[Horsebow] Scythian Arrows

Greenman

New member
Fonz Awardee
Scythian arrows were apparently 17"-!9" long, they shot them with a 2 fingered release, but how do you shoot an arrow that short? The Scythians obviously did quite well with them, and didn't come unstuck till they met the Samations and Pathians who shot 30" arrows. Just curious how you could shoot consistantly without anchoring the shot. Their war arrowheads had a single tang/barb, whether that could act as a draw stop, or not is a thought, unlikely probably.
 


schatzperson

New member
Scythian arrows

Interesting fact Greenman.....have just posted a few questions about Scythian bow dynamics, because it seemed to my untrained eye that this bow bends "too much" near the grip if one goes by pictures that show an anchor point and a longer arrow.
If the design really catered only for 17 to 19" arrows, then things are really different after all.
However other short horsebows look like they work in a similar fashion (limbs work near grip area) but with longer arrows !
 


yoda

New member
Merlin Archery; Grozer Old Scythian - Primitive Bow

the pic bottom right looks like a longer arrow and tbh i don't think it looks like the bow is overly stressed around the grip, looks to me that there is enough "spring"(for want of better word) left around the grip area.

i have no experience of these bows but was thinking about getting one to shoot alongside my compound so the more q & a's the better.

cheers

shaun
 


schatzperson

New member
Scythian

I suppose my saying "overstressed" is a bit too emphatic; I was also considering the "unstrung to fulldraw" angular movement of the lower part of the limbs. Or perhaps its just my inexperience showing!
Are most Scythians you find on sale for 200 Euro odd, of modern composite construction? (glass, carbon etc).
 


Quadratus

New member
If the Scythian arrows really were that short it could be that the bow was only drawn to the chest. Various Greek vase paintings and other artifacts seem to show this, but they are unreliable when it comes to the details of how weapons etc were used.

It might be relevant that most modern horse archers only draw to the chest, but I don't know what their typical arrow length is.

Conversions from ancient measuring systems are notoriously unreliable, and in general ancient arrows don't survive in the archaeology. Where did the figures come from?
 


Tael

New member
Read only the other day a report about a Scythian burial found in the frozen steppes on the China/Russian border area where the grave goods were exceptionally well preserved, that stated the arrows found in the gorytos with the bow were all 34" or longer. Interesting article i'll post a link if I can find it again
 


N.Vodden

New member
Ironman
Interesting fact Greenman.....have just posted a few questions about Scythian bow dynamics, because it seemed to my untrained eye that this bow bends "too much" near the grip if one goes by pictures that show an anchor point and a longer arrow.
i know what you mean, ive got 2 horsebows. a Kassai Hun bow and a Grozer Old Scythin. at full draw the Scythian has a really severe limb angle and looks lik its about to snap! but it can easily handle it, its rated to draw another 2 inches more than mine and its nice and comfortable.

and yep i know, arrow is too high on the grip in this shot :)

 


yoda

New member
Good pic m8, i'm waiting for my kassai wolf III to turn up at the moment. have you got any pics of your kassai at full draw and what weight have you got on both your bows?

cheers

shaun
 


N.Vodden

New member
Ironman


thats the Kassai Hun. The Scythian is 44lb, the hun is 50lb. The Scythian seems to be faster, but the Hun is a much nicer shot. It feels smoother and not so vicious propelling the arrow!

My wife shoots a Kassai Wolf II @ 30lb, and she loves it. turned her back on recurves after trying my horsebow and shoots entirely trad now.
 


yoda

New member
nice pic again m8 but are you drawing it to it's full potential (if you know what i mean), seems it has a lot more to go to get the fullness out of it?

obviously you know better than me as i'm still waiting for mine, but i thought it would look more like the scythian at full draw tbh.

cheers for the reply and pic m8, thought i'd have to wait ages on a sat night lol.

shaun
 


N.Vodden

New member
Ironman
heh, not out tonight :beer:

i draw a tad over 29" and it has a max draw length of about 32" iirc. Its a much larger bow and with the siyahs as well it has a less severe string angle.
 


yoda

New member
cheers for that, i draw 27-1/2 on a compound with a wrist release. i tried a 40lbs self bow (which seemed easy to draw, prob because of drawing 57lbs on the compound) and decided i'd go for a 45lbs kassai.

been reading off the grozer site how to string it, should shock the club coach when i do it lol.

cheers again m8

shaun
 


?j?sz

New member
I'm a bit of a newbie to trad so can't say much but what I've noticed out here (Hungary), at least the little I've seen so far, is that leaving the arrow at full length (32+in) seems to be the norm rather than cutting it down to just above draw length. Suppose it gives a softer arrow as well as making sight marks a little easier?
 


^HUN^

New member
I'm a bit of a newbie to trad so can't say much but what I've noticed out here (Hungary), at least the little I've seen so far, is that leaving the arrow at full length (32+in) seems to be the norm rather than cutting it down to just above draw length. Suppose it gives a softer arrow as well as making sight marks a little easier?
Most wooden shafts are sold at 32" and are spined at this length, the moment you reduce the length, you increase the spine. Honestly though, using 32" arrows with a drawlength of 26" for example, would be bordering on being silly, but that is not to say that a slightly overlength arrow does not fly better.

Now then, about Scythian arrows...
Generally, in the west, Scythian finds have produced arrows around the 55-60cm range (around 2ft) which are fairly short arrows considering many skeletons measured 6ft+. Quadratus is quite right when he says Greek art depicts the bow being drawn to the chest but there are also depictions of the string being drawn to the ear. The Scythian style finds at Urumqi in Xinjiang suggest arrows of 80cm (31.5"), the bow itself around 119cm.
The eastern Scythians are generally referred to as Saka. It is not known whether they were seperate peoples (probably just an eastern branch) but ethnically they were very similar, both being Indo Iranian, with fair hair and western features, however there is evidence of some Mongoloid mixture in some finds.

The bows mentioned in this thread are replicas and are not composite. Though they are similar shape wise, they are not really very accurate depictions. Scythian bows were very angular and narrow; cross sectionally they were thick (not the flat limbs of these replicas) and the limb tips were extremely recurved (almost like a shepherds crook) There is a bowyer in Germany who is doing a lot of reseach into Scythian bow design and he makes some stunning horn, wood and sinew examples.
 


?j?sz

New member
@ <Hun> , I was under the impression that all arrows, irrespective of their length as sold were spined at 28 in?

I don't know anything about the Scythians (in fact I don't know anything about anything) but I've recently being doing a bit of reading on the battle tactics of the Huns and the Magyars). Both Kassai and Fields maintain that not only were the bows used at reletaviely close ranges from horseback, but also that they were used at longer distances either from the horse or foot. If I remeber correctly without checking the books something like 200m plus. Is it possible that if the same bows was used with a draw to the chest on horseback = short arrow, but that at longer range. draw to the ear, possibly on foot = long arrow? Just a thought any info or reading lists appreciated:reading:
 


^HUN^

New member
Hello Ijasz,
The composite bow underwent quite some transformation from the Scythian form circa 500 bce to the Magyars of the 10thC or the Mongols of the 13thC. In fact, its history goes back further still, to ancient Egypt. The introduction of rigid siyahs to the limb tips went some way to increasing the draw length but they are in no way necessary for this, as can be seen in Korean bows. These little bows draw 32"+ and their limbs achieve frightening angles. The siyahs of these bows are constructed in a different way and do flex. Though the dimensions of these two bows are similar, the Scythian did not possess the flat limbs and are almost as thick as they are wide.

Steppe tactics were pretty similar throughout the various peoples: Scythians, Sarmatians, Huns, Avars, Magyars, Khazars, Pechenegs, Qipchaqs. Usually the enemy was denied engagement and harried until drawn out of formation by feigned retreat or overimpetuousness. At this point various bands, often operating as family groups would gallop into the confusion, loosing their arrows as they went. In fact, it can be likened to their herding techniques in some respects, the Huns in particular used lassos to devastating effect.
The larger bows of the Huns evolved into a shorter, more reflexed weapon and supposedly reached its zenith with the Turkish design.

You are in Hungary, have you been to the National Museum in Budapest? It's a place I've been wanting to go for ages. Plenty of artefacts relating to these steppe nomads.
There are many books that cover the subject but more in a historical study of each timeframe rather than a study of the composite bow. If you want to find out about the Magyars or the Avars and such without reading indepth books, the Osprey series are quite good. They contain a fair amount of historical information, brief descriptions of any memorable battles and colour plates depicting arms and armour, based on archaeological finds.
 


?j?sz

New member
Hi <hun>,
Unfortunaetely live bit away from Budapest and as I work through the week and Mrs ?j?sz works at weekends its not so easy to get there! Out of all the museums I've been to in Bp thats not one of them, guess it'll be a must do on the next visit. Thanx for the info.
P
 


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