Of Archery By
The hunter used
his binoculars to glass the hillside ½ mile away in the hope
that he would find the trophy Mule Deer buck that he had come so
far to harvest. At last, he spotted the tips of 8 long tines weaving
through the sage brush. Noting the direction that the deer was traveling,
he and his guide worked out the route that they would take in order
to intercept this monarch of the foothills. Grabbing his Cordura
water-proof backpack, perimeter-weighted-cam bow and quiver full
of carbon arrows tipped with 100gr expandable broad heads, he followed
the guide low through the small drainage that would keep them out
of sight of their quarry. As soon as they reached their pre-determined
ambush point, they peaked over the rise and spotted Mr. Long Tines
slowly making his way toward them, oblivious to their presence.
The deer's travel path would take him right by them, broadside,
at 30-some yards. The hunter reached into his fanny pack and extracted
his laser range finder. He checked the range on a few landmarks
to give himself a few reference points to use to assure that he
would use the correct sight pin to match the distance from himself
to the deer. Kneeling down next to a small cedar tree, he peeked
around it to confirm that the deer was still on the path the hunter
and guide had guessed it would travel. It took 2 steps into the
open and stopped,broadside to the hunter to feed. The hunter came
to full draw, picked his spot behind the deer's shoulder, lined
up the sight pin and squeezed the trigger on his mechanical release.
The arrow flew flat and true, a perfect double-lung hit. The deer
dropped to the ground then sprang away, not knowing what had just
happened to it. After 30 yards, it slowed to a walk, stumbled, then
reached it's spiritual resting place. Everything had worked according
to the one above have been shared over camp fires for 1000's of
years. Of course, the equipment used has been updated almost constantly
since the first hunter picked up a bow. Human beings, in general,
just can't leave well-enough alone. Once we get interested in something,
we start thinking of ways to improve it's efficiency. Let's take
a look at the recorded history of archery, the study and practice
of bow and arrow use.
The oldest arrow
heads were discovered in Africa and were dated to be from before
25,000 BC. Scientists have theorized that the bow was created as
an off-shoot of the spear-thrower. Somewhere around 25,000-18,000
BC, man began to use fire to further harden his stone arrowheads
and added feathers to his arrows in order to improve accuracy. In
Italy, a skeleton was found in a burial tomb with a fragment of
a flint arrowhead lodged in it's pelvis. It was dated to from around
11,000 BC. Arrow shafts are found in Germany and were dated to be
from 9,000 BC. Bows found in Denmark are dated to be from 8,000-6,000
BC. They were made from one piece of Yew or Elm. Drawings from 7500
to 5,000 BC show that the Egyptians used bows for hunting and warfare.
In 1991, the body of a 45-yr. old man was discovered on the present-day
border between Italy and Austria and dated to be from 3,300 BC.
He was dressed in a leather clothe, a waterproof cloak made of grasses
and carried a framed backpack, a utility belt with tools, a quiver
of 14 arrows, a knife made from flint and a copper axe. The axe
caused much interest as it's age pre-dated the previous estimations
of the development of smelting copper by 1000 years. His wooden
arrows had flint arrowheads and the quiver included a flap to keep
the feathers dry. His body and hair tissues were analyzed and found
to contain high amounts of copper and arsenic, by-products of smelting
copper ore. He carried arrows of two lengths and it was estimated
that he may have traded one of his copper axes for some arrows during
In approx. 2800
BC, the first composite bow was produced by the Egyptians. It was
made from wood, tipped with animal horn and held together with animal
sinew and glue. Unstrung, it resembled a "C" shape and
would have required 2 people to string it. The bowstring was made
from "catgut" (sheep intestines). The arrows used were
extremely light, could be shot 400 yards using the composite bow
and would easily penetrate the armor of that time period. The Egyptians
used archers on the back of light chariots who were highly trained
and skilled and could easily outflank an enemy army with devastating
effect. Literature from China, dated between 1500 and 1027 BC, included
the first mention of Crossbows. Chinese nobles attended special
schools, where they were taught archery, music, rituals, charioteering,
mathematics and writing, between 1200 and 700 BC. In 250 BC, the
Parthians (from what is now Iran and Afghanistan) would battle with
bows from horseback. They developed a technique of pretending to
flee, while firing arrows back towards the enemy. This could be
where the phrase "a Parthian shot" became today's phrase
"a parting shot". The First Emperor of China, Qin Shihuang,
was buried in a burial pit in 221 BC. This burial pit included 6000
life-size terracotta figures, many of which carried crossbows. Sebastian,
the commander of a company of Preatorian Guards for the Roman Emperor,
Diocletian, was ordered to be bound to a stake and shot to death
with arrows when his belief in Christianity was discovered in 288
AD and he refused to renounce his faith. After the deed was done,
he was found by a friend to still be alive and was nursed back to
health. Later, he proclaimed his faith from the steps of the Emperor's
palace and the guards were ordered to beat him to death with clubs
and throw his body in the sewer. His body was recovered by friends
and buried in the catacombs under the city of Rome. Sebastian came
to be known as the Patron Saint of Archers.
to include the following:
Barbed arrowheads-these would make arrow removal difficult.
Small Triangular tips-used to pierce chain-mail armour.
Half-moot tips-used to cut through the rigging of opposing ships.
In 1208 AD,
Temujin became Great Khan of the Mongols, better known as Genghis
Khan. The Mongols used composite bows of approx. 70lb. Draw weight
and used a thumb ring to release the bowstring. Unarmored Mongol
soldiers would were silk under-shirts to minimize injuries inflicted
by the arrows of the enemies. The silk fabric would wrap around
the arrow head without being cut as the arrow stuck the Mongol soldiers.
This would allow the clean removal of the arrows by slowly pulling
on the silk fabric, eliminating further damage caused by the barbed
Tell-William refused to bow towards a hat placed on a pole as a
sign of imperial power and was ordered to shoot an apple off of
his son's head. (He was known as an expert crossbowman.) He succeeded
in shooting the apple, leaving his son untouched. It was also said
that he had another crossbow bolt hidden and, if he had failed to
shoot the apple and had killed his own son, he would have quickly
reloaded in order to kill the official who had ordered him to shoot
the apple off of his son's head.
French army included crossbow men. Their crossbows were fitted with
cranks used to draw back the bowstrings. During the Battle of Crecy,
Edward III of England lead his army against the French. The French
were defeated when the previous day's rain weakened their bowstrings
which misfired or snapped completely during battle. The English
had kept their bowstrings dry by putting them under their helmets
during the rain.
and standard hand-shot bows were used as the most effective battle
weapons, until the late 1500's, throughout what is modern day Europe
and Asia. In 1520 AD, the musket was invented. In 1545, Roger Ascham
wrote the first book written in the English language about archery,
called "Toxophilis"(Lover of the Bow). In 1588 AD, 10,000
soldiers from the English fleet, armed with muskets, defeated the
Spanish Armada. The last battle in which English archers were used
was 1644 AD. During the latter half of the 1600's, contests of archery
skill came into vogue in England.
In 1872, Ephraim
Morton of Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA is granted a patent for his
wood handled bow with steel rod limbs. Archery was included in the
Olympic Games in 1904, 1908 and 1920. It was discontinued until
it reappeared at the 1972 Olympics.
the first Bow hunting season in the United States, held in the state
1937-First use of bow-sights in archery competition.
1939-James Easton experiments with making arrow shafts out of aluminum,
rather than wood.
1941-Larry Hughes uses aluminum arrows to win the American National
1942-Hoyt Archery co. founded by Earl Hoyt, Jr.
1946-Easton produces it's first trademarked aluminum arrows, the
1951-Max Hamilton introduces "Plastiflech" vanes to replace
1953-Bear Archery develops and sells the first working recurve bows.
Previous bows were straight-limbed longbows.
1956-Hoyt Archery develops the first "Pistol grip" bow
1958-Easton develops the "XX75" aluminum arrow shaft.
1961-Hoyt Archery introduces the "Torque stabilizer".
1966-Easton develops the "X7" aluminum arrow shaft.
1969-Holless Wilber Allen is granted a patent on his invention of
the Compound Bow which he designed 3 or 4 years earlier. His original
wheels were triangular in shape.
1970-Compound bows and release aids make their national debut in
U.S. national archery competition.
1971-Andy Rimo develops the "flipper" rest. Pete Shepley
starts PSE archery company. Flex Fletch manufactures it's first
soft plastic arrow vanes.
1974-Freddie Troncoso invents the first dual-prong arrow rest.
1982-Cam wheels on compound bows first appear. Previous wheels where
1983-Easton develops the first carbon arrow shaft.
1992-The Olympic torch, in Barcellona, Spain is ignited using a
flaming arrow shot by Antonio Rebollo of the Spanish Olympic Team.
Matt McPherson founds Matthews Archery Co., manufacturing bows with
1995-The Compound Bow is included in the World Target Archery Championship
competition for the first time.
brings us up to date. But, what does the future hold? What major
developments are we going to see? Over the last several years, single-cam
technology is taking over a significant portion of the compound
bow industry. The same can be said about carbon arrows. The drop-away
arrow rest, an idea already several decades old, is also getting
a lot of attention.
The advent of
the internet has put more information into the hands of archers
which is likely to even out the general knowledge that is possessed
by archers as a whole. This will undoubtedly spawn further innovation
in all-things archery and bowhunting. Technology, like the whitetail
deer, does not stand still for very long.