Archery as a sport has been evolving for thousands of years, and continues to change even now as its popularity rises once again. Understanding its roots, and why it has evolved will provide you with a better appreciation of this ancient sport.
To date, the oldest arrowheads have been found in dig sites in Africa. Estimated to be around 25,000 years old, it is assumed that the bow and arrow originated as an offshoot from a spear thrower. Rather than relying solely on arm strength to pierce the skin of the hunted animal, ancient hunters devised the bow to add extra power behind the arrowhead.
By 2800 BC it is known that Egyptians had begun making bows out of pieces of wood. These were tipped with animal horn and held together using sinew and glue. Shaped liked the letter C when unstrung, two hunters were required to add the string that fueled the arrow. Although very light, the bows were able to project arrows that could pierce armor from 400 yards away. Other hunters saw and appreciated the effectiveness, and the use of the bow and arrow quickly spread to other civilizations of that time.
The arrow evolved to suit the needs of the user. At times they included barbs, longer tips meant to pierce metals, and half moots that could cut through riggings.
The use of the bow and arrow in warfare dropped in 1520 when the first musket was introduced, but it continued to be used by hunters who preferred the quiet stealth it provides compared to guns.
The materials and construction of the bow and arrow are not the only things that have changed over time. The way in which they are shot. Although these may have evolved slightly, the basic premises are still existent in modern archery competitions.
For example, archers often practice the art of instinctive shooting in the backyards of their modern homes. With no anchor point or sight to focus on, they rapidly gauge distance and pull back the way they see fit. This is a basic skill to learn, and easily practiced if your modern home has a good amount of outdoor space surrounding it.
Rapid fire shooting is more complex, yet still can be practiced (with care) at your modern home. The goals is to try and shoot at least three arrows in succession as quickly as possible, making your target each time. The goal is to accomplish this in less than 1.5 seconds.
With the knowledge gained by understanding ancient archery practices, you can improve on your skills today. While we may feel advanced with our fancy equipment and modern homes, our ancestor’s need for the skill made them much more adept at it.