Some Facts About Archery
People have been involved with archery for a minimum of four thousand years, but very nearly certainly for a lot longer than that. Sections of composite recurve bows have been found dating back to the second millennium BC, but the parts that were found were the non-wooden, composite parts, usually of horn.
The wooden parts usually rotted away thousands of years before, but a wooden longbow from the same period was discovered in Somerset. Presumably, people had been using all wooden, single section bows long before they started making complicated composite recurve bows.
The skill of archery has always enthralled mankind and, in spite of the fact that guns have made archery obsolete, it still fascinates people today, although nowadays archery is practically exclusively used for sporting purposes. It is a thriving sport and hobby and is the national sport of the Kingdom of Bhutan.
If you are interested in practising archery, you will first have to make your mind up which kind of bow you prefer. Among other varieties, there are the longbow, recurve bow, reflex and decurve bows, deflex bow, pyramid bow and crossbow.
To a certain extent, the arrows are not interchangeable either. For instance, a longbow can cast a three foot, heavy-gauge arrow, whereas a crossbow shoots a six inch bolt. The bows also had distinctive uses although there was a certain degree of overlap.
For example, longbows were the heavy, rapid-firing armaments of their day, being able to fling a heavy, armour-piercing arrow hundreds of yards; whereas a short recurve bow was ideal for assault from horseback. Crossbows took less ability to use but were slower than a bow.
There are different kinds of arrow as well. Traditionally, arrows were made of wood with a sharp metal tip, but these days arrows can be made of aluminium or carbon fibre. The arrowheads are different for different uses as well. A simple brass tip is adequate for everyday shooting whereas a ferocious, slashing broadhead is used for killing.
The majority of people who take archery seriously use carbon fibre arrows nowadays which is the typical arrow shaft used at the Olympic games. The flights are usually of bird feathers and are used to stabilize the arrow in flight to reduce wobble. Plastic flights are also to be had as they are less susceptible to damage.
The Welsh (and English) longbow was perhaps the most heavy-duty hand bow extensively used. These longbows were normally six feet or more in length and made of one section of seasoned yew (or other woods). The draw weight of a Welsh longbow at the time of Henry VIII was between 160 -180 lbf and that would shoot a heavy three ounce arrow up to about 280 yards.
An explanation of the damage that one of these arrows could inflict was given by Gerald of Wales in the 12th century:
“… in the war against the Welsh, one of the men of arms was struck by an arrow shot at him by a Welshman. It went right through his thigh, high up, where it was protected inside and outside the leg by his iron cuirasses, and then through the skirt of his leather tunic; next it penetrated that part of the saddle which is called the alva or seat; and finally it lodged in his horse, driving so deep that it killed the animal”.
It took years of practice to draw and shoot one of these longbows bows accurately.
Owen Jones, the writer of this article writes on various topics, but is presently involved with archery recurve bows. If you would like to know more or for special deals, please go to our website at Kids Archery Set.
Filed under: Martial Arts
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