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Had a chance to watch this a few nights ago.
The Story of the Bow traces the developement of the Bow from Europe and Asia (excluding sub-saharan Africa and North America but for a brief mention of Native Americans).

Synopsis:

Begins with Egypt at war with the Assyrians. Egyptians were able to out-maneuver the Assyrians even though they were outnumbered. Ability for Egyptian chariots to get archers within harrassing range.


Developement of composite recurve or 'horn bow'. Materials were made possibly from strip of oryx horn, wood and sinew.

Interviewed a few bowyers and historians. Interesting how the vikings were considered the first to introduce the recurve to Britain, although under debate. Vikings used a horse recurve - similar to eastern and what was once referred to as 'orientals'. Recurve better for horse warfare.

The Long Bow was considered a hunting bow - the Normans allowed the Saxons to retain their Long Bows after dissarmament. Became the symbol of the 'outlaw' eg, Legend of Robin Hood.


Developement of the crossbow. The merceneries weapon of choice. Main arm during crusades.

Japanese and far east style bows and varying techniques.

Modern expressions derived from bowmen's history:

"Keep it under your hat": an archer would keep a spare string under his hat to keep it dry or protected from weather.

The (British) Two Finger Salute: Battle of Agincourt - chopping off the draw fingers of Captive French Archers.

A lot of details and a well done history - good demonstration of the effecacy of points and shafts on armor.
 
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