A Modern day Hunnic composite bow recreation

The Hunnic Composite Bow was a recurve bow used by the Hunnic Empire, annihilation by archery. It was the long-range weapon of Attila the Hun.

Description[edit | edit source]

The composite bow was made from several materials as opposed to a single piece of wood. When strung, the ends of the bow curve away from the archer. The bow typically has horn on the belly (the side of the bow facing the archer) and sinew on the back (the side of the bow facing the target).

Stats[edit | edit source]

  • 4 feet
  • Wood & Bone Bow
  • Iron-Tipped Arrows

 Use[edit | edit source]

The main advantage of the composite bow is that it delivers greater power for the same length as a simple bow, so a shorter composite bow has the same power as a much longer simple bow. The smaller size makes it ideal for use at horseback, an important part of Hunnic warfare. 

Steppe tribes were some of the first horsemen in recorded history, as the domestic horse is believed to have originated from the Eurasian Steppe. Initially, these tribes would use chariots during the Bronze Age. The Scythians of the Classical Age popularized horseback riding and horseback archery, as they raided territories from Rome to China.

The Parthians developed a strategy to supply their armies with wagons or caravans of camels to maintain ammunition for the horsemen. The Battle of Carrhae on May 6th 53 BC is an example of this strategy in effect, which managed to overwhelm the Roman armies despite their Scutum shields blocking the majority of the arrows. Parthians also popularize the 'Parthian Shot', which is when a horse-archer rotates their torso 180 degrees to fire at opponents while simultaneously riding away from them to maintain a long-ranged advantage.

As seen in The Second Battle of Lechfeld in 955 AD, Horseback Archery had several flaws. The Magyar (decedents of the Huns) were unable to maneuver due to dense forests on their flanks. Heavy rain also created mud, which slowed the horses further, and made bows difficult to use as the strings became too damp.

Eastern Europe would still use composite bows in warfare throughout the Medieval Age and the Renaissance. Hungary and Poland managed to resist raids of invading Mongolian horsemen, matching the Mongol Composite Bow in combat. The famous Polish Hussars would use bows as late as the 17th century; while Hussars would use early carbines on horseback, some Hussars used bows due to their superior mobility and the option to perform the Parthian Shot.

Trivia[edit | edit source]

Byzantine Hippo-toxotai were modeled after the Hunnic horse archers, but did not use a composite bow. This was because compound bows were easier to mass produce, which was more relevant for an empire as massive as the Byzantine.

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