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Hbow-vs-Xbow-art - 5/29/14


"Handbow vs. Crossbow" by The Honorable Christophe of Grey.


NOTE: See also the files: crossbows-msg, merch-archery-msg, bowstrings-msg, bow-making-msg, 16C-Arrow-Bag-art, arch-supplies-msg, archery-msg.





This article was submitted to me by the author for inclusion in this set of files, called Stefan's Florilegium.


These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


Copyright to the contents of this file remains with the author or translator.


While the author will likely give permission for this work to be reprinted in SCA type publications, please check with the author first or check for any permissions granted at the end of this file.


Thank you,

Mark S. Harris...AKA:..Stefan li Rous

stefan at florilegium.org



You can find more of this author's work on his website at:



This article was first published in the "The Phoenix", the newsletter of the Barony of Sacred Stone, Atlantia.


Handbow vs. Crossbow

by The Honorable Christophe of Grey


Thus far in this series I have focused primarily on the handbow. There is always a "discussion" about crossbows versus handbows. Which is better, which shoots better, should crossbows and handbows shoot against each other. Which has an advantage over the other.


First, let's set the record straight. In the 10 years Atlantia has had an archery champion two used longbows, five used recurves and three used crossbows. Looking at the Atlantian Royal Round scores currently there are five names in the Grand Bowman Elite class, four crossbowmen, one recurve (also in this group using a crossbow). So who has the advantage?


Some may argue that handbows require more skill to use than a crossbow. With a handbow you have elevation as well as right and left aiming issues all while holding back the string. With a crossbow you also have the left/right and elevation issues but you are not stressed by holding back the string. You are more relaxed during the aiming process. Also according to Atlantian rules, crossbows may have rear sights while handbows may not. However, handbows may have range marks on the limbs. Some cross bowmen sit while others stand, hand bowmen stand while shooting. Again who has the advantage?


When shooting static, untimed rounds cross bowmen typically score better than hand bowmen. In timed rounds typically hand bowmen out score cross bowmen. When shooting a clout shot, 100 yards out, often hand bowmen have an advantage over cross bowmen because they can lob the arrows into the clout whereas cross bows typically have a very flat trajectory. Again, who has the advantage?


So it seems the question of which bow is better is a lot like the question "Is that 12 items or a dozen?" I personally have out shot crossbowmen more than once in competitions, some timed, some not. In the archery community it is generally accepted that the reason there seems to be an advantage for crossbowmen has little to do with the actual weapon but all to do with the archer. Crossbows worth shooting are not cheap. An archer that owns a good crossbow has spent a fair amount of money for their weapon and are typically fairly serious about shooting AND shoot the weapon a lot. If a handbowman is using an equivalently expensive handbow they will most likely shoot it a lot. In archery, the more you shoot the better you become. So the generally accepted bottom line is that crossbowmen are more serious and shoot more. This does not mean archers who use handbows are not serious archers. It does say that ANY archer who is using a quality weapon is most likely a serious archer.


All that said, there are other reasons for choosing a crossbow over a handbow. Some archers simply cannot pull a bow over 20 pounds draw weight; shoulder injuries or other physical restrictions. Any bow with a higher poundage shoots a flatter trajectory and typically a more accurate shaft. It is easier to cock a higher poundage cross bow than hold the draw on a higher poundage handbow. Ladies tend to choose crossbows for a variety of reasons but the two main ones seem to be you don't have to hold the draw and, uh, well, it's just a fact, anatomical reasons. So which bow is best? The one you feel most comfortable with and shoot the most.


Copyright 2014 by John Atkins. <cogworks at triad.rr.com>. Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided the author is credited.  Addresses change, but a reasonable attempt should be made to ensure that the author is notified of the publication and if possible receives a copy.


If this article is reprinted in a publication, please place a notice in the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.


<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org