Combat Archery Tatics
Combat archery is a fun and exciting activity. Although it looks easy,
it is an advanced fighting style that requires a bit of skill and knowledge.
Listed here are some basic tactics for combat archers and melee commanders.
Free-roaming archers are great skirmishers, but whenever possible, combat
archers should be given a specific mission or target based on threat. For
Once a mission is in place, archers should apply these basic tactics:
- Siege weapon crews - Depending on the engine type and the applied combat
conventions, they can do massive amounts of damage. They will usually be well
protected, so killing them won't be easy. At a minimum, shoot enough arrows
at the siege engine crew to decrease the engine's rate of fire.
- Opposing archers - Once they are eliminated, you can concentrate on
the remaining troops unhindered.
- Fighters with two-handed weapons (i.e., spears and polearms) - They
present the greatest threat to your shieldwall, but they are easy targets.
- Commanders, Royalty, and Chivalry - They will generally be wearing
items that denote rank (special tabbard, coronet, white belt, etc). While
not all members of Royalty or Chivalry will be part of the formal command
structure, it's safe to assume they're giving commands from within the line.
After a resurrection battle at a recent event, an opposing commander commented
that he was ineffective as a leader because he was continually hit with arrows.
When a force of archers are organized to accomplish a specific mission, combat
archery becomes a weapon system that can influence the outcome of a battle.
- Combat archery has it's maximum effect in static battles, such as a
bridge battles or a mountain pass.
- If terrain allows, try not to shoot from a fixed position. Instead,
strike at a target then move to a new location. Keep the enemy guessing where
- While a pavise provides cover, it also lets the opposing archers get
a fix on your range. Try not to get pinned down.
- Golftube arrows are easy to dodge, so long range arrow duels are generally
a waste of time and arrows. One exception is if the opposing archers are bunched
up, a single nimble archer can force a arrow duel to tie them up and keep
them out of action
- If possible, set up overlapping fields of fire so that targets have
too many directions to watch for incoming arrows.
- Do not become so focused on selecting targets that you lose track
of the battle around you. You're a heavy combatant and can get hit.
- If possible, pair up with another archer to provide an extra set of
eyes. If the enemy charges you, separate in opposite directions. One of you
will be presented with a clear shot.
- Because crossbows require less space to operate than a long bow, they
can be very useful in the second rank of the shieldwall. In effect, they
can take the place of a spearman. They can also be used one-handed for shooting
around the end of a shield wall or they can be held up over the heads of your
- At all times, watch for targets of opportunity. This is usually someone
who is not paying attention, especially fighters that lower shields to a
rest position or commanders in conference.
Herr Ulrich von Landstuhl
Oaken Combat Archery Coordintor Pennsic XXIX
Last updated 4/6/02
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