Who else shot from horseback?

Was: Mongol Archery


From: duvernay@sejong.dongguk.ac.kr (Prof. Thomas Duvernay)
Subject: Re: who else shot from horseback? (was Re: Mongol archery)
Date: 6 Dec 1995 23:42:54 GMT


CG (twigam@ix.netcom.com) wrote:

: Another historical question(s) for the panel...

: The thread on Mongol-style bows has me wondering how the Mongol
: warriors employed them in battle. Did groups of archers fire volleys
: from a distance, or did they ride up-close-and-personal to fire at
: individual targets?


In Korea, archers were generally used at a distance, although it would
depend upon the situation. In Korean traditional archery today, the
long distance shooting aspect is still central to the sport; our target
is 145 meters away (159 yards).

: Also, what other armies/peoples have employed mounted archers ?
: I'm aware of the Japanese Samurai and American Indians.
: How about Medieval England and Europe?

The Korean 'Hwarang' (Flower Youth--the young elite warriors of the Shilla
Kingdom; about 1,300 years ago) were skilled mounted archers. The city
I live in, Kyongju, was the capital of Shilla (and Korea); outside our
city's interchange is a statue of a mounted Hwarang, at full draw.

Thomas

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From: Stephen Selby <srselby@hk.super.net>
Subject: Re: who else shot from horseback? (was Re: Mongol archery)
Date: 8 Dec 1995 05:20:02 GMT


twigam@ix.netcom.com (CG) wrote:
>
>Another historical question(s) for the panel...
>
>The thread on Mongol-style bows has me wondering how the Mongol
>warriors employed them in battle. Did groups of archers fire volleys
>from a distance,

I think not: the bows used for horseback archery would not have made sufficient
impression in volleys at a distance.

or did they ride up-close-and-personal to fire at
>individual targets?

The fact that, in China at least, their adversaries maintained a central array of
crossbowmen to fend off cavalry attacks suggests that the Mongol Archers mainly used
their skills to harry on the flanks.
>
>Also, what other armies/peoples have employed mounted archers ?
>I'm aware of the Japanese Samurai and American Indians.
>How about Medieval England and Europe?
>
The ones that come to mind are "the PArthian Shot", in which the Parthian horsemen
feigned flight, and the turned on their mounts to shoot at their pursuing enemies.

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From: "David R. Watson" <crossbow@moontower.com>
Subject: Re: who else shot from horseback? (was Re: Mongol archery)
Date: 8 Dec 1995 15:03:58 GMT


Duke Charsles the Bold of Burgundy (died in battle against the Swiss
Confederation, 1471) employed a corps of mounted crossbowmen. There is
pictorial evidence from 15th and early 16th centurys that crossbowmen
were not only sometimes mounted troops, but that they did engage in
combat from horseback. I have seen one painting in which crossbowmen
seem to be engaged in a caracole, such as was later used by pistoleers.
The shooters ride forward in small groups and fire at enemy formations
from short distance (say 20 yards) and the retreat to reload. A
constant galling fire is thus run against enemy formations.
English Longbowmen were often mounted for greater mobility, but the
appear to have been dismounted for action.


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From: jeff potter <potterm@me.msu.edu>
Subject: Re: who else shot from horseback? (was Re: Mongol archery)
Date: 9 Dec 1995 17:30:43 GMT


Stephen Selby <srselby@hk.super.net> wrote:
>The ones that come to mind are "the PArthian Shot", in which the Parthian horsemen
>feigned flight, and the turned on their mounts to shoot at their pursuing enemies.

which gave rise to the phrase 'a parting shot,'

fyi... jeff potter

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From: jeff potter <potterm@me.msu.edu>
Subject: Re: who else shot from horseback? (me!)
Date: 9 Dec 1995 17:35:08 GMT


well not yet. but i'd think it'd be great fun and a great challenge to
do so. anyone here done it? of course, howard hill did it well. and it
is part of the modern martial arts involving archery. (i think i read
about it in 'zen and the art of archery,' or maybe the other zen-archery
book...there's a much better one out there than 'zen and the art...'
illustrated with white chalk drawing on black paper.) if i had a horse
to use, i'd try it. (with short bow i suppose...tho the martial art bow
is long.) jeff potter (please copy replies to: potterm@me.msu.edu)

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From: "David R. Watson" <crossbow@moontower.com>
Subject: Re: who else shot from horseback? (was Re: Mongol archery)
Date: 9 Dec 1995 19:05:56 GMT


Spanish "Jinete" light cavalry used light crossbows, cocked with a
"goatsfoot" or "gafa" cocking lever from horseback, as well as a light
javelin. Jinetes did a lot of skirmishing and ambushes. I do not know
how extensively they were used in large engagements.
Hungarians and Russians used bows on horseback. This is almost
certainly due to the influence of "Asian" bowmen, like Scythians,
Parthians, Tartars, Mongols, Turks etc.
There is some evidence that some American Indians used crossbows for
limited purposes. The Aztecs captured and used some crossbows against
the Spanish. They are said to have been impressed by the power, but
felt they were excessively complex. It is probable that Spanish
conquistadores used light crossbows a la Jinete, as well as afoot in the
new World.

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From: robs@ophelia.waterloo.net (Robert Schweitzer)
Subject: Re: who else shot from horseback? (was Re: Mongol archery)
Date: 10 Dec 1995 19:20:14 -0500


CG (twigam@ix.netcom.com) wrote:
: The thread on Mongol-style bows has me wondering how the Mongol
: warriors employed them in battle. Did groups of archers fire volleys
: from [Aa distance, or did they ride up-close-and-personal to fire at
: individual targets?

The mongols had two types of fighters in their armies - light and heavy
cavalry. Both groups employed bows, with the heavy fighters also having
armour (leather) and swords for infighting. Traditional mongol tactics
was to rush the opposing army, firing as they charged. When they came
close, they would either retreat - firing backwards as they did so, or
turned and rode parallel to the enemy front, again maintaining continuous
arrow fire. The mongols had quivers on their horses which could hold
dozens of arrows of various types. Lighter ones for longer distances,
heavy rrows for penetration, scissor heads for taking off limbs etc.
The mongols were also known to use fake retreats, drawing off the cavalry
and allowing the opposing army to be destroyed piecemeal. In one of
their battles against the Russian army, they lit a fire between the
cavalry and the infantry, so that they only had to deal with one army at
a time.

: Also, what other armies/peoples have employed mounted archers ?
: I'm aware of the Japanese Samurai and American Indians.
: How about Medieval England and Europe?

Most of the more successful armies employed mounted archers -
Parthenians, and Huns to name a pair. However, archery was frowned upon
in the middle ages as a weapon suited only to peasants. While mounted
archers were used to hunt, they never flourished the same way as they did
in asia. Once upon a time I gave a talk on this, which later was posted
to the net. I think they are still out their somewhere on a web site (if
you find them let me know). As a disclaimer, these were my notes for the
talk, so they aren't really as cohesive as I would like. They are also
several years old and could use some updating. They were originally
posted by Michael van Briesbrouck, a fellow in my archery club at the time.

I hope this helps answer some of your questions. I also recommend doing
some of your own research.

Robert Schweitzer
amateur historian

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From: edmoon@aol.com (Ed Moon)
Subject: Re: Speaking of shooting from horseback
Date: 14 Dec 1995 23:12:28 -0500
Reply-To: edmoon@aol.com (Ed Moon)


'Yabusame' (sp?) is a Japanese term for horseback archery.

I don't know of any groups outside of Japan who practice yabusame.

The following info was related to me by senior students in my Kyudo group,
it may not necessarily be correct.

The archer uses a 4 finger + thumb glove (standing archers use either a 2
finger + thumb or 3 finger + thumb glove).

A back quiver is used (worn low on the back).

The horse is going fairly fast (I don't know if at a gallop or trot) as
the archer shoots.

Usually, 3 targets are placed. The archer has to place the arrow and shoot
very quickly as the horse passes in front of the targets.

Ed Moon



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