Mongol Bow Vs. The Turkish Bow – Which One Is Better?

Today you will see the difference between the Mongol bow and the Turkish bow. They are both marvelous pieces of bow technology. But what is the difference and which one is better?

We will take a look at how the Turkish bow compares to the Mongol bow in terms of size, power, the way it was used, and which one is better. And what piece of equipment made one bow better than the other even though they have similar origins?

Below you have the key takeaway from the entire article.

Key differences between the Turkish and Mongol bows are:

  • The Mongol bow is 46-48 inches in length, while the Turkish bow is between 40 and 45 inches
  • Turkish bows had a longer effective range than the Mongol bow
  • It took longer to make a Turkish bow compared to the Mongol bow

The table below shows the key difference between the bow in a more concise manner.

The Mongol BowThe Turkish Bow
Size46-48 inches40-45 inches
CompositionComposite bowComposite bow
How Long It Took To Make OneMuch less than a year1 year
Poundage80lbs – 150lbs 65lbs and higher
Range350 yards400 yards
Comparison between Mongolian Bows and Turkish bows

Now, let’s get into more detail. You will see which bow set a record for the furthest distance shot with an arrow. And what piece of equipment made the Turkish bow far superior to the Mongolian one.

The Breakdown of Mongol Bows Vs. Turkish Bows

Mongol bow vs. Turkish bow

In the picture above you can see the Mongol bow on the left and the unstrung Turkish bow on the right. What could find you striking is how similar these bows really are. They are both composite bows and use similar parts to make the bow. Apart from the wood.

Why Are Turkish Bows Similar To Mongol Bows?

Mongol bows are similar to Turkish bows because they both originated on Asian steps. The Turks started off as nomadic people on horseback much like the Mongols.

Map showing the origins of Mongols and the Turks

As you can see. The Turkic nomads were next-door neighbors to the Mongols. Since they lived in a similar environment it makes sense they developed similar customs and processes for using a bow.

They both employed composite technology, making their bows small enough to be fired from horseback yet very powerful.

Now, let’s take a look at each segment of the bow in detail and how these bows differed.

Size Of The Turkish Bow Vs. The Mongol Bow

The Mongol bow was 48 to 50 inches in length while the Turkish bow was smaller at just 40 to 45 inches. But why were these bows so small?

The European bows could be much longer. Well, it goes back to the nomadic culture of the Turks and the Mongols.

They had to move across the vast plain of the steps to hunt and tend to their flock. This meant horses were ideal animals. They were easily fed by the grass on the step. And they provided ease of movement. So the entire bow-making culture revolved around the use of the horse.

You can fire a longbow from a horse. The bow has to be compact, and easily fired from horseback. So composite bows fit the bill.

So the Turkish and Mongol bows were small because that made them a lot easier to be fired from horseback. And the composite technology they used enabled them to shrink their bows without sacrificing power/range.

We will get to that shortly. But now, let us continue to the composition of the bow.

How Were They Built – Mongol Bows Vs. Turkish Bows?

This is surprising. But they were built much in the same way. A wooden frame, backed by animal horn and sinew, glued together by animal glue, most often fish glue.

This goes back to their surroundings. The steps provided a lot of resources. Rich forests were not one of them. But they had animals such as oxen whose horns and tendons they could use. And they did.

So, if they were built in much the same way, then is there any difference? Yes, as you will see in a moment. The thing with the Turkish bow is that it took a full year to build. When the bowyer, glued the sinew, the sinew was left to dry for an entire year.

During this time the bow took the shape you see below.

Turkish bow in the making

For an entire year. I had found no record that Mongols waited for a year before handling the bow. The Persians took this process even further and stretched it out into a multi-year process.

How Long It Took To Make A Turkish Bow vs. A Mongol Bow?

But coming back to our discussions. The Mongol bow was made faster than the Turkish one. Even though they both used pretty much the same materials. The Turkish bow took up to a year to make while the Mongol one was made much faster since they did not wait for months for sinew to dry.

The Poundage Of A Mongol Bow Vs. A Turkish Bow

The Mongol bows were ridiculously strong. And this is no exaggeration. The Mongol archers regularly used bows that had up to 150 lbs of draw weight. This also meant the range was extreme as well, as you will see in the next segment.

And while the Turkish bows could also be extremely strong they had standardized poundage that went from 65lbs and higher.

So the Mongols routinely used bows that exceeded 100 lbs of draw weight while the Turks had bows that ranged from 65 lbs to 100 lbs of draw weight.

The Range Of Mongol Bows Versus Turkish Bows

This one goes to the Turkish bow. As you can see in my article on Turkish bows here, there was a record for an arrow shot the furthest at over 800 meters. While The Mongol bow was a powerful bow we don’t have any records that a shot went anywhere over 500 meters.

But let’s put aside the notion of maximum range and let’s focus on effective range.

The effective range of Mongol bows was just north of 300 meters. While it is said that Ottoman archers (Turkish archers) practiced archers at ranges from 90 meters to 265 meters. Which is quite similar.

While it was possible to shoot arrows above the effective range it wasn’t, well … effective. If the enemy was wearing any kind of body armor on the battlefield it was incumbent on the archers to fire from as close as possible.

And since both the Mongols and the Turks were a culture that relied on horse archers they shot from short ranges of 30 to 70 meters. This was far enough to keep the archers out of harm’s way but close enough for the arrows to pack enough force to pierce armor.

What Made The Turkish Bow Better Than The Mongol Bow?

It is the “Sipar”. This allowed the Turkish archers to fire arrows that were shorter than the draw length of their bow. An ingenious piece of equipment. At its core, it’s just a platform that is attached to the archer’s bow hand.

As the archer draws the bow the arrowhead goes back and rests on the Sipar platform while being nocked on the bowstring. So as the archer released the bowstring the arrowhead, resting on the Sipar, traveled from the Sipar towards the target.

You can see how this looked by clicking on the link here. It will take you to a youtube video showing how the Sipar was used. Just pay attention to the archer’s left wrist.

This meant if an enemy fired an arrow at the Turks they could pick up an enemy’s arrow and fire it back at them.

Some suggest this was done even with crossbow darts.

There are no records of Mongols using anything like that.

As much as you can respect the craftsmanship of the Mongol bows. In the overall debate of Mongol bows vs. Turkish bows, I say the Turks did a better job. Turkish bows are better.

To see which bow wins when you compare the Turkish bow to the Hungarian bow then go here. The article covers the subtle differences between the two famous composite bows.

If you wish you can continue reading by exploring the difference between Composite Bows and Longbows by clicking here.

Take care

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