Archery is one of the oldest arts still practised. This history will not only take you through a journey on the evolution of archery, but also through the history of mankind. Indeed, both are closely linked. Evidence of ancient archery has been found throughout the world, even in Australia where it had previously been thought that the bow had not been used.
Although archery probably dates back to the Stone Age (around 20,000 BC), the earliest people known to have used the bow and arrow were the ancient Egyptians, who adopted it at least 5000 years ago for purposes of hunting and warfare.
In 1200 BC the Hittites used the bow from light, fast chariots, enabling them to become dreaded opponents in Middle Eastern battles. Their neighbours, the Assyrians, used archery extensively. They built bows from several different types of material: tendon, horn and wood. They also gave the bow a new, recurved shape that was far more powerful and as it was shorter, it was more easily handled by an archer on horseback.
In China, archery dates back to the Shang dynasty (1766-1027 BC). A war chariot of that time carried a three-man team: driver, lancer and archer. During the ensuing Zhou (Chou) dynasty (1027-256 BC), nobles at court attended sport archery tournaments that were accompanied by music and interspersed with elegant salutations.
English literature honours the longbow for famous victories in the battles of Crécy, Agincourt and Poitiers. The first known organised competition in archery was held at Finsbury, England, in 1583 and included 3000 participants! By the time of the 30 Years' War (1618-1648), it was clear that the introduction of the gun had made the bow a weapon of the past. From that time on, archery developed as a recreational sport.
Preview for Team China
Chinese women's archer Zhang Juanjuan is out for revenge.
After reaching the finals of both team and individual events in Athens, Zhang suffered losses to South Korean athletes.
It was an embarrassing defeat for China, even though it has been playing second fiddle to South Korea since the sport was introduced to the Olympics at the 1972 Munich Games.
Zhang, currently ranked No 5 in the world, has grown into one of the sport's most solid forces over the past few years.
She finished first at the year-ending World Cup Final in 2006 and was also a member of the 2001 World Championship-winning team.
(China Daily August 1, 2008)