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"I shot an arrow into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For, so swiftly it flew, the sight
Could not follow it in its flight."
~The Arrow and the Song, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)
One of the oldest sports still in existence, archery has been practiced for hunting and battle since before 2800 BCE. As a sport, archery was introduced to the modern Olympic games in 1900 but only appeared again in 1904, 1908 and 1920 before being revived in 1972. Today there are many forms of archery including: target archery; field archery; 3D archery; ski archery; run archery (arcathelon); traditional; crossbow; bowhunting/bowfishing; para archery; Kyudo (a Japanese martial art using a 2 meter bow; and Popinjay. The object of Popinjay or Papingo (signifying a painted bird), is to knock artificial birds off their perches. This historic art is not a widely practiced one, but a Popinjay event has been reportedly held in Scotland at Kilwinning Abbey since 1483! 🏹
Celebrated on the second Saturday of May, Archery Day celebrates on the oldests sports still in existence.
Archery as an ancient hunting skill was developed in the later Paleolithic or early Mesolithic periods. The oldest signs of its use in Europe come from the Stellmoor site in the Ahrensburg valley north of Hamburg, Germany and dates from the late Paleolithic, about 10,000–9000 BC.
While the development of firearms rendered bows obsolete in warfare, efforts were sometimes made to preserve archery practice. In Wales and England, for example, the government tried to enforce practice with the Longbow until the end of the 16th century.
After the Napoleonic Wars, the sport became increasingly popular among all classes, and it was framed as a nostalgic reimagining of the preindustrial rural Britain. Particularly influential was Sir Walter Scott's 1819 novel, Ivanhoe that depicted the heroic character Robin of Locksley winning an archery tournament.
A person who participates in archery is typically called an archer or a bowman, or more rarely, a toxophilite, for a student or lover of archery.
This tartan was designed to be used for re-enactment fairs.
For more on archery in the Scottish Highlands, click the portrait of "The Young Highlander" by John Thomas Peele (1822-1897).