Archery has been part of warfare since before the dawn of recorded history.
Some of the oldest depictions of combat found in stone age cave art feature archers attacking each other. It seems bows and arrows have always been among the preferred weapons of war, for what can take down a prey during a hunt can certainly maim and kill an enemy in battle.
Large numbers of archers were deployed in the fields of battle by ancient civilisations and later on during the medieval era, with many warrior cultures developing around the use of the bow as their core weapon and part of their cultural identity.
The English were famed for their yeoman archers conscripted from commoners' levies, trained through archery contests and wielding mighty longbows in battle. The Mongols also gained a large part of their staggering military successes from the use of horse archers wielding powerful composite bows and firing from horseback with unmatched mobility. Japanese samurais trained extensively in archery, and the discipline was highly valued from China to the Middle East.
This history of archers and wars can inspire LARPers when creating their characters and their outfits. Different from the fantasy archetype of the ranger, the archer is a soldier first, not a hunter or a scout. They were sent to war or kept watch as part of garrison and city guards.
Archery isn’t a talent you can accidentally discover in the midst of battle. It’s a skill that needs years of practice to perfect, and involves true discipline. While using a hunting bow can be a casual skill, war bows were extremely hard to pull and required daily training.
For that reason, all military archers come from a background that made this training possible, either through mandatory practice, monastic dedication to the art of archery, or a culture that rewarded bowmanship with either social or financial rewards. Unlike other skilled warriors like knights in armor, archers can come from a variety of social backgrounds, rich or modest, noble or from common stock.
LES ARTISANS D'AZURE
This armor was designed for a true warrior of the steppes. Leather brigandine reinforced with rivets, it combines the impressive appearance of a heavy armor while keeping an unbeatable comfort thanks to its modular torso allowing great mobility. The skirt, also in flexible leather and rigid leather plate, is divided into four panels and adjusts comfortably with suspenders. The superposition of sleeves and pauldrons is particularly impressive. The artificial fur and engraved metal plates add a touch of detail to the whole. The Nomad Armor, combining comfort with great look, has everything to not go unnoticed! It can suit historical inspired characters such as Huns, Mongols or Turkish horse lords, but can also fit quite well a few fantasy races like gnolls or orcs in LARP.
Bows have been used in combat over the centuries. From simple weaponized hunting bows to the steppe nomads' recurve bows, or the iconic English longbows, these weapons took many shapes over History. Our LARP inventory is filled with safe historical reproductions, as well as fantasy bows with draw weight varying between 20 and 30 pounds, making them usable in most live-action roleplaying events. Made of fiberglass, they are often covered in leather or wood for aesthetic purpose. From rangers to soldiers, scouts, hunters, and militiamen, these bows will suit any character type.
When playing a soldier archer, a good approach would be to take inspiration from the outfits of historical archers from various cultures. That means that armor, clothing, and overall costume design may vary quite a bit between characters. However, all archers require a basic set of accessories that are an important part of their gear for practical reasons.
Obviously, a bow and arrows are mandatory parts of an archer set, but many arrows can hardly be held in hand. A quiver, either carried on the back or on the hip, is an essential item. Also important is the use of gloves and bracers, both serving as protection against the bow’s string, which can be demanding for the fingers and can snap against the forearm by accident.
Another important accessory for a battle archer is a bow scabbard, which is often custom-made to fit a particular bow and makes it possible to carry it hand free. Archers should also consider carrying a sidearm, which will often be a one-handed sword or some kind of versatile bladed weapon. After all, staying in range is often impossible and an archer has to survive melee combat when it occurs.