OUR ARCHERY HERITAGE REPRINT
I FOUND THIS ARTICLE WHILE SURFING, THOUGH SOME ONE MIGHT LIKE TO READ IT.
This page last modified on Friday, April 26, 2013
Our Archery Heritage
Although almost every country and culture has used the bow and
Archery was already on the wane in England when Roger Ascham wrote the first great book in English on archery----Toxophilus (1545). When you read this book you realize that the fundamentals are unchanged. If you think you have discovered a new way of shooting incorrectly you soon discover that Ascham had seen it all 450 years ago.
Although the longbow was vastly superior to the crossbow and early firearms in the hands of an experienced archer it required dedication and practice from an early age. It required years to produce a longbowman, only months to train a man to handle a crossbow or firearm. Archery gradually lost it's importance as a military weapon and became a strictly target sport of the gentry. This era produced an archer in England who was without any doubt one of the greatest archers in history. Horace Ford pushed the records so high that most were not broken until well into this century---his single York record stood until 1943!!
Mr. Ford's book, Archery, Its Theory and Practice (1856) became
the archery "Bible".
The book and articles generated a huge interest in archery and clubs sprang up all over the country. In 1879 the National Archery Association was formed with Maurice Thompson as its first president. At the first national championship that same year his brother Will became our first national champion.
America in the late 1800s was sports mad. Archery benefited from
this craze at first but then came the bicycle, tennis, baseball, football,
basketball, and volleyball. Archery slid
In 1911 a lone Indian walked into a northern California logging
camp. He was the sole surviving member of a tribe, the Yana, which was believed
extinct. Ishi was the last true stone age man in America. He was taken to the
University of California where the great anthropologist Hans Kroeber befriended
and studied him. At this time a surgeon on the University staff, Saxton Pope,
became his friend and doctor (this is all starting to come together, right?).
Ishi was an excellent archery hunter, and sparked the interest in
During this revival of archery several scientists examined the
mechanics of the bow and arrows using high speed photography, a mechanical
shooting device, and mathematical equations. In a series of articles, (and a
book, Archery, by Dr. Robert Elmer), Dr.Clarence Hickman, Dr. Paul Klopsteg,
and Dr. Forrest Nagler examined the bending of the arrow on release (archers
paradox); effect of the center of gravity on the arrow; accuracy potential of
the bow and arrow; etc. Perhaps their most important finding was that the shape
The greatest hunting and exhibition archer of all time arrived on
the scene at this time. Howard Hill was featured in a number of shorts that
were seen by millions of moviegoers
The National Field Archery Association was formed in 1939 by a
group of archers who wanted to duplicate "roving" but in a manner
that would allow true competition and comparison of scores. The timing of this
beginning was not very good of course, and the first National was not held
until after World War II. At the first National(1946) there were 476 archers. .
Field archery went through several changes in the early years. The standard 14
target layout was standard from the beginning but the distances were unmarked
at first. The first field archers were instinctive or barebow and the first
Free Style class was not held at the Nationals until 1950. The scores of the
Free Style champions, both men
By the late 1950s archery was considered the fastest growing sport
in the world. The technological and manufacturing innovations, by such men as
Doug Easton, Fred Bear,
The relative lack of interest in archery worldwide had caused
archery to be dropped from the Olympic Games in 1920. FITA was organized as the
international governing body of target archery in 1931 and world championships
were started that year. A number of different rounds were used in the early
championships. What we now know as the
Many, many changes started in the 1960s: professional archery; the use of the clicker; three fingers under; string walking; the stabilizer; and shortly thereafter the big daddy of changes--the compound, followed by the near death of traditional archery and it's huge rebirth in the mid 1980s. This history from about 1960 on deserves an article of it's own and by someone better qualified than me. I started in archery as the instructor at a YMCA camp in 1954 but was one of those who dropped out in the mid 1960 to 1970 era and came back with that rebirth of traditional archery in the mid 1980s.
Writing this article has made me realize how much we owe to the pioneers of our sport and to our national organizations. The NAA is the oldest national sports governing body in the United States. There have been many ups and downs in target archery in this country but the NAA has "kept the faith". I truly believe that target archery will grow again---it is simply too beautiful a sport not to. And for those of us who like to shoot lots of arrows at different distances it just doesn't get any better than NFAA field archery. The NFAA has something for everyone: Field; Hunting; 3-D; Indoor. Of course when you join either or both of these great organizations through the Florida Archery Association you receive their magazine (Archery Focus with NAA membership and Archery with NFAA membership) and the state magazine, The Release, which lists all of the shoots in the state. Next to a membership in our club it is the best value in sports.
Mailing Address: Lee County Archers