There are questions online about whether Mongolian horse archers could hit a target accurately over 500 meters with effectiveness. However, we have to be mindful of how history and recounts of one’s tales usually are over-exaggerated.

In truth, Mongolian recurve bows are most effective at around ~100 meters range, and anything further than that, archers had to use special types of arrows that are light and bows with significantly heavier draw weights.

The Absolute Farthest a Mongolian Bow Could Shoot

If you are talking about shooting an arrow as far as possible disregarding effectiveness and penetration power, then shooting more than 300 meters, and even up to 500 meters is possible.

Ivar Malde set the world record for the farthest distance shot with an all-natural Turkish-style bow at 566 meters, so it is most likely that Mongolian archers in medieval times did shoot as far since Turkish and Mongolian bows are rather similar in build and construction.

Range of Mongol Bow

Depending on the arrow, the skill of the archer, and the quality of the bow, a Mongol bow can shoot a few hundred yards or meters, on average being 200-300 meters or about 300 yards.

However, a skilled archer with a light arrow and a heavy draw-weight bow can shoot more than 400-500 meters / 500 yards if the wind conditions and other factors are right.

But, soldiers didn’t usually shoot from such distances at enemies.

Due to their mobility, Mongol warriors got as close as possible to inflict a heavy hail of arrow fire before employing their famous hit-and-run tactics whenever other mounted units gave to chase.

Why Mongolian Bows Could Shoot So Far?

Mongolian bows are recurved, meaning the ends of the bow curve away from the archer. The advantage of a recurved bow is that it can store more energy than a straight-limbed bow, meaning the arrow can be shot with more force when released.

Riding at high speeds on horseback can also add to its power and distance.

Why ~100 meters is the most effective?

If you look at English longbows, a typical war bow draw weight ranges from 80 lbs to 150 lbs. Heavy draw-weight longbows can shoot a bit over 300 meters, but typical archers in the medieval period used the longbow most effectively at distances less than 200 meters, but the closer they were to their target, the more penetrative power they had.

Read: Mongolian bow draw weight

The Mongolian bow does rival and sometimes outperform the English longbow when it comes to how far it could shoot, but the arrows that Mongolian warriors used didn’t have the same penetration nor the weight as English longbows. It’s almost impossible for an arrow shot from a Mongolian bow to penetrate full-plate armor head-on.

They could however penetrate chainmail and weaker spots around the armor.

Hence Mongolians most often used Parthian tactics by getting in close and feigning a retreat whilst shooting arrows. The main goal was not to necessarily penetrate armor but to hit between the gaps of armor and cause disarray in their enemies.

Arrows Used For Long Distances

The arrowheads varied depending on the intended use. For long-range shooting, Mongol archers often used narrow and sharp arrowheads made of iron or steel. These arrowheads were designed to be aerodynamic and shoot longer distances.

Sometimes the arrowheads were made out of horn or made a whistling sound when shot to relay messages and commands during battle.

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