Archery is the art, practice or skill of using a bow and arrow for warfare, for hunting or as a sport. Some scholars date the origin of archery as early as the Aurignacian period, about 25,000 years before the modern era.
The earliest people known to have used the bow and arrow were the ancient Egyptians, who adopted the equipment as a weapon at least 5,000 years ago. In the time of the earliest pharoahs, the Egyptians practiced archery not only in warfare against the ancient Persians, but also in hunting.
The bow and arrow was used extensively in the ancient world. The Assyrians and the Babylonians depended on the weapons and the Old Testament refers several times to archery as a characteristic skill of the ancient Hebrews.
The Romans owed much of their military superiority to armies of skilled archers. At the beginning of the medieval period, the Romans were in turn defeated by the more highly skilled archers of the Goths, Huns and Vandals.
During the Middle Ages, the most notable European archers were the English.
The introduction of gunpowder gradually made the bow and arrow obsolete. With the disappearance of the professional archer, archery became popular as an amateur sport, particularly in England.
The oldest continuously held archery tournament still in existence, known as the Ancient Scorton Arrow, was founded in Yorkshire, England, in 1673.
Archery as a sport was introduced in North America in the 17th century. The earliest organized body of archers in the United States, known as the National Archery Association of the United States, was founded in Boston in 1879 as the National Association of Archers. Under the auspices of the association, the first annual archery tournament was held in Chicago in 1879.
In archery today, the modern bow consists of a strip of wood, steel or other flexible material and a taut chord or string connecting the blunt ends of the strip. This is used to propel the arrow.
The arrow is generally a thin shaft of light wood, pointed at one end and with flight stabilizing feathers at the other end. A notch in this butt end is fitted to the bowstring. As the string is pulled back, the bow bends for maximum tension and when the string is released, the arrow is propelled. Archery competition is divided into target, field and flight shooting.
The main events of a target shooting tournament are called rounds and the number of a rows shot and the range of distance are specified. The target is circular and has a series of concentric rings around a solid center, or bull's eye. The center of the bulls eye is suspended four feet above the ground.
In recent years hunting with bow and arrow has become popular.