Equipping your Ranger

Hello, I really love your blog and wanted to ask you a question How realistic would it be to have a ranger – in a medieval world – who will fight with a bow, spear, sword and dagger? And what would be the most important weapon and with which you have the most experience?

So, there’s only two issues with this list: The sword, and the axe. Also the phrase, “fighting,” might be slightly off, but not too drastically.

The thing about these weapons is, (with the exception of the sword), they all serve multiple uses. The spear and bow are both hunting tools, the knife has a wide range of applications, ranging from eating implement to general utility cutter, to throat slicer. The sword somewhat stands out in that list because it’s only a weapon. This isn’t a bad thing per se, but it is something to remember. It’s also (probably) an expensive piece of combat gear. The rest of these items are things a hunter would likely carry as a matter of course, but the sword is a weapon.

So, the lack of an axe is a significant omission. This may be a handaxe, a hatchet, or it could be a full battle axe (though, this last option does seem less likely.) If your character is a woodland hunter, then the axe is almost as valuable as the knife. It can be used for creating shelter, collecting fuel for a cooking fire, impromptu weapon of continence. If the ranger is also a skilled fletcher (which is possible, though not automatically the case), then a hatchet may be a critical tool for producing more ammunition. Depending on the design, it can also make a pretty good hammer in a pinch. Really, it’s a tool your ranger probably wouldn’t want to be without.

Spears are useful both for hunting and for fighting. In a lot of cases, when you’re hunting an animal, it’s going to be somewhat upset with you trying to kill it. Being able to shove a knife size blade into it at a range where it can’t retaliate brings a few minor perks, like not being gored to death. You can also poke things with it, and in some situations may be able to use it to remotely trip traps.

The bow is an excellent hunting tool, and it’s likely to be your ranger’s first choice when looking to take down their prey. Of course, this also applies when they’re hunting and picking off human foes as well. It’s not as ideal in open combat, but this is why your ranger is carrying other weapons.

Now, you said a dagger, but the odds are your ranger would have multiple knives on them. Some of these may be specialized, like a skinning knife, while others may be slightly more general purpose. While you and I might be concerned about using the same knife to slit someone’s throat and then carve our dinner, in a world without advanced medicine (particularly an understanding of bacterial infection), their eating utensil may pull double duty as a combat knife.

As for which is most important? It depends on the situation. This is a pretty well rounded selection of weapons. None of them will shine in all situations. Because of audience expectations, the sword may appear to be the most important, but that doesn’t mean it’s the most useful. For sheer variety of applications, that probably goes to the knife, but it’s probably the least versatile option for combat from the options you listed.

On the last question (taken at face value.) I don’t have a lot of personal experience with spears. I’ve had a lot of practice with knives, My skills with a bow are rusty, and I haven’t drawn one in over twenty-five years at this point. I have a couple swords around here, though somewhat obviously, I’m not exactly using them on my neighbors. I’m not sure where my handaxe is, while I’ve got a fair amount of experience with it, most of that does go back to Scouting, so it’s been a little over 20 years since I’ve been out camping.)

-Starke

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