Bows and Arrows

November 24, 2012 9:15 am

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Bows and Arrows
Thousands of years ago, human hunters had a problem. They couldn’t get close enough to an animal to use spears or knives to bring down their prey. Finally, they found a clever solution: the bow and arrow.
No one knows just how or when the bow and arrow was invented. Some experts say it was developed more than 25,000 years ago. No matter when it appeared, it changed hunting and warfare for good. Using a bow and arrow, humans could strike at animals and enemies from a long distance away and with more accuracy. People didn’t have to get so close that they might be killed first.
THE BOW AND ARROW IN WARFARE
The bow and arrow was a valuable weapon for many armies. The ancient Egyptians were the first people known to have used the bow widely in war. The Romans, Chinese, Persians, and other civilizations also used the bow and arrow against their enemies.
During the 400s ad, the Huns from Asia rode into Europe on horseback. The Huns terrorized Roman armies with powerful composite bows. Composite bows consisted of several materials glued together, which made the bows more elastic. These bows were shorter than standard bows and handier to use when fighting on horseback. They could kill with great accuracy from up to 300 yards (275 meters) away. That distance is as long as three football fields! In the 1200s, another Asian people, the Mongols, also made great use of the composite bow.
The longbow is one of the most famous bows in history. English bowmen used it with great skill. An arrow from a longbow could pierce a knight’s armor or kill his horse. The legendary English hero Robin Hood was said to be so skilled a bowman that he could split one arrow with another arrow.
The longbow required strength, but it could fire an arrow hundreds of yards with great accuracy and force. England fought a lengthy war with France in the 1300s and 1400s. During battle, thousands of arrows shot from English longbows rained down on French knights in armor, killing many.
By the 1500s, armies had started to use guns in warfare. As guns got better, they completely replaced the bow and arrow. But bows were still used in some parts of the world. Native Americans fought against white settlers with bows and arrows. The Great Plains Indians had powerful bows that could fire an arrow all the way through a buffalo at close range.
THE BOW AND ARROW IN SPORT
Today, people no longer use the bow and arrow in warfare. But they do use it in hunting and in the sport of archery. Many states and Canadian provinces have hunting seasons for archers to hunt animals with a bow. Archers also take part in sports competitions. Archery is an event in the Olympic Games.
Some modern bows are still made of wood. Others are made of carbon or fiberglass, which makes them lighter and more flexible. The compound bow has a system of cables and pulleys attached to it. The cables and pulleys make it easier to pull back the bowstring, allowing the arrow to go farther.
Most arrows today are made of aluminum, fiberglass, or carbon fibers. The fletching, or feathers, on the end of the arrow may be made of turkey feathers or plastic. Fletching makes an arrow fly straight after leaving the bow.
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