If you lived ten thousand years ago, a dead animal might provide you with food, clothing, tools (bones or antlers), string (tendons), and perhaps a bag (stomach). Animals were so useful when dead that an effective means of killing them was high on the agenda.
Ancient Archery. Using a bow and arrow, people could kill animals that were quite far away with a minimum of fuss and effort. There is evidence to suggest they have been used in many areas of the world for tens of thousands of years.
The bow and arrow had been invented in Africa by around 30,000 BC —they’re shown in cave paintings from that date.
By around 18,000 BC flint was used to make deadly arrow heads.
The oldest bow ever found was discovered in a bog in Holmgaard, Denmark. It’s 1.5 m long, made from elm and beautifully designed using 8,000-year-old technology.
The 5,000-year-old mummy found in the Alps, Otzi the Iceman, had been shot by an arrow and was carrying a bow made of yew. Bows and arrows had been used in warfare long before that.
During the Middle Ages the longbow became the most feared weapon on the battlefield. It was as tall as the archer, who had to be very strong and skilled to fire it. An arrow shot from a longbow could travel up to 400 meters!
Guns replaced bows and arrows as weapons of war from the 1500s. Crossbows fire arrows mechanically. They were first used in China and Greece around 2,500 years ago, and were used in warfare until the Middle Ages. Though very powerful, they were slow to fire and expensive to make.
You need a great aim to go hunting with a bow and arrow. The best thing to do is practise, practise, practise, and all you need for that are five empty tin cans, a tennis ball and a friend to make the whole thing more exciting as a competition.
Set up five empty tin cans and practise your aim by trying to knock them over with a tennis ball.
Take one shot at each can. Reset them and give your friend a go. You should both attempt to get all e cans down five times. Jot down your scores as you go, marking your cards with a tick for a hit and a cross for a miss. At the end, count up your overall score to see who’s got the best aim.