Medieval Bows Design, Types and Facts

The bow is one of the oldest and most versatile weapons in human history, dating back thousands of years.

Throughout its long history, it has taken on many different forms, from the traditional longbow to the more modern crossbow and spring bow.


The longbow is a type of bow that is tall, typically around 6 feet in length, with a narrow, D-shaped cross section. It was used primarily in medieval England, where it was a vital weapon of the English army during the Hundred Years’ War. The longbow was capable of firing arrows at high velocities, with a range of up to 250 yards.

English enemy fire their arrow bolts at French Enemy


The shortbow is a smaller version of the longbow, typically around 4 feet in length. It was used primarily in hunting and for close-range combat, where its shorter length made it more maneuverable than the longbow. The shortbow was popular among the Native American tribes of North America, who used it for hunting and warfare.

Medieval Archer taking part of a Medieval Tournament


The crossbow is a type of bow that uses a horizontal limb mounted on a stock. It is operated by a trigger mechanism that releases the bowstring, allowing the bolt to be fired with greater accuracy and force than a traditional bow and arrow.

The crossbow was widely used in medieval Europe and was popular among both foot soldiers and mounted knights. It was capable of penetrating armor and was a highly effective weapon on the battlefield.

Crossbow Fires Bolts

Tactics and Use in Battle

Bows were used in a variety of ways on the battlefield, from long-range bombardment to close-range combat. The longbow, with its long range and high accuracy, was used primarily as a defensive weapon, allowing archers to rain down arrows on enemy forces from a safe distance.

The shortbow, with its shorter range and greater maneuverability, was used primarily in close-range combat, where it could be fired rapidly and accurately.

English longbowmen Battle of Agincourt

The crossbow was a highly effective weapon in medieval warfare, capable of penetrating armor and inflicting serious injuries on enemy soldiers. Its accuracy and power made it a valuable weapon for both offensive and defensive purposes.

The spring bow is a highly accurate and powerful weapon that is popular among hunters and sportsmen. Its ease of use and high accuracy make it a popular choice for competitive archery.

Legacy and Influence

The bow has played a significant role in human history and has influenced the development of many other weapons, from the firearm to the modern rocket launcher. Its versatility and effectiveness in combat have made it a staple of warfare and hunting for thousands of years.

Medieval Footsoldiers Battle of Crecy

Today, the bow continues to be used in hunting and sport, and it remains a popular weapon among archers and enthusiasts around the world. Its long history and enduring influence make it an important artifact of human culture and technology.