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 bows5.
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 manís 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
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 would in plant fibers and lacquered5.
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.5
Here are some bows that are used by
archers of today; for competition, hunting, and recreation.8
Recurve bow= Often made of more than one material, either laminated carbon or fiberglass, with the tips curving away from
the archer -- a very good bow for beginners, it is also the exclusive bow of the Olympics
Reflex bow = Sometimes confused with the recurve, the reflex bow curves completely away from the archer when unstrung
Self bow = Made from one material, usually wood, fairly straight
Nearly completely straight, made of laminated fiberglass or carbon
Longbow = Very similar to itís medieval ancestors, made only of wood with of course a hand grip and/or sight, not
considered used by many serious archers
Composite bow = Bow made of more than one material; usually a wooden core, molded fiberglass or carbon, then laminated
Compound = Not unlike the recurve, except for pulleys that aid in efficiency and adjustable limbs
Recommended Draw Weights
Beginners Draw Weight= 35-40
More Advanced Weight= 45+ lb.
Target/field for tournament shooting = 35-45 lb.
Hunters = 45-55 lb.
Selection of Bow
|29 Inches or
In choosing a new bow, a seasoned archer will try out several different types of bow, all of the same weight,
but maybe of different models and/or weights. All will be tried out at different distances, and at the places that
the archer most frequently shoots, be it shooting lanes, the open field, or the club range. Experienced archers can
better judge the differences between different bows than a beginner, so the
beginning archer should seek the guidance of a more experienced archer.
Types of Modern Arrows
Wood =longbow/ beginners
Type of Arrow
|-Each arrow has
flaws, no matter how perfect it is created
-For serious archers, have to be custom made to
match his/her draw length and weight
Longbow Men/ Beginners
-Can be fitted to draw
length and weight
-Easier to have more consistency
-Brittle and break easily
-Wide range of sizes in the market
-Can maintain shape pretty easily
-Carbon layer breaks down is hit
If you must be frugal, be cheap on the bow but get better arrows. Make sure they are straight,
matched to the bow and each other.
Wood arrows tend to warp and break easily, so proper care is essential. Some wood arrows are made
from compressed cedar, which are stronger and resist warping. Although heavier and slower than non
compressed wood, they provide better penetration. These are best for beginners, since beginners will tend
to loose many arrows. They are not that expensive.
More durable than wooden arrows are fiberglass arrows. Another pro to
fiberglass arrows is that they can be fitted to each archer of varying lengths and
strengths. In addition, fiberglass arrows of any given size are manufactured more
consistently than wooden arrows. The down side is that they break easily.
Aluminum arrows are types of arrows that can be manufactured more
consistently than both wooden and fiberglass arrows. Therefore, archers purchase
additional arrows that match up with their original. Furthermore, these arrows are manufactured in a wide variety of sizes and in different types of aluminum
alloys. That makes them accessible to most everyone. Since these arrows can be
straightened easily and the tips replaced, you can keep a good set of these arrows for a long time. Unfortunately, these arrows
are rather expensive but their strength and consistency make them the number one choice among many
Finally, the aluminum-carbon arrows. These types of arrows are made of an
aluminum core with a carbon coat. These types of arrows are smaller and lighter than pure aluminum arrows, making them fly
faster. The price of these arrows, however, is a major drawback. They are typically used by archers who
shoot long distances outdoors. If you intend to pack your arrows in one spot on the target, then these
are not the arrows to buy. If aluminum-carbon arrows are struck then the wrapping may break down.
As the archer increases in strength, his or her draw length will increase and they
need to buy longer arrows.
Fletching of the arrows is also important. Make sure the feathers are straight and stiff and properly
cemented on. Most target arrows have fletching that is about 3 to 4 inches long. Bow hunting arrow
fletching is about 5 inches in length to support the heavier arrow head.
Arrow points' weight is measured in grains. Target shooters use light points,
considerably less than 100 grains, while, bow hunters use heavier points, about 90
to 170 grains. Sometimes, bow hunters like to use field heads and broad heads from season to season.
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