Archery played a crucial role in human survival. Since our ancestors fashioned their first rustic bows from rough branches and animal sinew, there is no doubt that archery has come a long way.
One of the oldest known archery artifact was found in the Holmegaard bog in Denmark, dated at about 9,000 years old thus predating the Vikings.
Archery has a rich and vibrant heritage documented in the Bible, as well as many notable historical writings and works of art. Native Americans, arguably, are most often recognized for their skill with the bow and arrow, but throughout history, archery was of critical importance worldwide.
There was a famous archer from Viking times by the name of Einar Tambarskelver. More about that later in this article.
The bow was an important weapon used for survival, sustenance, battle, and sport in many cultures; from Asia to Africa, from Europe to the New World. Archery has thrived throughout the ages.
Archery history provides us with not only a vital link to our past, but also a connection to the future as we teach our children to appreciate and respect this remarkable sport which has endured the test of time and will continue to do so for generations to come.
Quoting the story about the Viking archer defending the Norse King Olav:
"Einar Tambarskelver was aft in the middle hold (by the mast) of the Serpent; he was shooting with his bow and shot harder than all others. He shot at Erik the Jarl and struck the tillerhead right above the jarl's head, and the arrow went as far in as its own bands.
The Jarl looked at it and asked if they knew who had shot it; but at the same time there came a second arrow so near the jarl that it flew between his side and his arm and struck so deeply into a shield behind him that the point stuck out on the other side."
"Too weak, too weak is the king's bow"
He ordered his own archer to "Shoot the big man in the middle hold", and the arrow struck Einar Tambarskelver's bow at the moment he was drawing his bow for the third time. The bow burst into two parts. Then said King Olav, "What burst there so loudly?" Einar answered: "Norway, from thine hand, O king!"
"So great a burst has not yet befallen," said the king; "take my bow and shoot with it", and he threw his bow to him. Einar took the bow and straightaway drew it beyond the point of the arrow; he shouted, "Too weak, too weak is the king's bow". He threw the bow back, took up his shield and sword, and fought.