The bow and arrow is one of the oldest warfare weapons. Some historians date the weapon as early as 35,000 BCE. The bow and arrow is an ancient weapon system designed for launching a straight sharpened projectile at a distant military, civilian, or gaming target. The bow and arrow has been used for hunting and warfare for thousands of years. Today, although firearms have replaced this ancient weapon system for combat operations, it is still employed by some people for target shooting and hunting.
The bow is a long stave made of strong, flexible material, which is bent and held under tension by a string fixed to both ends. Primitive bowstrings were composed of human and animal hair, animal stomach, or plant fiber; and the bows were made of strong bamboo and wooden material, with sinew, horn, and other materials providing extra strength. Today, many bows use wood or more contemporary materials such as carbon or fiberglass in their construction. The organic materials originally used for the bowstring have been replaced by nylon and other synthetic materials. The traditional shape of the bow has been radically changed in the compound bow, a bow where a series of cables and pulleys reduces the amount of force needed to pull the bowstring back.
The arrow is a long, straight projectile with a pointed tip. It has fins on the tail to guide its course. Primeval arrows were made of strong bamboo and laminated wood that was carved to be as straight as possible. The tip of the arrow could be sharpened to a point and hardened over fire, or a separate arrowhead could be affixed. Arrowheads were made of a variety of materials, with bone, stone, and volcanic glass being the most common. Bone arrowheads were carved to a point, and stone and volcanic glass arrowheads were sharpened by chipping flakes off of larger pieces, which left razor-sharp edges. Arrowheads were attached to the shaft of the arrow by strips of leather, sinew, or twine made of animal hair or plant fiber. On the tail of the arrow, small fins made of feathers stabilized the arrow in flight.
Bow and Arrow History
The warrior’s oldest hunting tools and warfare weapon systems were the bow and arrow. According to some researchers, the archery’s origination began during the Aurignacian period, about 25,000 BCE. Stone Age Cave paintings depicted hunters equipped with arrows and bows. During primeval warfare, archers were important warriors in the Egyptian Army, Persian Army, Roman Army, Chinese Army, and other civilizations’ armies worldwide.
During the Medieval Era, the English long bow development was the most effective military application of archery. The long bow, almost 2 meters in length, was capable of accurately launching metal-tipped arrows more than 300 yards. With expert archers who could fire up to seven arrows per minute, English forces scored important military victories against armored French troops in the 14th century, especially during the battles of Agincourt and Crécy. However, with the technological evolution of gunpowder weapon systems, firearms eventual replace bows and arrows on many battlefields. By the 20th century, all armies were made up of firearms.
Modern arrows preserve the same form as early ones, but they are usually made of more technologically advanced materials. Target arrows usually have an aluminum, fiberglass, or carbon fiber shaft, with a metal tip and feather or plastic fins. Arrows used for hunting generally have carbon fiber shafts with flat, triangular arrowheads made of steel.
Bow and Arrow Utilization
When using a bow and arrow, the archer places an arrow against the bowstring and pulls the bowstring back, bending the bow and storing the muscle energy of the archer in the weapon. By letting go of the drawn bowstring, the archer suddenly releases the energy stored in the bent bow, which rapidly propels the arrow forward and into the target.