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Lars Andersen was able to fire off 10 arrows in 4.9 seconds by holding several arrows in his right hand. As a comparison, medieval archers were expected to shoot 12-20 arrows per minute, or 0.98 to 1.63 arrows per 4.9 seconds.

This technique allows him to fire off the arrows using fewer movements, and it allowed him to break a world record by firing off 11 arrows before the first arrow hit the ground.

A picture of him demonstrating this technique can be seen here. A video of him performing the aforementioned feats can be viewed here.

According to him, this was an ancient technique used by Saracen, Chinese and Native American archers.

However, I am unable to find any sources that depict them using the bow in such a manner.

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    In Kyūdō (Japanese traditional archery) we hold a second arrow when we shoot our first. Although also held in the hand that draws the string, unlike his method, however, the arrow hangs vertically from the arrow to be fired and is squeezed between the last two fingers.
    – kmlawson
    Nov 17, 2013 at 20:14
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    Lars' latest video ( youtube.com/watch?v=BEG-ly9tQGk ) provides multiple points of evidence based on historic art, showing not only that archers held arrows, but fired from a less-traditional side of the bow. Whether this is ultimately true or not is not something I can answer.
    – JoshDM
    Jan 26, 2015 at 21:56
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    And here is an article debunking Lars: geekdad.com/2015/01/danish-archer
    – JoshDM
    Jan 27, 2015 at 14:25
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    "ancient archers" is very broad. Even narrowing down to just Native America means a number of different bow designs and draw weights were employed. The heavier the draw weight the harder it is to shoot fast. Also different cultures used different tactics. Native Americans would not use massed infantry so the shooter had to be more accurate in shot placement. In general I have not read of any nation which was feared because they shot quickly. Do a search for the Chinese repeating crossbow though. It goes in that direction. Dec 8, 2022 at 15:17

1 Answer 1

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War is not about killing every man on the opposing side; it is about killing enough men on the opposing side that none of the others have stomach for more fight. Part of winning that contest of wills called morale is retaining sufficient quantity of ammunition. A unit of archers without arrows is nothing more than prey.

So while it is useful to have every archer of a unit put a dozen or so arrows into the air in rapid succession, it is expected that the shock of the resultant casualties will cause a morale break in the approaching force. Once that happens, firing more arrows is worse than useless, as those arrows are more effectively reserved for staring down the enemy, or firing at an enemy unit that has not yet been shocked into a morale failure.

From this I conclude that while being able to fire that many arrows is a useful skill, it a skill that should only be exercised in the most dire circumstances, against an enemy of extremely high morale and armour. In less dire circumstances it would simply be a waste of ammunition.

Update:
I believe that an important assist in forcing a morale break on the opponent is making going forward more dangerous than going backward. To this end an archer nit would want to fire sufficient arrows to shock the oncoming opponent, and then dare them to repeat. Shock them again every time they recover and continue, until they get the message.

Any unit with the reputation of firing after a retreating enemy has actually suffered its own morale break - by making regress as equally dangerous for the enemy as progress.

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    Well... "War" may not be abut this, but "battle" is. :-) In wars without traditional set-piece battles, such as any asymmetrical warfare, this rule breaks down. Just a minor nitpick. ;-) Nov 18, 2013 at 6:27
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    While this makes sense and I could say it's a good analysis, I'm not sure it's really an "answer". Or, we could consider it an answer if we imply "there are no such sources, because..."
    – o0'.
    Nov 18, 2013 at 13:24
  • Sources? Cites?
    – DVK
    Nov 22, 2013 at 16:22
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    @DVK: It is an analysis, which I believe builds from facts that are self-evident to any (amateur or professional) military historian; ie from basic axioms of warfare. If you have a bone to pick with any particular assumption in my analysis, please point those out. I would be delighted to address those in detail, and that would be a most useful exercise. Nov 22, 2013 at 17:39

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