: How do you wear a longbow across your back?

If you have a Ron LaClair Shrew longbow, you simply slide the unstrung bow into a special side pocket/holster on the Shrew back quiver. I think the longest Shrew longbows are only 60". Longer longbows might be more of a problem to carry like this.
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Old 11-15-2010, 12:41 AM
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Default Re: How do you wear a longbow across your back?

This is probably my fault for not being clear, but I'm trying to discover how you would do it with an actual (nonrecurve) longbow from the 1200s. For instance, they didn't have a slider that could help you nock your string, or modern day scabbards. How would such a bow be carried over a person's back? How were they nocked? Any help in understanding these old bows better is greatly appreciated!
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Old 11-15-2010, 03:44 AM
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Default Re: How do you wear a longbow across your back?

I am guessing they were mostly longer in length, like our 66-70 inch target bows ? If so, wearing on the back, or cross-wise on the body, anywhere, would be totally cumbersome for horseback riding, or wlalking, etc. - considering they did long trips, and frequent get-off's & remounts, not to mention going off in the trees for - well, whatever.
I propose they probably had a wrap of some sort that would be like a 1890's rifle scabbard, only it mounted the bow lengthwise on the horse, horizontally, in their blanket/saddle assembly, and rider just had legs over it, probably not touching it at all.
If needed in a hurry, they just slipped it out the back, & went into action.
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  #14  
Old 11-15-2010, 06:49 AM
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Default Re: How do you wear a longbow across your back?

Don't think the Medieval bowers used horses.
They marched on foot from place to place.
Horses were only for the Knights and cavalry.
Also they would not carry the bows or arrows.
They had young boys as squires and carried the supplies in wagons.

Erich
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Old 11-15-2010, 11:39 AM
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Default Re: How do you wear a longbow across your back?

Short Draw:
I agree about the horses, almost certainly archers did not ride.

I am not certain that archers had squires. The squire was an apprentice knight, and position could not be held by anyone but the nobility (even minor nobility). I am not certain that a noble child would ever serve a common freeman, which is the class that the majority of archers originated from. (I am reminded, however, of the midshipmen/senior sailor relationship by which the sailor taught the child shipboard life, but the child was always the sailor's superior officer and higher-class...) Had an archer enough money, he might hire a boy as a servant, or otherwise compensate the child or his parents for the arrangement, or perhaps take a son or relation.

Agree that archers probably did not carry their bows all the time, (or perhaps ever unless on the way to battle) and certainly not their arrows -- a medieval battle like Crecy consumed thousands of heavy war shafts in a few minutes. I also am not certain that medieval English archers spent much time hunting for their food. In hostile territory, it would be dangerous to move about alone, and hunting in big, safe groups is unlikely. Plus, it is much easier to steal food from defenseless farmers.

I know, I know, some of you will get on my case about how good the English archers were. I don't buy it. I think they were reasonably good at launching massive volleys of arrows for a few minutes, until they ran out of arrows, and then fought most of the time with hand weapons. I think some may have hunted, and developed some hunting accuracy, but most were farmers, not Robin Hood. But as game generally belonged to the nobility and hunting was a noble recreation, the opportunity for a freeman to hunt was at least restricted somewhat. This embellishment of the "yeoman archer" as an aspirational figure owes more to Victorian-era nationalism and class insecurity (new-wealth people from modest backgrounds especially promoted contributions THEIR non-nobility class made to English nationalism, for example). In truth, archery as a military tool ended without a whimper, and archery was revived by upper-classes and royalty who found archery a nostalgic and a charming throw-back -- sort of like us play-acting at being working-class cowboys. It also had Enlightenment/Classical overtones with ancient literature, especially Greek literature.

More importantly, please appreciate that historical accuracy is a relatively modern concept. For most of human history, "history," that is, stories about the past, were usually wildly exaggerated (especially about military prowess) and allegorical -- that is, the purpose of the story was to convey some other, underlying meaning. Often, that meaning was what the story-teller wanted the past to be like as inspiration, or caution, to contemporary readers. Likewise, laws and royal orders often have little to do with forcing people to act certain ways. Often, laws serve to validate a particular viewpoint -- if MY views become law, they are by definition better than yours. And, like history, laws often reveal more about what a society aspires to than what it was like in fact. So, when we read that English freemen were "required" to practice, let's understand that such material cannot be read as causative -- because something is a law does not mean that people abide by that law (spitting on the sidewalk is prohibited, but that does not mean that future historians can assume that nobody spits today; recreational marijuana is illegal, but people still toke, etc.). Such a law DOES tell us much, however, about what the King, etc. wanted in his world.

Additionally, and this is just speculation on my part, I would imagine that archers wanted to keep all of their bows and strings as dry as possible all the time, given the wet weather of northern Europe and importentance of the equipment to their survival (on campaigns that might last years...), so keeping them covered in a wagon makes sense. Even in dry hot climates, the horse archers took great pains to keep their equipment covered and protected from the elements.

Of course, I might be wrong....
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