Archery had a large role in human daily life for thousands of years from ancient times until about 1750, when the gun began to supplant it for hunting and warfare quite quickly. Societies all over Europe, north Africa, like Egypt, Persia (Iran), India, China and Japan remember their greatest archers. I am sure that other countries do too.
Wales produced Twm Sion Catty; England had Robin Hood and Switzerland had William Tell. Greek and Trojan archers are told of by name in Homer’s ‘Iliad’. Archers all over the world were thought of as popular heroes like footballers are today.
It seems that bows were first developed in various areas of the world practically at the same time in the late Paleolithic Age or the early Mesolithic Age. It is remarkable that different kinds of bows were developed by the different peoples around the world and each type of bow was invented to match the style of warfare that that society conducted and to the environment in which they hunted.
There are too many varieties of bows to give details of them all here, but some of the most conventional archery bows are: the longbow, flatbow, shortbow, recurve bow, compound bow and crossbow.
The longbow and the flatbow are similar in size, both can be six feet or more in length, but the cross section of the longbow is ‘D’ shaped, whereas that of a flatbow is rectangular. A flatbow is usually wider than a longbow. Both can shoot heavy 36 inch arrows long distances with great force – enough to penetrate the armour of the Middle Ages from 250-300 yards.
The shortbow is shorter, as you might gather from its name. It is a short distance bow, used for hunting small animals in regions where a long bow would be too cumbersome such as in woods or forests.
The compound bow is also a shorter bow, but it is extremely powerful because the limbs are not very flexible. In order to flex the limbs, use is made of a system of pulleys or cams.
This gives the compound bow sufficient power (more than 50 pound draw weight) to enable it to be used to hunt bigger game such as deer or bear. The compound bow is a new design, which was only invented in 1966.
Recurve bows have tips that ‘point the wrong way’ when the bow is unstrung. This gives the recurve more power inch for inch than the long or flatbow, allowing it to be used as an effective weapon for warfare or hunting from horseback.
Crossbows are specialized bows, which can be pre-loaded like a gun and shot later. In general, it takes less skill and physical strength to use a crossbow.
The arrows are very important too. Arrows can be interchangeable between the bows to a limited extent, but the length should suit the draw of the bow. Crossbow bolts are normally very short.
There are two types or shooting: instinctive and sight shooting. Sight shooting means using sights of some kind to aim, either by looking down the arrow or using optical fibre sights. Instinctive shooting is more difficult because it is intuitive. It cannot be learned, you have either got it or you ain’t.
Owen Jones, the author of this piece writes on various topics, but is presently involved with compound hunting bows. If you would like to know more or for special deals, please go to our website at Kids Archery Set.