How fast could a human-powered medieval projectile go?
- The weapon must be made of materials available in medieval times: wood, steel, catgut, bone, rope, etc. No modern composites or plastics.
- Engineering must be done to tolerances achievable in medieval times.
- Human muscle power must be the power source. No explosives, no fires, no battery piles.
- Electricity-powered weapons like railguns or coilguns are not allowed. Magnets are not allowed.
- It is allowed to store the human muscle power as elastic potential energy (e.g. a bow), kinetic energy (e.g. a flywheel), gravitational potential energy (e.g. a trebuchet), compressed air, or thermal storage. Other energy storage methods are not allowed.
- If necessary, it is allowed to have many humans working together to power the weapon.
- The design of weapon does not need to have been known to medieval engineers, as long as it uses medieval materials in conformance with these rules.
- Speed of projectile is measured at time of release.
So, what are the upper limits for projectile speed? Can we get to 800 m/s, like a sniper bullet?