Carrying a bow: European archer

How would a European archer carry a bow? Oriental archers had bow cases like this, but I cannot find anything similar on images of European archers. Of course, you can always carry it in one hand, but this makes one hand always busy. I guess you can put it around your shoulder or your chest. But how did they do it?

Bows would not be strung if not needed, if it would be strung for too long, it would get weak. The unused bow would basically be a stick with a wrapped round string.
i don´t know how they would carry it. It would assume they would hold it in their hands.


There is one picture in the bible that Wenceslas IV (the one from the game) let wrote. But it doesn’t seems too common, it is literally one example in Czech I know.

For some reason the image is not showing, you have to click on the “[image]”

Thanks! It’s the first image where I see such a thing. Can it be just a single war trophy?

I can’t imagine how it would work … 180cm long pole attached to a belt … It must tip over all the time. Or the case might be really deep, but then it would always hit the ground. Couldn’t it be just that artist took oriental inspiration? Or not that much oriental … Hungarians were our neighbours and they used shorter recurve bows all the time, as far as I know.

In fact … is there a reason why Bohemians would not use composite recurves? In early middle-ages they had important connections to Avars and (later) Arabs. This illustration is from 12th century (Peter de Ebulo): - clearly some of bohemians have composite recurves. The tradition might be kept till 15th century, there was no need to use longbows only.

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I am not 100% sure if this is the case, but the reason to use a Longbow over a composite recurve bow might be, because it´s cheaper.
A longbow is basically a string with a stick. But you need to have the right stick, yew grown in the right way, which wouldn´t grow in steppes. Another reason is, that a longbow is not very practical for horse archery.

So why should western and central Europeans use composite recurve bows in reasonable numbers, if they can use a stronger and cheaper longbow?

That is certainly a good reason, and I would also add that not many western europeans were able to build good composite recurve. But all the same we can see that in 12th century (500 years after Avars) composite recurves were still partially in use. We know that bow shooting was important medieval hobby in Bohemia (see some pages above) and any richer Czech could buy oriental recurve, just because it was better. Yet the last image of Bohemian recurve I know about is that one from 12th century.

I wouldn´t say a recurve bow is better. The acute angle of the string with the shorter composite recurve bow makes it actually more difficult to shoot with it, compared to the wider angle of a longer bow.
Horse archery bows also have a stronger handshock compared to Longbows.
Thats the reason why these bows are lighter in drawweight and therefore have less penetration power compared to Longbows. But it you want to ride on horseback and shoot, a Longbow isn´t very practical.
And the composite bow might be more expensive compared to a longbow, and therefore shows a higher status value. That might be a reason to shoot a recurve too.

Gentlemen, this discussion is really interesting. But still, how a European bowman would typically carry his bow, either long, short hunting bow, or recurve, to have both hands free? :slight_smile:

Sure, it might be just the artist who wanted to make the archer more exotic. There is no evidence for that bow quiver. As I wrote, it is the only example I know.

To me, it seems they did not have hands free. If they need a bow, they carry it. If they need to do something, they lay it down for a moment.

Most medieval archers are, by my experience, depicted with arrows behind their belts and bows in their hands. No fency stuff.

I think it is actually a short recurved bow and that the author might known that from Hungarians.

I did not find any good sources on what bows were used here. From few illuminations I saw it seems that short curved bows were perhaps presented but… who can really tell?

It is. More efficient, so you will achieve more with lower draw weight. With the same draw weight, recurve will give the arrow more energy then straight longbow. Difference is not that big, but it is there. Also it is not true that recurve is always lighter in draw weight - late Chinese or Turks had super strong recurves, comparable to English (up to 200lbs, some say that even stronger).

But generally I agree with you, and Wenceslaus too. My personal oppinion is that recurved were partially used in Bohemia till gunpowder, but I am very aware of the lack of evidence.

take another approach. were there Bohemian horse archers? if there were, even by Christians admission, they’d almost have to have used recurve. btw, KCD does a fairly good job of making it clucky as heck to fire a yew longbow on horseback

which is why I whish there was a mod for a stronger cuman bow (77-85) in the game.

after i develop strength, etc., i go for headshots with the Cuman 74(?). not perfect but fairly effective for me. iirc, over 1 in 10 of my kills in playline 1 are fatal headshots. think playline 2 (HC) is even better (due to experience)

Since I am on PC I took the option of using Capon’s hunting bow mod, in the 100 version. I call it my War Bow. It does have a low ability requirements tho so is a little unfair. Perhaps it should have been a little harder to use.

It and the gold dot and faster arrows mod and better piercing arrows make the archer quite deadly.
Also it seems WHS added a new kill shot zone: the midsection front or back. As is for me it is a one shot kill there.

sounds like you have a crossbow masquerading as a bow

on un-modded land, if i don’t hit the eyeholes on Germ/Ital bascinet, it’s typically 3-4 shots… sometimes 6. lesser armed can be done in with 1-2

“It ain’t stupid if it works” :wink: I look at as Henry got his hands on an English yew war bow.

Probably weren’t, or at least they were very exceptional. But recurves are useful also for foot soldiers, so this kind of proof works only in one way.

true… horse archers have had some success in history. didn’t and don’t know extent to which Lithuania-Poland-Czechia axis emulated some battle techniques from their eastern neighbors. if there were some even if limited emulation, then there should be accounts, etc as evidence

The you tube series the generals never mentioned horse archers for these guys in their description of battles. Only foot archers and crossbowman if there they weren’t on battle wagons with the musketeers.