But you must be patient and careful; nor should you expect to become an accomplished archer without long and severe training.

Maurice Thompson

Even as the archer loves the arrow that flies, so too he loves the bow that remains constant in his hands.

Nigerian Proverb

The bow and arrow is a weapon that consists of a semi-rigid but flexible arc whose ends are joined together with a high tension string (the bowstring).  The weapon is designed to use with an arrow (projectile with hard, pointed tip that has a long shaft stabilized with fletching (feathers that stabilize the shaft in flight).  The back of the shaft has a narrow notch (nock) to connect with the bowstring as it is being drawn back (to power the flight of the arrow post-release).

The bow was used both in hunting game and in warfare and only dropped out of human use as a tool with the advent of guns in the 1300s and onwards.  

Archery is known for using a unique combination of muscles in the back, arms, shoulders and core.

For hand-bows, the draw weight is fixed by an archer's individual strength. The maximum distance the string canbe displaced and thus the longest arrow that can be loosed from it, a bow’s draw length, is determined by the size of the archer (length of arm when drawn back and away from the bow - the longer the arm and the stronger the arm, the more draw weight and distance can be achieved).

Regardless of the type of bow being shot, heavier draw weights allow for greater arrow speeds and flatter arrow trajectories. This can help an arrow cut through the wind with less drift and more accuracy.

Know yourself, know the weapon.  You need endurance for long periods of shooting, but enough cast (ability to shoot an arrow) to shoot distances. So archers should go with a weight that they can comfortably manage.  Straining too much to pull a bow back decreases accuracy and can cause injuries.

If an individual is drawing on a bow that is too short for them, it will feel as if they are pulling a greater weight because it is distributed over a shorter length.  Having a longer bow (that matches the draw length of the archer) allows for a smoother draw and greater accuracy as the archer will release more cleanly (lower string angle).  Bow length and draw should be aligned.

Most traditional bows such as the longbow, flatbow and yumi are made from some type of wood, yew, wych elm, bamboo, rosewood etc..​

When not in use, bows would be kept unstrung to release the tension on the wood (less prone to breakage etc.) which allowed the bow to maintain its flexibility over time and also made the bows easier to store.  When required for use, the bow would be re-strung).  Bowstring materials included flax, silk or hemp, animal guts, sinew or rawhide.

[Information sourced from Wikipedia, and]

Related Wildwood Cards:

Major Arcana: 

Card: Seven - The Archer (Holmegaard Bow)

Minor Arcana

Card: Ace of Bows - Spark of Life

Card: Three of Bows - Fulfillment

Card: Four of Bows - Celebration

Card: Five of Bows - Empowerment

Card: Six of Bows - Abundance

Card: Seven of Bows - Clearance

Card: Eight of Bows - Hearthfire

Card: Nine of Bows - Respect

Card: Two of Arrows - Injustice

Card: Five of Arrows - Frustration 

Card: Nine of Arrows - Dedication

Card: Ten of Arrows - Instruction 

The right shot at the right moment does not come because you do not let go of yourself. You do not wait for fulfillment, but brace yourself for failure.


The right art is purposeless, aimless! The more obstinately you try to learn how to shoot the arrow for the sake of hitting the goal, the less you will succeed in the one and the further the other will recede. What stands in your way is that you have a much too willful will. You think that what you do not do yourself does not happen.


You must learn to wait properly.

Eugene Herrigal

© 2018 by FIONA MACKINTOSH. Proudly created with