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"Archery in Mail Armor" Topic

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Louie N25 Apr 2018 10:51 a.m. PST

Hello All,

Maybe some folks with re-enactment experience would know this.

How hard is Archery when wearing Mail Armor?



Is there no impact, minimal, or does it really effect your ability to draw the bow cleanly?

I have no idea and I am just wondering.


MajorB25 Apr 2018 11:46 a.m. PST

There is an abiding misconception that armour inhibits movement. The whole point of well designed armour is that it doesn't inhibit movement. Archery while wearing mail is emninently doable.

Stryderg25 Apr 2018 11:58 a.m. PST

Wore a chain mail shirt once, was able to swim in it…not well, but didn't sink like a rock, either. Ah, college days…

Louie N25 Apr 2018 12:41 p.m. PST

Stryderg that is an interesting story. I would be scared to enter water with that much additional weight. Depending on the shirt of course.

Stryderg25 Apr 2018 1:04 p.m. PST

It was the shallow end of the pool (3ft). Very easy to simply stand up. I'm crazy, not stupid.

bsrlee25 Apr 2018 3:48 p.m. PST

There are several techniques for shooting in armour given in the surviving archery manuals – basically minor changes in stance so the string doesn't drag or get caught on anything you are wearing.

warwell26 Apr 2018 1:34 a.m. PST

It depends on whether the mail is fitted to the arm properly. I have a cheap set where the sleeves hang down, sort of like the first pic, and I've caught my bow string on it plenty of times (I'm no archery expert though so I can't claim that my form is proper). Nevertheless, if it the sleeve is fitted to the arm it should be OK

Personal logo Andrew Walters Supporting Member of TMP26 Apr 2018 9:18 a.m. PST

Based on experience and reading I have three thoughts…

1) You could say archery isn't about moving as much as about holding still, so provided the mail isn't so heavy that it tires the arm so that it trembles and provided it doesn't prevent elevating the left arm for long range shots, there shouldn't be interference.

2) A bigger concern would be the bow strings getting caught on or abraded by the metal bits. Depending on what you're using for bowstrings and how the armor is made, you could be restringing that bow more often than you like. This problem could be solved by a little leather, but we don't see that in either of those images.

3) Mail is expensive, and in a well-run army you plan on keeping your archers from being hacked at. So you probably don't buy mail for the archers. Spend that money on anything else. Give the armor to the folks up front. Put the archers behind stakes or what not. Armored archers appear in art, but they're rare in actual history. Not nonexistent, but rare.

The Beast Rampant26 Apr 2018 2:03 p.m. PST

So you probably don't buy mail for the archers. Spend that money on anything else.

Unless your archers are mercenaries, and their choice of kit is largely their own, due to what they can afford or loot.

Goober26 Apr 2018 5:41 p.m. PST

A short sleeved mail coat will offer no real issue. You are most likely to connect your arm and string from the elbow to the wrist. My wife is hypermobile and often her arm protrudes into the path of the bowstring. She has some impressive bruises as a result. Both of the shooters above have bracers on that would serve just fine as an arm guard (although they are both demonstrating terrible form – they look like they are gripping the bow far too hard – especially the first lady). I'd also usually shoot with the arrow on the left side of the bow, so I'm in line from my eye to the arrow to the target – not looking across the bow to aim the arrow. Some do shoot this way, though.

Griefbringer27 Apr 2018 12:32 a.m. PST

Unless your archers are mercenaries, and their choice of kit is largely their own, due to what they can afford or loot.

In the medieval times, even those who were not mercenaries were usually expected to provide their arms and armour.

Thomas Thomas30 Apr 2018 10:30 a.m. PST

English archers brought their own kit (might get cloth provided to make "uniforms") but had minimum armor standards and got fined if missing.

Helm and gameson minimum but many supplemented armor.


dapeters30 Apr 2018 12:30 p.m. PST

Major B & Griefbringer +1, I have read some discussion about helms with wide brims being problematic.

The Last Conformist01 May 2018 5:29 a.m. PST

Mailed horse archers were a common troop type across a lot of time and space, from late Rome to Japan.

dapeters02 May 2018 11:46 a.m. PST

But don't confused mounted archers with horse archers.

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