Archery – Three Noted Histories
Archery is a sport or practice of using a bow to shoot arrows. Throughout history archery was used for many purposes including hunting and combat. It now has mainly become a sport of precision. Some history on archery is that it was said to have begun around 15,000 years ago, but the earliest that proven evidence was reported on archery was between 8,000 and 9,000 years ago. The bow is said to have originally come from the use of hunting animals, and then it became a very useful tool in combat and warfare. It became the dominant means of shooting projectiles after replacing the “atlatl”.
Some of the histories of Archery include Classical, Medieval and Asian Archery. The Classical groups that used archery included the Greeks, Indians, and Chinese. They had great numbers of archers in their armies.
Archers were one of the most decisive tools in warfare. Some archers were known to ride horseback, where combining their range, speed and mobility proved to be one of the deadliest weapons of all warfare. The phrase “a parting shot” came from this type of riding and it meant that a rider turned in the saddle to shoot as he rode away from the enemy.
Medieval European archery is one of the more popular studied forms of archery and it is recognized that the archers in the warfare of Western Europe were the most vital tool in their armoury. What many don’t know is that they were one of the lowest paid of all types of soldiers. Because bows and arrows were so inexpensive it was cheaper to arm a man with these than to arm a man with a sword and highly expensive protective armour. The bow, to them, was viewed as a “lower class weapon”, and it was hardly used to actually decide any of their battles.
The Vikings were the most noted for using archers in their battles, and that is why they had so much widespread success throughout the 9th and 10th centuries. Archers from this era were often trained very hard from early stages of childhood. Usually the boys were given bows that were of their own height and tournaments were regularly held to help the boys practice their efficiency.
In parts of Asia, archery was also highly developed. It is noted that Central Asian tribesmen were the most skilled at archery on horseback. These “horse archers” would shoot while charging at their targets, then in one motion turn around in their saddles and shoot at the targets again while they rode away.
A deviation from the norm in Asian archery was a tool called the “Foot-Bow”. These were often preferred because they could fire arrows a lot faster, and at a longer range than most conventional bows or crossbows. The technique to use a foot-bow was for the person to lie down on their back, with the bow at their feet, then they would put the arrow between their feet and pull the string on the bow back with both of their hands and use their back and legs to bend the bow. It was said that the aim was not very good, but with the combined weight and velocity of the five foot long arrows, that became less important.