Today when we think of armed combat or event hunting or perhaps sport, we think of guns. There’s no denying of the fact that guns are extremely powerful and highly efficient but before the guns were discovered, people used to depend on bows and arrows. In fact, warfare was taken to a whole new level by the invention of archery. Today, though not very widely popular, archery is still practiced by many and is mostly restricted to sports and hunting unless of course we start considering the famous TV show ‘Arrow’. Archery is today considered an exotic sport but in right hands, a bow and arrows can be deadly. Let us learn 30 interesting archery facts and in the process, gather some interesting information about this almost lost art.
Interesting Archery Facts: 1-10
1. It is today widely believed that archery was invented during transition from Upper Paleolithic (aka the Late Stone Age) to Mesolithic period, which is some 10,000 years ago.
2. The oldest known archery artifacts discovered in Europe belong to late Paleolithic, which is between 11,000 and 9,000 years before present. The artifacts were found in Stellmoor in Ahrensburg valley that lies to the north of Germany’s Hamburg.
3. Denmark’s Holmegård swamp was the place where two oldest known bows were found in 1940. The bows dated back to 8,000 years before present. They were elm-made with flat arms and D-shaped midsection. The bows have biconvex midsection.
4. These Holmegård bows (as they are now referred to as) were extensively used until the transition into Bronze Age but the convexity of the midsections of these bows continued to decrease gradually.
5. The Egyptian culture started using archery way before it actually became a dynasty.
6. Archery penetrated into the Americas by 6,000 BCE and once horses were introduced into Americas, archery on horseback was picked up by the tribesmen.
7. The oldest known Neolithic bow that was discovered in Europe belongs to the period 7,400 – 7,200 years before present. The intact bow was dug out from anaerobic layers. Made of yew wood, this specimen was only 1.08 meters long with a D-shaped cross-section.
8. Experts believe that archery was used for interpersonal violence during Neolithic and early Bronze Age Europe. This claim is based on arrow heads, representations, injuries and Neolithic fortifications discovered throughout Europe.
9. Ancients civilizations like that of Japanese, Chinese, Koreans, Indians, Parthians and Persians heavily depended on archery in warfare. In fact, a large number of archers were used by all these civilizations in their armies.
10. Use of archery in warfare often turned out to be decisive, especially because arrows turned out to be extremely destructive against massed formations among rival armies.
Interesting Archery Facts: 11-20
11. Mongols, Cimmerians and other equestrian nomads heavily depended on mounted archers. In fact, mounted archers were actually their primary military force.
12. Babylonians and Assyrians from Middle East also extensively used archery. The Kassites from Middle East relied on chariot warriors who were in turn heavily dependent on bows and arrows.
13. As far as Romans are concerned, archery was not that important in early Rome but as the empire grew, the importance of archery was felt. By 4th century, the Roman armies relied heavily on composite bows.
14. Turning to Chinese culture, archery played a pivotal role in China for millennia. The Zhou dynasty in particular that lasted from 1146 BCE to 256 BCE considered archery as one of the Six Noble Arts. The diversity of Chinese archery techniques and equipment is a result of diversity of the Chinese culture.
15. In ancient India, archery was very important. In fact, bow and arrow were classical weapons of Indian warfare, dating as far back as the Vedic period. Some of the legendary figures of archery were Dronacharya, Arjuna, Karna, Eklavya, Rama and others.
16. The rise of firearms led to the decline of celebrated bows and arrows. Every culture that managed to get access to early firearms ditched archery despite the fact that fire rate of the firearms were vastly inferior.
17. The primary reason why people started using firearms was their high penetration and longer kill range. Firearms also didn’t require much training.
18. By mid-17th century, archery was complete wiped out and replaced by firearms. However, in China and Korea, archery was a part of military examination till 1904 and 1894 respectively.
19. Archery was however revived between late 18th century and mid-19th century by the British in form of recreational activity, especially for the upper class.
20. Archery became a modern sport by mid-19th century but by the end of 19th century, the rise of alternative sports like tennis and croquet helped to reduce the rising popularity of archery in Britain. In 1900 however, despite the number of archery clubs in Britain being reduced to 50, archery was included in 1900 Paris Olympic.
Interesting Archery Facts: 21-30
21. In 20th century, the primitive archery of United States was revived. China saw the revival of archery in 21st century with craftsmen reviving the art of constructing bows and arrows and practicing traditional Chinese style archery.
22. In Kingdom of Bhutan, archery till date remains the national sport.
23. In archery games, splitting the arrow of a competitor is known as Robin Hood.
24. In most of the archery competitions, archers are required to have the initials of their names engraved on their arrows.
25. The ceremonial and traditional Japanese archery in known as Kyudo.
26. In 1900 Olympics, live pigeons were used as targets for archery.
27. The term ‘archery’ comes from the Latin word ‘arcus’ which means ‘bows and arrows’.
28. There are three different types of bows that are used in archery – the Recurve Bow, the Long Bow and the Compound Bow.
29.There are different types of arrows as well. Traditionally arrows were made using wood that utilized feather flights. Today there are other variations that are stronger and more durable. For instance, we have carbon bows and aluminum bows.
30. There are different designs available for arrowheads. The type of arrowheads to be used depends on the type of target to be penetrated. A complete list of arrowheads can be found here.