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Archers in Front or Behind?

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Archers in Front or Behind?

Postby Throndor » Thu Dec 15, 2011 11:59 pm

I was just wondering what was more realistic/successful/used: having archers in front of your troops, or behind them. I can see the logic of both ways. For starters, if your troops are in front of your archers, your archers are protected and can have an enemy in their line of fire for prolonged periods if their targets go into melee. However, they may also shoot their own troops, and have shortened range. Archers in front would provide the archers with longer range, a clearer shot, and not have the risk of them killing their allies, but it also leaves them vulnerable, and to move them hastily behind your lines is a bit unrealistic, and accidents may happen if 50 men are walking through each other's ranks while carrying huge medieval weapons. While I can see the pros and cons of both sides, I see both of these a lot, and I don't think there's really a "right" or "wrong". Personally, I think it just makes more sense to have the archers in the rear. What do you think?
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Re: Archers in Front or Behind?

Postby lord_of_orks » Fri Dec 16, 2011 1:33 am

I would have my archers in the rear, I think it very unlikely that they would accidentally shoot there own allies.
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Re: Archers in Front or Behind?

Postby LordLiam98 » Fri Dec 16, 2011 11:55 pm

I would have my archers behind my line, raining arrows on the enemy so long as they have arrows left and I am not surrounding and/or charging them with men that might get into the center of the group (cavalry mainly) or that are important.
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Re: Archers in Front or Behind?

Postby theboywarrior » Sat Dec 17, 2011 8:23 pm

I'd put them on the walls of a canyon or two hills and have my infantry lure in the enemy. If you get left in there with the enemy, too bad. :twisted:
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Re: Archers in Front or Behind?

Postby OverLoad » Sun Dec 18, 2011 12:47 am

Archers in lines on both sides of the main troops seems like it would work. How accurate that is to any point in the medieval era, I do not know. Nonetheless, if I were to do any sort of diorama with archers, I would do just that.
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Re: Archers in Front or Behind?

Postby Shadowviking » Sun Dec 18, 2011 2:15 am

Either, or at sides, or mixed, depending on the situation
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Re: Archers in Front or Behind?

Postby Medieval Guy » Sun Dec 18, 2011 7:57 pm

As long as there is no danger of a swift cavalry charge, I'd position archers at the front to allow for ease of shooting the enemy. Having to shoot over your own men forces you to shoot in an arc (assuming you're on level ground) and woul decrease both the power and accuracy of ypur shot.

To protect the archers in the event of an attack, I'd either have a company of spearmen of some cavalry nearby. They need to be able to get in fast. Also, a row of sharpened stakes between you and the enemy is always useful, and not altogether uncommon.

If I could have an ideal army, my archers would be mounted and very mobile. They could flee from the enemy quickly while raining arrows down on them.
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Re: Archers in Front or Behind?

Postby Throndor » Sun Dec 18, 2011 9:46 pm

While archers on horseback would be theoretically a good idea, their range was significantly decreased by the lack of movement and size for larger bows while mounted. The Mongolians had success because they had the Recurve bow, but that wasn't really a European thing. Also, archers are fairly cheap to train and maintain; horse archery is harder to master and is more expensive due to horse care. Spikes would definitely be very nice.
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Re: Archers in Front or Behind?

Postby Medieval Guy » Mon Dec 19, 2011 12:34 am

Range isn't an issue if you can dart in and out of range this easily. And, if you hadn't guessed, I was using the Mongolians as my ideal army. The other stuff was based more on what the Europeans had to offer.
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Re: Archers in Front or Behind?

Postby Throndor » Mon Dec 19, 2011 2:15 am

Ah, I see. But what about when you were attacking a city/castle? Range is definitely important there. If you got well within range of the castle, odds are you wouldn't last long, and even if you were able to make a decent volley, you'd probably take more losses than you'd give. That's really how the Europeans kept the Mongolians at bay. So yeah, in open battle, you could do that, but what about if a siege battle was necessary?
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Re: Archers in Front or Behind?

Postby Heir of Black Falcon » Mon Dec 19, 2011 2:57 pm

Historically it could be both. At the star archers were often in front to give more ability to loose their arrows without hindrance (and potential danger) of men in front of them. Then once the enemy is closer move to the rear or flanks. The issue is once the enemy has closed loosing arrows point blank means more flat trajectory and if your men are between you and the target this is harder.

As well we see the 15th century Burgundian Chronicles learning to use their bows and melee troops in conjunction, archers in the rear.

In the 14th it seems archers were used on the flanks of men at arms units. Each protects the other, do their jobs unhindered.

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Re: Archers in Front or Behind?

Postby richardanthonyc » Fri Feb 10, 2012 10:05 am

Throndor wrote:While archers on horseback would be theoretically a good idea, their range was significantly decreased by the lack of movement and size for larger bows while mounted. The Mongolians had success because they had the Recurve bow, but that wasn't really a European thing. Also, archers are fairly cheap to train and maintain; horse archery is harder to master and is more expensive due to horse care. Spikes would definitely be very nice.


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Re: Archers in Front or Behind?

Postby richardanthonyc » Fri Feb 10, 2012 10:09 am

Also the questions of positioning of the Archers is... flawed. It depends on terrain, technology, opposition forces and so many other factors that the questions of where to put any unit of soldiers is not answerable unless you give a specific scenario and details
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Re: Archers in Front or Behind?

Postby richardanthonyc » Fri Feb 10, 2012 10:16 am

Medieval Guy wrote:Range isn't an issue if you can dart in and out of range this easily. And, if you hadn't guessed, I was using the Mongolians as my ideal army. The other stuff was based more on what the Europeans had to offer.


But range was an issue for the Mongolians - their bows could shoot longer than the Longbow, nearly a hundred metres more is fact and all that from horseback
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Re: Archers in Front or Behind?

Postby DraconisTerrena » Sat Feb 11, 2012 4:18 am

Archers were usually posted at the rear of an army; they would fire arced shots over their own troops towards the enemy. It was also usually seen as best to keep them protected, both because they were usually lightly armored and had little defense against cavalry or infantry, and because archers were usually peasant levies and prone to breaking when charged. (Not that conscript infantry wasn't also prone to that, but archers were usually seen as "less reliable," probably because the nobility (and thus commanders) of the Middle Ages considered the bow to be a common man's weapon, and thus considered those who used it to be lesser men.
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