Why was the longbow made

Why did the English only adopt, develop and use the longbow en masse during the war?

Short answer:

The longbow was very difficult to use and required a lot of experience and strength. But the crossbow was very easy to use and anyone could use it.

Long answer:

The bow is basically a large feather made of wood.

When bending back, energy is stored in the two limbs. Let go of that load and that energy will be released when you shoot the arrow at more than 160 feet / second.

The left hand was used to hold the bow and the right hand was used to pull the string and release the arrow.

Almost every culture in the world developed an arc. Shorter ones for sitting on horseback, longer ones for distance and strength. And one of the most famous and effective weapons was the English longbow.

13th century, English longbow:

  • Length 6 feet
  • Maximum effective range 300 meters.

They were very popular in the 1300s. In fact, this was the terror weapon of the 13th and early 14th centuries.

At that time the English and French were at war for about a hundred years. That's why they call it the Hundred Years War. The English had the advantage of the superiority of the longbow, which resulted from the material from which they were made.

Longbows were cut from a piece of wood. They made good longbows. The outer wide wood was soft and could withstand a lot of tension. The inner wide wood could withstand compression. Together they gave the longbow a deadly power that French knights learned to fear.

But the English also had the bow of a particularly evil hardened steel arrowhead, the sole purpose of which was to pierce armor and kill it.

Long bows, however, were much more difficult to use and required a lot of practice.

Although the draw weight of a typical English longbow is controversial, it was at least 360 newtons (81 pounds of force) and possibly more than 600 N (130 lbf) with some estimates as high as 900 N (200 lbf). Considerable practice was required to achieve the quick and effective combat shooting required. Longbow archers' skeletons are noticeably adapted, with enlarged left arms and often osteophytes on the left wrists, left shoulders, and right fingers.

It was the difficulty of using the longbow that led various monarchs of England to issue instructions that would further their possessions and practice.

During the reign of Edward III. Laws were passed by England to enable Fletchers and Bowyers to be imprinted on the army. In addition, men and boys were banned from playing football or golf, and they were encouraged to practice archery instead.

Finding men strong enough to shoot a long bow was a difficult task.

And then came another type of bow.

11th century, medieval crossbow:

  • Maximum effective range 60 meters.

The earliest record of the crossbow was in China around 500 BC. BC But they were probably used earlier.

The Greeks and Romans had them too. However, when they entered many more European countries, they were in greater demand than ever.

The crossbow bow is a small bow that is mounted on a duo wooden stand or tiller with a release mechanism to release the bow.

Since the bow was short and it took a lot of energy to pull the arms back, it took both hands to hook it into the button and all of the energy is stored in the bow arms. Release the trigger and the bow shot out like a bat out of hell.

Although the longbow required a lot of practice and muscle, the crossbow was a piece of a cake. Anyone can load it. They were pretty much like pulling the trigger on a gun.

The feet were used to hold the crossbow against the ground and both hands to load it, drawing the arrow with the back. Then you just had to aim and pull the trigger to fire.

Advantage of the longbow -

  • Experienced archers could shoot 20 arrows in a minute. They also traveled a long distance.

Advantage of the crossbow -

  • Archers could only shoot 10 arrows in a minute. They also traveled a shorter distance. However, these shortcomings were made up for by the fact that anyone could shoot at it.

In the course of the Hundred Years War, the number of English longbow archers declined. The French gained the upper hand because they had more crossbows. The longbow had had its day.

Although Longbow was the sniper rifle of the day, it couldn't match the popularity of the crossbow that some special forces still use to this day.


  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qsAUKRbaZ9E (primary)
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Longbow
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_longbow
  4. https://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/medieval-england/the-longbow/
  5. http://www.thebeckoning.com/medieval/crossbow/cross_l_v_c.html


Good answer, but I think you meant "10 arrows in a minute" so that crossbow is a disadvantage and not an advantage.

Matt thrower

Thank you for this answer, which has a lot of useful background information for those unfamiliar with the premise of the question. However, it seems to slightly gloss over the crucial part of the questions: Why did the English only develop the bow into the longbow and, to paraphrase your answer, forged hardened arrowheads when these technologies were available across Europe? And the crossbow was a few years older than Edward III.


I found that at least one passage in this post was taken straight from a book by Sayed Ramsey. Please mark all non-original pages in this post as such.


"Longbows were cut from a piece of wood. They made good longbows." Could you clarify that? Did you want to mention a specific type of wood? If not, who made good longbows? The accompanying animation seems to imply that the type of wood used was something special. Is that what you want to say?