The Fearsome Mongolian Horse Archers

Mongolian horse archers were feared by everyone. Their horsebows were very powerful and accurate and they could bring down their enemy up to 160 meters away, while galloping at 45mph.

The warriors could survive on very little food, they wore lamellar armor and could travel many miles each day.

mongolian horse archerMongol archery was a type of archery practiced by the nomadic horsemen of the Mongolian steppe, typically Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, Mongols and Turkmens.

Mongolian horse archers are iconic figures in western archery history. The horse archer was a feared warrior because of his incredible skill with the bow and were central to the Mongolian army. 

A Mongolian army generally only fought during the summer so the rest of the time the soldiers would stay in their own gers (yurt) and tend to their animals.

The Mongols were able to travel miles and miles without any problem thanks to their horses and they could move at a rate of 10 miles a day and still be strong enough to engage in battle when faced with an enemy.

When going into battle, a Mongolian army would line up in several different areas.

The first row would contain all the bowmen and each row behind them had fewer bowmen than the row before it.These archers were feared warriors because, over hundreds of years, they had perfected the art of the bow and the arrow as a weapon on horseback and utilized tactics and strategies far more advanced than any other army. 

They possessed the ability to bring down the enemy while riding at full gallop from 80 to 160 meters away. They carried composite bows made of horn, wood and sinew, unlike the wooden self bows like those used by english longbowmen. They also carried a quiver of 18 arrows with bone or metal points, and wore lamellar armor made from wood and leather.

Who Were The Mongols?

Mongols helped make up the numerous nomadic groups who inhabited in the large open grassland planes of Eurasia: the Steppe. All of these nomads, including the Mongols, engaged in war with each other on a regular basis, primarily for control of power, and hardly ever consolidated under the control of a single leader. 

Mongol society insisted that hunting, horseback riding and archery were skills that all successful people, including women, must master. 

Culturally, Mongols accepted the behavior and language from other steppe tribes as well as their larger, settled neighbors being the Chinese and the Koreans.

The Mongols were feared and respected through the unbelievable ferocity that they took to war as well as their freakish ability to live on almost no food.

Who Was Genghis Khan and What Did He Do?

Genghis khan was the legendary leader of the Mongol Empire and during his life he was responsible for the deaths of up to 40 million people.

A brutal and ruthless man, Genghis khan was a merciless warlord who controlled most of the known world in a brutal military campaign.

The Mongolian empire under his command expanded to an astonishingly large territory, stretching from China to the Mediterranean sea.

Genghis Khan is regarded as one of the most influential people in history, and one of the greatest conquerors as well. When he acceded to the throne in 1206, he unified the Mongol tribes and forged a huge empire.

Through the sheer terror that he wrought in his enemies and allies alike, he managed to create an empire that was as large as the whole of Europe.

In order to maintain such a vast territory, Genghis Khan established effective communication lines between his regions and developed an efficient transport system. He introduced a service that enabled riders to deliver messages throughout the empire safely and quickly.

In addition, he used modern methods to protect his territory.

Khan learnt how to ride horses at an early age, before learning to fight. He started off doing basic drills and manoeuvres but quickly progressed to attacking live prisoners and animals while on horseback.

How Genghis Khan Died

It’s widely believed that he died an old man of 80.

So How Did Such a Powerful Leader Die?

There are many myths surrounding Genghis khan’s death, but scholars now widely believe that he succumbed to dysentery.

It is possible that he was poisoned on account of his unpopular with the aristocracy. It is also possible that he was assassinated by being thrown off a cliff.

Whichever the cause, Genghis khan was certainly a founder who built an empire that would stretch from Europe to modern day China.

Mongolian Foot Archery

In addition to horse archery, the Mongolian foot archery warriors were also feared warriors because they were the first to combine all many fighting elements into war. In addition to hand-to-hand combat training, Mongolian foot archers underwent intense training in mounted and unmounted archery.

Their archery techniques were very advanced, they used a thumb ring for shooting and a thumb guard for protection. The thumb ring was usually made of silver on some occasions it was made of hemp.

The unmounted archer training consisted of many different exercises, including ~

  • Shooting at a target
  • Shooting with the wind or against the wind
  • Shooting while walking
  • Shooting on the move. 

There were foot drills as well and these might involve ~

  • Drawing the bow with both arms and releasing an arrow with each arm
  • Shooting while squatting or kneeling
  • Training with two or three arrows at once.

Mongolian riders learned to ride without stirrups. Foot archers used their feet to unstring their bows after firing an arrow. Mongolian riders were also trained to be able to shoot from horseback.

Mongolian Archery Technique

Ancient Mongolian archery techniques – the ancient Mongolians were masters of the art of archery. their techniques were very advanced and many of them were centuries ahead of their time.

The Mongolians used the same bows and arrows, with a few variations, as their ancestors when hunting or in battle.

They preferred using composite bows over longbows because the longbows required great strength and a lot of training to draw them properly. they believed that drawing the longbow string back to the ear was the equivalent of lifting a heavy weight.

The tension on a composite bow can be adjusted by changing the thickness of the bow string.

Why Were the Mongols So Successful?

The Mongols were the most successful horsemen in history. Their various military accomplishments and tactics are still studied in military academies today. Their global empire spanned over 3,000 miles and lasted a mere century or so, but their influence on global history is undeniable. 

What Made Them So Successful?

horse archerThey used three different styles of bows and a variety of arrows. The bows used were the powerful composite bow, a recurve bow, and a longbow.

The Mongols also had the best horses in the world so they could move faster than their enemies. 

The Mongol chainmail armor was very tough and lightweight and in order to improve accuracy, they practiced shooting using smaller targets.

Most people would agree that Mongolian horse archers were some of the most fearsome warriors in history.

Feudal European knights feared them, and their contemporaries in Mongolia and China greatly respected their abilities.

It’s Not Hard to See Why!

If you think about it, each Mongol warrior was essentially a one-man army on horseback. Every male Mongol was expected to master riding, shooting, and fighting from horseback with a variety of weapons.

The Mongols mastered the most advanced composite bow in the world at that time. The war bow was of laminated construction which gave it greater power than any other bow, until the advent of gunpowder. 

Mongolian bows were even constructed using recurved designs, making them more powerful than the medieval English longbow.

Are Mongolian Bows Good?

Mongolian bows are often called horsebows as they were traditionally used on horseback, as one can imagine the bow and arrow was a much more effective weapon when shots could be made from a galloping horse.

Traditional Mongolian horsebows are very powerful and accurate, because they have a very large amount of draw weight and a short draw span. The traditional Mongol bows are made entirely of natural materials without any metal parts.

They are very powerful, and can be drawn to the ear and held in full position for a long period of time without discomfort.

They are relatively short recurve bows, usually made of hardwood or laminated wood and horn. Draw weight is around 50-70lbs, with an overall length of 56-65”.

Mongolian recurve bows hold up well to extended use.

Mongolians were hard on their equipment and the bows were often repaired numerous times during battle before being discarded.

How Powerful Were Mongol Bows?

All through history, the horse has become ‘a given’ in cultures all around the globe. The bow and arrow, as well as the art of archery, have become a comparable symbolism throughout Mongolian history.

Archery has been practised in Mongolia since the region’s earliest recorded history. It also has a long history in many places, where it played an important role in the rise and collapse of dynasties.

Mongolians have made composite bows for their armies through history. Composite bows were  cemented together with a material taken from fish bladders and were made of wood, sinew, and horn.

One  bow might take a year or more to be correctly made as a result of the glue’s curing requirements. This ensures that the bow is robust with ability to keep on performing at its best for long periods of time.

This bow is unique in that its string sits on the limbs after releasing, this is the feature that distinguishes it from any other bow. These composite bows were also somewhat shorter than others, and this uniqueness ensured that the bows had the maximum power and draw length posible.

Mongol Bows Were Extremely Powerful

The majority of Mongolians sported a ring on their index and middle fingers to shield their fingers.  Their bows were pulled to a much greater length, which resulted in a lot more power.

As a result, pressure was applied to the finger, and the ring shielded it from injury. Their rings were usually made of horn and had a forward-pointing tab. A notch was carved out of the tab on some rings to retain the string. This resulted in the thumb never coming in contact with the string.

The forefingers of European archers was generally used to draw the string however, by utilising a thumb ring, a Mongol archer could draw the string with their thumb. 

Mongol archers were well known for using this particular style of drawing their string. They would grip the string with their palm facing down, and their thumb would fall under the arrow.

At this point in time the string the string should be centred on the thumb ring. The archer’s index finger is then positioned on the tip of the thumb and the other fingers are positioned in the palm.

Was the Mongol Recurve Bow More Powerful Than The English Warbow?

Both the Mongolian recurve bow and the English war bow were formidable weapons. Was the Mongol recurve bow or the English war bow more powerful? Over time it has become a contentious issue.

So let’s get down to business and clear up some of the misinformation.

 What Was the Mongolian Recurve Bow?

A curved bow, such as a Mongol recurve bow, is one type of bow. It’s a composite bow made up of a variety of materials and there was also a laminated variant. The core of a Mongol bow is wood, with a horn belly and black sinew. Animal glue was used to adhere the layers together.

There was a definite benefit to having the layers bonded together. To protect the coverings from the sun, rain, dampness, humidity, and water, the adhesive was water soluble. It was essential for the Mongol bow to be preserved and maintained well.

Mongolian Recurve Bow’s Origins:

The Mongolian recurve bow was designed primarily for combat and defence. It was devised by the Mongols of ancient Asia as a survival tool, particularly for hunting.

Soldiers on horseback carried two types of bows at the time: one for greater distances and the other for closer contact. These antique bows weighed somewhere between 80 and 150 pounds or more.

What Was a War Bow, Exactly?

The English longbow was a gothic longbow with a lot of power. For the battlefield, the war bow was fashionable. A longbow must be long enough for the user to be able to draw the string to the face or body.

As a result, the length may differ from one user to the next.

  • It was usually around 6ft or 1.8 metres tall.
  • It was first used for hunting and fighting by the English and Welsh.
  • The bow would be accompanied by a string and arrows.
  • Yew, ash, elm, and other woods were popular choices for making longbows.

Gerald of Wales Had Something to Say About It…

“They’re constructed of elm, not horn, ash, or yew; unfinished weapons that are remarkably rigid, huge, and robust, and equally competent of long and short shooting”

The English Longbow's History

Every popular and interesting device usually has a fascinating backstory however, there are numerous inconsistencies regarding the origins of the English longbow.

Military archery was absolutely crucial in Anglo-Saxon combat prior to the Norman Conquest. The Anglo-normans made history in 1138 when they won the Battle of Standard.

Despite disagreements over the developments, it was a capable weapon system in the late thirteenth and early fourteenth century.

The Mongol Bow and the English Longbow: What’s the Difference?

The differences in quality and attributes between the Mongol bow and the English longbow can be significant. So, let us inform you of the details that collectively, make the difference.

The recurve bow of the Mongols was more powerful than the English military bow, it became that way for a variety of reasons.

Pat Yourself on The Back for Getting This Far!

Fabrication and Content:

The Mongol bow was made out of a variety of materials that served a variety of purposes. It was made up of a mixture of wood, sinew, and horn that had been glued together using fish bladder adhesive.

Because it had a curvature in the opposite way, it was easy to untangle. The length and structure differed from what’s used now. The Mongol bow was more effective than the English longbow due to structural changes.

It was designed with the resources and ingredients in mind to be practical and uncomplicated to produce. Unlike the Mongolian bow, the English longbow was not made from a mixture raw material.

Its limbs are less efficient at gathering and releasing energy. To overcome the inertia of their limbs, they normally need a lot of energy and speed.


The English longbow was heavier than the Mongol recurve bow. Because it was light-weight, it was not a problem or the soldiers to lug it around.

Because of the armor-piercing arrows, the English longbow is heavier. Having a longbow that stood on its own feet was more practical.

This type of bow was used by the English bowmen in the 100 Year War to fight France.


The Mongol bows were quite simple to maintain.

They were better protected because the pieces were bonded together. The water-soluble adhesive saved the day in terms of functionality and longevity.

Because there is no glue in the English longbow, it is difficult to maintain and so a single piece of wood is insufficient for protection. It is very easily scratched and destroyed.


Because of the materials and construction, the applications and functionalities can fluctuate. Hunting, fighting, and self-defence were all common uses for Mongolian bows.

Among military archers, the English longbow was well-known and the skill required to master it were formidable. As a result, many professionals used to engage in hunting and combat.


If you leave a composite Mongol bow not strung for a long period of time, it will quickly lose its speed and energy level and before taking a shot, it needed to be strung for quite some time in order to store more of its energy.

The English longbow, on the other hand, didn’t need as much time to store energy. They were a lot faster than Mongol recurve bows and they were very straight forwards to work with.


We learned that Mongol recurves bows are manufactured from a variety of materials and as a result, they took a long time to complete. To make a curved Mongolian battle bow much time and energy was required.

In comparison to the Mongol bow, the English longbow was much easier to build. They could be perfectly constructed in minimal; time and little work.

Finally, taking into account all of the above, we may conclude that the Mongol bow was more powerful and efficient than the English military bow.

You can draw a conclusion about these two bows after learning about all of the differences and explanations. Despite their differences, they were each useful in their own way.

These bows were not of the current variety, they belonged to antique weapons that served mankind well for many years..

Shooting a Mongolian Bow

The Mongolian bow is also referred to as a rider’s bow and is more stocky than other rider bows. The throwing arms have a more pronounced curve and the draw is thought of as being light with no discomfort when shooting.

The shooting action is particularly unruffled even though it is short bow.

These are the reasons why this bow was feared so much by their opponents, based on historical sources, it was deadly up to around 200 meters on a 75lb draw weight. 

A rider’s bow is small and very easy to manage so that it’s great for shooting from horseback and tight areas.

Benefits of a Rider’s Bow ~

  • A rider’s bow is small and very easy to manage so that it’s great for shooting from horseback and tight areas.
  • Shooting on horseback is a difficult exercise and provides interesting challenges
  • The firing of a horse is high
  • The hand shock you feel may be less than other bows
  • The additional equipment required is less than for other bows
  • The bow is extremely well priced
  • It’s a tough bow and can deal well with rougher use
  • The rider’s bow is lighter than most 


Always maintain your arm precisely straight and in line with the arrow when engaging in this method of archery. Maintain a line of sight between your elbow and the arrow.

This will create the need for you to raise your elbow as you are drawing your arrow.

Try and remain calm all the while this is going on.

Allow the string to shoot by opening the thumb and index finger. To prevent the string from slipping forwards prior to it being released, move your palm away from your target.

What Religion Were the Mongols?

The Mongols were animists and shamanists. Animists believed that non-human entities had souls and Shamanists were spiritual healers that thought that medicine shamans were able to communicate with the gods to heal the sick and predict the future. 

Genghis Khan was founder of the Mongol empire and Great Khan was emperor of the Mongol Empire. Great Khan and his followers believed in Tengrism. Tengrism included the ideas of animism, shamanism, and the worship of ancestors.  

Followers believed the original Great Khans had received an order to rule over the world from Tengri, the ruler of Heaven as well as the supreme Mongol deity. 

Though Genghis Khan and his supporters believed in Tengrism, they remained very tolerant of other religions. 

One of Genghis Khan’s wishes was to understand philosophical and moral lessons from alternate religions and so the Mongols did not persecute people were not punished by the Mongols purely because of what they believed in.

Under Genghis Khan’s rule, the small number of houses of worship were built as a result of a nomadic lifestyle. 

However, under Genghis Khan’s successor Ogedai Khan, a small number of houses of worship for Buddhist, Muslim, Christian, and Taoist followers. Eventually, Khubilai Khan funded support for Buddhist monasteries, Confucian scholarship, Islamic mosques, and Christian churches.

As the empire grew, the Mongols started to take on the religions of their subjects and Islam became generally accepted.

Who Defeated the Mongols?

Alauddin Khilji is someone everybody enjoys criticizing, but this sultan of the Delhi Sultanate was the individual who actually spared India from the mighty Mongols on no less than six occasions. He was lauded as one of the few in history to actually defeat the Mongols. 

In fact…

It wasn’t Alauddin Khalji that beat the Mongols…it was his loyal but irresponsible general Zafar Khan, who chose to defy the royal orders and went on to attack the chagatai Mongols in the battle of Kili.

They suffered immensely in this battle and he and caused them so much death and injury that they retracted after a few days and failed to return again for quite some years.

Zafar Khan was never credited with winning against the Mongols because of his blatant disregard of royal orders. His bravery was never discussed nor recorded and he was struck from the chronicles of Alauddin.

So terrorised were the Mongols by Zafar Khan’s brutal win that when their horses did not want to any drink water, the Mongols would question them by asking them if they were not drinking the water because they had seen Zafar Khan.

It is He Who is The Unsung Hero in the Battle of Kili.