The bolt is an internal sliding rod in a bolt action rifle. It has an external handle which is pulled back by hand to discharge a cartridge out through a slot in the side of the gun. A new bullet can then be inserted through the same slot after which the bolt is pushed forward again to close the slot and to push the new bullet into position for firing.The bolt takes the back force of the bullet when it is shot. The saying jokingly implies that you have shot all your bullets plus the bolt, but in reality a rifle cannot shoot its bolt.Hello,
I am not sure I am writing in the accurate section, but I am curious about the origin of the expression "to have shot one's bolt".
Thank you in advance.
I must note that "several minutes" is an exaggeration. Even a ballista could theoretically launch two projectiles every minute; for a heavy siege crossbow with a winch, operated by one man, the maximal rate of fire would be roughly the same. It would be even higher for average field crossbows (usually spanned by stirrups, belt hooks or various levers), though their rate of fire still was 2-3 times lower than for English longbows (which made crossbowmen particularly vulnerable to direct cavalry attacks). Theoretically it could refer to using crossbows in cavalry, as a part of the proto-reiter tactics when some cavalrymen armed with crossbows were approaching enemy lines, making single shots from their crossbows and then retreating (as they were practically unable to reload while riding on horseback).Sounds like a crossbow. Crossbows could only shoot once, and after that, you'd have to wind up the crossbow for several minutes before you could fire again. Also the projectile is called a crossbow bolt while guns use bullets.
That seems plausible. Especially taking into account that reloading isn't too fast indeed and most typically you also need to stand up to reload.I would guess that the reference could be to a crossbowman lying in wait to ambush an enemy: once he's shot his bolt, the element of surprise is gone: if he didn't hit his target first time, he's in trouble.
...though their rate of fire still was 2-3 times lower than for English longbows
That how I understand it as well. Several languages have similar expressions, like German "sein Pulver verschossen haben" (having shot all one's [gun]powder).I think the point is that if a crossbowman has shot his last bolt he is defenceless - or at least he can no longer function as a crossbowman, though of course he may have some other weapon at hand.
It was a typical manner of using them, but surely not universal. Quivers were a necessary part of any longbowman's equipment anyway, and the point is that the rate of fire could be easily maximized in combat when necessary (and their rate of fire was actually pivotal for disarraying and repelling cavalry charges), especially taking into account that longbowmen didn't aim much until the enemy was really close.In battle a longbowman would plant his arrows in the ground, not take them from a quiver like in a Robin Hood film.
Obviously - that's why experienced mercenaries were always valuable. Still, all that applies to crossbowmen too.Under the stress of battle or after a long march it would be different
It was a typical manner of using them, but surely not universal. Quivers were a necessary part of any longbowman's equipment anyway, and the point is that the rate of fire could be easily maximized in combat when necessary (and their rate of fire was actually pivotal for disarraying and repelling cavalry charges), especially taking into account that longbowmen didn't aim much until the enemy was really close.
Obviously - that's why experienced mercenaries were always valuable. Still, all that applies to crossbowmen too.
It seems usually exaggerated. A modern dedicated archer doesn't really need decades of training to make an aimed shot from a 75-kg longbow replica. There's, of course, one important part: he's also usually bigger than an average Englishman of the 15th century, and he eats better food. So, ultimately, skilled archers were a limited resource and English kings were aware of that. Crossbows, however, had exorbitant prices, and only a very rich lord or city was able to use comparatively large masses of crossbowmen.One of the main differences between longbowmen and crossbowmen was that the former required long training starting as a boys.
I thought about that, but a crossbow shooter carries many bolts, and the saying is not "He has shot his bolts", but "bolt" singular. Also, although slower to reload than a comparable bow, it still takes less than 10 seconds to reload a crossbow, so shooting one of many bolts would not mean that the shooter's battle or hunt was over. A rifle, though has only one bolt which, if somehow shot, would mean the shooter was done. Anyway, you might be correct. I always just assumed that it referred to a rifle bolt.But a crossbow can. The projectiles of a crossbow are called "bolts".
Even from the front the most typical combat protection of a horse was close to zero in the mid 15th century (just chanfrons, basically). Apparently, until the end of the 15th century barding was used almost exclusively in tournaments, likely because it was making cavalrymen too slow in combat, quickly fatiguing the horses. Even on various depictions of the battle of Pavia (1520s) we don't see any horses fully covered by plate armor (though we do see them regularly on the depictions of tournaments).Horses tended to be best protected at the front and were not so well protected at the sides.
Again, only if we include heavy siege crossbows (which weren't the most typical weapons of this class - they were, indeed, too heavy and unwieldy for field action). Muskets were developed as heavy armor-piercing firearms from the beginning (and were very successful in piercing full plate armor, effectively rendering it impractical very soon); by "early muskets" you must mean arquebuses, I presume.more powerful than early muskets