Crossbow > Chapter 5
> Range of the Medieval Crossbow
warfare, or even for target-shooting, as it would break to pieces on
striking any material that was more resistant than sand or soil.
' London 1795.
Dear Brother, - I have just been to see the secretary of the Turkish
Ambassador shooting with Waring1 and other famous English bowmen.
There was a great crowd, as you may suppose, to see them. The Turk, regardless
of the many persons standing round him and to the amazement and terror
of the Toxophilites, suddenly began firing his arrows up in all directions,
but the astonishment of the company was increased by finding the arrows
were not made to fly, but fell harmlessly within a few yards. These arrows
the Turk called his " exercising arrows." This was an idea that was quite
new to the bowmen present, and they began to have more respect for the
Turk and his bow. The Turk's bow is
made of antelopes' horns and is short, and purposely made short for the
convenience of being used in all directions on horseback.
The Toxophilites wished to see the powers
of the Turkish bow, and the Turk was
asked to shoot one of his flight arrows. He shot four or five, and the
best flight was very carefully measured at the time. It was 482 yards.
The Toxophilites were astonished, I can tell you.
Waring said the furthest distance attained with an English flight arrow,
of which he had ever heard, was 335 yards, and that Lord Aylesford had
once shot one, with a slight wind in his favour, 330 yards. Waring told
me that he himself, in all his life, had never been able to send a flight
arrow above 283 yards.
The Turk was not satisfied with his performance, but declared that he
and his bow were stiff and out of condition, and that with some practice
he could shoot much further than he had just done.
He said, however, that he never was a first-class bowman even when in
his best practice, but that the present Grand Seigneur was very fond of
the exercise and a very strong man, there being only two men in the whole
Turkish army who could shoot an arrow as far as he could.
The Turk said he had seen the Grand Seigneur send a flight arrow 800
I asked Waring to what he attributed the Turk's great superiority over
our English bowmen ; whether to his bow or not. Waring replied he did not
consider it was so much the result of the Turk's bow, but rather of his
strength and skill, combined with the short light arrows he used, and his
method of shooting them along the grooved horn attached to his arm.
Neither Waring nor any of the Toxophilites
present, (and many tried,) could bend the bow as the Turk did when he used
1 T. Waring, author of a Treatise on Archery,
1st ed. 1814, last ed. 1832. Waring was an accomplished archer and a well-known
manufacturer of bows and arrows.
> Chapter 5 > Range
of the Medieval Crossbow > p.27
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