PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 January, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 January, 2010, 12:00am

Lost in time

Nobody is certain when the bow and arrow was invented. It happened at some point in what we call pre-history. Pre-history is the time before humans wrote anything down.

The oldest arrows have been found in what is now Germany. The arrows were made of pine wood and flint was used for the arrow head. Archaeologists think they are about 12,000 years old. The oldest bows from that period were found in a swamp in Denmark. Man may have been using the weapons for thousands of years before that.

Age of wars

With the rise of civilisation around the world, starting some 5,000 years ago, archers became important for armies. Well-trained archers made it possible for armies to win battles. Korea was famous for its highly skilled archers.

The Romans did not use archers much in the early battles that helped them build their empire. But as Rome's armies travelled farther, they began to recruit archers. In England, archery was not used much until the introduction of the longbow. The longbow was taller than the men who used it, and could shoot six arrows a minute. It was effective over a distance of 200 metres.

The crossbow and longbow

The crossbow was first developed in China and Greece around 500 BC. It is a small bow mounted on a frame. It has a trigger for releasing the arrow. The longbow was more accurate and could be fired more quickly. But it took soldiers many years of training to use it. On the other hand, they could learn to use a crossbow in just a week.

The medieval kingdoms of Europe tried to ban the crossbow because it could pierce armour worn by the knights. But the ban failed. Besides, the gun was on the way. With the arrival of the gun, the bow and arrow, armour and even castles would all become useless.

Modern archery

Today archery is mostly used in competitions. Target archery is an Olympic sport. The target has 10 rings. The centre of the target is called the X ring or the bullseye. In field archery, hunters shoot at targets that look like 'animals' outdoors.

now do this

1 The oldest arrows found were in what is today ...

a. Germany

b. Denmark

c. China

2 In Asia, the ... were famous for their archers

a. the Chinese

b. the Japanese

c. the Koreans

3 The crossbow was developed around ...

a. 500 AD

b. 700 BC

c. 500 BC


January 13

1. c, 2. b, 3. a