I was reading an article on the BBC News website about one of Henry VIII’s warships, called the Mary Rose, which was wrecked in 1545, during an attack on the French fleet. The boat was overloaded, and when the wind shifted, she just keeled over and rapidly sank, drowning everyone on board.
The wreck was raised in 1982. Scientists have been studying the skeletons of the longbow archers, who pulled seriously heavy bows. Most of these young men came from Wales and from the south west of England. Some were over six feet tall, when the average height on the ship was an already-tall 5’7. The elite archers were groomed from a young age, and would have spent most of their lives training. It took crazy strength to pull these bows, which averaged 6’6″ in length. The arrows could pierce armor at ranges of over 250 yards.
The article describes these archers as the “elite athletes of the Tudor age.” They could fire up to twelve arrows a minute.