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Archer's Reference Material


Ascham, Roger; Toxophilus: the school of shooting; The Simon Archery Foundation; Manchester; 1985

  Roger Ascham's Toxophilus, a surviving archery manual from 1545. As it is the earliest book on English archery we rely on it for many details on early practice. The style is often strange and the terms sometimes obscure, but it is the closest we have to a period textbook. The serious archer portrayer is encouraged to use it as a resource to learn technical jargon and pre-modern phraseology and attitudes toward archery.

Mary Rose

Hardy, Robert; The Longbow, a social and military history; Bois d'arc Press; Azle, Texas; 1992

  This book is an excellent source for details of construction and function of bows and arrows. The latest edition includes dense technical data on the Mary Rose bows.

Visit the Mary Rose

Tim Baker

Tim Baker and others; The Traditional Bowyer's Bible (3 volumes); Bois d'arc Press, Azle, Texas; 1992, 1993, 1994

  Full of excellent technical detail on the construction, operation, and physics of bows, bow woods, and arrow, but they also contain much of little interest to re-enactors. You can build a bow (and arrows) from these books. Highlights: Volume 1: bows and arrows; Volume two: strings. Volume 3: bowyer's tools and footed arrows.

Sir John Smythe

Smythe, Sir John; Certain Discourses Military; Cornell University Press; Ithaca; 1964

  This book dates from after our period, indeed from after archery has declined, but it does offer nitty gritty details of some use to re-enactors.


Bartlett; English Longbowman 1330-1515, Osprey Warrior series #11; Reed Consumer Books Ltd., London, 1995

In general the text is excellent, but it only gives a backgrounding in service, operations, and equipment. Unfortunately for us, most of the illustrations cover archers operating well past our 1382 scenario and even beyond the Hundred Years War. Illustrations useful to a 1382 portrayal appear on pages 4, 5, 6, 7, 16, 17, 21, 23, 30 (glove only), 45, 46, 47, 48 and in plates A, B, and C as well as some details G. Plate J offers a reasonable speculation for an archer in traveling rig although the details of his canteen and dagger aren't suitable to our time period. Plate F's layout of a personal kit should be taken as "inspirational" regarding the sort of things that might make up a complete personal kit, because most of the details, styling and decoration of the items are 15th century, and late at that.
Other good resources
 Bartlett, Clive and Embleton, Gerry; The English Archer c.1300-1500 (1&2); Military Illustrated Past & Present; No. 1 & 2; 1986   This is a very good article on reconstructing the appearance and equipment. Their 14th century archer re-enactor has pretty high class hosen for a commoner and his shirt is questionable, but the color illustration gives a very good feel, despite the purse being almost certainly datable to later than the 14th century and the undocumentable (as far as we have been able to determine) gourd canteen.
 Bradbury, Jim; The Medieval Archer; St. Martin's Press; New York; 1985   This book provides a good background for military operations and the archer's place in them.
 Egan, Geoff and Pritchard, Frances; Medieval Finds from Excavations in London 3: Dress Accessories c.1150--c.1450; London: HMSO 1991

  Extensive and well illustrated coverage of dress accessories (buckles, strap ends, strap mounts, buttons, lace chapes, rings, etc.) and personal items (mirrors, combs, cosmetic sets, needle cases, etc.). This book is usually our first stop when researching such items.

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 Jones, Peter N.; The Metallography and Relative Effectiveness of Arrowheads and Armor During the Middle Ages; Materials Characterization 29:111-117; 1044-5803/92   This is a detailed analysis of physical characteristics and performance that was conducted using high quality reproductions.