Robert Barret – The Theorike and Practike of Moderne VVarres, 1598

Barret is another military writer critical of “inueterate conceirers of bowes and blacke billes”. Barret asserts the superiority of the firearm over the bow, the corselet over the jack, and the pike over the bill (halberd). I have skipped over the sections dealing with the bill and jack.
Pages 2-3
Gent.

You haue touched many pointes vnder a few termes, but (Captaine) all this and much more will hardly perswade our rurall sort; and I thinke many of vs Gentlemen not farre better minded: for in executing her Maiesties commands, for trayning our men, prouiding of armour, I heare many say, what neede so much a do, and great charge in Calliuer, Musket, Pyke and Corselet? our auncestors won many battels with bowes, blacke Billes, and Iackes. But what thinke you of that?

Captaine.

Sir, then was then, and now is now; the wars are much altered since the fierie weapons first came vp: the Cannon, the Musket, the Caliuer and Pistoll. Although some haue attempted stifly to maintaine the sufficiencie of Bowes, yet daily experience doth and will shew vs the contrarie. And for that their reasons haue bene answered by others, I leaue at this instant to speake thereof.

Gent.

Why, do you not like of our old archerie of England?

Capt.

I do not altogether disalow them; true it is, they may serue to some sorts of seruice, but to no such effect as any of the fierie weapons.

Gent.

Will not a thousand bowes handled by good bowmen, do as good seruice, as a thousand hargubuze or muskets, especially amongst horsemen?

Capt.

No, were there such bowmen as were in the old time, yet could there be no comparison.

Gent.

Your reasons.

Capt.

First, you must confesse that one of your best Archers can hardly shoot any good sheffe arrow aboue twelue score off, to performe any great execution, except vpon a naked man, or horse. A good Calliuer charged with good powder and bullet, and discharged at point blanck by any reasonable shot, will, at that distance, performe afar better execution, yea, to passe any armour, except it be of prooffe, & much more neare the marke then your Archer shal: And the said Calliuer at randon will reach & performe twentie, or foure and twentie score off, whereunto you haue few archers will come neare. And if you reply, that a good archer will shoot many shots to one; Truly no, your archer shall hardly get one in fiue of a ready shot, nay happely scarce one; besides, considering the execution of the one and the other, there is great oddes, and no comparison at all.

Gent.

But our bowmen may shoot by vollies, as thicke as hayle in the ayre.

Capt.

They may shoot thicke, but to small performance, except (as I said) vpon naked men or horse. But should there be led but eight hundred perfect hargubu∣ziers, or sixe hundred good musketiers against your thousand bowmen, I thinke your bowmen would be forced to forsake their ground, all premisses considered: and moreouer a vollie of musket or hargubuze goeth with more terrour, fury, and execution, then doth your vollie of arrowes. And againe, against a resolute troupe of horse, either Pistoletiers, Hargulatiers or Lanciers, they will stand lesse time (except they be well fronted with hedge, ditch or trench; or seconded with a strong stand of pikes,) then either Hargubuze or Musket, considering the execution of the one & the other. And what souldier is he, that commeth against a weapon wherein there is little hazard of life, which will not more resolutely charge, then against a weapon, whose execution he knoweth to be present death? Many more reasons might be alledged for the sufficiencie of the one, and the insufficiencie of the other, but others haue answered the same already, besides the proofe which dayly experience bringeth: and thus you heare mine opinion of your Bowes; desiring you (Gentlemen and others) not to conceiue sinisterly of me for this mine opinion, as not held of me for any dislike I haue of our old Archery of England: but that common experience hath made it most manifest in these our later warres: well wishing in my hart (had it bene Gods good will) that this infernall fierie engine had neuer bin found out. Then might we boldly haue compared (as our auncestors did) with the proudest Archers in the world.

But you must note this by the way, that the fierie shot, either on horsebacke, or foote, being not in hands of the skilfull, may do vnto themselues more hurt then good: wherefore the same is often to be practised, that men may grow perfect and skilfull therein.

Pages 4-5
Gent.

Your proportion I like well, but our countrey people are loth to be at the charges of so many costly weapons, although her Maiestie and her honorable priuie Counsell, haue giuen orders and directions for the same.

Capt.

I perceiue it to be so, whereat I grieue not a litle, considering, how dangerous is the time; how malicious, strong, & politike is the enimie; how carelesse, yea senslesse are we; and how vnwilling to our owne weale? But should these your secure men once heare the Alarme of the enemie, (from the which God defend vs,) then should you soone see them alter their copies, chaunge their colours, forget their great bragges of blacke Bills and Bowes, and stand at their wittes ende what course to take; and should they yet recall their courage, and plucke vp their spirites, and dare to looke the enimie in the face, what guides (I pray) haue they? It is not enough to say downe with them, downe with them, Lay on Billes and Bowes: they should encounter strong squares of armed Pikes, gallant squadrons of Muskets, braue troupes of shot, conducted by skilfull Leaders: then should they soone see the difference of weapons; the danger of the one, the litle doubt of the other, with repentance (perhaps) for not taking them to other weapons in time. Thus much I speak to our inueterate conceirers of bowes and blacke billes.

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