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Ancient vs. Contemporary Archery
Ancient vs. Contemporary Archery
February 08, 2019

Archery evolved from its initial roots in the era of the Stone Age. Used by a number of peoples around the globe in different periods of time – the practice of archery is definitive of self-preservation before the time of automatic weapons. Generally used as a way to hunt animals or protect oneself in the event of warfare – today, contemporary applications of archery are found in instances of recreation and sport. The arrows aren’t as sharp as they were in ancient times and the targets are no longer animals or other people – but rather foam targets, or archery target bags. Today we’ll go back in time to briefly discuss the historical evolution of the practice of archery to where it is in the modern day.


Archery in Ancient Egypt


Archery is as old as human antiquity. The use of bows and arrows can be traced back the Stone Age in around 20,000 BC, however the Egyptians are the first to have recorded instances in which bows and arrows were used. Typically used for hunting and in the event of combat, ancient Egyptians constructed their bows out of animal horns, later opting for wood – with animal remains still used as glue, and for the bow string.



Archery in East Asia


The Shang and Zhou dynasties of China would also participate in the practice of archery in which nobles would attend ceremonial archery tournaments full of music and celebration. The Chinese would go on to introduce the practice of archery to the Japanese during the 6th century. The Japanese would go on to refine the practice and adopt it as a sub-set of the grander umbrella of Japanese martial arts. Known as kyujutsu – translated to ‘the art of the bow’, the practice is still practiced today and is known as kyudo – translated to ‘the way of the bow’.



Archery within the Greco-Roman Antiquity  


6th century Greek pottery painters would introduce figures of archers into their iconography. This is most likely due to the influence of the Parthians – horsemen known for their skillful use of bow and arrows while riding their horses. The people of Crete – one of Greek’s largest and most populated islands, were also known for their long tradition of archery. The early Romans did not have as many esteemed archers, however – as the Roman Empire grew, they enlisted auxiliary archers from the areas in which they conquered.



Contemporary Archery

Today we utilize bows and arrows primarily for recreation. Typically used in hunting games, or for skill in archery tournaments – the sport of archery is still prevalent in the modern-day. The sport of archery even gained recognition as an Olympic sport in 1900 – and is still an event at the summer Olympic games. While the more primal purposes of utilizing a bow and arrow have changed over time, people still find much enjoyment in developing their archery skills. Unlike previously where animals or enemies at war were the targets, we utilize foam targets, or archery target bags as standard target equipment. Bows and arrows have also changed dramatically in design over the years. Today the design of the modern bow and arrow are composed of stronger plastics and fiberglass and are based on scientific research meant to enhance performance.


Safety has become a primary concern when it comes to administering a bow and arrow – especially in school settings. Opting for foam products such as archery target bags serve to safeguard and reduce the potential for accidents to occur. Bow and arrow manufacturing can also be re-designed to consider certain safety concern.


Regardless – it’s safe to say that the practice of archery is not in danger of being forgotten. Previously used for practical applications such as hunting or in combat, the sport is still enjoyed by many recreationally.

Interesting! Did not know that the Egyptians were the first to record accounts of using bows and arrows!
Posted by: Samantha | February 8, 2019, 12:20 pm
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