Bow and Ar­row

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Old­est found stone points for ar­rows were made in Africa about 64,000 years ago. Old­est bows didn’t sur­vive to this day but ma­jor thought is that they were in­vented by the late Pa­le­olithic or early Mesolithic, some 10,000 years ago. Ar­rows found from that time had shal­low grooves on the base which in­di­cates that they were shot from a bow. Old­est found bows have age of 8,000 years and come from Holmegård swamp in Den­mark where they were found in the 1940s. At first, ar­rows were made from wood in a shape of a pointed shaft and later stone points were used. Egyp­tian cul­ture knew about bow and ar­rows since even be­fore dy­nas­ties ap­peared. Archery came to the Amer­i­cas via Alaska some 8,000 years ago. Slowly, archery be­came im­por­tant mil­i­tary and hunt­ing skill across the world. With it mounted archery be­came a char­ac­ter­is­tic fea­ture of Eurasian nomad cul­tures and a one of the ma­jor rea­sons of their mil­i­tary suc­cess. An­cient civ­i­liza­tions also had large num­bers of archers in their armies. They used them against massed formations of in­fantry and cavalry.

When the firearms started ap­pear­ing, archery as a skill started to de­cline. Early firearms were very in­fe­rior in rate-of-fire in re­la­tion to bow and ar­row, and could be rarely used in wet weather, but they had a longer ef­fec­tive range, greater pen­e­tra­tion, and were tac­ti­cally su­pe­rior. Soldiers also needed less train­ing to use a gun than to use a bow and ar­row. Highly trained archers be­came, in time, ob­so­lete on the bat­tle­field but archery con­tin­ued in some ar­eas. Archery was used in Scot­tish High­lands dur­ing the re­pres­sion that fol­lowed the de­cline of the Ja­co­bite cause and by the Chero­kees af­ter the Trail of Tears in 1830s. With the end­ing of the Sat­suma Re­bel­lion in 1877 in Ja­pan, some rebels started us­ing bows and ar­rows. Armies of Ko­rea and China trained archers un­til the tran­si­tion between the 19th and 20th cen­tury. Ot­toman Em­pire had mounted archery un­til the post 1826 re­forms to the Ot­toman Army.

Archery achieved re­vival thanks to the up­per-classes of Bri­tain which started prac­tic­ing it as a re­cre­ation between 1780 and 1840. The first recre­ational archery so­ci­eties ap­peared in 1688 and some of the first were the Fins­bury Archers and the Kil­win­ning Papingo. These were early starts but the true re­vival be­gan when the aris­toc­racy be­came in­ter­ested in archery be­cause it re­minded them of the Me­dieval chivalry and the ear­lier times. Only af­ter the Napoleonic Wars the sport be­came pop­u­lar among all classes. Dur­ing the mid­dle 19th cen­tury archery starts to turn from re­cre­ation to a sport. The first Grand Na­tional Archery So­ci­ety meet­ing was held in York in 1844 and over the next decade strict rules were set which formed a ba­sis for a sport. Its pop­u­lar­ity changed in time rel­a­tive to the pop­u­lar­ity of other sports like cro­quet and ten­nis. Since the 1920s, pro­fes­sional en­gi­neers took an in­ter­est in archery and de­signed im­proved vari­ants of bow like a re­curve and com­pound bow. Archery is not pop­u­lar to­day as it once was but there are still some places that prac­tice archery as a pop­u­lar com­pet­i­tive sport and even as a na­tional sport.

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