Archery is an ancient weapon of warfare that’s as old as time itself. Historians claim that the first archery tools were developed as far back as 20,000 BC. They were used for hunting animals for food, clothing, and protection.
Around 3,000 BC, Egyptians perfected the art of archery for warfare. Then, other civilizations quickly followed. History has recorded many great archers that have served their leaders with bravery and pride. Many have also been mentioned and portrayed in movies and games.
Let’s find out more about these famous archers
Famous Archers In History
Archery was considered an important skill in many civilizations. So much so, that it’s still revered and practiced to this day. Those who mastered the skill of archery were honored and revered. They were also written down in history as great warriors and leaders.
Nasu no Yoichi (1169 – 1232)
Nasu no Yoichi was a Samurai who fought on the side of the Minamoto clan in the Genpei War (1180 – 1185). This Japanese civil war waged on between the Taira and the Minamoto clans. He was most famous for his actions during the Battle of Yashima in 1184.
Taira was finally defeated in 1192. Then, came the establishment of the Kamakura shogunate under Minamoto no Yoritomo. It’s said that Minamoto’s victory is largely due to Nasu no Yoichi’s high skills in archery.
Since Nasu was a Samurai, he was skilled in sword fighting, as well as the bow and arrow. Yet, it’s his exemplary skills in archery that made him stand out from his fellow samurai warriors.
After Minamoto’s death in 1199, Nasu became a Buddhist monk. He formed a temple, which was passed down from generation to generation. It was destroyed during a World War II bombing raid.
Horace Alfred Ford (1822 – 1880)
A highly skilled archer from the United Kingdom, Horace A. Ford is deemed as one of the greatest target archers of all time. He was born in London and first started learning archery in 1845. Four years later, he won the Grand National Archery Meeting held yearly in the United Kingdom.
Standing at 6’2” tall, Ford was a combination of cool-headedness, strength, and precision. He won 11 consecutive championships, starting in 1849. His high score of 1271 went unrivaled for over 70 years.
Ford is the author of an all-time classic, Archery: Its Theory and Practice. The book details his shooting theories and techniques.
Fred Bear (1902 – 1988)
Fred Bear, also called ‘Papa Bear’, was a man of many talents. Yet it was bow-hunting where he most excelled. His archery skills were so exceptional that he’s known as the ‘pioneer of bow-hunting’.
Born in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, Bear didn’t learn how to use a bow and arrow to hunt until he was almost 29. He quickly learned to master bow-hunting, becoming an expert in the field. One of his most famous quotes is, “The history of the bow and arrow is the history of mankind.”
Not only was Bear a skilled archer, but he was also a bow manufacturer, author, and a TV host. He was granted several US patents, such as the shooting glove (1937), bow quivers (1946), and fiberglass bow backing (1946).
In 1933, he founded the Bear Archery, a manufacturing facility that provides everything related to archery. During that same year, he helped form the Detroit Archery Club. It’s the oldest archery club in the state of Michigan. He became the club’s first president.
Throughout history, there have been many brave men and women who fought fearlessly with their bow and arrow. But our honourable mention goes to, not one person, but a whole army of skilled archers.
The Mongolian Army
Genghis Kahn’s army was known for its ruthlessness and fierceness. They were also known for their immense skills when it came to archery. Through their competence and dexterity, they managed to create the largest adjoining land empire in history.
History doesn’t name just one archer in the Mongolian Army. They all possessed great talents. Just as there wasn’t just one great archer, there also wasn’t just one type of bow and arrow.
The Mongol soldiers were adept at using a wide variety of bows and arrows. Each type could reach a different target at varying distances. Besides having such a large assortment of archery tools, they also used what they referred to as ‘howling’ arrows. They used these to create a howling sound to confuse and terrorize the enemy.
Famous Archers In Movies
Who doesn’t love watching a brave, fearless hero or heroine on screen? They encapsulate everything we want to be, and how we want others to see us.
These memorable movie personas have finesse, good timing, and faultless archery skills. Here are our 3 favorite archers in movies. And don’t forget to check out our honourable mention down below.
Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games)
Katniss is one of the toughest and bravest movie characters. She was taught to hunt with a bow and arrow from a young age by her father.
Her weapon of choice is her dependable recurve bow. She uses it on many occasions to bail herself out of trouble. Her unrivaled archery skills bring her unwanted attention from The Hunger Games judges. On every occasion, Katniss never fails to impress.
Legolas (The Lord of the Rings)
The elf, Legolas, is highly skilled with the bow and arrow. He’s also fearless and not easily frightened off.
Not only is he a master of the bow and arrow, but Legolas is also a perfectionist, agile, and a renowned swordsman.
Hawkeye is a key player in the movie The Avengers (2012). He also appeared in later editions of the Avengers franchise.
One thing we notice about Hawkeye straightaway is that he doesn’t have any true superpowers. Nevertheless, he’s deemed by his superhero colleagues as a highly-skilled marksman and a world-class archer.
He never seems to miss any of his targets. And what’s even more impressive is that he always takes different variables into account, such as the wind and moving objects.
No character is more deserving of an honourable mention than the beloved hero, Robin Hood.
Even though Robin Hood isn’t in effect a historical figure, we can’t deny he hasn’t influenced history in many ways. Robin Hood rose from English folklore in the late medieval period. The first known literary reference to Robin Hood and his men was in 1377.
It’s said he lived in Sherwood Forest and always seems to be wearing green. He worked with his band of Merry Men to ‘rob from the rich to give to the poor’.
Through the many adaptations and retellings of this story, some things have remained the same over the years. One of these is Robin Hood’s proficient use of the bow and arrow. No one can deny that he’s one of the most skilled archers of all time.
Famous Archers In Games
Video games often take place in fictional themes. Feudal weapons, such as swords, spears, and polearms are usually used. Needless to say, archery is definitely at the top of this list.
Even in video games that have modern themes, archers are still very much sought out. They’re sometimes even preferred over modern weapons, such as guns and grenades.
These video game archers are all cool-headed, calm, and collected.
Drow Ranger is one of the fiercest video game female characters in Dota 2. Dota 2 is a multiplayer online battle area (MOBA) video game. It’s a game of action, adventure, strategy, and skill. Dota 2 is played by millions of fans all over the world.
Drow Ranger, whose actual name is Traxex, is a highly skilled heroine known for her agility and power. As a girl, Traxex’s parents were murdered by bandits. She was found and adopted by the Drow race, a short gnomish-type race.
They were experts in the arts of stealth, subtlety, and most importantly, archery. They taught Traxex all their skills, and, soon, she became one of their best archers.
Yet, because Traxex was a human, she started growing taller than the Drows. She quickly felt unwelcome amongst them and felt it was better to leave them. Living alone, she became a protector, or ‘ranger’, of the forest.
One of her best assets is that she can kill off her targets with as few shots as possible. Traxex is precise, calm, and collected. She’s adept at using several types of bows and arrows.
One of her best-used weapons is her Frost Arrows. She uses these to cover her enemies with ice, forcing them to slow down. She can also fire multiple arrows at once with high precision and effectiveness.
Green Arrow, nicknamed the ‘Emerald Archer’, is one of DC Comics superheroes. His backstory is that Oliver Queen, aka the Green Arrow, is a rich billionaire.
He was left stranded on an island after an airplane accident killed his parents. His time alone on that island turned him into an exceptional archer, who’s always inventing various trick arrows. He has a keen eye and quick reflexes.
These trick arrows are part of his special attack weapons that fans can’t get enough of. He’s created many types of arrows. He uses them as projectiles, and fires them in several directions at once. Even though he’s adopted a ‘no-kill policy’, he’s still considered as one the best archers in the world.
Green Arrow’s creator, Mort Weisinger, says his character is mainly based on a sleeker, more streamlined version of Robin Hood. His powers include acrobatics, aviation, martial arts, and swordsmanship.
Hanzo Shimada is a mighty warrior and an expert bowman. He’s one of the heroes in the first-person shooter video game, Overwatch. In this game, Hanzo is heir to the Shimada clan, a family of deadly assassins.
After his father’s death, Hanzo was to take on the position of clan leader. He was trained in archery from a young age, paving the way for him to take over as the new ruler.
One of his responsibilities was to straighten out his disobedient younger brother, Genji. When Genji refused, Hanzo felt he had no choice but to kill him. Yet, somehow, Genji managed to escape.
Saddened by what he was forced to do, Hanzo left the Shimada clan. He started traveling all over the world, grieving his brother’s death, and trying to regain his honor.
Hanzo’s skills are unparalleled. He can hit several targets at the same time. He does this by ricocheting his arrows off different objects, such as walls, and lampposts.
He continues to perfect his skills as he travels from one country to the next. One of his signature moves is that he scales walls to find the best places to fire his bow.
Hanzo has several high-precision, lethal arrows. One example is his Sonic Arrows that contain a sonar tracking device. These arrows make it easier for him to track his enemies down.
The second type of arrow is his Storm Arrows. These are capable of fire instantly, one after the other. Yet they don’t do as much damage as the Sonic Arrows, or regular arrows, fired by the Storm Bow.
Our honourable mention in the world of video games has to go to the one and only, Lara Croft.
Lara Croft is one of the most widely recognized names in video games. She’s one of the earliest female video game protagonists. The star of the Tomb Raider series, Croft has been listed by the Guinness Book of World Records as the best-selling video game heroine’.
Tomb Raider is an action-adventure video game, which has quickly become a pioneer in the world of action-adventure games. The game series has garnered critical acclaim, selling over 75 million copies worldwide.
Lara Croft’s mission is to travel around the world and locate hidden treasures. She’s a British archaeologist who also happens to be a highly intelligent and athletic archer.
A Final Note
Archery was used mainly for combat and hunting. Nowadays, it’s mainly used as a competitive sport and a recreational activity. Some would even go as far as saying that it’s become a perfected form of art.
That’s why there are so many famous archers in movies, games, and history. We look up to them and hold them in such high esteem. They make us feel the exhilaration that comes with shooting an arrow and hitting the target with controlled precision.
These confident archers have high self-esteem and great focus. And we can’t help but wonder, if only for a short while, ‘How would it feel being in their shoes?’