The History of Bowhunting

So you may have watched blockbuster movies like Braveheart, or the animated movie Brave, the epic fantasy film The Lord Of The Rings: Fellowship of the Ring, or even the science fiction The Hunger Games, which all made you realize your love and interest for archery or bowhunting. But in order to truly appreciate the popular sport, it’s important to understand the history. 

Bowhunting, popularly known as archery, is one of the oldest sports today. It’s not just a sport but also considered an art form. The evidence of its existence dates back to 10,000 BC, the late Paleolithic period. Our ancestors used ancient archery throughout the world because of its usefulness for hunting and warfare. The evidence is spread through Europe, North America, and Asia. 

As people move from one place to another, different techniques and technology were combined and improved over time. North Americans influenced some of the Europeans' bowhunting strategies which then strengthened it.

In China, the Shang Dynasty, which dates back to 1766-1027BC, is notable as historians believe this is the period where archery started. According to history, a war chariot had a driver, a lancer, and an archer. The following dynasty, the Zhou (Chou) Dynasty (1027-256BC ), created the archery tournament as entertainment for nobles at court.

Later on, the Chinese introduced the sport to the Japanese and transcended a significant influence on the latter’s culture. The “kyujutsu,” which means the art of the bow, is one of Japan’s most popular martial arts techniques. A kyudo archer practices it for moral, spiritual, and physical development, preparing him to shoot at a target 36cm in diameter, 28 meters away, set in a roofed bank of sand. The kyudo bow is 2.21 meters long and made of laminated strips of bamboo.

In modern-day we use bowhunting in movies, tv shows, comic books, and other parts of pop culture and mythology. Robinhood and Odysseus are the two most popular characters in folklores who are known as excellent archers. Meanwhile, athletes first included archery in the Olympic Games in 1900, and Para archery was one of the original sports at the Paralympic Games in 1960.

The writings of bowhunters Will and Maurice Thompson helped popularize bowhunting in the 1860s and 1870s. Maurice even wrote a book titled The Witchery of Archery which inspired many readers to become archers.

All these fragments in history helped shape bowhunting as a recreational and competitive sport. Are you interested in trying it out, or already a pro? Let us know on twitter! 

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