Archery has evolved alongside the cultures through the ages. With a very simple bow and arrow the human race has been able to hunt and protect themselves, and with any activity there is always a little friendly competition.
From the early stages of archery nearly 10,000 years ago and the weapon of choice, before guns, was the bow and arrow due to its many abilities. Skilled archers could shoot from long distances compared to most other weapons of their time. Man could hunt from a distance allowing them to stay away from danger as compared to being up close and personal. Kings valued their archers very highly and the archers were skilled and trained to protect the kingdom from afar. Archery has had a very long and colorful history that continues to this day.
I am not sure if I have ever actually met someone who did not know the story about Robin Hood. The romance of the story of a hero robbing the rich and giving to the poor, who just happens to be an archer. The story unfolds of a hunter taking the kings deer and later competing in the most famous event every archer dreams of shooting. Being the mystery man who makes his way to the finals and then splitting an arrow for victory. The famous “Robin Hood” or splitting of the arrow. Every archer dreams of that moment for sure.
While Robin Hood is more of a modern story, the setting gives way to a feeling of kings and knights centuries ago. We get a little nostalgic when we think of Robin Hood. The idea of splitting another arrow has always been the allure of a great shot. The question starts with how hard is it really to split another arrow, especially at will. Archery becomes a sport and competition the moment you try to better another archer. Skill plays a key part in being able to repeat a perfect shot, or does it?
While archery as a whole has stayed basically the same, the technology has not. Technology has changed for many reasons over the years, but the main reason is to create a bow and an arrow that has more consistency. That consistency is based on the idea of being able to literally shoot each shot in the same place each time. Don’t get me wrong the archer’s skills play a huge roll in this ability, but the equipment we shoot has changed to give us the edge and become a legend in our own time.
In the 1970’s Olympic recurve started seeing things like sights and stabilizers. Long gone were the days of wooden arrows and one piece bows. The recurve itself changed in ways never imagined. The limbs came off, the bow became more radical looking, and the archer started to buy more stuff to keep up with the changes.
When I began shooting Olympic recurve in the late 80’s the bow was already far advanced. I had a Hoyt Gold Medalist TD2 with wood medalist limbs. The bow seemed powerful and more precise than any stick bow I had ever shot. I will always remember that bow because it was painted in an awful but unique root beer color that had as much flake in the paint as a bass boat. The sight was very different and very much like the Angel sight today with just a single bar sticking out and adjustments on the riser end. The clicker was basic and came lose all the time. I shot Easton aluminum arrows that served their purpose and the stabilizers were Easton as well. I recall the bad vibrations from the stabilizers due to them being metal. Needless to say the bow actually shot very well and it was my first bow I loved.
I shot that bow until around 1990. Then everything changed again. I had a new Hoyt TD4 with Carbon Plus limbs, Accel 300 ( yes the spelling is correct ) sight, Easton ACE stabilizers, and ACE arrows. The entire world had changed! The bow was even faster, more forgiving, and easier to tune my way. And don’t even get me started on the ACE arrows! What a massive difference in performance all around. They were a little different to setup and tune due to the new barrel shape, but in the end I wouldn’t shoot anything else.
Time moves forward and so did the technology. Some of it is gimmicks in marketing, but a lot of it truly made the sport better. More importantly the changes kept with the goal of making us more consistent.
Through the years the bows changed and so did a lot of other stuff. The solid magnesium risers gave way to lighter aluminum ones with holes creating an entirely new era and look, with some being made entirely out of carbon. The wood limbs evolved into more modern carbon and foam. Today the bows are a modern piece of art bringing the latest in technology and materials to the sport we all love. With the advances that have been made over the last 30 years makes me wonder what the future still holds for us and our equipment. But along with the changes in equipment comes a bigger smile from each of us being able to hit the center more often. And to hit the center more often like everyone around you means that we must all keep up with the times.