Unit Information Game Strategies History
For most of human history, arrows were made of wood with stone arrowheads. Much later, somewhere in Asia during the 2nd millenium BCE, there emerged the composite bow which was made from all manner of materials — different strips of wood, sinew, and horn — and glued together to form a flexible yet powerful arrow launcher. This was a costlier weapon than the self bow, but it was far more powerful, and was a favourite of pastoral equestrian cultures because it was small yet sufficiently powerful to be used from horseback.

Overall, there were limits to what extent archery was useful. While it was useful in deserts or plains, in wooded or mountainous areas archery tend to be disfavoured, with European cultures preferring instead close-up melee combat, or the use of skirmishers: although archers are mentioned in the Iliad, more of the action by the heroes of the epic prefer spearfighting up close and personal, or the use of thrown spears. Moreover, to be a good archer required immense training — whereas archery was considered a villien's way of fighting in Europe, in Muslim and Asian cultures, archery was the pastime of the nobles much in the same way we consider croquet, polo or golf as the hobbies of choice of today's business elite.

Nevertheless, there were cultures throughout the world where the use of archery tended to be favoured over the use of javelins. For instance, the use of poisoned darts and composite bows made archery the main weapon of choice for the equestrian peoples of the Steppes, whether it be from a chariot or from horseback. The use of the bow also persisted heavily in many parts of the world, particularly on the islands of the Mediterranean where pastoralism and raiding were proven ways of life. Archers featured heavily among the insular cultures of Crete and Sardinia, and for many centuries the peoples of these islands were often recruited as mercenaries in the service of this or that polity. Even so, archery's military role began to decline from the 15th century when it was eclipsed in importance by gunpowder weapons. By the late 18th century, it was practised in the west mostly as a sport (bows and crossbows would not scare prey as gunpowder weapons would during hunting) and in our world of today, only isolated and primitive cultures continue to use the bow and arrow primarily for non-recreational reasons.