How Did Archery Get Its Name?
Let's take a look at history...
The term archery has a long and fascinating history that stretches far back into the roots of modern language, although not nearly as far back as the bow itself, which is believed to have been invented sometime in the late Paleolithic (around 10,000 BCE), if not earlier. Up until relatively recently, archery formed a central part of many societies in both daily life and mythology, with many famous deities and folktales having to do with archery, and it is common to see the bow and arrow depicted in all forms of ancient art. With so many cultures incorporating archery, perhaps it seems strange that we generally refer to it by a single term.
did archery get its name?
Originally the word archery comes from the
arcus, meaning bow or arc in
the sense of the shape formed by a curved line. The term was probably applied
to the bow due to its arced shape. Later the term was adapted by the French,
who were fond of using the
longbow for both battle and competition, and gave
the practice the name of
was then borrowed by the English and turned into the modern word archery
There is, of course, more than one name for the practice of launching arrows at a target, and most cultures have had long archery traditions. In fact, archery is one of the most widespread practices for both hunting and battle, being perhaps one of the oldest weapons of any kind of complexity created by the human species, being only predated by comparatively primitive tools such as the spear or club. Archery has been so essential to humanity that it’s no surprise we find its practice in areas as far reaching as the ancient Americas to Asia, with every culture having their own versions and perspectives of the discipline.
In Japan, for instance, where it goes by the name of kyudo, archery is revered as both a method of warfare, as well as a type of contemplative meditation. Practitioners of kyudo believe the purpose of archery is to attain “truth-goodness-beauty”, by having correct form (truth), proper attitude (goodness), and accuracy (beauty). The use of archery was also common to cultures such as ancient Egypt, Assyria, Persia, and India, where it was so well respected that the Sanskrit word for archery, dhanurveda, came to refer to martial arts in general.
Today archery has achieved worldwide fame under its English name, and is mostly used for hunting and recreation, as well as being a well-respected competitive sport. While the bow and arrow have evolved considerably since their humble beginnings in prehistory, both in structure and name, the basic concept has remained essentially the same, with numerous cultures offering their own interpretations and classifications.
The question, “how did archery get its name?” therefore
varies with the tradition, but always refers to some fundamental aspect of the
sport. No matter what the origin, it is undeniable that archery has been an
important aspect of the majority of human societies, and anyone looking to reconnect
with our roots as
Homo sapiens, or simply enjoy the peace of
mind that archery can provide, has a massive amount to gain by taking up the