Archery has been a part of human civilization, ever since the Stone Age. Evidence of ancient archery has been found all around the world. But the first to use bow and arrows were the ancient Egyptian, around 5000 years ago who first used archery for the purpose of hunting and warfare. Classical civilizations had lot of archers in their army.
Archery as a Sport
In 1840s, it was turned into a modern sport. But, by the end of 19thcentury, it saw a decline as other games became more popular, but it was still included as a sport in Olympics. Later, the typical bow and arrow began taking forms as the engineers started taking interest in it. In the following decades, it became more than just a sport. The rising interest of public in archery, as a competitive sport and recreational activity, resulted in an immense development in the forms of archery.
Archery in its simplest form is a wooden, single piece bow with a string attached to the bow on either side, a wooden arrow with an arrow head attached to the front end, with flechings and a nock at the other. But the bows have reformed through ages and now, come in different characteristics and different shooting mechanism.
Types of Bows
Presently, there are for different types of bows commonly used:
- Long bow
- Cross bows
- Recurve bows
- Compound bows
A long bow is the simplest of all bows. It consists of a long, slightly curved piece of wood. Nearly as long as the height of the archer, it does not have arrow-rests or sights. It is also referred to as English longbow. But it was first used by Welsh against English.
Crafted from a single piece of wood, it is relatively easy to design. It is usually made from yew but ash, oak, maple, hazel and elm are also used. The length varies from 6-7 feet. The wood is usually D-shaped in cross section. But the longer flat bow has a rectangular cross-section.
Cross bowswere invented by Chinese around 6 B.C. Also termed as Arbalest, cross bow was used as a military weapon in middle ages. It has a horizontal lime assembly that’s attached to a wooden stock which keeps it loaded when not being used. Mostly made from hazel, elm, yew ash with a glue or varnish coating, stock is attached to a lever the release of which fires the arrow.
The arrow or bolt of a crossbow is also called a quarrel, derived from a French word which refers to the fact, that the arrow heads are square. The bolt is normally shorter and has a deadly point. Cross bow is easy to use and has a range of 350-400 yards. As compared to a longbow, its shoots few bolts per minute and takes more time to load.
Arecurve bowis famous for its use in target archery and the Olympics. As the name signifies, a recurve bow has its limbs curving away from the archer, when the bow is strung. Recurves were used especially by the Mongolians and also by Persians, Turks, Greeks and Huns. Historical bows were made of materials like wood, horn sinew laminated together. Modern recurves however are laminated mostly from both wood and glass fiber.
The modern recurves available this time in the markets are the ‘takedown’ recurves which have easily detachable limbs. In these types of bows, when unstrung, the bow will break down into 3 separate parts, making it more adaptable. These bows are either alloy handle or wood laminated, with glass fibre/wooden limbs. For higher performance, carbon fibers are used as a substitute to glass fiber.
A great amount of energy is stored in the recurve bow whichgives speed to the arrow. Also the recurve factor increases the tension and strength to draw a powerful shot.
Acompound bowis a modern version of the conventional bow, which engages alevering system of cables and pulleysthat bends the limbs. When the string is drawn, the pulleys rotate and this rotations aids in gaining a longer distance with a superior velocity and accuracy. The cam system in compound bows enables in maximizing the energy storage as the string is drawn as compared to a traditional bow which becomes heavier with every inch of the draw.
Compound bows come in a wide range of designs and specifications. The central mount called riser is usually made of aluminum, magnesium alloy or carbon fiber and is designed to be as rigid as possible. Limbs are made of composite materials and store all the energy of the bow. In most bows, there is a wheel (cam) attached at each end of the limb. The “let-off” describes what happens when the string is drawn and the cam rolls all the way over. The draw weight is generally between 10 to 100 pounds supporting the arrow speed of about 40 to 113 m/s (150 to 370 feet per second).
Compound bows are not really affected by the temperature and humidity changes, which in turn, gives a better accuracy and greater velocity as compared to the bows made of natural materials.
Which bow do you prefer?
So that is the types of bows that are commonly used these days. Every bow has its advantages and disadvantages so it is up to you, the user, to determine your choice of bow.