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Bows and Crossbows

Choosing between a bow and a crossbow for Combat Archery is a matter of personal preference. If you don't have a preference yet, your best bet is to try out one of each at a practice and see which seems more natural for you. Better to know which you want to stick with before buying lots of ammunition...

Important notes

  • For crossbows, draw length (inches) x draw weight (lbs) = "inch lbs"
    • maximum of 600 inch lbs for CA use with fiberglass shafts
    • maximum of 1000 inch lbs for CA use with Siloflex shafts (prod must be marked with 4" of red tape)
  • For bows, draw weight measured at 28" or your max draw length
    • maximum of 30 lbs draw weight for CA use with fiberglass shafts
    • maximum of 50 lbs draw weight for CA use with Siloflex shafts (top arm of bow must be marked with 4" of red tape)
  • No compound bows allowed, but fiberglass is legal (eg, "Youth Bows")

Making - Books and Articles

Making - Materials

  • Crossbow prods - Fiberglass fence tensioner
    • Not available at Home Depot or Lowes, use a "fence supply" listing in yellow pages
      • Eg, Crowe Deck and Fence Supply, Amherst NH
  • Crossbow prods - 1/8" Fiberglass Sail Batten
    • Available through marine supply stores catering to sailboater


Arrows and Bolts

In the East Kingdom both fiberglass and siloflex are legal for arrows and bolts, though the more commonly recommended material is fiberglass. Siloflex arrows have the advantage (disadvantage?) of being "gleanable" - they can be picked up off the field, spot-checked by the archer, and re-shot. Each archer should try to carry at least one score (20) of their type of ammunition onto the field, but the more the merrier.

For fiberglass arrows and bolts, a number of tips ("blunts") are legal. The two most common and recommended are "Baldar Blunts" and UHMW Plastic Blunts. All fiberglass arrows MUST, per society regulations, have special nock-end Anti-Penetration Devices (APDs), such as 'Asgard' commercial APDs or simple Siloflex rings, to reduce the chance of injury.

If properly made and cared for, ammunition lasts a long time without needing more than minor maintenance such as re-gluing, re-padding and re-taping.

Wondering how much arrows cost? See our "Cost of Arrows" page

Important notes

  • All ammunition must be inspected and marked by marshals before use each day of an event
    • Eg, each day at Pennsic. Some events may require re-inspection between each major battle on a single day.
  • Self-inspect your arrows every time you shoot, giving you time to fix issues before inspection/battles
  • Some suppliers sell ready-made arrows as well as kits and parts. Note that "ready-made" does not equal "automatically passes inspection"

Making - Articles

Making - Materials

  • Siloflex is available at Lowes', and occasionally Home Depot
    • Siloflex is used for both ammunition (100 PSI) and APDs (100, 160 or 200 PSI)
  • Pultruded fiberglass rod is cheapest from CA suppliers unless you plan to buy 1000' or more feet
    • If enough EK archers at any time want to place a bulk order, contact Liam for assistance
  • UHMW rod, 1.25" in diameter, is available from McMaster-Carr and other sources
    As above, except bulk order quantity only requires 50 feet


The amount of ammunition you can carry and use in a battle will depend heavily on both the type of ammunition and the type of container you put it in. Because of the diameter of the blunts and APDs, a traditional archery quiver only holds approximately 6-8 arrows. This, obviously, is not enough.

Commonly available quiver solutions include a newspaper carrier's bag for crossbow bolts and a woven basket or nylon camp chair sleeve for arrows.

Making - Articles


Combat Archers must meet the same minimum armor requirements as any heavy list fighter, with the exception of the extent of hand protection - combat archers may wear half gauntlets ("archers' gauntlets") on both hands. How far above the minimum you choose to go is up to you, just remember that in large battles it is more likely you will get hit by opposing archers, siege weapons, and spearmen if you are in the press of battle. So protect yourself according to your personal tolerance for getting hit.

Important notes

  • Ensure that your armor is comfortable and safe - be sure to check with both CA and Heavy List marshals to help catch potential issues early
  • Helms are the most expensive piece of armor. Make sure you take the time to find the right one, and get one with good visibility
  • Combat Archers do not have to be authorized as HL fighters in the East, but the armor standards (except for gloves) apply

Making - Articles

Making - Materials

  • Armor may be made of any legal material - most patterns work well for metal, plastic, and leather


Combat archery also allows for the use of Pavises (standing shields) and other devices.

For a list of Suppliers, visit our links page.

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