SLOW POWDER FAST ARROWS
Whenever some silly fellow doesn’t immediately read my wisdom, fall to his knees and keen loudly that they are no longer worthy, when they dare not agree with me as I impugn semi-automatic weapons, I use the analogy “wow, makes you wonder why fast action short range bows never triumphed over single shot muzzle loading long range rifles.” Of course, that isn’t entirely correct as I’ll cover in a minute. But I’m hoping that suitable sarcasm wins our little tiff. Slinging projectiles down range in mass volleys did win the Mongols a hell of an empire. And that was the only way smoothbore muskets could carry the field ( although artillery was the main casualty inducer ). But not all missiles are equal. For one thing, the Mongols had composite bows that had a heck of a bite at short range. They were a superior missile weapon because they didn’t use up their energy covering distance. And it was the horsemen clearing the field to allow siege weapons to proceed to city walls that won the day. The Mongols used state of the art weapons using mass and velocity- fast moving horse delivering a wall of missiles close range. For another thing, there is a world of difference between an arrow and a lead bullet.
A lead bullet is, simplistically, actually a shock weapon, not a range weapon, insofar as effectiveness at the point of impact. Okay, to a degree. A .22 rimfire bullet, having lost most of its energy from distance and layered clothing penetration, will act more like an arrow with low shock value and relying on impact point and repeated impacts to be effective. As will lower powered pistol bullets like anemic .380 rounds or some such. But by and large, for the most part, a bullet will be a shock weapon. Now, you add in the range part to the shock, trauma inducing part, and you have a superior weapon in all ways compared to an archery weapon ( there is no contest between crossbow bolts and bullets. Any crossbow big enough to have enough range takes too long to load. Crossbows were best used from fortifications were the reloading process was safer ). You can fire clouds of arrows all day long and in the end most of your shots were not in range. You could send in mounted archers, but bullets take horses down nicely. And if the two groups somehow clashed head on, a swarm of bullets decimates while arrows only somewhat incapacitates. Against bullets, arrows fall back to guerilla weapons only. And then, they are used to gain the superior weapons ( assuming ammo wasn’t an issue ). In the end, arrows are still arrows with mainly harassment value and bullets are shock weapons on the tip of an arrow.
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