Medieval Archery

Steve Johnson
by Steve Johnson

I came across a fascinating article discussing medieval archery, specifically the English victory over the French at the battle of Agincourt in 1415 which was won by the English longbow archers.

Henry had approximately 5,000 archers at Agincourt, and a stock of about 400,000 arrows. Each archer could shoot about ten arrows a minute, so the army only had enough ammunition for about eight minutes of shooting at maximum fire power. However, this fire power would have been devastating. Fifty thousand arrows a minute – over 800 a second – would have hissed down on the French cavalry, killing hundreds of men a minute and wounding many more. The function of a company of medieval archers seems to have been equivalent to that of a machine-gunner, so in modern terms we can imagine Agincourt as a battle between old-fashioned cavalry, supported by a few snipers (crossbow-men) on the French side, against a much smaller army equipped with machine guns. Perhaps from this point of view the most remarkable fact about the battle is that the French ignored the very great military advantages of the longbow.

Read the article here. Just ignore the math!

Steve Johnson
Steve Johnson

I founded TFB in 2007 and over 10 years worked tirelessly, with the help of my team, to build it up into the largest gun blog online. I retired as Editor in Chief in 2017. During my decade at TFB I was fortunate to work with the most amazing talented writers and genuinely good people!

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  • Mark Holland Mark Holland on Sep 24, 2008

    To the author of these comments on the effectiveness of the English archers at Agincourt. You should take a look at John Keegan's precise analysis of the battle in his book The Face of Battle. It might temper your enthusiasm a little.
    MH

  • Steve Steve on Sep 25, 2008

    Mark, they were not all that effective?

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