What if Kurzweil doesn't make it?
What if all the switches get stuck on destroy?
When the shuttle goes, we won't take it
When the final counter-measures are deployed
All we'll have is all this time

Sunday, August 1, 2010

One of the reasons I don't watch much TV.

So, because I was bored and there was nothing else on I saw an episode of Top Shot on the History Channel. This was the episode with the long bows and crossbows.

Okay, so I'm sure there's a bunch of editing and selection of the photo shoots that drive the story, but really, what a bunch of whiny little girls. Yeah, competitive bullcrap abounds, but the whole "WTF is this with bows, I just, blah blah blah." Really smarty pants, then get your asses out there on the line and practice until the sun goes down instead of sitting in the house and bitchin' about how it's such an unfair requirement.

Really, I'm in a skills competition and I'm not on the line throwing lead (or wood as the case may be) down range until I can barely see? Is there some rule that prevents them from practicing? Eating is something you do when your hands hurt and you need a break (or you start shaking from either protein or glucose deficiency).

And they perpetuated a myth. And that myth is that the crossbow was more advanced on the field. It wasn't. The yew bow (aka English Long Bow) was. Now, they did it right that combat long bows had 150-200lb draw weights. You typical current era long bow has a 40lb draw weight, and hunting compound bows have a 60lb draw weight.

Crossbows are very old weapons, having seen service in the Greek Army and were a way of balancing the power of the composite bow and the ability to aim it. And while the long bow is just as old, the advent of the yew bow was a late arrival on the battlefield and slightly post-dates the arrival of the metal composite crossbow. No matter what, the crossbow was only just a strong short bow. The determining factor was that the yew bow was just as powerful at close range (yes, the yew bow would put a steel-tipped shaft through platemail, knight, and pierce the back of the mail at close range), twice as effective at a medium distance, and had a long range of 300-500 yards, which the crossbow couldn't match. Also, a skilled crossbowman could shoot 5-8 quirils in a minute and required extensive training. This is why in the middle ages most crossbowman were mercenaries. The long bow, on the other hand, could put 15 shafts per minute down range and didn't require the extreme training (although English Law required yeoman to train so many times per year), and were also able to use their short swords and pikes.

The yew bow gained prominence in the 100 Years War (late 14th century) and most importantly gave Henry V his victory at Agincourt. Well, that and the French losing their minds and feeling over confident by outnumbering the English 5 to 1 (in mounted knights). Then French brought 1,500 crossbowman to the field (Italian mercenaries). While most accounts of the battle talk about how the French longbowman and crossbowman were shuffled to the back, what is less well known is the Italian Mercenaries quit the field in the onslaught of the English Yew Bowman in the forest of Tramecourt.

While the crossbow became the template that was used to integrate man-portable firearms into battle, it was the competition of the long bow that caused firearm adoption


Anonymous said...

There appears to be a restriction on practice during the show. One one episode, a competitor solicited votes to go to the elimination round so he could get some practice.

Ignoring the entire show until they get to the actual competition is how I watch it, but I do enjoy it. We've been talking about taking up marksmanship - this has been the deciding factor to go for it.

Anonymous Cassie

Dr. Phil (Physics) said...

Yeah, in one of the contests with a firearm they only had N number of rounds, so had to decide how many practice shots each person got. Do you let the expert in the weapon get more practice, or the novice?

Definitely part of the contest.

On the other hand, it's like the cooking competitions, Chopped I am looking at you, where people whine that "they would never use such an ingredient." Well, fuck -- weapon or ingredient -- it's what's in front of you. Use it! And do it bloody well!

Dr. Phil

Anonymous said...

This is a strangely political contest as well as marksmanship. The game playing one of the contestants has been doing is good drama for the show - but I didn't expect it so much from men. (Shows what I know!)


Mer said...

While I concur on the astonishing level of whininess in that show, yeah, the practice times are limited, as per the above commenters.

Steve Buchheit said...

Cassie, okay, well that makes a little sense now that they aren't allowed/can't practice. Maybe I should look at all the rules they have (if I think it's worth watching later, which I'm not entirely convinced of having now seen a few shows - it's like they took the worse of the reality show ingredients and added firearms, not a good combination IMHO). And yes, men can be very infighty and all pointy like that.

Dr. Phil, yeah, I found myself shouting, "Cowboy up, damnit" more than once.

Mer, Cassie, and Dr. Phil, okay, I guess then I don't understand why they don't do more like the "pros" then. There was an episode where the "Blue" team had to choose who to send up for the competition. And there was a little back biting about getting the "two pros" to go against each other as a way to eliminate one of them. So as this was going on in the bunk room, they tried to coerce another member who then went to the pros to tell them the scheme. Where were the pros while the others were in the house? They were in the gym helping each other work out.

Here they are in the middle of a ranch (it looks like), and so many of them are laying about. Okay. I guess on reflection it's the same people laying about. I hardly ever see the woman from the one team doing that. I know what I'd be doing in those cases. I'd be hiking and working out. Spending the days outdoors. And doing the things that I could do to help me maintain focus, breath control, and help strength my stance and shooting.

There's something in there about a writing post. I'm itching at the edges of it. Might show up later.

Anonymous said...

That whole blue political "get rid of our strongest competitors by having them fight each other" drama is among the stupidest things I've ever seen on a reality show. I bet the producers started jumping up and down when they saw that footage.