The earliest bow designs were very simple. It consisted of a stick bent in the shape of a ‘C’ to whose ends string (mostly leather or catgut) was tied tightly to create a tensile force. This tensile force was what drove the arrow.
As we became more and more adept at making them, bows evolved to become more and more efficient. Each of these designs had a marked improvement of some sort. Modern bows are extremely powerful and accurate. Arrow making technology also grew. Modern arrows are more accurate and fly longer.
Let us take a look at various types of bows available to the keen archer-
1. The longbow
The longbow is one of the earliest types of bows made by us. It is believed that they were first made around 40,000 years ago! The early longbow had a very simple design. It is a single-piece design where a stick of wood like yew or elm is used.
The English are famous for using it extensively in battles since the 13th century (like the ones depicted in the movie- ‘The Robinhood’!). It is difficult to master these bows. Modern designs are laminated and perform much better. Today many archers use longbows for the challenge it brings.
2. The recurve bow
The recurve bows are believed to be invented around 3000 years ago. This design is a definite improvement on the longbow. It is smaller and weight for weight can shoot arrows further than longbows. This is the only bow allowed for archery competition in the Olympics.
These bows are called recurve bows because the edges of the bow curve away from the archer. This design compact and efficient. Modern recurve bows are made from composite materials that make it even more effective.
It is believed that these bows originated in China. In Europe, this bow was used in Greco-Roman wars and the medieval ages. They are very similar to guns. A crank mechanism is used to draw the string.
The arrowis mounted on the string after it is cranked and locked into place. A trigger mechanism is employed to release the lock to launch the arrow. Typically, these bows have short ranges and hence require a heavier draw weight to perform on par with other bows.
Crossbows are used for target shooting and hunting by many. They are sometimes subjected to strict regulations as they are equated with firearms. You need to check the local laws before you use them.
This is a modern bow invented in the mid-1960. This bow has a system of cables, pulleys, and eccentric cams. It allows the archer to hold the bow to a full draw to take time to aim. This bow brings fantastic results without causing fatigue to your arms.
The initial draw, however, requires some effort. These bows are very durable as they are less likely to be affected by changes in temperature and humidity than traditional bows. They shoot far and are very accurate. Many beginners find them to be complex. In the hands of an expert though, they are potent weapons!
Each of the above-mentioned bows has distinct characters of their own. It is important to consider what type of bow would suit your purpose. If you do not have deep pockets, you can fashion a longbow by yourself. It, however, is large and unwieldy. It takes some training for you to master it.
Many archery enthusiasts prefer the longbow for the challenge it offers. For hunting, choose a bow that is reliable and easy to use. Even if the compound bow is the most efficient, it is too complex for the novice.
The crossbow though convenient to use has a lesser range per draw weight when compared to other types. Some powerful crossbows though can be devastating. Add to it the ease of aiming without straining your muscles.
For most, the recurve bows are ideal to start with. Today’s composite materials give modern recurve bows great performance and durability. These are the preferred bows for beginners and also the veterans. Do not forget to buy good quality arrows. With bad arrows, no bow will shoot straight!