Today it's known as a popular sport, but hundreds and thousands of years ago, archery was a means of survival and a weapon of power.
Archery has been a crucial part of warfare as well as hunting throughout the history, deciding some of the most important historical battles and used by the legends such as Genghis Khan, Attila the Hun and William Tell.
Even though historians are still debating about the exact origin of archery, they all agree that this fascinating art dates back to the Stone Age, some 20,000 years BC. Since then, archery has evolved and spread to almost every continent on the planet, only omitting Australia on its journey through the ages.
Ancient History Archery
In ancient history, archery was adopted by the ancient Egyptians who were the first to make a composite bow around 2800BC, which is created from a number of different materials. They were quickly followed by other powerful forces such as Persians, Greeks and Romans who all used it as the main weapon in their conquests.
Around the same time, archery was developing in Asia. It first appeared in China under the Shang dynasty and it was considered one of the Six Noble Arts and a virtue of the emperors.
Aside from being used in warfare, Chinese organized some of the first instances of archery tournaments which took place at court and were one of the most elegant forms of entertainment for the nobility.
Archery In The Middle Ages
In the early middle ages, archery was adopted in Europe. However, as the centuries passed, the original short bows weren't considered as effective as before. That's when the new types of archery weapons were invented – the longbow and the crossbow, which were much more powerful and efficient both in warfare and hunting.
The Englishmen relied on archery throughout the Medieval period in famous battles such as the Battle of Crecy and the Battle of Agincourt, while the Vikings also considered it a crucial skill.
Archery was so important to the English that they passed the law that forced every adult man in England to practice archery every Sunday. Interestingly, the law is still in effect, but it's presently ignored.
By the end of the 16th century, archery became almost obsolete. Deadly firearms made their debut at the beginning of the 16th century, and although they had their downsides, they were superior to bows and arrows in every way and quickly replaced them completely.
Even though archery was dethroned on the battlefield, it was still a popular form of recreation that it remains today. At first it was a sport reserved for the aristocracy, but later it became popular and practiced among all social classes.
In 1900, archery appeared as an official discipline of the modern Olympics for the first time, which it still is.
During its long and fascinating history, this noble discipline has found its place in legends, mythology and popular culture. Starting from the myth of Odyssey who won his wife Penelope back with his flawless archery skills, all the way to Robin Hood, Legolas in Lord of the Rings and Katniss Everdeen in Hunger Games who all proved that archery is still very much alive.
Want to become a part of this fascinating history? Channel your inner warrior and practice your archery skills even without going to the range with a powerful mini crossbow that fits your palm.