Basics of Archery

History of Archery

Archery is one of the old­est arts still prac­ticed today. The evo­lu­tion of archery began at the start of mankind’s his­to­ry, and evi­dence of ancient archers has been found all around the world.

Although archery prob­a­bly dates back to the Stone Age – around 20,000 B.C. – the ear­li­est peo­ple known to have reg­u­lar­ly used bows and arrows were the Ancient Egyp­tians, who adopt­ed archery around 3,000 B.C. for hunt­ing and warfare.

In Chi­na, the ear­li­est evi­dence of archery dates to the Shang Dynasty – 1766 – 1027 B.C. A war char­i­ot of that time car­ried a three-man team, a dri­ver, a lancer and an archer. Dur­ing the Zhou (Chou) Dynasty that fol­lowed – 1027-256 B.C. – nobles at court attend­ed archery tour­na­ments that were accom­pa­nied by music and inter­spersed with entertainment.

When Chi­nese peo­ple intro­duced Japan to archery in the sixth cen­tu­ry it had an over­whelm­ing influ­ence on culture.

One of Japan’s most well-known mar­tial arts, orig­i­nal­ly known as kyu­jut­su” (the art of the bow), is known as kyu­do” (the way of the bow). Mod­ern kyu­do is prac­tised pri­mar­i­ly for phys­i­cal, moral and spir­i­tu­al devel­op­ment. After cer­tain rit­u­al move­ments, a kyu­do archer steps onto the shoot­ing line to shoot at a tar­get 36 cm in diam­e­ter, 28 metres away, set in a roofed bank of sand. The kyu­do bow is 2.21 metres long and made of lam­i­nat­ed strips of bamboo.

In the Gre­co-Roman peri­od, archers in both war­fare and hunt­ing set­tings were fre­quent­ly shown on pottery.

Mid­dle East­ern supe­ri­or­i­ty in archery equip­ment and tech­nique reigned for cen­turies. With bows like those of the Assyr­i­ans and Parthi­ans, who were prob­a­bly the first to mas­ter archery from horse­back, Atti­la the Hun and his Mon­gols con­quered much of Europe and Asia, and Turk­ish archers threw back the Crusaders.

The Eng­lish long­bow became a force in the mid­dle ages and was used in many famous Euro­pean bat­tles such as Cré­cy and Agin­court. A law in Eng­land that forced every man of adult age to prac­tise archery every Sun­day was nev­er repealed, though it is present­ly ignored.

The first-known archery com­pe­ti­tion relat­able to mod­ern times was held in Fins­bury, Eng­land in 1583 and had 3 000 participants.

Since the advent of gun­pow­der, archery’s impor­tance in war­fare decreased – and it instead devel­oped into a recre­ation­al and com­pet­i­tive sport.

(source: worl​darchery​.org/​h​i​s​t​o​r​y​-​a​r​chery)