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Archery is the use of the bow and arrows in battle, hunting, etc. The art, practice, or skill of shooting with a bow and arrows.

Target Archery

Target archery involves releasing arrows at a target of some description.

Forms of historical target archery include shooting at the:

  • butt - an earthen mound
  • wand - 6 foot stick
  • poppinjay - a wooden frame raised onto a pole and sporting targets shaped to look like birds.
  • roving marks - targets at varying distances in varied terrain.
  • Beursault - shooting at a target 57m away down a tree-lined corridor.

Modern target archery shoot at targets at set distances with a standard faced target which was developed in the 18th century.

Some modern archers have returned to the older styles of target archery and now regular roving mark, clout and poppinjay events occur throughout the year, particularly in the UK. In addition other types of archery have become popular with archers.

They include:

  • field archery -this is similar to a roving mark but the targets are frequently three dimensional animal shaped targets eg. goats, deer, pigs etc.
  • bow bird (birds) - circular targets thrown up in the air and shot.
  • moving targets - a target suspended by a wire or pulled by a rope.

There is at least one re-enactment society in Australia that regularly uses field archery as part of the their archery training as well as numerous that use bow birds, moving targets, wands and poppinjays as a general part of training and events.

Historical enthusiasts have also developed archery for use in combat with lightweight bows and adapted arrows loosed at human targets. The arrows used in this type of combat either use heads that have large heavily padded heads and shot at targets that are protected by armour and faces covered by period styles or grills, or rubber blunts with faces protected by mesh.

The former are used by the SCA primarily outside of Australia and in LARP's where no armour is required due to the soft construction. The rubber blunts are used in combat archery where individuals are targeted directly and also in the initial stages of many reenactment battles.

Timeline of Some Archery Events

  • 1252 Assize of Arms indicates that all men between 15 and 60 are to equip themselves with bow and arrows.
  • 1363 English Royal Decree indicates that archery is to be practised on every Sunday and on holidays.
  • 1477 Edward IV bans an early form of cricket due to its perception of interferring with archery practise.
  • 1508 Crossbows banned to increase the practise of using the longbow.
  • 1545 The first English book on archery 'Toxophilus: The School of Shooting' by Ascham, is published.
  • 1583 First organised archery competition. Over 3000 participants.
  • 1644 Tipper Muir - Last battle where English archers are used.
  • 1676 The Royal Company of Archers begins Clout Shooting.
  • 1900 First international archery competition. Held between English and French Archers.
  • 1900 First Olympics to have Archery.

See also