The advancement of civilization was enhanced by the use and discovery of bows and arrows, which provided a much safer way to hunt. Spearheads have been discovered from many thousands of years ago. A recognizable bow, made of yew or elm, was discovered dating back to 6000 B.C.
Egyptians are considered the first to use the bow in battle, sometime around 3500 B.C. to 2800 B.C. This bow, known as the composite bow, gave them superiority over their enemies. Around 1500 B.C., Assyrians developed a shorter recurve bow that provided more power and easier handling.
Around 1200 B.C., an Egyptian pharaoh named Ramses II gave archery another boost by putting archers on chariots. This mobility allowed the Egyptians to defeat the Hittite army. Crossbows were used in China around 600 B.C. to 500 B.C. A few hundred years later, the Parthians became famous for shooting backward while riding a horse. The term “Parthian shot” is still used today in archery.
Around A.D. 1000, bow and arrow technology swept the Americas. Archeological studies indicate its use was adopted by most prehistoric American Indians. Over time the wooden bow was made longer. The British were famous for improving upon on the bow, and their version eventually became known as the British longbow. The most famous battle of the longbow was the battle of Crécy in 1346. In 1500, to promote the use of the longbow, crossbows were banned in England. In 1595, the army was ordered to replace all bows with muskets. However, archery has remained a popular sport activity in England.
In 1879, the National Archery Association was founded in the United States. The first national tournament was held in White Stocking Park in Chicago the same year. The country’s first archery club, the United Bowmen of Philadelphia, was founded in 1828.
In 1900, archery became part of the Olympic Games. It was dropped after 1920 because the wide range of rules could not be standardized. In 1931, the Federation Internationale de Tir l’Arc (FITA) was founded in Paris and standardized the rules for international competition. It was not until 1972 that archery was again a part of the Olympics.
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