The Evolution of Traditional Archery


Bella Angell shooting her longbow in the woods at 3-D target competition in Tannehill, Alabama. Photo used with permission by Simply Traditional.

Bella Angell, Staff Writer

Archery is defined as the sport or skill of shooting a bow and arrow. Archery was primarily used for hunting but it is now also used in target shooting. Have you ever wondered why you find arrowheads made of stone in fields? Archery was invented in the Upper Paleolithic time period, and they could not make their arrowheads out of metal like broad heads are made today. There is a large amount of information about the history of archery and present-day archery.

The longbow was the first bow ever invented. The bow was made with just a stick and a string. However, other bows, like the recurve and the compound, are used as well in modern times. A large majority of archers shoot compounds, but traditional archery is rapidly growing more and more popular. Movies like Brave and The Hunger Games have greatly increased the popularity of traditional archery, especially in the United Sates, because the two main characters use traditional bows. Most people tend to use traditional archery at competitions or gatherings that use three-dimensional targets.

Traditional bows can be made out of a variety of woods, but some brands use metal and other materials. Bows have some sort of “poundage” or “weight”. This refers to the difficulty to pull the string back to release the arrow. The longbow is straight when it is not strung and the limbs of the bow curve when it is. The wood has small notches at the top and bottom of the bow where the string is held so it will not slide off the bow when you pull the string back.

One of the most famous traditional archers is Howard Hill. He preferred hunting over target shooting but he did participate in target shooting for the enjoyment of other people. He was extremely accurate and that is what made him so famous. He has been the only archer to win 196 consecutive field tournaments to this very day. He shot and killed an elephant with only one arrow when being filmed for the movie Tembo. This is a very big deal because an elephant’s skin is very thick, and it is very rare to pierce its skin with only one shot. Howard Hill was also a stunt-man in the movie The Adventures of Robin Hood.

Traditional archery is becoming more widely accepted and noticed among the general population. Our culture is attracted to things seen in the media. This can include print, movies, electronic and social media. When someone sees something like traditional archery attached to movies and the stars in them, it brings the feelings of “I want to do that.” What most people do not know is once one starts, it becomes addictive and one learns it is not just about a stick and string anymore