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Origins of Archery

Origins of Archery
By Thomas Forbes from his book 'Guide To Better Archery'

WHENEVER archers get together there are always those among them who would have us believe because our ancestors shot a bow five thousand or fifty thousand years ago that we moderns can shoot a bow instinctively and all that we have to do to hit a mark or bag our buck is to take a deep breath, look at the target, draw the arrow back to the ear, and let fly.

Well, if you buy that line, you will not be any better a marksman than your remote ancestors. Legends about Robin Hood's merry men to the contrary, your ancestors were in­ferior marksmen by modern standards. With primitive equipment, they developed the art of stalking game to a high degree in order to close to point-blank-range to register a hit.

The origin of the bow, however, is lost in the uncertainties of fixing exact dates for the different cultures of mankind. Excellent drawings of archers are found in the Palaeolithic carvings at Castellon, Spain and elsewhere.

If there is one thing that differentiates man from all other forms of life on this planet it is that he is a reasoning creature and not one that is primarily motivated by instinct. In other words, man is not the creature of habit that some persons would have us believe. Man does profit by his errors and learns from experience; man experiments, modifies, and im­proves (for his own ends) all things with which he comes in contact. The change is so slow, however, that for long periods at a time it is almost imperceptible.

Contrary to popular belief and the advertising claims, the reflexed, laminated bow is not a modern product. In Asia, during the early periods of recorded history, great military nations used a composite, reflexed bow of horn, wood, and sinew, that had a drawing weight up to one hundred pounds. The ancient Greeks, Assyrians, Turks, and Chinese, were adepts in the use of this type of bow. The metal bow, however, is a product of the twentieth century, while one of the latest developments in the bowyer's art is the fibre-glass bow and now Carbon fibre.

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