Pre 25,000 BC
The discovery of the first stone arrowheads in Africa tends to indicate that the bow and arrow were invented there, maybe as early as 50,000 BC. It was probably developed in conjunction with the invention of the spear thrower. A short bow would be a better hunting weapon when used to stalk animals in wooded areas, rather than carry around long spears. The shape of the earliest bows can only be guessed at, as broken or worn out bows would probably end up on the cooking fire, reshaped into different tools or just thrown away.
5,000 – 18,000 BC
Fire hardened points used on the arrows. Flint arrowheads shaped to a point and inserted into a slot and tied with sinew to the front of the arrow. Feathers were glued and tied with sinew to the arrow shafts.
18,000 – 9,000 BC
11,000 BC – In a burial tomb in San Teodoro Cave, Sicily, a skeleton was found with a fragment of a flint arrow head embedded in the pelvis.
Arrow shafts found in Germany are dated to approx. 9,000 BC.
9,000 – 6,000 BC
Bows are found in Denmark that date from approx. 8,000 – 6,000 BC. These bows are one piece made from yew or elm and are ’tillered’. (Even amount of bend on top and bottom limbs.)
7,500 BC – Fresco in Tassili depicting an Egyption archer dated at 7,500 BC (Fig. 1)
6,000 – 3,000 BC
5,000 BC – the Egyptians use the bow for hunting and in warfare against the Persians (Fig. 2).
A 45 yr. old man dies on the Similaun Glacier in the Alps near the present day border between Italy and Austria. His preserved body is found on 11th. September, 1991. After many years of research, “Oetzi” has revealed how he once lived and worked. He was dressed in leather clothes with a grass waterproof cloak and shoes stuffed with grass as protection against the weather. He also had a framed backpack, a utility belt containing tools, a quiver containing 14 arrows, a flint dagger and most amazing of all, a copper axe. The reason why the discovery of the copper axe caused such interest is that it pre-dates the generally accepted development of copper smelting by almost 1,000 years. (So now the history books may have to be revised with a new date.)
After detailed analysis of body tissue and hair, it was discovered to contain high amounts of copper and arsenic, which can only come about from prolonged exposure to copper ore and the smelting process. This indicates that he mined the copper ore, probably from ancient mines found 120km. to the South in Italy and then melted the ore in a furnace to create the copper axe. His quiver had a protective flap to keep the feathers dry on the arrows. The wooden arrows were fitted with flint arrowheads. Some of his arrows were shorter than the others and seemed to have been made by a right-handed person indicated by the direction of the thread used to tie on the feathers. The other arrows were longer and made by a left-handed person. Why he had two different lengths of arrows remains unknown.
One possible scenario on how he lived his life is that during the winter he would travel to the copper mines. There he would mine the ore and make copper axes, possibly to trade for other items. During the summer, he would take flocks of sheep up the mountain passes to graze, maybe using his bow and arrow to protect the sheep from wolves and also for hunting. He may have traded some arrows for one of his copper axes during his travels.
(For more details, see the BBC Horizon TV documentary “Ice Mummies”.) Refer also to the Primitive Archer Magazine at http://www.primitivearcher.com for more recent information.
More recent investigation of the body, a flint arrowhead has been found embedded in his left shoulder. Someone had shot him in the back with an arrow not long before he died. It may be the cause of his death from loss of blood and hypothermia after fleeing from the person who had shot him. More DNA investigation has now found that the clothing worn by “Oetzi” has three different blood stains on it. This may have come about from “Oetzi” defending himself from several attackers, before fleeing into the mountains, or he may have even been the attacker and had come off second-best. This may explain the injury from an arrow in the back.
3,000 – 1,000 BC
2,800 BC – The ‘Composite Bow’ first appears. The Egyptians further developed this type of bow (Fig. 3). Made from wood, tipped with animal horn and held together with animal sinew and glue. The unstrung bow resembled a ‘C’ shape and required two people to string it. The bowstrings were made from ‘catgut’ obtained and made from sheep’s intestines. The arrows were extremely light and when used with the composite bow, could be shot 366 metres ( 400 yards ) and the armour of the day was no protection against such weapons. The Egyptians used archers on the back of light chariots. These were organised into highly trained units able to quickly out-flank an enemy army with devastating effect.
2,600 BC – Pyramids of Caral, situated about 125 km north of Lima in Peru, South America were built to form a large city complex. The large stepped pyramids even exceed the size of the pyramids in Egypt for sheer volume of material used. The neighbouring river was used to irrigate crops of cotton, which was then woven into fishing nets to trade with the coastal fishing villages in exchange for fish. This peaceful trading city was thought to exist for the next 600 years.(Archaeological digging is still revealing how these ancient city dwellers lived.)
2,500 BC – Akkadians conquered Sumeria with infantry archers.
1,500 – 1027 BC – First mention of Crossbows in China.
1479 BC – 1426 BC – The King of Egypt, Thutmose III, was reported to be a highly skilled warrior in archery and horsemanship, often giving public displays of his skill. He expanded the Egyptian empire to cover Syria and Sudan. Many temples and monuments were built to commemorate his triumphs.
1288 BC – Battle for Kadesh between the Pharaoh Ramses II and the Hittite King, Mutallu. The highly mobile Egyptian archers on the back of chariots were able to defeat the Hittite army.
1260 BC – 1240 BC – Philoctetes had been bequeathed the bow and arrows of the Greek hero Heracles in return for lighting his funeral pyre, thus he became a notable archer. On the way to the siege of Troy he was incapacitated by a snakebite and was left behind. After a seer revealed that Troy could be taken only with the aid of Heracles’ bow and arrows, the Greek warriors Odysseus and Diomedes went to Philoctetes and persuaded him to accompany them to Troy. There he was healed of his wound and killed Paris, son of the King of Troy, by which action he paved the way for the city’s fall through using the ‘Trojan Horse’.
1209 BC – Merneptah, son of Ramses II (Pharaoh of Egypt) used his archers to defeat an invading army of Libyans, who lost nearly 9,400 men in the battle.
1,200 – 700 BC – Assyrian archers shot from chariots while the charioteer held a shield for protection.
In China, the nobility of the time attended special schools where they were taught archery, music, rituals, charioteering, mathematics and writing.
1,000 BC – 400 AD
490 BC – ‘Battle of Marathon’, Athenian infantry of 11,000 men with long spears, swords and armour defeated Persian archers after a rapid charge to avoid the shower of arrows. The Persian army of 15,000 men were flanked by the infantry and lost 6,400 men killed in retreat back to their ships. The Athenians only lost 192 men. According to legend, an Athenian messenger was sent from Marathon to Athens, a distance of about 40 km(25 miles), and there he announced the Persian defeat before dying of exhaustion.
360 BC – Macedonian – archers on horseback used to support other cavalry troops.
327 BC-326 BC – Indian prince, Porus, who ruled the region between the Hydaspes (Jhelum) and Acesines (Chenab) rivers at the time of Alexander the Great’s invasion of the Punjab. Porus resisted Alexander, but with his elephants and slow-moving infantry bunched, he was out-flanked by Alexander’s mobile cavalry and mounted archers in the battle of the Hydaspes. Impressed by his techniques and spirit, Alexander allowed him to retain his kingdom.
260 BC – Hannibal used cavalry archers.
250 BC – Parthians (Iran/Afghanistan) were excellent horsemen and archers. In battle they would often shoot their arrows back towards the enemy while pretending to flee. This could be where the phrase “a Parthian Shot” became today’s phrase “a Parting Shot”.
221 BC – Qin Shihuang, First Emperor of China. Discovery of his ‘Terracotta Army’ in 1974. The burial pits contain approx. 6,000 life size figures of soldiers, archers and cavalry, including horses. Each figure is different and may have been based on actual living persons of the time.
A huge burial mound exists nearby and may be the tomb of the First Emperor. Legend says it contains vast riches, but also a curse to any who violate the tomb. To date, the burial mound has not been explored.
He is wearing plated armour over a battle robe.
Triangular points on 200 mm shafts.
Body is 720mm long. Has bronze trigger mechanism. Estimated range is 800 metres.
53 BC – Parthians tried to invade Rome with some success, but bows and arrows were not much good against garrison walls.
37 BC – Roman troops invaded Parthia, but lost many 1,000’s to hit and run tactics.
200-300 AD – The late Han/Jin Period.
300 AD – The Magyar (Hungarian) people, brother tribe to the Huns, made and used composite recurve bows (Fig. 4). They were excellent at using these bows from horseback. For more detailed information on the materials and construction of the bow, refer to: http://www.atarn.org/magyar/magyar_1.htm
288 AD – Sebastian commanded a company of the Preatorian Guard for the Roman Emperor, Diocletian. After his secret belief in Christianity was revealed, he refused to renounce his faith. The emperor ordered that he be bound to a stake and shot to death with arrows (Fig. 5). He was left for dead after several arrows, but a friend discovered that he was still alive and nursed him back to health. Later he proclaimed his Faith from the steps of the Emperor’s Palace. The guards were ordered to beat him to death with clubs and his body was thrown in the sewer. His body was recovered by friends and buried in the catacombs.
376 AD – the Pope, St. Damascus, built a Basilica over Sebastian’s tomb which is now one of the seven principal churches in Rome.
Now St. Sebastian is the Patron Saint of Archers.
400 – 1000 AD
434 AD – Attila the Hun reined as King from 434-453AD. The Huns used composite recurve bows from horseback with deadly effect on opposing armies. The Hun kingdom was located in modern-day Hungary. Attila embarked immediately upon a series of wars extending Hun rule from the Rhine across the north of the Black Sea as far as the Caspian Sea. Some historical accounts number his army between 300,000 to 700,000 troops, which for those times, is a huge force of arms. The defeat of his army by the allied Roman and Visigoth armies at Chalons in 451 AD thwarted his first campaign into Western Europe. The following year, he invaded Northern Italy, nearly securing Ravenna, but halted at the request of Pope Leo I and returned home to his capital near present day Budapest. He died in 453 AD, supposedly choking to death of a nosebleed while in a drunken stupor after marrying another wife.
552 AD – ‘Battle of Taginae’, the Byzantine emperor, Justinian I sent his commander, Narses, with an army of 20,000 men into Italy, where, at the Apennine village of Taginae near the Flaminian Way, he defeated the Goths. The Goth commander, Totila, had ordered his army to use only spears, was fatally wounded. The victory, credited to imperial archers, allowed Narses to march through Italy and eventually liberate Rome.
500 – 900 AD – Byzantines used mounted archers and then a cavalry charge against the Saracens, Vandals, Goths and Franks. The Avars used mounted archers using stirrups to stand while shooting, thus increasing their accuracy.
900 AD – Byzantines changed to using archers on foot.
1000 – 1200 AD
1066 AD – The Battle of Hastings – King Harold of England was waiting for the invasion of William of Normandy. His army was lined up along a ridge line forming a ‘shield wall’ battle tactic as he was waiting for more of his troops to arrive from an earlier battle against Vikings further north. Williams army had the disadvantage of attacking up-hill. His archers tried shooting at the shield wall, but their arrows were stopped by the troops shields or flew over-head due to shooting up-hill. William changed tactics and ordered his archers to aim high and thus lob their arrows onto Harold’s troops. This ‘rain’ of arrows decimated the army and allowed the foot soldiers to break through the shield wall. It is believed that King Harold was killed by an arrow through the eye (Fig. 6) which resulted in victory for William.
1099 AD – Crusades. English knights and crossbowmen attack the Mohammadean army that mainly consisted of archers on horses armed with composite bows.
1100 AD – 2nd. August. William II, King of England, is killed by an arrow shot by Sir Walter Tyrel while hunting in the new forest. Sir Walter flees the country. Also in the hunting party is William’s brother who succeeds him as Henry I and immediately takes possession of the treasury. There is suspicion that this may not have been an accidental shooting to gain the throne of England.
1100-1135 AD – Henry I proclaimed that an archer would be absolved of murder, if he killed a man during archery practise, but only if he had first shouted “Fast” ( meaning stand fast – or in modern parlance to stay still ) as a warning to anyone straying nearby. Today, we stop the shooting by shouting Fast to the archers instead of to the wandering public. (amendment from Veronica-Mae Soar)
1147-1149 AD – More Crusades.
1189 – 1192 AD – Crusades. King Richard killed with a crossbow bolt shot by a defender using one of the attacking army’s crossbow bolts. The bolt didn’t kill Richard outright, but the wound became infected after the arrow head was cut out.
1200 to 1300 AD
1208 AD – Temujin became Great Khan of the Mongols, better known as Genghis Khan. The Mongols were expert mounted archers that used high stirrups which allowed them to shoot in any direction. They used composite bows ( 70 – 160 lb. draw weight ) and released the bowstring with a thumb ring that increased the killing range of the bow to 275 metres ( 300 yards.) The maximum range of their bows was about 550 metres ( 600 yards. ) The unarmoured soldiers wore silk under-shirts to minimise the injury from arrows. The loose silk shirt would wrap around the arrow head without being cut. This would allow the clean removal of the arrow by slowly pulling on the shirt, thus stopping cuts from barbed arrow heads and also reduce the risk of infection. Their tactic against an opposing army would be to send in a small attack force, engage and then retreat with the opposing army giving chase. This small force would then lead the army to a pre-arranged ambush site, where the army would be surrounded by archers and showered with arrows. The heavy cavalry would then move in to finish off. The Mongol army used ruthless tactics against cities, sometimes killing the entire population. This would spread fear through the region, making capture of further cities easier.
1211 – 1294 AD – The Mongol Empire spreads as far as Austria, Russia, Syria, Persia, Vietnam, Korea and China. ( See the TV Documentary “Storm from the East” which details the Mongol conquests.)
1227 AD – Pipe rolls list a person named Robert Hood as a fugitive. (Robin Hood ?)
1242 AD – Battle of Taillebourg – English army lost to French – 700 crossbowmen used.
1252 AD – ‘Assize of Arms’ – those men owning land worth between 40-100 shillings were required to equip themselves with a sword, dagger, bow and arrows. Those owning less than 40 shillings worth of land had to equip themselves with bow and arrows. All men between the age of 15 to 60 years old were ordered to equip themselves.
1298 AD – Battle of Falkirk – English army defeats Scots. The English knights charged the Scottish archers, scattering them, then the English archers attacked the remaining army.
1300 to 1400 AD
1307 AD – William Tell – because William refused to bow towards a hat placed on a pole as a sign of imperial power, has was ordered to shoot an apple off his son’s head. (He was known as an expert crossbowman.) He succeeded in shooting the apple. The story of his feat also stated that he had a second crossbow bolt hidden behind his belt in case he failed and killed his son, he would have quickly reloaded and killed the official who had ordered him to shoot the apple off his son’s head.
1333 AD – 19th July – Battle of Halidon Hill. Scottish army is defeated by Edward III of England demonstrating for the first time the full potential of the English Longbow in battle. (22,000 Scottish heavy cavalry defeated by 2,000 English archers and 500 knights.)
1340 AD – English ships of war had archers who used arrows with half-moon shaped heads to cut down the sails of the opposing French ships.
1346 AD – 26th August, Battle of Crecy. Edward III of England leads his army against the French. Some accounts of the battle say that the English archers had kept their flax bowstrings dry by putting them under their helmets as it had been raining the day before. The French force of crossbowmen attacked from the front, but maybe due to the rain, many misfired or the bowstrings snapped. Crossbows are harder to reload (Fig. 7), so the English archers showered them with arrows during reloading (Fig. 8). Most of the crossbowmen fled. The French cavalry then charged, but were decimated by the English archers. 1,542 French knights are killed with only 50 English killed.
1356 AD – 19th September – ‘Battle of Poitiers’ – Edward III of England defeats King John II of France. The English troops took up positions on marshy ground near a river and when the French knights charged, they became bogged and easy targets for the English archers. King John is taken prisoner and held in the Tower of London. A ransom of 3,000,000 gold crowns is demanded for his release.
1400 to 1500 AD
1400 AD – Byzantines were defeated by Turkish archers on horses.
1440 AD – Fig. 9: This bow is a ‘Centre Shot Stone Bow’ from an painting dated about 1440 AD.
It is interesting to note the split bowstring shown, as this type of bowstring/cable set-up has recently been used on the modern Compound Bows to do away with using the usual cable guard set-up.
1415 AD – 25th October, Battle of Agincourt (Fig. 10): Henry V of England was leading his army back to Calais in France after a successful campaign to the south. At the village of Agincourt, Henry and his army were confronted by a French army camped to the North. Henry’s army consisted of 1,500 men at arms and 5,500 archers. The French army consisted mainly of noble knights on foot and cavalry, some 23,000 in total. Henry’s army was out-numbered 3 to 1. Henry arranged his army at the narrow end of the battlefield with archers on each flank. The French army were arranged on the much wider end of the battlefield with the cavalry on each flank. The French Nobles disregarded the battle plan ordered by the French King and ordered the cavalry to charge the archers.
The French noble cavalry were probably wearing expensive steel armour which protected them against the iron bodkin tips of the arrows, except that their horses were not as well protected. Most of the horses were probably killed or wounded in the first few minutes of the battle. The rest of the French army followed the cavalry charge and were obstructed by fleeing or dead horses, plus the narrowing of the battlefield, lead to mass chaos as the archers continued to shower arrows down on them. The battlefield was also made very muddy during the melee and the French knights in their armour had a very hard time even walking in the crush of their own army. The English were not weighed down by heavy armour and so could easily out manoeuvre the French knights in hand to hand combat, where the archers used their daggers and mallets.
The battle lasted about two hours, with many French knights taken captive. Henry could not afford to guard so many captives, even for ransom back to the noble’s family, so he ordered the archers to kill them all. Some accounts state as many as 10,000 French soldiers killed, with only 100 English soldiers killed. Other accounts state only 29 English killed. It appears that the Longbow Archers of King Henry’s army did not win a great victory as per many history books state, but rather the French army defeated themselves on the battlefield.
(Article based on recent information from “Battlefield Detectives”, a television documentary).
There is still some contention as to how effective the Longbow was against the steel armour of the period. Some studies show that an iron bodkin point would not have penetrated the steel armour of the knights, while an article in “The Glade” magazine, issue 107, clearly demonstrates the penetration power of the bodkin point through armour. In fact, further tests by Mark Stretton written in The Glade magazine, issue 111, have clearly demonstrated the penetration of bodkin points through the armour of the day.
Figure 11 shows examples the various types of arrow tips used during the 15th. Century.The ‘barbed’ arrow tips were the most common used. The small triangular tips without ‘barbs’, Bodkin’s, were used to pierce the chainmail armour. The ‘half-moon’ arrow tips were used to shoot through the sails of opposing ships.
1450 AD – Earliest surviving ballad, “Robin Hood and the Monk”.
1472 AD – The practise of Archery was declining due to shortage of bowstaves.
1457 AD – James II, King of England, first decreed that the sports of football and golf should be banned as they interfered with archery practise.
1477 AD – Edward IV, King of England, bans the early version of the game of cricket as it is interfering with compulsory archery practise.
1492 AD – Leonardo da Vinci. Figure 12 shows a sketch design of siege crossbow by Leonardo da Vinci, done when he was employed as a siege engineer in the court of Francis I of France.English engineers recently built a replica and managed to fire a canon ball about 60 metres before one of the limbs broke from the strain. thus proving that the design could work.
1500 to 1600 AD
1500 – 1550 AD – The ballads about Robin Hood “Lyttell Geste of Robyn Hode”.
‘Robin and the Knight’, ‘Robin, Little John and the Sheriff’, ‘Robin and the King’ and ‘Robin Hood’s death’.
Maid Marion is not part of the original stories, but may have been added to later tales.
1508 AD – The use of crossbows was forbidden in England, to increase the use of the longbow.
1509 AD – Henry VIII, King of England, at age 18 proves himself an accomplished archer.
1510 AD – King Henry purchased 40,000 yew bow staves from the Doge of Venice.
1513 AD – Sept. 9th. ’Battle of Flodden’, fought near Branxton, Northumberland. James IV, King of Scotland, crossed the border on 22nd. August with an army of about 30,000 men supported by artillery. Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey, gathered an army of about 20,000 to oppose him. Fearing that the Scots would retreat to the border, Surrey issued a challenge to James, who agreed to wait until September 9th. to fight. The battle began in the late afternoon. The Scots fought stubbornly, but the English 2.5 metre long bill (a staff ending in a hooked-shaped blade) proved superior to the Scottish 4.5 metre long spear and English archers proved decisive on the Scottish right. By nightfall the Scottish army was annihilated. James was killed, together with at least 10,000 of his men.
1520 AD – Henry VIII demonstrates his skill with the longbow at a summit meeting hosted by the French King, where he repeatedly shot into the centre of a target at a distance of 220 metres ( 240 yards)
1520 AD – the musket is invented and will soon replace the bow as a weapon of war.
1521 AD – General Cortes of Spain used crossbowmen in his conquest of Mexico.
1534 AD – King Henry orders that 30,000 bows be made and kept at the Tower of London.
1545 AD – King Henry’s flagship “Mary Rose” sinks in the Solent near Portsmouth, England. The remains are recovered in 1982 from the fine silt that has preserved the hull and its contents. Over 100 longbows were found all made from fine-grained yew. The yew was shaped into a ‘D’ section with sapwood on the back of the bow and a thicker section of heartwood on the belly. This worked as an efficient natural lamination giving the bow strength. Boxes of arrows were also found, bound in bundles of 24 and kept apart with a pierced circular leather disc to prevent crushing the goose flight feathers. The shafts were 800mm long, 10mm diameter and made from ash wood. A nock was cut into the base of each shaft and reinforced with a v-shaped horn insert. It has been estimated that the range of these longbows with a 41 kg ( 90 lb. ) draw weight could have been up to 250 metres. Also other records indicate that a practised archer could shoot up to 12 arrows per minute.
(Imagine what an army of a thousand archers could do to an opposing force. The reports of the sky darkening with arrows were a matter of fact!)
Roger Ascham published his book ‘Toxophilis’ (Lover of the Bow) which was the first book written in English about archery.
1588 AD – 10,000 soldiers on the English fleet, armed with muskets, defeated the Spanish Armada. ( The decline of bow and arrow in warfare is now assured. )
1595 AD – all bows were ordered to be exchanged for muskets.
1600 to 1700 AD
1625 AD – Figure 14: Picture of a foot soldier about to release his longbow. He also holds his pike at the ready to defend against possible cavalry attack. He has a sword for close combat. Note the two finger draw of the bowstring.
1644 AD – Tipper Muir – last battle in which English archers were used.
1673 AD – The archery tournament known as the ‘Ancient Scorton Arrow’ was founded in Yorkshire, England.
(It is the oldest archery tournament still held today.)
To view more information go to – www.scortonarrow.com
1676 AD – The Royal Company of Archers first practised ‘Clout Archery’ using longbows to shoot at a 31″ diameter white target at distances between 180 to 240 yards.
1700 to 1800 AD
1708 AD – One of the most notable incidents involving archery in Sikh history relates to the death of Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the 10th Guru and a co-founder of the Sikh religion. In 1708, 2 Pathan assassins attempted to kill him. One stabbed him in the chest, but the Guru responded with his sword and beheaded the attacker. The other Pathan was dealt with by the Guru’s guards. The Guru’s wounds were tended to by a Dr. Cole, I believe. Now, around this time, Guru Gobind Singh Ji had received a gift of a new, powerful bow. While his wounds were healing, he could not resist the temptation of trying the new bow out. Sadly, drawing the bow re-opened his chest wound and it began bleeding profusely. As a result, he died in October 1708, but by then the Sikh faith was well established.
Sikhs were known to hunt game for sport and as a means of sharpening their martial skills.
It is evident from historical records and paintings, that short recurve bows were used, probably shot using a thumb ring.
(This article was kindly supplied by Harjinder S. Obhi of London, England.)
1798 AD – The Sultan Selim, witnessed by the British Ambassador, shot an arrow 889 metres ( 972 yards ). A record not surpassed for nearly 200 years.
1800 to 1900 AD
1872 AD – Ephraim Morton of Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA is granted a patent for his wood-handled bow with steel rod limbs. Each limb has two spirals.
1879 AD – The First Tournament of the National Archery Association held in Chicago, USA (Fig. 15)
1896 AD – 25th. March – First Olympic Games of the modern era held in Greece.
1900 – Present Day
1900 – Archery in Olympic Games – also in 1904, 1908 and 1920. Women were allowed to compete in the Archery event in 1904 and 1908 (Fig. 16).
1911 – Dr. Saxon Pope meets ‘Ishi’ (a Yana Indian) and learns the art of hunting with a bow.
1913 – “Robin Hood” – silent movie.
1920 – Archery in Olympics. Archery did not reappear until 1972.
1922 – “Robin Hood” – movie staring Douglas Fairbanks as Robin Hood.
1931 – FITA (International Archery Federation) is formed.
1934 – The state of Wisconsin is granted the first bow hunting season in the USA.
1937 – Bow sights are first used at the NAA National Tournament, USA with a ‘sighted’ archer, Emil Pikula, winning second place.
1938 – Ben Pearson is credited with beginning the mass production of Archery beginning in March of 1938- I believe his company to have been the largest manufacturer of archery equipment between 1939 and 1967- which (at periods) during that time frame employed around 8oo employees. Ben Pearson was among the first inductees of the Archery Hall Of Fame in 1972 (he passed away in 1971), also he is in several other halls- National Bowhunters Hall of Fame – The National Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame- Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame – Arkansas Outdoor Sportman Hall Of Fame – Arkansas Bowhunters Hall of Fame- also received the Compton Medal of Honour in 1967 from the National Field Archery Association. At http://hometown.aol.com/tradbowmd/a_heroes.htm you can find a partial list of his attributes. (This article kindly supplied by Ben Pearson Jr.)
‘The Adventures of Robin Hood’ (a movie classic), made in 1938 with Errol Flynn (as Robin Hood), Olivia de Havilland and Basil Rathbone.
Warner Brothers Pictures hired Mr. Howard Hill (a famous bow hunter) to coach Errol Flynn to perform as a convincing archer in his roll as ‘Robin Hood’ in the movie. When Mr. Hill was unable to complete Mr. Flynn’s training because of conflicting commitments, Hill asked Robert Tatsch to finish fine tuning Flynn’s skills where necessary. Robert, who was 17 years old at the time and an accomplished archer in his own right, accepted the assignment. In appreciation Mr. Hill gave Robert his old competition tonkin bamboo bow (65 lbs. draw and 65″ in length) and Mr. Flynn took Robert on a weekend sail to Catalina Island on his yacht ‘Sorrocco’ following the completion of filming.
1939 – James Easton experimented with making aluminium arrows.
Howard Hill’s bow hunting exploits with a longbow are covered in films and magazines.
1941 – Larry Hughes used aluminium arrows to win American National Championships.
Henry Bitzenburger invented his famous fletching jig.
1942 – Hoyt Archery Co. is started by Earl Hoyt Jr.
1946 – Easton’s first trademarked aluminium arrows “24 SRT-X” produced.
1951 – Max Hamilton introduced ‘Plastiflech’ vanes to replace feathers. The British Long-Bow Society formed to preserve the traditional recreational longbow and style of shooting (two-way) as modern steel bows (and later composites) along with one-way shooting, threatened to remove this historic bow from the archery scene. Now has well over 2,000 members in several countries. (Addition from Veronica-Mae Soar)
1953 – ‘Bear’ designs and sells first working recurve bow.
1956 – ‘Pistol grip’ developed by for bows by Hoyt Archery Co. Society of Archery-Antiquaries formed to study all aspects of the bow and its use, in all countries, and in all periods. Recognised as a learned Society. Society of Archery-Antiquaries. (Addition from Veronica-Mae Soar)
1957 – ‘The Adventures of Robin Hood’ – BBC TV series starring Richard Greene as ‘Robin Hood’, Bernadette O’Farrell as ‘Marian’, Archive Duncan as ‘Little John’, Alexander Gage as ‘Friar Tuck’ and Alan Wheatly as ‘Sheriff of Nottingham’. ( Information supplied by R. Simmonds of East Albury, New South Wales, Australia).
1958 – Easton develops “XX75” aluminium arrow.
1961 – ‘Torque Stabilizers’ introduced by Hoyt Archery Co.
1963 – Bernard Horton, an accomplished gun maker and sportsman in Scotland, recognized that crossbows of the time did not meet the needs of serious modern big game hunters. However, he realized that the crossbow had the potential, as it once did, to become an effective close-range hunting tool by modern standards. Horton began experimenting with crossbow designs in his workshop, creating crossbows for his personal use. The word quickly spread about his crossbows and it was then that the Horton legacy was born. From the very first prototypes, Horton’s designs proved to be rugged, compact and accurate. Horton’s vision brought the crossbow out of the dark ages and into the forefront of modern big game hunting. Moving his operation to the United States, Horton has led the crossbow crusade, becoming the world’s largest maker of modern crossbows. (This article supplied by Chip Klass, Horton Mfg.,Ohio, USA).
1966 – Easton develops “X7” aluminium arrow.
IFAA (International Field Archery Association) founded.
1969 – 30th. December – Holless Wilbur Allen is granted the patent on his invention of the Compound Bow which he had designed 3 to 4 years earlier. Mr. Allen was a keen bowhunter who was disappointed with the hunting bows of the day and so decided to design a new type of bow for hunting. His original design had ‘wheels’ that were triangular shaped.
See also the new archery history website for pictures of this first compound.
1970 – Compound bows and release aids make their national debut at the Vegas shoot and accepted in competitions by the NFAA.
1971 – Andy Rimo introduces the ‘Flipper’ arrow rest.
Pete Shepley starts PSE archery company.
Flex Fletch starts manufacturing their first soft plastic arrow vanes.
1972 – Archery reappears in the Munich Olympic Games for both Men and Women.
1974 – First dual prong arrow rest invented by Freddie Troncoso.
1982 – 12th. Commonwealth Games – Brisbane, Australia. Archery Event shot over 4 days. Neroli Fairhall from New Zealand, a paraplegic, shoots from her wheelchair. She wins first place in the Women’s double FITA event.
Cam wheels for compound bows first appear. 3-D Archery is introduced.
1983 – Easton develops carbon arrow.
1986 – Craft Guild of Traditional Bowyers and Fletchers formed to provide quality traditional equipment for those shooting the recreational longbow. Craft Guild of Traditional Bowyers and Fletchers. (Addition from Veronica-Mae Soar)
1988 – Olympic Games held in South Korea. The Teams Event was added into the Archery Competition.
1985 – FITA adopts Grand FITA Round for Olympic Games.
1990 – The Olympic Round elimination format adopted at Olympic Games to increase public interest.
1991 – “Robin Hood:Prince of Thieves” – movie staring Kevin Costner as Robin Hood.
(The shooting of an arrow end to end is still referred to as a ‘Robin Hood’ and if anyone doubts that it can be done, the author has shot one and kept the arrows as a trophy.)
1992 – Olympic games, 1992, Barcelona. The Spanish two times Paralympic medallist, Antonio Rebollo, shoots a custom made Easton flaming arrow out of a Martin Mamba Recurve bow to ignite the Olympic Torch at the Opening Ceremony.The inspired Spanish Men’s Team won the gold medal.
Matt McPherson starts Mathews Archery Co. manufacturing compound bows with one cam technology.
The ASA (Archery Shooters Association) is formed to promote 3-D Archery.
1995 – World Target Archery Championship, Jakarta, Indonesia.
First time the Compound Bow division was included in the competition.
1996 – Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta. The mens gold medal is won by Justin Huish. In the teams event, the USA Mens Team won the Gold Medal, South Korea won Silver and Italy won Bronze. (Australia won fourth place.)
The South Korea Womens Team won Gold, Germany won Silver and Poland won Bronze.
1997 – World Archery Championship, Victoria, British Colombia.
South Korea won both the Mens and Womens gold medal for Recurve bows.
1999 – Sydney International Golden Arrow Competition. 120 archers from 30 countries competing at the Olympic Archery Venue, Homebush Bay, Sydney, Australia. One of the competitors is American film star and Oscar winner, Geena Davis.
2000 – September – Sydney Olympic Games – Archery Tournament.
Men’s Individual – Gold, Simon Fairweather (Australia).
South Korea still dominates Womens individual and Team places.
2001 – Mens FITA Compound Bow Record of 1402 shot by Clint Freeman of Australia.
Dec.- The movie “The Fellowship of the Ring” which is the first part the trilogy “The Lord of the Rings” series is screened. The movie features one of the main characters “Legolas Greenleaf”, a Mirkwood Elf, using his longbow and set of arrows with unsurpassed accuracy against the Orcs in the mines of Moria.
This inspired many people to try archery.
2002 – Dec.- The movie “The Two Towers” which is the second part the trilogy “The Lord of the Rings” series is screened. The movie features many different races using many different types of longbows and crossbows in warfare. Of note were the longbows of the Galadhrim, used in defence of Helm’s Deep. Even large ballista’s were used to fire giant arrow-shaped grappling hooks over the parapets of Hornburg to raise siege ladders.
2003 – Win & Win Archery Co. of Seoul, Korea release composite carbon & aluminium recurve bow riser and composite titanium & carbon recurve bow limbs.
The Arc System recurve bow limbs have a ‘s’ bend draw force curve.
Discovery of a secret escape tunnel under Nottingham Church dating back to the 12th Century may be the same tunnel used by Robin Hood and his men to escape the Sheriff of Nottingham. A medieval document has a story about Robin and his men being surrounded by the Sheriff’s soldiers at the church, but when the soldiers broke down the church doors, Robin and his men were no-where to be found. This may mean that the story of Robin Hood could really be true!
Dec.- The movie “The Return of the King” which is the last part the trilogy “The Lord of the Rings” series is screened. The movie features one of the main characters “Legolas Greenleaf”, a Mirkwood Elf, using a Lorien longbow and set of arrows with unsurpassed accuracy against Uruk-hai, Orcs and even a M’mak. The craftsmanship of this bow, arrows and even back quiver can be seen in many books and replica’s for sale.
2004 – June. New Mens FITA Record of 1414 for Compound bow shot by Roger Hoyle, USA.
The Record FITA score consisted of; 345 for 90 metres, 355 for 70 metres, 354 for 50 metres and a perfect 360 for 30 metres.
August 15 – Mark Stretton sets new World Record for drawing a 200lb. longbow to full draw of 31.5″ and loosing a broadhead war arrow at a target.
Refer The Glade Magazine, issue no. 106 for details.
2006 – New BBC TV Series of ‘Robin Hood’ – http://www.bbc.co.uk/drama/robinhood/index.shtml
2007 – May 16 – Gladys Willems of Belguim sets new world record for Ladies Compound FITA round score of 1411. 2008 – Developments in materials technology will see the production of lighter and stronger bows as well as lighter and stronger arrows. Arrow speed will increase giving better accuracy over the longer distances.
32,000 BC – Evidence is found at Lake Mungo that early Aboriginals feed on fish and shellfish beside the lake. They cook on hearths and in clay ovens.
18,000 BC – Ice Age finishes – Global warming starts. Sea level 130 metres below present day level.
8,000 BC – Rising sea levels separate Australia from New Guinea and Tasmania. Sea level 30 metres below present day level.
5,000 BC – The Dingo is introduced into Australia and is domesticated by the Aboriginals. Sea level 10 metres below present day level.
1606 AD – Dutch sailors land at Cape Keerwer. First landing by a European in Australia.
1642 AD – August. The Dutch sailor ‘Abel Tasman’ discovers Tasmania.
1699 AD – William Dampier explores west coast of Australia.
1770 AD – James Cook claims Australia for the British.
1788 AD – 18th. January – First ship load of convicts arrives at Botany Bay, Sydney from the over-crowded British prisons.
1840 AD – October – Mr. W. Liardet, the owner of Brighton Pier Hotel, Port Melbourne, Victoria, formed a small group of archers.
1855 AD – January – The ‘Melbourne Herald’ newspaper reported an archery competition held at Emerald Hill, South Melbourne which was won by an American with a longbow.
1856 AD – Victoria’s first major archery competition held in the grounds of Government House. The winner was a woman.
1857 AD – November – Victorian Archery Club established. Held its first competition in December of that year. Reported that 300 people attended the social occasion, where the members, both men and ladies, shot a competition over 60, 50 and 30 yards.
1858 AD – Alma Archery Club formed at St. Kilda, Melbourne.
1859 AD – The “Lady’s Guide to Archery” published in Melbourne.
St. Leonard’s Archery Club, in Sydney, holding regular club meetings.
Western Archery Club, in Westbury, Tasmania, holding regular club meetings.
Archery club in Adelaide had a membership of 50 archers.
1880 AD – Henry Russell wrote in his book “The Genesis of Queensland” of an experience in 1843 where he came across a group of Aborigines. He was astounded to find the children playing with miniature bows and arrows. (To my knowledge this is the earliest recording of any Aboriginals ever using bows and arrows.)
1880 – 1920 AD – Archery as a sport almost disappeared in Australia.
1920 – 1935 – Archery revival in Sydney with one club holding regular meetings and some schools teaching archery to girls. The ‘Sydney Bowmen’ club was formed and held regular meetings at Birchgrove Oval.
1937 – Bowmen of Lorn club founded in West Maitland, New South Wales.
Sydney club holding regular meetings using the name New South Wales Archery Society. New clubs formed in Victoria.
Australian timbers were first used in making bows and arrows instead of using imported bows and arrows from overseas.
1938 – Archery Society of Western Australia formed in Perth.
The traditional Longbow was slowly being replaced by the ‘Flat Bow’ recurve design.
Bow sights were first used in Australia about this time.
1940 – 1945 – Archery as a sport nearly died out due to the effects of World War II. The importation of archery equipment was restricted.
In Queensland, archery clubs formed in Brisbane, Mackay, Townsville and Cairns.
The last 3 clubs went on to form the North Queensland Archery Association.
The club in Brisbane, called the Brisbane Archers, changed their name to the Queensland Company of Archers. Their club held regular meetings at Salisbury. Later other clubs formed at Grange, Wynnum, Bundaberg and Toowoomba.
1946 – Easter- The Archery Society of Western Australia conducts the first Australian Mail Tournament which attracted entries from clubs all over Australia. A second tournament was held in 1947.
1947 – August 1947, Mr. Alex Trotter and friends formed a club at Townsville; and, in October, the Cairns and Townsville archers, tired of prodding Brisbane and Sydney in vain, formed the North Queensland Archery Association.
1948 – Saturday 17th January 1948 – Y.M.C.A. 325 Pitt Street, Sydney – the ‘Australian Archery Association’ was formed by State Delegates. Many other States formed their own state associations about this time, including the South Queensland Archery Society.
Junior and Senior National Championships re-commenced after the War.
October 1948 – the First National Tournament was held in Sydney.
1948 – 1960 – With the invention of Aluminium Arrows in America, the use of wooden arrows slowly disappeared.
1960 – 1970 – ???
1970 – 1980 – Invention of the Compound Bow in America revitalises interest in Archery, especially for Bowhunting.
1984 – Centenary Archers founded.
1986 – Junior National Championships held in Brisbane.
1987 – World Archery Championships held in Adelaide.
1988 – Men’s Archery Team competes at Olympic Games in Seoul, Korea.
1997 – World Archery Championships, Victoria, Canada.
Australian Men’s Compound archer and Women’s Compound archer both place 4th, missing out on 3rd. place by only 1 point.
1999 – World Indoor Championships, Havana, Cuba. Australian Mens Recurve Team wins Gold Medal.
2000 – Australian Olympic Archery Team named : Simon Fairweather, Matthew Gray, Scott Hunter-Russell, Kate Fairweather, Michelle Tremelling and Melissa Jennison.
Wednesday 20th. Sept. 2000: Simon Fairweather of Australia made history by winning the Gold Medal at the Sydney Olympics. To get there he defeated Weiste van Alten (Netherlands) in the semi-final 112 to 110, then defeated Victor Wunderle (USA) in the final, 113 to 106.
2002 – October. World Masters Games in Melbourne, Australia. Over 400 archers competing at Target, Indoor and Field events.
2003 – July. Clint Freeman, a member of the Australian Team, wins the World Championships Compound Division by 1 point on a shoot-off.
2004 – Tim Cuddihy at only 17 years old, originally from Toowoomba in Queensland, wins the Bronze Medal at the Athens Olympic Games. After only six years of archery, he competed against Hiroshi Yamamoto from Japan, a seasoned competitor in previous games, in a nail-biting match to finish in a shoot-off after scores were tied. Hiroshi won the shoot-off by 1 point to progress to the Gold medal match. Tim has been coached by Mr. Ki Sik Lee at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra. Mr Lee also coached Simon Fairweather at the previous Olympic Games.
If you have any historical information about Archery and would like to have it included here, please forward by e-mail or post to: Centenary Archers Club, P.O. Box 160, Sumner, Queensland, 4074, Australia
Author : Graeme Jeffrey
Copyright © Centenary Archers Club Inc. 1999-2013