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Fact checked by Steven Lines, lifelong Hunter and Outdoorsman.
Distance is a top goal when it comes to archery. So, it is no surprise that you want to know the answer to “How far can you shoot a longbow?”
The distance anyone can shoot a modern longbow is a maximum distance of 200 yards. According to Untamed Science, it is not possible due to the design of the bow and physics laws to shoot it any further than that, even though our ancestors could shoot up to 400 yards or more with their longbows.
There is a lot that goes into being able to come close to the 200-yard maximum distance. If it’s your goal to reach that maximum distance, there is more you need to learn and understand.
The Science Behind Power
You may think that reaching the longest distance is a matter of harnessing the power and putting the most energy behind your arrow. However, this is not entirely the truth.
Knowing the science behind how the bow works and where it gets its power is essential, though. You need to know this to leverage the information to help you achieve the distance you want.
Science ABC states that a bow is like a spring. It builds up energy, and when you release it, that energy or power goes into the arrow. However, not all the energy goes directly into the arrow as the bow will absorb some of it.
You put force on the string when you draw the arrow back. This force is the energy that launches the arrow when you let go.
The key point here is to pull back as much as possible. The more you bend the bow, the more energy you get. However, you can only bend a bow so much before it breaks, and there are human limits on how far back you can pull the string. Your ability to drawback has a limit of 28 to 30 inches.
Factors That Influence Distance
You cannot change the longbow’s power, which means you cannot adjust the power to get more distance beyond the natural limits. You also cannot alter the limitations you physically have to add to the power through drawing back the string.
You can learn how to manipulate other factors that could influence the distance your arrow travels. Various factors will determine the answer to the question, “how far can you shoot a longbow?”
- Level of skill
- Angle of aim
- Environmental factors
Level of skill
Perhaps the most important of these factors is your skill. Your skill level has the most significant potential to limit you when it comes to trying to shoot a long distance.
Angle of aim
An angle of aim is an important aspect because it will help you overcome various things that can bring your arrow down before it reaches your intended distance.
Most notably, the angle of your aim will help you combat environmental factors, such as wind. If you can shoot at the right angle to resist the wind’s drag on your arrow, then you can overcome this factor. However, learning to do this is not easy.
You also need to understand vibration as you aim. You will notice all archers aim slightly off-target because they must combat natural vibrations coming off the bow and into the arrow that make the arrow travel off course slightly before correcting itself.
Wind can have other effects on your arrow speed and ability to travel a distance. Bow Hunting Magazine explains velocity and wind work together.
If you have slow velocity and strong wind, it will alter the course of your arrow. Ideally, you want a faster speed and slower wind. You cannot control the wind, but you can control the speed. To make the most of this combination, you should use a heavier and shorter arrow with a low profile.
The more weight you have in your arrow, the faster it will travel despite outside forces. However, you have to keep in mind that the further your arrow goes, the wind will have a greater effect on it.
You should always note from which direction the wind is coming. If you can shoot in the same direction that the wind is blowing, you can harness its power to boost your arrow.
However, if you shoot against it, then you will be fighting a losing battle. Crosswinds are not much better as they add drag to your arrow and push it off course, which lessens the distance it will travel.
Also, do not assume that a lack of strong wind means you are in the clear. Air always affects your arrow in some way.
If you are in a humid area, expect that humidity to put some drag on your arrow. Humidity is water in the air. It creates resistance on your arrow, slowing it down. You need speed to reach great distances, so you will have to accept a humid environment will not be conducive to long shots.
Additional Tips for the Longest Distance
When you first begin using the longbow, distance is not something you should worry about. Learning how to use the longbow is difficult. You are best off focusing on getting down the proper stance and learning how to hold your posture.
If you still want to focus on finding the answer to “how far can you shoot a longbow,” then consider that your stance and posture can impact the distance of your arrow. You need to ensure you do not throw off your shot by losing your posture during or after shooting.
To avoid any issues, make sure that you keep your body at a 90-degree angle to the target with straight knees. Keep your shoulders down and your hips, chest, and back straight and in place. Also, focus on keeping your movements smooth and double-check your posture before you take the shot.
How Far Can You Shoot a Longbow
The truth is that you can potentially shoot a longbow 200 yards at most. However, the chances of doing so are not good. You have many factors working against you, some about which you can do nothing.
Your best approach is to understand the factors affecting distance and learn how to manipulate those you can and make the most of those you cannot.
Steven Lines is a hunter and outdoorsman from Safford, Arizona, USA. He has been hunting and fishing since a child, and has over 20 years of experience in the outdoors. Steven works as a hunting guide in Arizona during his spare time and runs a Youtube channel dedicated to sharing his outdoor adventures with others.