The question is fairly simple. If a Mongol and a Centaur ride by and shoot at you, who has the better chance of giving an arrow a new home in your gizzard?

That is, given equal skill in shooting, does a centaur have an advantage in mounted archery/shooting? Are they in a more stable position to shoot from and thus more accurate, than a rider sitting on a saddle? Or, would you reckon centaurs would be less accurate that a cavalryman?

Note that horses can run reasonably well even while blind, so I wouldn't be highly concerned about their ability to aim while moving.

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    $\begingroup$ "Given equal skill in shooting" they are EQUAL. $\endgroup$ – wetcircuit Feb 3 '18 at 3:19
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    $\begingroup$ @wetcircuit ...So, given equal skill at shooting, standing on one leg on a horse, you would be equal to a Mongol Warrior? Because that's the nature of the question. The stability of the shooting platform the centaur has as opposed to the Mongol. "The question is fairly simple. does a centaur have an advantage in mounted archery/shooting? Are they in a more stable position to shoot from and thus more accurate, than a rider sitting on a saddle?" $\endgroup$ – Johnny Feb 3 '18 at 3:32
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    $\begingroup$ @JustinThyme torso LIKE a human is correct. It's just that in every story that i've read with centaurs in it, they think their own way. Consider this, does an elf have the mind of a human? No, they have the mind of an elf. Dwarves have minds of dwarves. Centaurs have minds of centaurs. They are comparable (minds LIKE humans), but in the stories i read/watch/play, they are still distinct. But on the scale of horse to human, they are right there by human. We also have to keep in mind that this is fantasy and people just make it up as they go. $\endgroup$ – user41674 Feb 3 '18 at 17:09
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    $\begingroup$ Would a Mongol warrior riding on a centaur be more accurate than just a centaur archer alone? $\endgroup$ – Justin Thyme Feb 3 '18 at 17:27
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    $\begingroup$ @justinthyme if you’re looking at references to Greek centaurs, that’s a bad ref: the Greeks wouldn’t have differentiated “like” from “of”. Most of the natural philosophy assumed that physical identicality implied actual identicality. Further, I doubt they would have presumed a different mental structure as necessary to control the body. Zeus didn’t think differently when he transformed into a bull... or a shower of gold coins. $\endgroup$ – SRM Feb 3 '18 at 21:38

I’m betting on the centaur. The hardest part of shooting from horseback is knowing your horse well enough to adjust your shot for its gallop. Try a simple experiment with a camera: go shoot some video while running on a bumpy, broken road. Then shoot the same video from a car while someone else drives. Then go to a nearby major airport and shoot some video out the windows of whatever monorail/peoplemover thing they have.

The rail video is smooth for most people, barring a lurch at accel and decel as it enters and leaves each station. It is like you’re standing still. That lurch is because you can’t exactly compensate for the train movements. Now look at the other two videos.

For most people, there will be less camera shake when running. Your hands learn to compensate for signals from your feet for what your feet are about to do. You learn car movements secondhand from sensing acceleration after motion has started. It’s like the acceleration in the train but continuously adjusted. Horseback is even more variant as the horse crosses terrain.

The centaur knows nir own body. Ne can adjust ahead of time. The Mongol is reading the horse and is always suffering some time penalty, no matter how well trained horse and rider are. So I bet on the centaur.

I double my bet if the Mongol is on a new or untrained horse.


I saw a demonstration of this sort of archery, and I would put my money on the Mongol, the demonstrator put three arrows in the target as he passed, one on approach, one beside, and then he shot another when he was past the target.

The centaur might have trouble twisting for the last shot and they need to control and coordinate 6 limbs at the same time while doing it. The Mongol only has to control his arms, not run and he can smooth the bumps a bit by flexing his knees. Try running and shooting an arrow or even a gun and you would be lucky to hit anything at all difficult.

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    $\begingroup$ Yes, I'd go for the Mongol as well. It's 2 brains vs 1 brain. $\endgroup$ – Abigail Feb 3 '18 at 10:47
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    $\begingroup$ @abigail funny: that’s the same reason I bet on the centaur in my answer! :-) I’d bet on an octopus over two quadropuses trying to coordinate. $\endgroup$ – SRM Feb 3 '18 at 14:17
  • $\begingroup$ I find @SRM 's point convincing, but I will say you brought up a good point, Kilisi. $\endgroup$ – Johnny Feb 3 '18 at 14:23
  • $\begingroup$ Running is something that takes up a good deal of your consciousness, situational awareness or whatever you want to call it, diverting what you need to concentrate on aiming. You don't just run and forget about it, you regulate breathing, you make numerous small balance adjustments all while pumping your legs and arms, easy test run full speed normally and then moving your arms as if aiming a bow an arrow. Your whole balance dynamics change. $\endgroup$ – Kilisi Feb 4 '18 at 1:48
  • $\begingroup$ Riding doesn't take concentration for you? You must be pretty good at it, then. $\endgroup$ – Johnny Feb 4 '18 at 7:50


A horse has to concentrate on the ground in front of it. Putting your foot down a rabbit-hole or merely stumbling over an obstruction would be disastrous. Therefore centaurs would not be able to keep their eye on the target unless they were on perfectly level ground. That might be possible in a tournament situation but not on a battlefield.

Of course if the horse or centaur both come to a standstill before loosing then there's no real difference.


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