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Snippet from Wikipedia: Bow and arrow

The bow and arrow is a ranged weapon system consisting of an elastic launching device (bow) and long-shafted projectiles (arrows).

Archery is the art, practice, or skill of using bows to shoot arrows. A person who shoots arrows with a bow is called a bowman or an archer. Someone who makes bows is known as a bowyer, one who makes arrows is a fletcher, and one who manufactures metal arrowheads is an arrowsmith.

Humans used bows and arrows for hunting and violence long before recorded history, and the practice was common to many prehistoric cultures. They were important weapons of war from ancient history until the early modern period, where they were rendered increasingly obsolete by the development of the more powerful and accurate firearms, and were eventually dropped from warfare. Today, bows and arrows are mostly used for hunting and sports.


The bow and arrow is a projectile weapon system (a bow with arrows) that predates recorded history and is common to most cultures. Archery is the art, practice, or skill of applying it.


A bow is a flexible piece of Wood or fiberglass which shoots aerodynamic projectiles called arrows. A string joins the two ends of the bow and when the string is drawn back, the ends of the bow are flexed. When the string is released, the potential energy of the flexed stick is transformed into the velocity of the arrow.<ref name=Paterson27>Paterson Encyclopaedia of Archery pp. 27-28</ref> Archery is the art or sport of shooting arrows from bows.<ref name=Paterson17>Paterson Encyclopaedia of Archery p. 17</ref>

Today, bows and arrows are used primarily for hunting and for the sport of archery. Though they are still occasionally used as weapons of war, the development of gunpowder and muskets, and the growing size of armies, led to their replacement in warfare several centuries ago in much of the world.

Someone who makes bows is known as a bowyer,<ref name=Paterson31>Paterson Encyclopaedia of Archery p. 31</ref> and one who makes arrows is a fletcher<ref name=Paterson56>Paterson Encyclopaedia of Archery p. 56</ref>&nbsp;—or in the case of the manufacture of metal arrow heads, an arrow smith.<ref name=Paterson20>Paterson Encyclopaedia of Archery p. 20</ref>


shooting with bows, Panticapeum (known today as Kertch, Ukraine), 4th century BCE.]]

The bow and arrow was not the first composite projectile weapon to be invented. It was preceded by the sling and by spear throwers such as the atlatl of the Americas and the woomera of Australia. A number of cultures in historical times lacked the bow and arrow, and in others oral history records a time before its acquisition.

The earliest potential arrow heads date from about 64,000 years ago in the South African Sibudu Cave.<ref>


</ref> By 16,000 BCE flint points were being bound by sinews to split shafts. Fletching was being practiced, with feathers glued and bound to shafts.

The first actual bow fragments are the Stellmoor bows from northern Germany.<ref>Collins Background to Archaeology</ref> They were dated to about 8,000 BCE but were destroyed in Hamburg during the Second World War, before carbon 14 dating was available; their age is attributed by archaeological association. The oldest bows in one piece are the elm Holmegaard bows from Denmark which were dated to 9,000 BCE. High performance wooden bows are currently made following the Holmegaard design.

The bow and arrow are still used in tribal warfare in Africa to this day. An example was documented in 2009 in Kenya when the Kisii-tribe and Kalenjin-tribe clashed resulting in four deaths.<ref> Bow and arrow-warfare in todays Africa</ref><ref>,29307,1722198,00.html</ref>


, ca. 505–500 BCE.]]

Parts of the bow

The basic elements of a bow are a pair of curved elastic limbs, traditionally made from wood, joined by a riser. Both ends of the limbs are connected by a string known as the bow string.<ref name=Paterson27/> By pulling the string backwards the archer exerts compressive force on the string-facing section, or belly, of the limbs as well as placing the outer section, or back, under tension. While the string is held, this stores the energy later released in putting the arrow to flight.

The force required to hold the string stationary at full draw is often used to express the power of a bow, and is known as its draw weight, or weight.<ref name=Paterson111>Paterson Encyclopaedia of Archery p. 111</ref><ref name=Trad20>Sorrells Beginner's Guide pp. 20-21</ref> Other things being equal, a higher draw weight means a more powerful bow, which is able to project arrows heavier, faster, or a greater distance.

The various parts of the bow can be subdivided into further sections. The topmost limb is known as the upper limb, while the bottom limb is the lower limb. At the tip of each limb is a nock, which is used to attach the bowstring to the limbs. The riser is usually divided into the grip, which is held by the archer, as well as the arrow rest and the bow window. The arrow rest is a small ledge or extension above the grip which the arrow rests upon while being aimed. The bow window is that part of the riser above the grip, which contains the arrow rest.<ref name=Paterson27/>

In bows drawn and held by hand, the maximum draw weight is determined by the strength of the archer.<ref name=Trad20/> The maximum distance the string could be displaced and thus the longest arrow that could be loosed from it, a bow’s draw length, is determined by the size of the archer.<ref name=Trad19>Sorrells Beginner's Guide pp. 19-20</ref>

A composite bow uses a combination of materials to create the limbs, allowing the use of materials specialized for the different functions of a bow limb. The classic composite bow uses wood for lightness and dimensional stability in the core, horn to store energy in compression, and sinew for its ability to store energy in tension. Such bows, typically Asian, would often use a stiff end on the limb end, having the effect of a recurve.<ref name=Paterson38>Paterson Encyclopaedia of Archery p. 38</ref> In this type of bow, this is known by the Arabic name 'siyah'.<ref>Elmer Target Archery</ref>

Modern construction materials for bows include laminated wood, fiberglass, metals,<ref name=Heath15>Heath Archery pp. 15-18</ref> and carbon fiber components.



An arrow usually consists of a shaft with an arrowhead attached to the front end, with fletchings and a nock at the other.<ref name=Paterson18/> Modern arrows are usually made from carbon fibre, aluminum, fiberglass, and wood shafts. Carbon shafts have the advantage that they do not bend or warp, but they can often be too light weight to shoot from some bows and are expensive. Aluminum shafts are less expensive than carbon shafts, but they can bend and warp from use. Wood shafts are the least expensive option but often will not be identical in weight and size to each other and break more often than the other types of shafts.<ref name=Trad21>Sorrells Beginner's Guide pp. 21-22</ref> Arrow sizes vary greatly across cultures and range from very short ones that require the use of special equipment to be shot to ones in use in the Amazon River jungles that are

long. Most modern arrows are


in length.<ref name=Paterson18>Paterson Encyclopaedia of Archery pp. 18-19</ref>

Arrows come in many types, among which are breasted, bob-tailed, barrelled, clout, and target.<ref name=Paterson18/> A breasted arrow is thickest at the area right behind the fletchings, and tapers towards the nock and head.<ref name=Paterson32>Paterson Encyclopaedia of Archery p. 32</ref> A bob-tailed arrow is thickest right behind the head, and tapers to the nock.<ref name=Paterson25/> A barrelled arrow is thickest in the centre of the arrow.<ref name=Paterson24>Paterson Encyclopaedia of Archery p. 24</ref> Target arrows are those arrows used for target shooting rather than warfare or hunting, and usually have simple arrowheads.<ref name=Paterson103>Paterson Encyclopaedia of Archery p. 103</ref>


The end of the arrow that is designed to hit the target is called the arrowhead. Usually, these are separate items that are attached to the arrow shaft by either tangs or sockets. Materials used in the past for arrowheads include flint, bone, horn, or metal. Most modern arrowheads are made of steel, but wood and other traditional materials are still used occasionally. A number of different types of arrowheads are known, with the most common being bodkins, broadheads, and piles - or a simple conical head used for target shooting.<ref name=Paterson19>Paterson Encyclopaedia of Archery p. 19</ref> Bodkin heads are simple spikes made of metal of various shapes, designed to pierce armour.<ref name=Paterson25>Paterson Encyclopaedia of Archery pp. 25-26</ref> A broadhead arrowhead is usually triangular or leaf-shaped and has a sharpened edge or edges. Broadheads are commonly used for hunting.<ref name=Paterson33>Paterson Encyclopaedia of Archery p. 33</ref> A pile arrowhead is a simple metal cone, either sharpened to a point or somewhat blunt, that is used mainly for target shooting. A pile head is the same diameter as the arrow shaft and is usually just fitted over the tip of the arrow.<ref name=Paterson85>Paterson Encyclopaedia of Archery p. 85</ref> Other heads are known, including the blunt head, which is flat at the end and is used for hunting small game or birds, and is designed to not pierce the target nor embed itself in trees or other objects and make recovery difficult.<ref name=Paterson25/> Another type of arrowhead is a barbed head, usually used in warfare or hunting.<ref name=Paterson18/>


Bowstrings may have a nocking point marked on them, which serves to mark where the arrow is fitted to the bowstring before firing.<ref name=Paterson80>Paterson Encyclopaedia of Archery p. 80</ref> The area around the nocking point is usually bound with thread to protect the area around the nocking point from wear by the archer's hands. This section is called the serving.<ref name=Paterson93>Paterson Encyclopaedia of Archery pp. 93-94</ref> At one end of the bowstring a loop is formed, which is permanent. The other end of the bowstring also has a loop, but this is not permanently formed into the bowstring but is constructed by tying a knot into the string to form a loop. Traditionally this knot is known as the archer's knot, but is a form of the timber hitch. The knot can be adjusted to lengthen or shorten the bowstring. The adjustable loop is known as the “tail”.<ref name=Heath27>Heath Archery pp. 27-28</ref>

Bowstrings have been constructed of many materials throughout history, including fibres such as flax, silk, and hemp. Other materials used were animal guts, animal sinews, and rawhide. Modern fibres such as Dacron or Kevlar are now used in bowstring construction, as well as steel wires in some compound bows.<ref name=Paterson28>Paterson Encyclopaedia of Archery pp. 28-29</ref> Compound bows have a mechanical system of pulley cams over which the bowstring is wound.<ref name=Paterson93/>

Types of bows

There is no one accepted system of classification of bows.<ref name=Paterson37>Paterson Encyclopaedia of Archery p. 37</ref> Some systems classify bows as either longbows or composite bows. In this system, a longbow is any bow that is made from one material. Composite bows are made from two or more layers of different materials.<ref name=Heath14>Heath Archery pp. 14-16</ref> Other classifications divide bows into three types&nbsp;— simple, backed, and composite. In this scheme, simple bows are made of one material, backed bows are made of two layers, which could be similar or different materials. Composite bows are made of three different layers, usually different materials, but occasionally two of the layers are made from the same material.<ref name=Paterson37/>

Common types of bow include

  • Recurve bow: a bow with the tips curving away from the archer. The curves straighten out as the bow is drawn and the return of the tip to its curved state after release of the arrow adds extra velocity to the arrow.<ref name=Paterson90>Paterson Encyclopaedia of Archery pp. 90-91</ref>
  • Reflex bow: a bow that curves completely away from the archer when unstrung. The curves are opposite to the direction in which the bow flexes while drawn.<ref name=Paterson90/>
  • Self bow: a bow made from one piece of wood.<ref name=Paterson93>Paterson Encyclopaedia of Archery p. 93</ref>
  • Longbow: a self bow that is usually quite long, often over

    long. The traditional English longbow was usually made of yew wood, but other woods are used also.<ref name=Paterson73>Paterson Encyclopaedia of Archery pp. 73-75</ref>

  • Composite bow: a bow made of more than one material<ref name=Heath14/>
  • Compound: a bow with mechanical aids to help with drawing the bowstring. Usually, these aids are pulleys at the tips of the limbs.<ref name=Paterson38>Paterson Encyclopaedia of Archery pp. 38-40</ref>


In a crossbow, the limbs of the bow, called a prod, are attached at right angles to a crosspiece or stock in order to allow for mechanical pulling and holding of the string. The mechanism that holds the drawn string has a release or trigger that allows the string to be released.<ref name=Paterson41>Paterson Encyclopaedia of Archery p. 41</ref> A crossbow shoots a “bolt” rather than an arrow.<ref name=Paterson26>Paterson Encyclopaedia of Archery p. 26</ref>



Further reading

Gad Rausing, The Bow, Lund University Acta Archaeologigica Lundensia Serie in 8° No 6, 1967

  • The Traditional Bowyers Bible Volume 1. 1992 The Lyons Press. ISBN 1-58574-085-3
  • The Traditional Bowyers Bible Volume 2. 1992 The Lyons Press. ISBN 1-58574-086-1
  • The Traditional Bowyers Bible Volume 3. 1994 The Lyons Press. ISBN 1-58574-087-X
  • The Traditional Bowyers Bible Volume 4. 2008 The Lyons Press. ISBN 978-0-9645741-6-8
  • U. Stodiek/H. Paulsen, “Mit dem Pfeil, dem Bogen…” Techniken der steinzeitlichen Jagd. (Oldenburg 1996).
  • Gray, David, “Bows of the World”. The Lyons Press, 2002. ISBN 1-58574-478-6.
  • Comstock, Paul. “The Bent Stick”
bow_and_arrow.txt · Last modified: 2020/03/12 18:32 (external edit)