A Little Archery History

By Mark V. Lonsdale, Shaft Shooters Archery

In 1066 King Harold was struck in the eye and killed by an arrow at the Battle of Hastings. Then, in 1190, Richard the Lionheart departed on Crusade to the Holy Lands and Jerusalem, and if we are to believe folklore, this was also the time of the most famous bowman, Robin Hood. Then in 1346 and 1416, the deadly efficiency of the English archers made history at the battles of Crecy and Agincourt respectively.

English bowmen at the battle of Crecy
English archers at the battle of Agincourt

Needless to say, practice with the long bow was an important part of English and Welsh life and men were required to maintain some level of proficiency. Various villages were also tasked with making bows and thousands of arrows to be sent to royal armories such as the Tower of London, much as the military stockpiles weapons and ammunition today. Keep in mind that even a hundred archers could shoot over 400 arrows per minute and tens of thousands of arrows in a single engagement.

Archery was so important to national security that in 1457 James II of Scotland banned “fut ball and golfe” on the grounds that these frivolous activities were drawing men away from practice. Golf was banned again in 1491 by James IV with the threat of stiff penalties for neglecting practice with the bow.

The art of the long bow kept alive by re-enactment groups such as the English War Bow Society
Archery practice and competition in 1887
Women competitors in the National Round (60 yards – 50 yards) Archery event of the 1908 London Olympics which was won by Sybil ‘Queenie’ Newall of Great Britain. (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

END

Author: Mark V

Dedicated shooter, seeker, traveler, teacher, trainer, educator

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