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The Art of Archery
Indians racing across the plain, mounted on their trusted war horses. Battle cries and arrows pierce the air as one tribe ambushes another. How do these warriors inflict so much damage from far away? With perfect aim, they used their long bows and sharp pointed arrows. Archery was the artful skill that aided these masterful warriors. So what is archery? According to Merriam-Webster, archery is “The art, practice, or skill of shooting with bow and arrow” (http://www.merriam-webster.com). In this essay, I will examine all aspects of the legendary sport of archery, from technical information to safety.
It is believed that the sport of archery began as early as 5000 B.C. used for hunting and as a great long distance weapon in wars. In the 1500’s, the bow was replaced by the firearm in wars, but was still used for competitions and hunting. In 1900, archery was made an official Olympic sport, and was also in the 1904, 1908, and 1924 Olympic games. It had to be removed though, because each country had different rules for the archery competitions. Not only did this make the competitions unfair, it also made them extremely confusing. In 1931, representatives from seven countries met in Poland to form the organization FITA. The members of FITA made a set of rules for archery, and the sport was reintroduced to the Olympic games in 1972. The only type of bow allowed in the Olympic games is the recurve. (Engh, and Human Kinetics 5)
There are four types of bows. The longbow is the original bow, a wooden, straight bow that is fairly simple. The recurve bow is much like the longbow, but both the upper and lower ends of the bow curve (or recurve) forward. The recurve bow is more complex than the longbow. The crossbow is used sideways, mounted on a handle that looks very much like the handle of a rifle. Lastly, the compound bow is the most complex of the three types. Invented by H.W. Allen in 1966, the compound bow curves only once, and
it’s strings go through a system of pulleys, called cams. Compound bows must be adjusted to the user, because not everyone has the same draw length and draw weight: draw length being how far a person can pull a bow, and draw weight how much weight a person can pull. All bows have a handle and an arrow rest. An arrow rest is an object above the handle on the bow the archer rests the arrow on so that the arrow stays straight. Arrow rests can be simply stuck on the bow, or more complex rests are screwed on. Different types of arrows.
Without the arrows, of course, the bow is fairly useless unless you were to use it to bludgeon someone to death.
Arrows can be several sizes, depending on the archer’s draw length. The main, stick like part of the arrow is called the shaft. At one end of the shaft (the front) is the arrowhead. The tip of the arrowhead is the point. On the other end of the shaft (the back), is the nock, a small object with a wedge-shaped opening. The nock clicks onto the string, holding the arrow in place until it is shot. After the nock on the shaft is the fletching, or feathers. Nowadays, the feathers are usually made of plastic. One of the three feathers is a
different color than the others. The different color tells the archer that the particular feather is supposed to pace away from the bow. After the fletching is the crest, where manufacturer and the size of the arrow is indicated.
An arrow point.
There are four types of arrows. Wooden, aluminum, fiberglass, and carbon arrows all serve the same function in the same way; they’re just made differently. An archer can either buy pre-made arrows, or make the arrows themselves. Making an arrow involves a
lot of gluing. The person that makes the arrows glues on the feathers, nock, and point to the shaft. The shaft can be filed down to whatever length the archer needs it to be. Bows and arrows aren’t the only important tools of archery, though.
There are many accessories for bows; sights to help aim, stabilizers to stop vibrations, mechanical pulls, and many other useful tools. Another example is a quiver, which an archer puts their arrows in to store them until they’re needed. Ground quivers, common at competitions, and the arrows are usually shared by competitors. There are also quivers that are attached to the bow, and quivers that the archer can attach to a belt around their waist. Finger tabs and arm guards are used to protect the archer from the bow strings when they are pulled and let go. (Engh, Douglas, and Human Kinetics 25)
For people who want to do something other than just simply shooting for fun, have no fear. Archery has several different types, from 3-D to fishing! Field archery is a form of archery where the targets are scattered in either a forest or out in a large field. The targets are in a specific order, and they can either be regular targets, or 3-D targets. 3-D targets look like actual animals, from deer, to dinosaurs and even dragons!
A 3-D dragon target.
Hunting is also a popular way to use archery. Crossbows are the most common type of bows used for hunting. If a line is attached to the arrow, and a barbed point is put on it, and archer can fish! This sport is called bow-fishing. It’s fairly similar to fishing
with a pole, and is a fun way to use your bow. With all of these activates, there are competitions.
Archery is all about good posture, correct position, and safety. There is surely a lot of technical information to remember. I think it is a fun sport with many different areas in which anyone can find something they like. I personally plan on learning how to do archery. I can’t wait to try bow-fishing!