Archers

Nothing clears a troubled mind better than shooting a bow.

LORE

Archers, LARP character Icon

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.

Characters

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

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DISTANT THREATS

LARP Bows

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Costumes

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.