Archery is one of the oldest arts still practised. This history will not only take you through a journey on the evolution of archery, but also through the history of mankind. Indeed, both are closely linked. Evidence of ancient archery has been found throughout the world, even in Australia where it had previously been thought that the bow had not been used.

Although archery probably dates to the Stone Age (around 20?000 BC), the earliest people known to have used the bow and arrow were the ancient Egyptians, who adopted it at least 5000 years ago for purposes of hunting and warfare.

In 1200 BC , the Hittites would use the bow from light, fast chariots that enabled them to become dreaded opponents in Middle Eastern battles. Their neighbours, the Assyrians used archery extensively. They built bows from several different types of material : tendon, horn and wood. They also gave the bow a new, recurved shape that was far more powerful and as it was shorter, it was more easily handled by an archer on horseback.

In China, archery dates back to the Shang dynasty (1766-1027 BC). A war chariot of that time carried a three-man team : driver, lancer and archer. During the ensuing Zhou (Chou) dynasty (1027-256 BC), nobles at court attended sport archery tournaments that were accompanied by music and interspersed with elegant salutations.

Chinese civil archery introduced to Japan from the 6th century had an overriding influence on later etiquette and techniques. One of Japan?s martial arts was originally known as kyujutsu (the art of the bow), now known as kyudo (way of the bow). Kyudo today continues to be taught in the traditionally prescribed manner. After certain ritual movements, the archer advances with deliberate steps to the shooting line and shoots at a target 36 cm in diameter set in a bank of sand that is roofed over, from a distance of 28 meters. The bow is 2.21 meter-long and made of laminated strips of bamboo and wood.

In the Greco-Roman period, the bow was more used for personal exploits or hunting, rather than warfare. Archers are frequently seen on pottery at that time. Both the Greeks and the Romans used Cretan as archers. The Romans are said to have been second-rate archers as until the fifth century their bows were shot by drawing the string to the chest, instead of the longer draw to the face which gives the arrow far more accuracy. Their opponents had often far better skills. The Parthians for instance were horsemen who developed the skill of swivelling around in the saddle and could shoot backwards at full gallop.

Middle Eastern superiority in archer equipment and technique continued for centuries. With bows like those of the Assyrians and Parthians, Attila the Hun and his Mongols conquered much of Europe and Asia, and Turkish archers threw back the Crusaders.

For Native Americans, the bow was both a means of subsistence and existence before and during the days of English and later American colonisation. This has been the case, and still is in some countries, on the African continent.

The popularity of archery is reflected in the many ballads and folklore, such as for instance Robin Hood, to name the most famous one. In Greek mythology, reference is often made to archers.
English literature honours the longbow for famous victories in the battles of Crecy, Agincourt and Poitiers. The first known organised competition in archery was held at Finsbury, England in 1583 and included 3000 participants! By the time of the 30 Years War (1618-1648), it was clear that the bow as weapon belonged to the past, due to the introduction of the gunfire.
Since then, archery developed as a recreational sport.



Oceania Matchplay Champions

Year Male Compound Female Compound Male Recurve Female Recurve
1996 J. Park (AUS) M. Hulbert (AUS) J. Fear (AUS) M. Reickmann (AUS)
1998 M. Ives (NZ) N. Bartlett (AUS) S. Fairweather (AUS) K. Fairweather (AUS)
2002 K. Rodgers (NZ) M. Hulbert (AUS) D. Gras (FPO) I. Soero (FRA)
2004 K. Rodgers (NZ) M. Hulbert (AUS) D. Moedijijo (FRA) S. Plazanet (FRA)
2006  H. Gooding (FPO) A. Mitchell (NZ)   T. Winkelstroeter (FPO) S. Plazanet (FRA) 

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