Some Combat Archery Basics
Sir Jon Fitz-Rauf, O.L., O.P.,R.C.A., R.C.Y.


Individual Basics

1: Learn and understand your kingdom rules regarding war combat.

2: You should nock your arrow, while standing or running, without looking down at your bow. If using a crossbow, learn to cock it without bending over. Always observe: the enemy, incoming arrows and where you are going. You can not avoid what you do not see.

3: Shoot first at "good" targets that are in your effective range and are unprotected, or which pose an immediate threat. Even if your arrow does not kill or wound, it may distract your target and allow someone else to take them out.

4: Cross shoot at targets to either side of you, instead of directly in front. It is usually a waste of arrows to try to hit someone that is watching you.

5: Keep covered. Use: natural cover, heavies with shields, a pavise, walls, etc. If possible, arrange for one of your fighters to stay with you and provide cover with their shield.

6: When shooting from behind cover, such as a wall or line of fighters, do not keep popping up in the same spot; an enemy arrow may be waiting for you to show up there again. On the other hand, watch for and shoot opposing archers that do not heed this advice.

7: Do not shoot out of your effective range at a single target. You may hit a group by chance, but seldom a single target.

8: When possible you should make fullest use of your mobility, do not stay in one spot. Do not always dodge arrows by moving in the same direction, this is setting a pattern and a good enemy archer will make use of it by shooting where you will be.

9: If you are wounded and cannot shoot, give your arrows to another archer that can make use of them.

10: You should save your better, more accurate arrows for longer shots or small targets.

11: Make sure your arrows are neatly stored in your quiver, so that when you pull one out it does not bring its friends with it.

12: As you draw, nock and aim double check your arrow to verify that the head is still attached. You have the final responsibility for the safe condition of your weapons.

13: Identify enemy leaders and the more dangerous fighters, both heavies and archers. Point them out to other archers to kill first when possible. You should try to take out immediate threats first.

14: You should remember that the bow is a distance weapon. Unless it is necessary to shoot from in close in order to get through pikes, etc. Strike from longer range. Distance is your friend, it keeps the enemy fighters off of you.

15: When possible, you should try to see that the same enemy fighters are not repeatedly targeted over and over. This is no fun for them and may cause them to dislike archers.

16: Do not get angry if someone does not take a hit. Sometimes in the heat of battle, even the cleanest shots may not be noticed by your target. If you should feel that someone is repeatedly ignoring shots, politely talk to them between battles.

17: If one of your fighters and a enemy fighter are doing a "one on one" fight, do not intercede unless ordered to do so. Once the fight is over and he has a chance to recover, the enemy is fair game. If one of your fighters and an enemy are discussing something, do not shoot till they are finished and have again engaged.

18: Practice shooting while wearing your helm, hand protection and any other gear that can affect your shooting. You should practice nocking while on the move, shooting from different positions and anything else that helps to simulate what you will be doing in combat.

19: Have fun and try to help our wars be fun for others as well.


Unit Basics

1: Your battle plan should be based on: Your objectives for the battle. The strength and weakness of the enemy. The strength and weakness of your forces. The terrain. Any special rules or conditions for that battle.

2: You should learn the quality and quantity of your force and their equipment, such as ability and experience, approximate number of missiles, range of bows, armor, pavises, etc.

3: You should also learn the same about the enemy.

4: With the battle plan in mind divide your forces in units. Provide a mix of forces, when possible, provide both offensive and defensive capabilities.

5: You should arrange for leaders and seconds in command for each unit as well as an overall commander and second in command.

6: Two or more small units may be grouped under the command of the leader of one of the small units.

7: When possible you should arrange for fighters with shields to provide defensive capabilities, cover from missiles and from enemy heavy charges for the units.

8: Communicate with those around you. Teamwork can prevent other fighters in front of you from inadvertently blocking your arrows. They can also point out critical targets to you.

9: You should always try to take and hold the initiative, force the enemy to react to you.

10: You should try to obtain a local superiority in numbers and destroy that part of the enemy force, then move on to the next.

11: Concentrate your arrow attack on part of the enemy at a time. Have a few archers keep the rest of the enemy engaged.

12: Try to flank an opposing line and shoot down the length of it. This gives you a larger target area.

13: Maneuver your forces to shoot the enemy from at least two directions at the same time. This will make it harder for them to see and avoid or block all the arrows.

14: Practice working as a unit and your unit should practice working with other units.


For questions related to this article please contact the author: Sir Jon Fitz-Rauf at

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