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Penetration of the Bodkin Point

To test the ability of the heavy bodkin pointed arrow to penetrate armor, I discharged it from a 75-pound bow at a distance of 10 yards, against a brass plate 1/16 inch thick, having a piece of pine board at the back. It entered to the depth of 1½ inches. Without the wood in back it must have gone through to a greater depth. This brass is the thickness of an old Roman bronze breast­plate[19] in the Museum of Anthropology.

To test the penetration of arrows in soft yielding sub­stance, half a pound of raw cotton was made into a pad 12 inches square and 1 inch thick, when compressed. This was covered with muslin and fastened to a box composed of white pine ¼ inch thick. Three broadhead arrows of the type of figure 14 of plate 13, were shot at it with a 75-pound bow from a distance of 10 yards. Each arrow penetrated the cotton and went 3 inches beyond the sur­face of the board. The heavy bodkin pointed arrow went 6 inches through the pad and board, showing that cotton alone would not constitute effective armor.

The same bodkin arrow from the same bow, striking a tempered steel saw blade 1/32 inch in thickness, split the steel and penetrated the wooden backpiece to a depth of 1 inch. Shooting it against a piece of cold drawn soft steel 1/16 inch thick, the bodkin point penetrated ½ inch, then because of its high temper broke squarely off at the plate. To test this bodkin point on armor, I selected a suit of chain mail, probably made in Damascus about the sixteenth century. It is composed of interlocking steel links about ½ inch in diameter, the caliber of wire being approximately no. 22 gauge. Each link is welded and connects with four others. Over the chest and back these links are heavier than elsewhere. The entire suit weighs 25 pounds. A form to represent the human chest was constructed of a thin pine box covered with burlap and the shirt hung on this (pl. 17).

At a distance of 7 yards the heavy bodkin arrow (pl. 12, fig. 6), shot from a 75-pound bow, struck the armor with such force that a shower of sparks flew from it, and the arrow drove through the center of the back, penetrat­ing 8 inches, piercing one side of the shirt and both sides of the box. It is apparent that armor alone is not suf­ficient protection against an arrow of this sort.[20]