Where did the archers take arrows and why did they shoot in one gulp?

If the command was competent, then she was able to change the course of the battle without any problems, even when the forces were clearly unequal.

Naturally, many questions arise, for example, where they took so many arrows, how they were delivered to the battle site, what did the archers do if suddenly the arrows ran out, and the battle was in full swing, and why the shooting was carried out in a salvo method.


1. Middle Ages: making arrows is a costly production

In reality, on the battlefield, a simple archer was effective only for four to eight minutes, until the arrows ran out. An ordinary archer was required to be able to shoot as many as 10 arrows in one minute. A good shooter managed to release them in a slightly larger quantity during this time, that is, his rate of fire was almost lightning fast. Archers in England carried arrows in bundles containing 24 arrows, which were placed on the belt in two sheaves.

With this in mind, it really turned out that the entire available stock of ammunition was used up under the condition of non-stop firing in four, maximum eight minutes. In terms of price, the cost of one bundle was the equivalent of a soldier's salary for five days. But when military campaigns were carried out, all expenses were borne by the crown.

Of course, during the Middle Ages, it was too expensive and practically impossible to fully meet the needs of the shooters.


In this regard, after Henry V came to power, he made an important appointment. Fletcher, who was a professional arrow maker, became Keeper of the Royal Arrows. He was settled in the Tower of London with his staff, and a budget was sent there to increase supplies. The person in this position was responsible for the production of the weapon itself, the arrows for it, the creation of storage facilities and the provision of supplies. It is important that he had the right to seize practically any timber necessary for this purpose on the territory of the country.

As for the prices directly for archers and arrows, they were too high. In Europe at that time, ammunition manufacturers faced enormous challenges. The arrows were made by hand. Several people worked on each of them: one was engaged in the manufacture of tips, the other was fastening feathers to the shaft, and so on.

For heavy arrows, intended for long-range shooting, blacksmiths made arrowheads from iron of increased hardness. The 76-centimeter shaft was made by carpenters from light woods. The shaft had to be perfectly straight. Otherwise, it was of no use whatsoever. If a blacksmithing master had access to straight, quality shafts in the 1100s, he could make five to eight arrows in one day.

The arrows with shorter range were made of hardwood, such as ash. They were slightly shorter and heavier, with a thin metal tip. The tip was made narrow, which made it possible to hit the target, break through the protection when firing from a short distance. The material for the plumage was the feathers of geese, which were required a lot. Fletcher, appointed by Henry V, in his first month in his new position, placed an order for shafts in the amount of tens of thousands and for goose feathers in the amount of more than 1,000,000 pieces. And this is only one order, so to speak, one-time.

Naturally, when he was sent to France for the war, the equipment of Henry V was excellent. But not all previous monarchs had such a good preparation for military operations. The most qualitative approach to the situation with archers and arrows was observed in France.

The problem with archers was observed in almost all armies. The reason for this was the lack of the ability and ability of the rulers of that time to establish the cheap manufacture of weapons and arrows. As a result, the archers of each of the armies, as soon as they ran out of arrows, were forced to change tactics, or rather, become participants in close combat.

2. Why did archers always shoot arrows in one gulp in battle

Almost every shot fired was gold. Providing the shooters, whose number was more than one hundred, with two bundles of high-quality arrows, as we already understand, was not so easy from a material point of view. The army usually had about 2,500 archers. This is the average of what the rulers could afford.

Each of them could release about ten arrows in one minute. It turns out that in the very first minute of the battle there will be 25,000 arrows in flight, in the second - 50,000 will fly to the ground, and after five minutes their number will exceed 100,000. The task of the archers in the first minutes of the battle is to paralyze the enemy with a hail of their arrows, causing chaos and turmoil ... It is not uncommon for an army to simply retreat, unable to withstand such an onslaught.


Volley fire provides a very high attack zone, and opponents will have to go on the defensive, namely, cover their heads with shields and make their movement slower. It is very important to break the enemy psychologically, in the first moments of the battle, thinning his ranks and saving half of his own ammunition, and most importantly, keeping his own archers in the maximum number for subsequent military attacks.

With random fire, on average, the percentage of damage to enemy infantry would be much lower, as well as the average damage indicators. If the enemy army has crossbows or is fighting on horseback, then it will be able to shorten the distance, without particularly suffering, quickly enough. Consequently, the archers will no longer be able to shoot, since the risks of hitting their own comrades are great. Thus, the advantage will be lost.

3. If the arrows run out, and the battle is in full swing - what's next

Under conditions of active firing, both armies were left without ammunition for several minutes. They did not have the opportunity to move far from the convoys, in which there were arrows and from the squires, who brought arrows to the archers. If the cavalrymen caught the riflemen in the open, they would immediately join the ranks of the dead. In order not to risk, the archers took up positions on the hills, squatting.

There was also a very "dirty" moment in the medieval wars. Naturally, due to the high cost of iron and bronze arrows, their number was limited even among the suppliers, so they had to collect recyclable ammunition on the battlefield. But for this purpose, not soldiers were sent there, but serfs, as well as their children who lived in the nearest villages.

Often, the soldiers were cunning in order to get themselves additional arrows. These facts have historical confirmation. For example, during the reign of the Han dynasty (last years), one of the warring parties loaded bales of straw onto boats and set sail upstream of the Yellow River.

From the side it seemed that they would attack. The enemy from the shore fired many arrows into the boats, which in good faith remained in bales. Thus, the stocks have been replenished. Something similar was observed in the wars between Europeans.

andri giopani - Oct 22, 2021, 9:42 PM - Add Reply

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