#1
Old 09-27-2014, 08:26 PM
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"Archer" vs. "Bowman"

While perusing the Wikipedia entry on the subject of "castle", I came upon this bit:

"A garrison was usually commanded by a constable whose peace-time role would have been looking after the castle in the owner's absence. Under him would have been knights who by benefit of their military training would have acted as a type of officer class. Below them were archers and bowmen, whose role was to prevent the enemy reaching the walls as can be seen by the positioning of arrowslits."

(bolding mine)

What, exactly, is the difference between an "archer" and a "bowman"? Bows vs. crossbows?
#2
Old 09-27-2014, 08:37 PM
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There may be a real difference, I don't know, but I would not put to much evidential weight on what might be indirectly inferred from a turn of phrase in Wikipedia. Maybe some editor wrote "archers", another "corrected" it to "bowmen", that was reverted (and so on), until, eventually, in order to end an edit war, both words were allowed to stand.
#3
Old 09-27-2014, 09:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mister Rik View Post
Bows vs. crossbows?
It may have just been a lazy edit of "archers and crossbowmen" which work in context.
#4
Old 09-27-2014, 09:50 PM
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I'm not sure there really is a strictly defined semantic distinction, but I'd guess the contextual difference would be something like: an archer is any dude who may be called upon to pick up a bow to defend his town/castle (and may or may not have prior experience as a hunter); whereas a bowman would be a professional war archer (i.e. has a bow meant to punch through some armour rather than the pelt of a wolf, may have armour of his own, has prior experience etc.)

I shouldn't think it's a bow/crossbow difference, since a crossbowman is called... yes.

Last edited by Kobal2; 09-27-2014 at 09:50 PM.
#5
Old 09-27-2014, 11:14 PM
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Anyone can build archers, but only the Babylonians can build bowmen, who have a slightly better defense stat.
#6
Old 09-28-2014, 02:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Tamerlane View Post
It may have just been a lazy edit of "archers and crossbowmen" which work in context.
This.

The passage in the Wiki article references this book, which doesn't use 'bowman' at all but uses the phrase 'archers and crossbowmen' a few times.
#7
Old 09-28-2014, 02:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kobal2 View Post
I'm not sure there really is a strictly defined semantic distinction, but I'd guess the contextual difference would be something like: an archer is any dude who may be called upon to pick up a bow to defend his town/castle (and may or may not have prior experience as a hunter); whereas a bowman would be a professional war archer (i.e. has a bow meant to punch through some armour rather than the pelt of a wolf, may have armour of his own, has prior experience etc.)

I shouldn't think it's a bow/crossbow difference, since a crossbowman is called... yes.
Every man was an archer in medieval England.
Quote:
In the 15th Century it would have been almost impossible to have found a young male who wouldn't have been taught to shoot a bow. From the age of 7 it was a father's legal duty to provide his son with a bow and two arrows. From the age of 17 it became a young man's own duty to provide his own bow and four arrows.
http://medievalfreeco.org.uk/archery.html
#8
Old 09-28-2014, 08:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
Anyone can build archers, but only the Babylonians can build bowmen, who have a slightly better defense stat.
I knew someone was gonna say that.

Now, if only I could predict football scores...
#9
Old 09-28-2014, 09:56 AM
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Anyone else read the thread title and think "There's a TV series called Bowman?"






Just me, then?
#10
Old 09-28-2014, 11:02 AM
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Thank you for the helpful answers. That clears things up!
#11
Old 09-28-2014, 12:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bob++ View Post
Every man was an archer in medieval England.

http://medievalfreeco.org.uk/archery.html
That's only really true from the late 13th century onwards (formally mandated Sunday practice was introduced in ~1360 or so), or put it simply the Hundred Years War - but "medieval England" started either in 476 or 1066 depending on who you ask , and castles started springing up around the 10th.

And even then, I expect there still existed a non-negligible skill (and equipment) difference between a yeoman who did his weekly 3 hours from Mass to lunch and an honest-to-goodness man-at-arms who did nothing but train whenever there wasn't a war going on (there was always a war going on ).
#12
Old 09-29-2014, 02:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by njtt View Post
There may be a real difference, I don't know, but I would not put to much evidential weight on what might be indirectly inferred from a turn of phrase in Wikipedia. Maybe some editor wrote "archers", another "corrected" it to "bowmen", that was reverted (and so on), until, eventually, in order to end an edit war, both words were allowed to stand.
So…phrasing?
#13
Old 09-29-2014, 04:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bob++ View Post
Every man was an archer in medieval England.
"In the 15th Century it would have been almost impossible to have found a young male who wouldn't have been taught to shoot a bow. From the age of 7 it was a father's legal duty to provide his son with a bow and two arrows. From the age of 17 it became a young man's own duty to provide his own bow and four arrows. "

http://medievalfreeco.org.uk/archery.html

Two arrows? Even in medieval times, were arrows that hard to make? With two (or even four) arrows, you'd never get very good. Shoot your two arrows 200 yards. Trudge 200 yards down range and spend 20 minutes looking for them. Trudge 200 yards back. Rinse, repeat.

Seems like it would be like going to a driving range and being given a bucket with four balls in it.
#14
Old 09-29-2014, 04:34 PM
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IIRC, practice ranges had butts at both ends. So it would be fire arrows, trudge to other end, fire arrows, trudge back, repeat until tired.
#15
Old 09-30-2014, 10:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
Anyone else read the thread title and think "There's a TV series called Bowman?"






Just me, then?
No - but Tony Hancock did do a soap-opera parody episode in his show called 'The Bowmans'. Interesting, he did it in his TV series, but 'The Bowmans' was played as a radio show (as The Archers was, and still is).
#16
Old 09-30-2014, 10:42 PM
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Simple. Archers are Norman* and bowmen are Saxon.



* I accidentally typed "Mormon" initially, which would have confused the issue no end.
#17
Old 10-01-2014, 07:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
Anyone else read the thread title and think "There's a TV series called Bowman?"
I thought it was Sterling Archer vs. Dave Bowman.
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