Archery Through the Ages

Archery has fascinated mankind since time immemorial. Be it the war field or the hunting ground, it was archery which made man victorious. Archers have been an indispensable part of Egyptian, Indian, Greek and Persian civilizations. These archers were highly adorned and respected; in fact special training was provided to people who wanted to master the art of archery. Bows and arrows are the main constituents of archery. Studies have shown that the earliest bows were developed in either the early Mesolithic age or late Paleolithic age. Pine wood was used for making arrows. There are bows of different types such as the longbow, shortbow, flatbow, recurve bow, crossbow and compound bow. The longbow, as the name suggests, is very long; the length of the bow is equal to the height of the user and in some cases even exceeds the height of the user. The limb of the flatbow is wider and the cross-section is rectangular in shape. The Shortbow is shorter in length; it is light weight and has a short range. It was primarily used for hunting purposes. In crossbow form the limbs are mounted in a horizontal manner and not in a vertical manner. The compound bow is designed in such a manner that the archer is at ease while mounting the bow. The main portion of an arrow is the shaft. Arrows have an arrowhead which is at the front portion of the arrow. These arrowheads which are made of metals or some other materials are used to target points. In order to properly shoot an arrow the archer has to maintain a proper stance. The posture of the body, the eye and the way the archer is holding the bow should not be overlooked. Sight shooting and instinctive shooting are the two methods adopted by an archer while shooting an arrow. In instinctive shooting the archer has to completely concentrate on the target while shooting the arrow. It requires a lot of practice. In case of sight shooting the archer can adjust the targeting sight pins mounted on the bow to target an object. This method is relatively easy. Previously instinctive shooting was the norm but at present sight shooting is more preferred. As civilization started advancing technically, people developed mechanisms more lethal and more effective than bows and arrows. The development of firearms was a step in this direction; it made bows and arrows completely obsolete as weapons of war. Bows and arrows which were extensively used in war by soldiers gave way to firearms. Those kingdoms which did not possess firearms started losing their stronghold and were defeated on the battleground. Firearms have many advantages over bows and arrows. They have long range, they are more lethal, and using them does not require much training. Today archery has become a sporting activity; and some even still use it for hunting purposes. Although today archery has lost its role as an essential weapon in war, we should not forget that it has played a pivotal role in shaping human civilization.


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