Home Forums Horse and Musket General Horse and Musket Why didn't the Zulus use bows?

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  • #3592
    General SladeGeneral Slade
    Participant

    This is probably a stupid question (but hey, it’s not the first I have asked and I don’t suppose it will be the last): Why didn’t the Zulus use bows? Or slings for that matter?

    It’s one of those things I have never thought about before but I was considering putting together a Zulu-style army for an ancient/medieval fantasy campaign and it occurred to me that they would be seriously lacking on the missile front. I assume there would have been some trade in guns even before the Zulu war but I can’t help feel a bit more firepower wouldn’t have done them any harm.

    Or am I missing something obvious?

    #3599
    Not Connard SageNot Connard Sage
    Participant

    Not many suitable trees on the veldt…

    "I go online sometimes, but everyone's spelling is really bad. It's... depressing."

    #3600
    General SladeGeneral Slade
    Participant

    I’ll buy that. Now of course I’m wondering what kind of trees they made their spear shafts from?

    I’ve got a bad feeling I might end up having to read a book or something …

    #3603
    Not Connard SageNot Connard Sage
    Participant

    A spear shaft doesn’t need  the properties of a bowstave. 😉

    "I go online sometimes, but everyone's spelling is really bad. It's... depressing."

    #3604
    General SladeGeneral Slade
    Participant

    Good point. What about slings? They don’t grow on trees.

    #3606
    Not Connard SageNot Connard Sage
    Participant

    Dunno about that one. No shortage of cow hide to make them out of.

    "I go online sometimes, but everyone's spelling is really bad. It's... depressing."

    #3652
    Truscott TrotterTruscott Trotter
    Participant

    Good point. What about slings? They don’t grow on trees.

    Shortage of rocks?
    I suspect it was not considered manly to kill an enemy unless you did it face to face….pity for the Zulus the Brits did not share that veiw

    #3666
    warren coleman
    Participant

    General,

    I have also looked at a Zulu/Dark Africa army for my fantasy gaming world, if you make them an ’empire’, you can use tribes from the north and indeed pigmees which did use bow and even blow pipes.

    Black Hat do a fantastic range of various tribes with headdress and shield variants, visually great!

    #3683
    General SladeGeneral Slade
    Participant

    Hello Truscott,

    I think you might be on to something with that. Last night while I was painting I listened to an old In Our Time radio programme about the Zulu nation’s rise and fall and it said before the Zulus started to build their empire warfare in the region was quite ritualistic, designed to prove the bravery of a warrior, so I guess that would help to explain why missile weapons might be frowned upon.

    Hi Warren,

    I had a look on the Black Hat website and I couldn’t see any Zulus.Which range are they in?  I’m planning to get them in 15mm so I will probably just use Minifigs (I use them for everything else so why change the habits of a lifetime!).  I won’t be using them as Zulus as such so I will be able to add some bows and slings if I can finds some figures that don’t look out of place next to them. In fact I’ll probably also have a king riding on an elephant because I like elephants.

     

     

    #3687
    BlackhatBlackhat
    Participant

    Hi Warren, I had a look on the Black Hat website and I couldn’t see any Zulus.Which range are they in?

    Hi

    They are in the colonial range here:

    http://www.blackhat.co.uk/online_shop/index.php?cPath=22_66

    • This reply was modified 6 years ago by BlackhatBlackhat.

    Black Hat Miniatures -
    http://www.www.blackhat.co.uk/

    #3689
    General SladeGeneral Slade
    Participant

    Thanks Blackhat,

    I’ll take a look.

    You’d think it might have occurred to me to look in the colonial range in the first place . . .

    #3810
    Will McNallyWill McNally
    Participant

    Zulus are pastoralists not hunter/gathers hence no need for bows/slings, any firearms would be a status symbol

    #3822
    General SladeGeneral Slade
    Participant

    Thanks Will.  Since asking the question I have done a bit of reading up on the subject and it seems that the neighbouring tribes mainly fought with light javelins, which don’t sound as if they were particularly effective, and the Zulus aimed to close to melee as fast as possible, so there wasn’t any real need for long range missile fire.

    Another point I really need to bear in mind when thinking about these things is that the Zulus weren’t looking at DBA army lists, browsing through everyone from the Sumerians to the Burgundian Ordonnance and thinking maybe we should balance our force out with some psiloi . . .

    #4142
    ExtraCrispyExtraCrispy
    Participant

    Also, I think the range you’re looking for is actually Blue Moon – they do a lot of different tribes each with multiple shield options. Not that the Black Hat aren’t nice (I sell both in my shop).

    #4146
    General SladeGeneral Slade
    Participant

    I’m really not keen on Blue Moon figures.  I admit I haven’t seen them in the flesh but I have checked out the pictures of them and the shafts of the weapons are a bit thick for my taste.  Also, the faces just don’t look very African to me. But it may be that the photos don’t do them justice.

    #4379
    PatricePatrice
    Participant

    They were excellent warriors without bows so you certainly can play them very well without bows too

    They had metalworking and other skills but not on the same level of technology and training than Ancient or Medieval armies. Native bows used by other people (African or American) were perhaps effective at very close range but nothing to compare with the Ancient/Medieval bows used for war. Ancient slings were effective with lead bullets and for shooting at large enemy groups.

    • This reply was modified 6 years ago by PatricePatrice.

    http://www.argad-bzh.fr/argad/en.html
    https://www.anargader.net/

    #4448
    Not Connard SageNot Connard Sage
    Participant

    I’m really not keen on Blue Moon figures. I admit I haven’t seen them in the flesh but I have checked out the pictures of them and the shafts of the weapons are a bit thick for my taste. Also, the faces just don’t look very African to me. But it may be that the photos don’t do them justice.

     

    Essex Zulus are probably one of their best 15mm ranges, with multiple poses within each pack. Except for one thing – separate spears and shields (or is that two things?).

    I have over 400 of the buggers. All I can say is, never again 😀

    "I go online sometimes, but everyone's spelling is really bad. It's... depressing."

    #4464
    General SladeGeneral Slade
    Participant

    I checked out the Essex Zulus and they do look nice. Can’t stay I’d fancy gluing the shields and spears on 400 of them though.   You’re a braver man than me. Did the words “Zulus – thousands of ’em!” just  keep going through your head over and over again?

    #6089
    grizzlymcgrizzlymc
    Participant

    What Nall McWilly said.  The zulu had no need for missile power, they were doinant in hand to hand.  Their warrior culture was not too hidebound as they did try to adopt firearms, but the british struck too quicky for them to adapt.

    #6097
    Not Connard SageNot Connard Sage
    Participant

    I checked out the Essex Zulus and they do look nice. Can’t stay I’d fancy gluing the shields and spears on 400 of them though. You’re a braver man than me. Did the words “Zulus – thousands of ‘em!” just keep going through your head over and over again?

     

    Yes

     

    "I go online sometimes, but everyone's spelling is really bad. It's... depressing."

    #6357
    grizzlymcgrizzlymc
    Participant

    Hello not sage!

    #6358
    Not Connard SageNot Connard Sage
    Participant

    Hi Grizz. How you doin’?

    "I go online sometimes, but everyone's spelling is really bad. It's... depressing."

    #6404
    grizzlymcgrizzlymc
    Participant

    Trying not to look at Baccus zulus, farsands of em!

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