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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Who Wrote the First “Useful” Archery Manual?

1. Introduction
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Figure 1: Miniature painting of the Ottoman Sultan Murat II during archery practice. From Huner-nama ('Book of Skills'), Istanbul, 1584. MS Hazine 1523, folio 138a, Library of Topkapi Palace Museum, Istanbul. (Source)
It may seem that shooting an arrow is a simple process. As children, we would make simple bows from a piece of wood and string, an arrow out of a twig, and away we would go. However when it is crucial to hit the target, to win a competition or to injure an enemy, then a simple activity is transformed into an extremely complex one. In the process of shooting an arrow, the archer faces many different factors, some external such as wind, and some internal, such as the archers skill, his level of concentration and his physical strength. He must hold all these factors in mind and eventually express them in a physical manner with the perfect shot. If any one of these factors goes wrong, then there is a good chance that the arrow will not hit the target. To become a good archer we must first of all be trained and then we must practice. Part of our ongoing education as archers will be to read what other archers have written on the subject. Some people might argue that there is little point in reading books written hundreds of years ago. However if you are interested in any subject, it is useful to learn about its history so that you can put it in context. Also today there is a great interest in “traditional” archery and there is a healthy trade in building and selling traditional bows. This ranges from the English Longbow to Mongol and Hun composite bows. I myself shoot a bow whose original design was created more than two thousand years ago.



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