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The I.L.A.A. - the Longbow and its history



The word "Artillery" comes from the French "Arc-tirer"; to draw the bow. Many still current expressions in the English language come directly from Artillery Shooting or shooting at the Marks. Are you "up to the Mark". To "up the Stakes". To "hit the Mark". To “make your Mark”. To "lower your sights". To" have Clout". Even "on your Marks" is nothing to do with athletics; it meant do you have your eye on the Mark, i.e. are you ready to shoot.


The longbow evolved as Europe's Medieval Artillery. A powerful weapon that was quick to produce in large numbers, the longbow could be used not only in straight directional aim; it could on command instantly transform itself into a weapon of indirect ranging shot.

In today's terms it could metamorphose itself from rifle to light gun fire in an instant. The reason for practising the switch between a direct to a high trajectory distance shot was to be able to get at one's adversary behind hedges, trees, battlements, escarpments etc. In order to do this the longbowman had to be able to "range" his shots very accurately.


It was an ability that was decisive in battle, because it disrupted the adversary's ability to form up for attack. Today in peacetime, these are forms of archery where you really get to see your arrows fly high up into the distance. It is truly about mankind extending its reach.

Two main longbow traditions.


Ranging; the ranging traditions of the longbow are those of Artillery Shooting, or Shooting at the Marks and Flight (distance) Shooting. Clout Shooting is an intermediate form between the ranging and aiming traditions. Speed Shooting can be either; both direct at a Target, or indirect at a Mark.

Aiming; the aiming traditions are more numerous and include all forms of target, whether in field archery at inanimate targets, or at the circled targets more commonly used where space is limited. Target shoots for the longbow are held in metric as well as in Imperial form, whether one way or two-way. Well known forms are the York, the Hereford, the National and the Albion.


Other aiming traditions are in Beursault gardens which use minimal space and enhance their safety by using wooden guards along the archery range. The vertical aiming tradition is represented by Popinjay, where symbolic birds are knocked off their perch with blunts. As hunting with the bow is not allowed in the U.K. that tradition is expressed through field archery which uses either "spot" two-dimensional targets, or three dimensional representations of a variety of animals.