Over the centuries, bows and arrows have evolved with civilization. Not only is there a wide number of ancient and old types of bows and arrows,
but with technological advances there are now more types than ever.
Bows were of two basic kinds: wooden and composite. The earliest bows were undoubtedly made from wood, probably simply cut from saplings and whittled
into the desired shape and strung with animal gut. These earliest of bows developed into the short bow, longbow, and various other plain bows.
The Egyptians of the Nile region produced what is most likely the first extent bow, which had the basic design properties of the long bow.
The Egyptians also used composite bows made up of wood and horn, with bows ranging shorter than a man’s height estimated at 150-200 lb. in draw weight.
The Israelites made similar bows, with wood, reed, and water buffalo horn.
The bow of Britain most likely started as the simple plain bow, or self bow, then through necessity and trial and error they developed the long bow, which was
principally wood, if only with a strip of leather as a grip. The longbow was often taller than the archer, with a tremendous range. Also there developed bows of
various lengths and uses.
Native Americans made use of both wooden and composite bows depending on what was needed where. In the open plains strong bows of great range were
used, and in the woodlands where stealth and cunning was needed, lighter bows were used.
Composite bows were made of either part wood and other material, or entirely out of other materials. In areas where wood of suitable kind and sufficient
quantities were not to be had, composite bows developed.
The Turkish composite, also called a short bow, was most likely the predecessor of the Asian composite bow. It had a wood core, which was layered with sinews
on the back and horn on the belly.
The Chinese composite bow differed from the Turkish composite in that it was made entirely out of vegetation. The back would be made from a strip of fresh
bamboo that was cut after the end of the growing season (in place of elastic sinew) and the belly would be made from dried, year-old bamboo (in place of
the compression-resistant horn). Vegetable glue was applied, and the whole thing was wound in plant fibres and lacquered.
The crossbow was perhaps not as widely used as the bow, but nonetheless was a formidable weapon. It was a medieval weapon, usually used alongside bows.
A crossbow is a bow mounted horizontally with a trigger. In place of arrows, bolts are used. Archery does not usually include crossbows.
There are three main types of bow in use by archers today, they are:
Click on each type to find out more