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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Longbow vs Crossbow



The purpose of this video was to demonstrate the comparative speed of shot between the English longbow, and the hand-spanned crossbow.

As you can see in the video, the crossbow wasn't as slow to shoot as many people make out, but please keep in mind that the hand-spanned crossbow is a very quick weapon to span and shoot, much quicker that the other types of crossbow in use during the middle ages.

Due to the heavy construction of the crossbow's steel prod, or bow, and the short draw length along the crossbow's tiller, the crossbow was a very inefficient weapon. Although the crossbow in the video has a draw weight of around 130 lb, compared to the longbow's 110 lb, our crossbow could only manage a maximum range of some 90 yards, compared to the longbow's 250 yards. To compensate, medieval crossbows were often many times the draw weight of the bow used here, and thus required the use of a belt and hook, Goats Foot or Windlass to draw. This made them much slower than the longbow. Due to this slow re-loading crossbowmen often sheltered behind Pavises, or large shields, while re-loading on an open battlefield. These shortcomings were not an issue, however, when the crossbow was used to defend walled towns or castles, a situation where the crossbow excelled.

If you wish to see the longbow compared with the more powerful, but slower, windlass crossbow, then watch the new series of Warriors on the History Channel. In episode 5, on the English Knight, you can see Martin and I going head to head, pitting a 110 lb yew longbow against an 850lb windlass crossbow, while Terry Schappert counts the amount of arrows and bolts we manage to loose in 1 minute. It makes for a very interesting comparison with this video! (The episode was screened in the US on April 2nd, and comes to the UK in the Autumn, but it is available to watch on the History Channel website too).

Source:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HagCuGXJgUs

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