I've been conceiving a race of humanoids inspired by gibbons. As such, this race is characterized by:

  • very long arms and hands
  • a ball and socket jointed wrist
  • feet capable of grasping
  • about 3 ft tall

These humanoids are almost exclusively arboreal, which brings me to my main point. I had been thinking that if they were able to hunt, they would need to attack from above. My questions are: With the traits given, would these humanoids be able to do archery with minimal problems? What possible modifications would their equipment have?


Dwarfs have an exceedingly difficult time with the long bow. First, they have to stand on something so the bow can clear the ground (they are not tall enough, the English long bow was about six feet long), and second their arms are not long enough to pull the bow back far enough. If your creatures stood on branches, the first is taken care of. If they have very long arms, the second is taken care of. But they have to be quite strong arms in compression (pushing away), not just tension (as hanging in trees would demand).

But a bow with a stock perpendicular to the bow, that takes the place of the human outstretched left arm, and braces against the right shoulder, might be workable. Sort of a hybrid between a cross-bow stock and a long bow. I am actually very surprised such a device was never added to the long bow, depending only on the strength of the left arm to draw it. The bow would be able to be drawn ahead of time, and then brought to bear at a convenient time.

However, if you give your creatures the technology, a cross bow would be ideal. They could cock it using their feet while hanging in the trees by one hand.


Perhaps the humanoids can hold the bow with their feet, one foot towards either end and draw the bow with the strength of both hands. They could hang in the trees from ropes and use their backs to aim up and down and tension differences between the legs to aim from side to side.

In this arrangement the bow might need small stirrup’s to firmly attach the feet. A crossbow might also be useful as a much greater power could be wound into it. Although gibbons have strong legs they are not that large so using both legs and both arms would be beneficial as would a crossbow arrangement. It’s a shame that gibbons don’t have tails as these would be a useful addition as they would have their arms and legs “full”.

  • $\begingroup$ The knees would be the trick. The legs would have to be fully extended knees straight, so the string does not clip the knees. There would definitely have to be some sort of stirrup for the feet, How big are the creatures? The distance of the arrow travel is a function, in part, on how far back the bow can be drawn. Human hands have the advantage that they can be rotated and the bow held sideways. With this method, the bow would be flat against the body. $\endgroup$ – Justin Thyme Oct 5 '17 at 23:32

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