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Can you hear the massive din and see arrows raining down as two medieval armies clash, or imagine yourself taking aim at an apple perched on a head? Or do you fancy yourself roaming through Nottingham Forest relieving the wealthy of their purses and supporting the poor a la Robin Hood?
Whichever thought appeals, remember that a bow and arrow were involved, and as one of the few remaining ancient arts practiced today, you can still try your hand at archery.
Archery evolved thousands of years ago, first as an aid to hunting and then later as a potent weapon for use in warfare.
Today, archery is a high tech sport with a range of applications from hunting to competitions (including the Olympics) to an entertaining and social day at an archery range learning the skills practiced centuries ago by soldiers and hunters.
Longbows, shortbows, composite bows, crossbows – they are all used in archery and all have a long history of development.
Most places that offer archery will be able to supply you with at least one type of bow and appropriate arrows. All you need is a sense of adventure and a willingness to learn!
Archery is in itself not an inherently dangerous sport, but it is important to remember that modern bows are powerful enough to cause serious injuries. It is therefore advisable to get a full safety briefing by a professional before you start.
- The first recorded archery competition took place at Finsbury in England in 1583. There were 3000 participants!
- The longbow is honoured in English literature for its decisive role in the battles of Crecy, Agincourt and Poitiers.
- At least eight different disciplines of Archery are practiced today in various parts of the world.
- Archery was re-introduced to the Olympic games in 1972.
Although archery probably dates back to the Stone Age (20 000 B.C.), the earliest recorded users of bows and arrows were the Egyptians more than 5000 years ago.
Archery flourished until the 30 years war (1618-1648) when it became clear that bows and arrows were no longer a match for gunfire.
Archery however continued to develop as a recreational and competitive sport. Its popularity continues to rise as evidenced by the announcement by the International Archery Federation that over 900 million people watched Archery competitions on T.V. in 2006.