400 000 years ago, Homo Erectus hunted with a wooden spear, the sharp extremity of which has been fired to add rigidity. This weapon evolved very little until the arrival of the Neanderthal Man (250 000 BC), who added bone and maybe flint tips. With the Cro-Magnon (43 000-12 000 BC), the hunting techniques evolve once more with the invention of the propeller. This hook helps throw the assegai or spear further by extending their arm length and multiplying their strength because of the lever effect. The most ancient known to date was found in Combe Saunière in France, and is an estimated 17 000 years old.
It is hard to date the transition from the propeller to the bow because wood and string age very poorly. The oldest found arrows are made of pine and were discovered in Stellmoor, Germany: they are 12 000 years old. The excellent crafting of these arrows indicates that the invention of this weapon actually can be dated much back further.
The use of the bow lasted until the first half of the Middle Ages. The emergence of fire weapons overshadows it nevertheless, for hunting as well as for war purposes.
In the United States, back from the Civil War (1861-1865), the Thompson brothers rediscovered archery as a result of being forbidden to use firearms being ex-Southerners. They published their achievements in Witchery of Archery (1878) and contributed to the renewed interest for bow hunting. Nowadays, bow hunting is also performed in Europe and all types of bow, whether straight, classic or compound, can be used. In France, bow hunting has been regulated since 1995.
Straight bows, inherited from prehistory, are for the most part made of bamboo and synthetic fiber stripes. Bow makers offer unique tailored models adjusted to each archer’s characteristics and taste.
The traditional or recurve bow, has both tips curved. Shorter and more manageable, it stores more energy than the straight bow.
These traditional bows force shooters to know their traction strength perfectly and to adjust their bow accordingly so the shot can be efficient and steady.
The compound bow was invented in 1969 by Holless Wilbur Allen. This bow, which is equipped with a cable and pulley system, stores even more energy than a traditional bow and increases the arrow’s speed by approximately 60%.