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Archery: Interesting Facts About The Bow And Arrow

Updated on March 2, 2012

Archery Women With Drawn Bow

Archery by Tommy_Jay
Archery by Tommy_Jay

Interesting Facts About Archery

It is not uncommon to hear of archery in art, literature, warfare, language, medieval times and Greek mythology. The bow was a pivotal device, as important as the invention of the wheel, electricity and running water. Archery has been used in combat and hunting from early history until present.

Archery uses a stringed projectile weapon called a bow to shoot arrows. A cord is fastened to each end of the stave, or bow stick, under a specific amount of tension. By drawing back the arrow and the string, the impelling force linked to the bowstring launches the arrows. Although it may sound simple, early archer weapons required hundreds of pounds of extreme force to bend the bow and an equal amount of marksmanship to set the arrow flying. The earliest bows used in archery were made from wood, whittled into shape and threaded with animal guts. These primitive bows developed into the longbow, short bow and other variations.

Medieval Archery at Arundel Castle

Archery’s Progression

When composite bows began to be created they were generally part wood mixed with other materials such as bone, horn, sinews and tendons. The horn and sinew combination became popular because the horn resisted compression and sinew would quickly snap back into place. Another interesting spin was the Chinese composite bow that was made completely out of vegetation. Bamboo was a staple material in production.

Through the years, the bow and the arrows have developed into fine tuned weapons used mainly for sport with composite compound and recurve bows. Fiberglass, carbon fiber, and aluminum alloy are popular shaft choices now since in competition, the speed, distance, and accuracy require lightweight materials. Dracon is the common material used for the string as well as linen. Most people practicing archery today wear a bracer, which is a form of an armguard as well as chest guards, finger tabs or thumb ring.

Archery Competition

Archery by Scruffy Hound
Archery by Scruffy Hound

Yabusame - Japanese Horseback Archery 流鏑馬

Early American History

Before European culture practiced archery, the American archers were indeed the masters of the bow. Strong bows to clear open plains were used and in woodlands, lighter bows were put to use. The early Eskimos of the Western hemisphere constructed their bows from spruce tree and sinew and they served the purpose for warfare and hunting. The arrows were made from splintered mammoth bones or driftwood and were held together by feathers from a ptarmigan. The Native Americans were proficient in composite and wooden bows. It became such a tool of importance to them that it was often depicted as a symbol relating to power or magic.

In 1828, archery became a sport in the United States, developed by a group of men in Philadelphia. As scientists took an interest in the physics of these primitive tools, bow makers worked with them to create the bows with new, lighter materials.

Target Archery

Archery by Diamanx
Archery by Diamanx

Archery Forms

Archery tournaments can be traced to England in the 17th century. Competitive archery is characterized as shooting arrows with accuracy and distance at a specific target. Worldwide this is called Target archery. In Europe and America, Field archery is popular and involves shooting at various targets in a wooded setting. There are however, many more styles of competitive archery.

  • Target Archery – These competitions are held either outdoors or indoors. The competition consists of three arrows or sometimes six arrows and archers are allowed a specific amount of time to shoot their arrows. After each end turn, competitors walk over to their target to retrieve their arrows and score.
  • Field Archery – This technique involves shooting at varied length targets, usually in a rough terrain. There is a field round, hunter round and animal round. The field round is an even distance with a designated bulls eye. Hunter rounds are varied lengths with a black face with a white bulls eye. Animal rounds use targets that are life-size.

Ski-Archery World Championships 2000

  • 3D Archery – Similar to Field archery, this form focuses on shooting at life-size game models with unmarked distances. The goal is accuracy for competition.
  • Clout Archery – This is similar to Target archery except at a much greater distance. Archers shoot six arrows and then when signaled proceed to the next target. Clout rounds consist of 36 arrows.
  • Crossbow Archery – Field crossbows are used in this sport that limit weight, physical dimensions and power of the equipment. Archers shoot from standing positions and have to draw back the bow by hand and with no mechanical assistance. There is a time limit of three minutes for every three shots.
  • Flight Archery – The goal here is to shoot the arrow the furthest distance. There are varied classes and weights for Flight archers and they rely on the very finest performance equipment.
  • Ski Archery – Athletes ski on a cross-country track arriving at two stances to shoot the target standing and kneeling. The skis cannot be removed. There is often a punishment that if the athlete misses a target, they have to ski a penalty loop.


Yabusame By sputnik__
Yabusame By sputnik__

Archers must be highly skilled at aiming to succeed in competition. Modern equipment often includes sights that mark the predicted spot which allows for fairly good accuracy without a tremendous amount of practice. Aiming involves a great deal of vision and motion coordination. Archery is not an easy sport but has come a long way with developed equipment that makes the game more precise and a lot more competitive.


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    • profile image

      Katniss Everdeen 4 years ago

      Archery is my life! (literley)

    • profile image

      A person 5 years ago

      i luv archery

    • Peter Wheeldon profile image

      Peter Wheeldon 6 years ago from Wanganui, New Zealand

      Medieval Archery . . . Brilliant, loved it.