Archery is the sport of propelling an arrow from a bow into a target to achieve as high a score as possible, whether you are a recreational archer or a budding Olympian and we have received this fine introduction to this sport from The Lambousa Archers in Lapta.
From the Lambousa Archers……
History of archery
Archery probably originated in the Stone Age. The bow is considered to be the most widely used weapon in history, used for hunting, military use and as a recreational activity. Our word, archer/archery comes from the Latin ‘arcus’ meaning bow or arc. A person who participates in archery is typically called an archer. Someone who is fond of – or an expert in – archery is called a toxophilite – ‘lover of the bow’, from Ancient Greek τόξον (tokson ‘bow’) and φίλος (philos ‘friend’).
Around 3,000 BC the Ancient Egyptians were using bows that matched their own height in length, with arrowheads originally made from flint, and later bronze.
The Shang Dynasty of 1766-1027 BC provides the earliest evidence of archery in China, and the earliest tournaments are thought to have taken place during the Zhou dynasty of 1027-256 BC.
Middle Eastern superiority in archery equipment and technique reigned for centuries, with more powerful recurve bows developed, like those of the Assyrians and Parthians, who were probably the first to master archery from horseback. The ancient Parthians of Central Asia gained a reputation for being able to shoot backwards whilst on a galloping horse!
The English longbow became a force in the middle ages and was used in many famous European battles such as Crécy and later, Agincourt, to devastating effect during the Hundred Years war. The use of the longbow was deemed so important that a law in England was passed that forced every man of adult age to practise archery every Sunday. Since the advent of gunpowder, however, archery’s importance in warfare decreased – and it instead developed into a recreational and competitive sport.
Taking up archery
The newcomer to archery will discover many different types of bow and disciplines of archery. The sensible course of action is to join a group or club where they can borrow the basic equipment from the club whilst gaining proficiency and knowledge of the sport from others. It is advisable to purchase a bow from a specialist outlet. These experts can tailor a bow to your requirements, mainly in terms of length of the bow, draw weight and budget.
Types of bow
The most popular bow in use is the recurve bow and this consists of a ‘handle’, known as the riser, two ‘limbs’ and a string. The length of the bow is determined by the riser and the limbs; for example, a 25 inch riser coupled with ‘long limbs’ would give an approximate 70 inch bow, suitable for a six feet tall archer. In addition, accessories may be added to the bow (depending upon the intended discipline), including sights, stabilisers, arrow rest, plunger and clicker. There are also compound bows and in a more niche aspect of the sport, the English longbow.
The compound bow was first developed in 1966 in America and is the dominant form of bow for target archery and hunting in the USA. The compound bow uses a set of cables and pulleys to bend the limbs. This offers a mechanical advantage, so the limbs are much stiffer than a recurve or English longbow. Also, they offer an advantage called ‘let off’, where the cams, rotated by the pulleys, lock at full draw enabling the archer to concentrate on the target without holding the full weight on the fingers, as in the recurve and longbow. Other advantages are optical sights, peep sight and a levelling device.
The English longbow in its simplest form is a single piece (excluding the string) bow, traditionally made of yew but also of ash and even elm. The length of the bow was determined by the stature of the archer but they were commonly around 70 inches in length. They were constructed in a D shape with a flat back of sapwood, with the ‘belly’ of the bow (the inside) of the heartwood giving a natural laminate. Strings were traditionally made of flax, hemp or silk and fastened at the tips of the limbs by horn ‘nocks’. Arrows are made of wood, mostly poplar, ash and beech and fletched with goose feathers. There are specialist longbow clubs in the UK practising target, 3D and Clout disciplines using traditional bows.
The World Archery Federation (formerly known as Fita) is the sport’s governing body and is based in Lausanne, Switzerland. It is recognised by the International Olympic Committee and includes 156 national federations.
Archery GB is the national governing body for archery in Great Britain and is responsible for all levels of archery within the UK, from elite to development level. It is based at the Lilleshall National Sports Centre, Newport.
Here in the TRNC, the governing body is the KKTC Okculuk Federasyonu based at the Ataturk Sports Complex in Lefkosa, where there is an outdoor range catering for competition shooting up to 70 metres, and is where the ‘open season’ tournaments are held. The ‘closed’ season (winter) tournaments have been held on indoor ranges shooting 18 metre distances, such as at the high school in Girne and the Pazar in Lefke. It is a requirement of the Federation that a licence is required to own a bow. This is easily achieved by returning a completed application and receipt for a small sum to the Federation secretary.