Who invented the bow and arrow? Answering that question is equivalent to answering who invented fire or even the wheel. However, we can look at the history of the bow and find some interesting technologies that we use for hunting and sport today.
A recent discovery in South Africa puts the invention of the bow and arrow about 71,000 years ago. Arrowheads as well as spear heads were found in Pinnacle Point cave located outside Cape Town, South Africa. This is an important discovery about how sophisticated Homo sapiens (modern humans) early on. The oldest Homo sapiens archeological find dates back a little over 200,000 years ago.
The invention of the bow and arrow can be an important step on why homo sapiens out competed their rival the Neanderthals, who were much more stronger then they. The bow and arrow would allow modern man to attack from a distance instead of battling the Neanderthals up close.
Amazing, we are using the same tool that ancient man had used 71,000 years ago hunt and for warfare. But are we really? How strong were these early bows? How accurate were they?
No one really knows about the earliest bows. All that remains are the broadheads that were made of stone. The bow itself is as long been biodegraded back to dust.
So we need to flash forward to a more modern era to understand the sophistication of early bow and arrow technology. In the England during the middle Ages, the longbow rained supreme - to some historians – is when bow and arrow technology leaped forward. Warfare in the middle ages long today as more to do with resources than how many soldiers you have. The longbow and its precision and the highly trained archers allowed countries like England to win against countries like France who had an abundance of resources http://www.history.com/topics/british-history/robin-hood/videos/robin-hood-and-the-longbow#
In the middle ages, Archers were able to kill a man from over 200 yards away. They did not have rangefinder nor sight pins. Today modern hunters are lucky to hit a deer from 70 yards. Longbows from the middle ages had a draw weight of 150lbs or more. Why is there a big difference? What made middle age era archers so much better than modern ones? Are today’s improvements like the compound bow, sights and release inferior to the longbow of the past?
I think the same analogy holds true with firearms like the Kentucky Long Rifle. American Patriots were able to hit a man size target at 200 and up to 300 yards with open sites. Today a hunter with an inline and a scope can maybe hit consistently that 300 yard mark, and they would never think about going traditional. This same analogy holds true when comparing the archers from today to archers from the middle Ages.
Here is the big difference:
- Archers from the middle Ages learned at a very young age.
- It was life or death, either in battle or to hunt for food.
- It was a way of life. They did it everyday.
- They could not afford to miss their target. Arrows were expensive. Although some would argue they are today, but in reality we do not have to make them by scratch. Nor would it cost us two chickens and a goat for the use of the blacksmith.
We may not be as good as they were, but we do not have the time to do it everyday nor do we have the life threatening stimuli to force us to be better. We do it for FUN! So bring on the advances in technology and the gadgets, we need them.
Wayman, Erin “Early Bow and Arrows Offer Insight into Origins of Human Intellect.” November 7, 2012 – Online Smithsonian Magazine http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/early-bow-and-arrows-offer-insight-into-origins-of-human-intellect-112922281/?no-ist
Wong, Kate “Oldest Arrowheads Hint at How Modern Humans Overtook Neanderthals” November 7, 2012 - Online Scientific America http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/2012/11/07/oldest-arrowheads-hint-at-how-modern-humans-overtook-neandertals/
Military History Monthly , “ The Longbow- Medieval Weaponry” Online http://www.military-history.org/articles/medieval/the-longbow.htm
Americas First Freedom- NRA Publication, Online http://www.nrapublications.org/index.php/15308/gun-banners-believe/