Rediscovering historical “combat archery”

Danish archer and artist Lars Andersen claims to be the fastest archer in the world.  He’s put up a new video, illustrating the archery techniques he’s spent ten years rediscovering and mastering.  Watch it in full-screen mode for best results.

You can read more about him in this article, and on his Web site.

I’m not sure how historically accurate his techniques may be.  He obviously believes in them, and provides evidence for his claims:  but I’m not sure how well they would have worked on a battlefield, where thousands of archers would be massed together (as at the battles of Crécy or Agincourt) or riding together on horseback (as at the battle of Carrhae).  Also, how would crossbowmen have fought, compared to archers using traditionally drawn bows?  Did the former develop similar techniques?

Nevertheless, regardless of their historical accuracy or otherwise, Andersen’s techniques are certainly impressive and entertaining.



  1. I do find his skill quite entertaining. He is down right acrobatic in his archery. However his claims for historical accuracy are seriously questionable. There are a couple of good debunking videos addressing that that are entertaining themselves.

  2. First off, cool video
    Second, back quivers are stupid. Hip quiver or hand is the way to go, and I prefer hip.

    As someone who fights combat archery in the SCA there is something I have noticed about massed combat…Very few "techniques" actually work. This sort of shooting may work quite well from a chariot, or parthian style but I have to beg leave to differ that these techniques work for foot archers. Maybe in singletons or small groups but not if you have scores, hundreds, or thousands of other around you. And the greatest archery force in the world (English yeoman) fought on mass, very seldom moved, and never while firing. When it came time to move and fight they carried melee weapons because it is all but impossible to draw a 55 lb+ weight bow to any sort of accurate depth while moving.
    Cool to watch though

  3. Wonderful post and video. It's great to see renewed interest in ancient weapons. Not only does mastering traditional skills provide an alternative means of self-defense, it also gives us a connection to a rich past.

    Fantasy writers should know the basics of the primitive weapons they write about, as I noted in a recent blog post on the sling.

  4. The bows Lars uses are too weak for most combat situations save maybe the ones hideousdwarf suggests, unarmored, unshielded targets at close range where speed is a requirement. They are about 30 lbs pull I'd guess which is inadequate.

    A hunting bow needs to be about 50lbs for deer with older bows and what's good for deer is barely adequate for war.

    A proper warbow is at least 80 and may go as high as 180!

    Likely the arrows from a weak bow wouldn't penetrate layered linen like a jack or linothorax and would be worthless vs a shield. Heck heavier warbows sometimes had trouble

    That said they are cool to watch

  5. I believe he bases his archery on the ancient fast moving archers, sumerians and syrians. The mongols and apaches are probably the same type of warriors. It's fast moving warriors, transported by chariots and horses, that might also dismount and move around swiftly in short raids and skirmishers. This would be like an ancient equivalancy of rangers or mobile infantry.
    In this setting I can see the use of his style. The chariot might get one pass by the opposing infantry, and the more shots you manage to get off while passing the better. You might also need to fire fast to stop opposing forces from rushing your vehicle. You will be on an unstable platform, moving fast, and you will have the driver and possible a third person beside you that limit your movements. And in a chaotic battlefield you might get dismounted and have to fight on foot while running.

    The english longbow was not used that way, its use was closer to artillery. While it's technically the same weapon, it's use is totally different. The longbow was designed to be used as a long distance weapon, against heavily armed knights and infantry formations. Like you would use artillery today.

    While I have no clue how historically correct his techniques really are, I can certainly see the validity of his point, and the existance of the english longbow does not necessarily negate them. And it's a cool video, even if it would just be the equivalancy of a quickdraw trick shot. 🙂

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