A History of Archery
From its first development until the 1500's the bow was man's constant companion and has been the most widely used of all weapons in recorded history. The bow allowed the prehistoric human to become the most efficient hunter on earth, providing him safety, food and raw materials such as bone, sinew and hide. From that time on , archery has played an important role in many of the world's civilizations.
About 3500 BC, Egyptians were using bows as tall as themselves. Their arrowheads, originally constructed of flint, were later made of bronze. One central Asian clan, the Parthians, became famous for their ability to shoot backwards form a galloping horse, and around 500 AD, the Romans, formerly second-rate archers, began to draw the arrow to the face rather than the chest, giving the shot more accuracy.
Finally, after the bow's replacement by firearms as a weapon of war, archery became a favoured sport, thus securing its continuous practice throughout history.
There are many legendary stories and heroes that find their roots in archery. The ancient Olympic games, tradition holds, were founded by an archery named Hercules. The Games featured archery with tethered doves as the targets.
Target archery is also seen in the legends of Robin Hood and William Tell, which show the respect that the English had for great archers.
Crossbows and the later developed longbow were the primary defence against massed cavalry. These longbows had draw weights of from 60 to 200 pounds, and were often used at ranges up to 250 yards. From 1330 to 1414, English kings banned all other sports because they diverted time from archery and a royal decree of 1363 required all Englishmen to practice archery on Sundays and holidays. This decree has never been changed.
The advent of gun powder lead to a decline in popularity for archery as a tool of war, but it never completely died away, particularly among peasant poachers in the King's woods.
Archery tournaments, as we know them today, can also be traced back to England. Competitions were held as part of community festivals as early as the 17th century. By about 1600, three kinds of shooting were practiced in England;
Archery became an official event in the modern Olympic Games in 1900 and was also featured in 1904, 1908 and 1920. International rules had not yet been developed, though, and because of the resulting confusion, the sport was eliminated from the Olympic program until 1972.
The Federation Internationale de Tir a l'Arc (FITA), was founded in 1931 as the international governing body for the sport of archery. The organization implemented standardized, international rules for the competition that allowed the first Word Championship to be held that same year.
In 1972, after enough countries had adopted FITA's rules, archery was re-admitted to the Olympic Games. Since that time, technology has greatly advanced the equipment, and some competitive formats has become obsolete. Archery has become wedded to skiing in the sport of Ski-Archery, with running in Arcathalon, and the compound bow, invented in 1966 by Wilbur Allen of Missouri, has been accepted by FITA and joins the Olympic recurve bow in the World Archery Championships held every two years.