English longbow

English longbow . Known as longbow, it was a powerful type of oversized longbow, about 2m. high, used by the English and Welsh during the Middle Ages , both for hunting and for war. Longbows were particularly effective against the French at the Battle of Agincourt during the Hundred Years War.


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  • 1 Origin
  • 2 Description
  • 3 The archers
  • 4 Manufacturing techniques and shapes
  • 5 Longbow use today
  • 6 Source


Regarding its origin, its origin from Wales was a generally accepted idea, but various historians have questioned this theory. On the other hand, in other parts of Europe there were smaller bows (short bows), made of similar materials and shapes.

The longbow did not give superiority to the English ranks over their opponents. In any case, it had that effect in coordination with other elements. Furthermore, this primacy is explained by a series of military reforms that took place between the 13th and 14th centuries, and which led to new strategies.

The infantry , armed with bows and pikes, began to achieve greater relevance at the end of the 12th century, compared to the traditional hegemony of heavy cavalry. The main innovator in this field was Eduardo I (1274-1307), monarch and great strategist who ended the conquest of Wales.


There are various descriptions of the medieval longbow . There are no long arches left before the 15th century and nothing more than 130 since the Renaissance . The descriptions of its length range from 1.2 to 2.11 m and were normally made of yew, although ash and other woods were also used. Estimates for the tension these arches could withstand vary considerably. Estimates made with copies of the Mary Rose achieved a tension of 72 to 82 kg (706 to 804 N). In a modern longbow it is 27 kg or less, in addition to the fact that today there are no long-range archers capable of accurately using bows with a tension of 82 kg.

The rope was made with flax hemp coated, and was dipped in wax bee to preserve. Archers used to carry another spare rope wrapped around their heads.

The arrows measured almost a meter in length, and had different tips, depending on their purpose. A skilled marksman was capable of firing nearly twenty arrows in a minute, the range of which doubled that of the crossbow.

The range of this medieval weapon is unknown, with estimates from 165 to 228 m. Modern longbows have an effective range of up to 180m. A replica longbow of the Mary Rose could shoot an arrow from 53.6g to 328.0m and one from 95.9g at a distance of 249.9m.

The archers

The archery organized as mounted infantry or light infantry, wearing a helmet and a padded armor or light leather. They carried, in addition to the bow and a sheath with twenty-four arrows, a sword, a dagger, or a hand ax. Eduardo I introduced among his troops large contingents of archers, coordinating their

The English kings forced their subjects to practice longbows every Sunday from the age of seven. In this way the bone structure and muscle mass necessary for the skill of future Yeoman were developed. Note that powers of between eighty and one hundred and twenty pounds were reached.

In addition to the obligation to practice archery, numerous competitions were held that gave enormous prestige to the winners and fixed positions of elite archers in the army.

The bow used was growing as the archer did, as it was always approximately the same length as the archer.

The ultimate goal, achieved over a period of approximately eight years, was for archers to launch around 12 arrows per minute hitting a man-like target two hundred meters away.

Manufacturing techniques and shapes

The original longbow consisted of a straight wooden pole (hence its alternative name for straight bow) in one piece without any accessories except for the horn-tipped ends on which to anchor the strings. Hundreds of them have been recovered on the Mary Rose, flagship of the Edward V fleet of England .

It was mainly made of yew wood, if possible Spanish or Italian yew, since being drier countries, the wood was more uniform and consistent. Alternatively they could be made of elm or ash.

Triangular pieces were cut from the tree trunks and from there the arches. An expert manufacturer could make an arc in approximately two hours. They only had one mark for the grip, always at the same point.

Currently they are also made with sheets of various woods (three or four sheets) and even bamboo. They also have an arched window but little else. The arch section is in D with the flat part as the front of the arch.

Longbow use today

Today the longbow is framed within traditional archery , accompanying the recurves. However, it is even more traditional, since it does not accept aluminum or carbon fiber arrows, but only wood and natural feather.

Technically it is the most imprecise of the current arches, but with which the shot is most “felt” and the most appreciated is hitting the target. It is used in target shooting, 3D shooting and even hunting with it.

National tests are held, but except in 3D, the possibility of international tests with similar regulations to encourage their use has not yet materialized, although world exhibitions of traditional bows have been developed to which the English go with their medieval bow.


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