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Archery History

The Longbow

LongBow English

The Longbow is a bow that was used by our ancestors in wars for thousands of years. An ancient crossbow found of this type in Denmark was made as early as 9,000 BC and longbows are still used today in the modern archery world.

The bow would reach a length of about 70 inches. It was built with relatively narrow and thick wings (in the shape of the letter D in English) and they do not have a recurve like the modern recurve bows. The thicker wings give the bow high durability but make the draw more difficult and the “return” speed of the wings was slower so the arrow flies slower but with great power. The longbow was a powerful bow and estimates say its draw weight was between 81# and 130# pounds (36.7-59 kilos).

In the war the longbow was one of the more significant weapons on the battlefield. In training, the archers of the army would line up together and shoot into the sky to hit the flags at measured distances. In the battle itself they would each shoot almost 12 arrows per minute creating a maximum firing rate of half a million arrows in less than 10 minutes.
The most famous and well-known battle of all is the Battle of Agincourt in 1415 in which Henry V, King of England, defeated a frontal cavalry charge with the help of his bows, something that had not been done before in that area of the world.
Another reason why the bow became a main weapon of war in the armies of the past is the ease of “circulation” of the ammunition and the relative ease of its production compared to cartridges or other weapons.

The first ancient army to adopt the bow as their doctrine of war was the Norman army (French) and after the English lost against the bows at the Battle of Hastings they adopted the longbow and following this decision they won many battles in the war against the French.

The average archer of that time was a simple citizen, a farmer rabbi or other citizen who was given a bow and taught to shoot, while the aristocracy did not learn to use a bow.
Due to the extreme weights of the archers and the lack of care for his physical health, the average archer would suffer from hardening of the archer’s shoulder bones and deformations of their entire internal anatomical structure
(Left: Picture of a skeleton of an English archer. The crooked shoulder structure is a direct result of shooting from a young age)

The bow began to leave the battlefield after the invention of the rifle which was easier to use and required much less practice and training than the common soldier.

In conclusion, the longbow bow was a piece of technology that changed the face of the wars of that time and although from a modern perspective the world of archery has progressed light years from the relatively primitive design of the bow it is still an integral part of modern archery culture and still exists in clubs around the world, it has a defined competitive category in the International Archery Association and the tradition of firing this bow has continued ever since.


Written by: Shay Torres


The “Archery Center IL” in Beit Lehem of Galilee develops the field of archery in Israel beyond the world of sports & the fields of education, culture & social development.

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