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Sunday, 14 August 2011


Archaeological excavations have proved the existence over 50,000 years ago. It was practised in almost every part of the world by the most primitive tribes to battle their opponents and to hunt wild game.

Early bows probably were wood branches or saplings cut into a "D" shape. For arrows, they used straight sticks sharpened at one end.

Archery occupies a prominent place in the Bible and in the history of the early Hebrews. It was said of Ishmael, Abraham's son and the ancestor of the Arabs, that "God was with the lad and he grew. . . and became an archer."

The earliest known use of bows and arrows in warfare was in 2340 BC by the Babylonians.

Archery was so common in biblical times that frequently the bow, arrow, and quiver were used as figures of speech by the poets and prophets of Israel. The Psalmist thus spoke of the armed might of the wicked, "who have bent their bow, to cast down the poor and needy, to slay such as are upright," but whose "bows shall be broken."

The most advanced bows of ancient times came from the Far East. Craftsmen there glued wood, bone, and animal tendons together to make extremely accurate and powerful bows.

In the eleventh century, the English took up archery tutored by the proficient Welsh. Citizens practiced archery not as a pastime, but as an obligatory pursuit of military importance. It was practiced for 550 years, and as time passed it made England a first-class military power.

Second string," meaning "replacement or backup," comes from the Middle Ages. An archer always carried a second string in case the one on his bow broke.

An archer in English king Henry V's army was paid a groat each day - equivalent to around £100 today.

600 years ago in Japan, archery was closely linked with the metaphysical system of Zen Buddhism. It was part of the education of the noble Samurai and was practised not for such purposes as the hunt or war, or purely aesthetic enjoyment, but to discipline the mind.

The phrase "to have more than one string to one’s bow" meaning to have more than one skill to use if necessary comes from the Middle Ages. Back then archers would carry a second string, so that if their bow snapped they were able to restring it and continue.

Toxophilius, the first book on written in English on the subject of archery was published in 1545. The title was derived from the Greek for "the love of the bow." Ever since, archery has been known among experts as toxophily, and those who indulge in it as a pastime as toxophilites. The book's author was Roger Ascham whom Henry VIII chose as tutor of the future Queen Elizabeth. Ascham recorded, Henry "did so well like and allow it" that he gave him "a living for it" - an annual allowance of £10.

Such was the popularity of the sport of archery at the time that at a two-day meeting at Shoreditch, London, in 1583, some 3,000 people actively participated. They were so keen that they began shooting at daybreak and did not cease until it had become too dark to distinguish the target.

Shakespeare was an archery expert and, according to some, his plays can be fully understood only by those versed in its art, as many of his expressions and terms stem from it.

The last mention of archery in warfare occurred in a pamphlet published in 1664, where it was stated to have been employed in the contests between the Marquis of Montrose and the Scots.

After the invention of gunpowder and the subsequent revolution in methods of warfare, archery became redundant in combat. It changed into a pure sport. The first formal archery competition was held in England in 1673.

Though Archery was first practised in America in the seventeenth century, it did not catch on for another 150 years. Then, in 1828, young Titan R. Peal founded a club called "The United Bowmen of Philadelphia" with a group of friends. They made their own equipment based on the bows and arrows exhibited in their local museum.

Archery first appeared in the second Olympics in 1900 Paris and continued to appear at three further Olympics until it was dropped for 50 years until 1972. From 1972, its consistently remained a an Olympic sport.

Archery was the only sport for women at the 1904 Olympics.

British archer Queenie Newall won gold at the 1908 Olympics at the age of 53. She is still the oldest female gold medal winner at the Olympic Game. Queenie continued in the sport for another 20 years.

Queenie Newall at the 1908 Summer Olympics

Oscar-winning actress Geena Davis came 24th in the US women’s archery championship in 1999, two years after taking up the sport.

After the release of The Hunger Games and Brave in 2012, women's participation in archery rose by 105%.

South Korea has obtained, in total, the most Archery Olympic gold medals so far with 19.. It is followed by the United States and Belgium

The world record for the longest accurate shot in archery is 230 yards and is held by Matt Stutzman, a man born without arms.

A crossbow arrow is called a bolt or a quarrel.

The only country that has archery as its national sport is Bhutan.

Sources Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia © 1998 The Learning Company, Inc, Europress Family Encyclopedia 1999, Daily Express

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