52 INTERESTING ARCHERY FACTS FROM A SPORTING PASTIME WE ALL LOVE

compiled by Andrew Wayland


A TIMELINE OF ARCHERY


  • Paleolithic period

Arrowheads dated from 90.000 to 40.000 BC found in North Africa, 64,000 BC Arrowheads found in KwaZulu –Natal South Africa.


48,000 BC The earliest evidence of bows and arrows outside of Africa centres on Sri Lanka where arrowheads were discovered there in 2020 in sediment along with remains of squirrels and monkeys which strongly hints that these animals were hunted using bows and arrows.


27,000 BC Arrowheads found in ancient Chinese sites.


20,000 BC Bow and arrow wall paintings in a cave in Valtorto Gorge - Spain.


  • Mesolithic period

From 10,000 BC flint was inserted into bone or wooden arrowheads across Europe and Asia,

During this period, bows were made from a single piece of wood, 8.000 BP In 1940 in Denmark, two complete bows were discovered in the Holmegard swamp dating to this time, The bows were named after where they were discovered, well preserved in the bog. They were made from elm and measured 5 feet in length.


7.000 BC The Scythians were an aggressive nomadic tribe which struck fear along the ancient silk road and were known for their prowess as horseback archers. They were probably the first such horseback archers.

  • Neolithic period

4.000 BC teardrop and triangular arrowheads were used in central Asia.

Composite bows made at this time using sinew, bone and antler.


  • Bronze age

Arrow heads made from bronze inserted into arrows around this time period.


3.500 BC Egyptians used longbows in warfare.

3,300 BC Use of a quiver shown when a man was found preserved in a glacier with quiver and arrows.


8.000BC-6.000AD In the Creco- Roman period. Archery in both hunting and warfare was often depicted on pottery.


3,000 BC Although archery dates back to at least the stone age period (20,000bc), the first people shown to regularly use bows and arrows in hunting and warfare were the Ancient Egyptians. The Egyptian and neighbouring Nubian culture used bows in hunting and warfare as far back as 10,000 BC, 1.700 BC In China the earliest evidence of archery dates from the Shang dynasty. A war chariot of the time carried a driver, a lancer and ab archer, 1300 BC Tutankhamum buried with composite bow and hundreds of arrows.


  • Iron age

During the Iron age from 1.200 BC mounted (Horseback) archery replaced the chariots of the bronze age as an effective part of an army, 800 BC Stone carvings in central Asia depict composite bows.

  • AD

The word archery comes from the Latin word Arcus meaning bow.

The world has seen archers of classical civilisations like the Assyrians, Sythians, Greeks, Armenians, Parthians, Persians, Romans, Mongols, Huns, Koreans, Chinese, Japanese and indigenous Natives of the Americas all have a special place in history.

6th Century The Chinese introduced archery to the Japanese where it had an overwhelming influence there.


Since post glacial times, the use of the bow and arrow was adopted all around the inhabited world except in Australia where the aboriginal people favoured use of the spear.


11th Century. The famous Bayeux Tapestry depicts archery in battle scenes.


1066 AD During the battle of Hastings King Harold is reputed to have died from an enemy Norman arrow through his eye although the nature of his death is disputed by historians.


1066 AD At this time arrowheads were predominantly made from iron. There were various designs from triangular, or barbed heads, to leaf shaped bladed points for hunting and warfare to long, square or rhomboid bodkin heads specifically used to penetrate chainmail armour In battle.


  • Medieval Period

Middle ages The English Longbow became a force in the Middle ages and effectively used in many European battles such as Crecy, Agincourt and Poitiers.


Late 13th Century. The Robinhood legend in Britain may originate from this time between 1261 and 1300 AD. There are more than 8 plausible origins to the story. Ballads about Robinhood were written from the 15th century, 1415 Battle of Agincourt in Northern France is synonymous with the importance and subsequent success of archers in battle where the English won the day, thanks to superior positioning, tactics and very muddy conditions. During the battle, a volley of English arrows could number 6,000 in the air at any one time.


The battle of Agincourt is claimed to hold the origins of the two fingered salute where English archers raised their first two fingers on their right hand to the French in defiance, - to show that they still had their digits intact as the French were reputed to cut off enemy archers bow string pulling fingers on capture.


1457 AD Apparently King James 2nd banned Golf in Scotland in 1457 because according to him people were spending too much time at it instead of doing archery training.


A law in England ordered that all men of adult age should practice archery on a sunday and although this law was never revoked or repealed since, it is now basically ignored in modern society.


1545 AD The Mary Rose part of the navy of King Henry VIII and one of the largest warships of its time was sunk, Built in 1511, her wreck was rediscovered in the Solent in 1971 where many intact English longbows were found on board.


In 1545 AD Roger Ascham wrote the earliest book in English about archery (specifically longbow archery) called Toxophilus.


Late middle ages The discovery of gunpowder and use in firearms meant the importance of archery as a mass weapon in warfare was gradually reduced.


  • Modern times

Archery was revived as a pastime amongst the upper classes in Britain between 1780 and 1840, Before this, the lower classes performed archery in events such as popinjay shoots. But it wasn’t until the aristocracy showed an interest did the popularity rise.

Archery is one of the oldest arts still practiced today.


A Toxophilite is an expert in archery.


The Ancient Scorton Silver Arrow is the World’s oldest recorded archery tournament that still runs annually. Its first recorded date was back in 1673 in Scorton - North Yorkshire. Anyone who competes automatically becomes a member of the Society of Archers and several Irish archers have had the privilege of taking part over recent years.


Archery is the national sport of Bhutan where every town and village there has an archery range.


Archery was introduced into the Modern Olympic games in 1900 where live pigeons were used as targets.


The only sport that women competed at in the 1904 St Louis Olympics was archery where 6 American ladies took part. This was the first Olympics held outside of Europe so wasn't very well attended.


Archery was removed from the Olympics in 1920 due to international rules not yet being developed, before returning again in 1972.


At the opening ceremony of the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, Spanish Paralympian archer Antonio Rebollo shot a flaming arrow from distance to light the Olympic flame.


The Compound bow was invented by American Holless Wilbur Allen in 1966 following years of trying to perfect a design and was patented in 1969.


Compound archery is set to be also included in the 2028 Los Angelas Olympics for the first time proper.


American actor William Shatner is an avid archer, whilst fellow actor Geena Davis discovered and became obsessed with the sport and almost qualified for the USA archery team for the Sydney 2000 Olympics ranking 24th in qualification and just missing out on a place.

There are lots of sayings and expressions in everyday language that originate from the art of archery. Keeping it under your hat, a parting shot, having two strings to your bow, giving the two fingers etc etc.


Many surnames can be associated with an archery heritage, for example – surnames like Archer, Fletcher, Stringfellow, Bowyer, Bowman and more.


Besides Olympic archery, there are 3D, Target, Field, Traditional and Historic archery competitions around the World where people compete in club, college, society and national events as well as having the option to compete in larger tournaments such as the European or World Championships. Irish archers have competed and excelled at events in many nations around the globe...

Bows that people can compete in tournaments with include the Selfbow, Historic bow, Penobscot bow, Horsebow, Yumi bow, English Longbow, American Flatbow, Traditional Recurve, Modern Recurve, and the most powerful Compound. Technique, finger grip, or the use of certain accessories and arrow types designate the legal class you may enter. Crossbows can only be used in certain countries but not here. Hunting with a bow and arrows is not permitted in Ireland.

Sources:

  1. www.worldarchery.org/archery-history

  2. The battle of Agincourt- the hundred years war.

  3. Archery360.com,

  4. Wikipedia,

  5. Encyclopedia Britannia online,

  6. worldarchery.com

  7. countrylife,co,uk

  8. scortonarrow.com

  9. www.historyofarchery,com

  10. youtube

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