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A section from

ĎA Jedi shall not know hatred, nor fearÖ nor love.í from Star Wars Episode II

AMAZON (USA)

&

A1BOOKS (INDIA)LINKS

ARCHERY: THE SUBLIME & DEADLY ART

 

Contents

Introduction to a crack-shot

At the Gates of Troy

The mysterious warrior-philosopher

Hood & Tell

Random Trivia

 

Introduction to a crack-shot

 

On the left is an image of a Russian sharpshooter/sniper at Stalingrad. It looks like a still from the film - Enemy at the Gates. The art of a sniper is an evolution in archery. The weapon is still a missle/projectile but while sniping implies shooting from a hidden vantage point, archery is a wider concept that can also be called an art. Before going on to the main topic a few words on sniping. Because of the hidden location of a sniper the psychological impact of a single bullet is immense. Firstly the shot is unexpected and sudden. Secondly the targeted force has no idea where to retaliate. And they have no idea who will be next, which inspires many to cut their loss and abandon the contingent. Once a sniperís presence is established the opposing army feels an increase in stress levels.

 

At the Gates of Troy

 

At the time of the Trojan War there were two archers among the main heroes. One was Prince Paris Ė Helenís lover, brother to Hector and son to King Priam. In reference books when Parisí skill in archery is spoken of it is also mentioned nearby that the bow was not considered the weapon of the manly warrior, mainly because the archer would not be in the thick of battle but rather at some distance from danger. In light of the way Paris was portrayed in the film Troy this almost seems believable but is not accurate. At the time of this war the bow and arrow had already been part of a generalís arsenal for centuries; and this bring us to the other archer Ė Ulysses.

 

Ulysses has been accused of many things Ė wiles, deception, excessive diplomacy and cunning, and cruelty, but being effeminate is not one of them. He symbolises resourcefulness and the bow is just one weapon in his arsenal. Indeed it was his own heavy-duty bow left behind in his kingdom of Ithaca that helped to establish his identity after a long absence from home. In a long-lost illustrated interpretation of Homerís Odyssey I recall that scene as Ulysses having to not just draw his bow but also shoot an arrow through several loops to the target; this was another test put forth by his wife Penelope to establish that the man before her was indeed her husband and not an imposter. Clearly Ulysses was an established archer from a young age.

 

Ulysses, you may note, not just survived the great war at the gates of Troy (a fate few of his friends shared) but was a man of far more intelligence than those that surrounded him on the battlefield. There were occasions when he was bettered using wit, but it is Ulysses above all others who symbolises tactics rather than force. And the bow provides another potent option to a general at battle.

 

The mysterious warrior-philosopher

 

The mysterious warrior-philosopher - Sun Tzu puts flexibility and adaptability as the primal traits of a good general. One who is able to suit formations to best exploit the conditions is better suited to victory than another who despite a larger army is unwilling to take advantage of situations. Archers in an army bring specialisation to the battlefield by separating the skilled from the simple. Just like a sniperís bullet has the cascading effect of striking fear into his targetís entire entourage, a few well placed arrows can throw an entire battalion into disarray by causing the weak hearted soldiers to break rank out of the sheer terror of being the next to be struck by the archer. The psychological effects of a few arrows are more useful than a pitched infantry battle of attrition.

 

Hood & Tell

 

Two of the most widely known archers in popular culture are Robin Hood and William Tell. Robin Hood is a leader of men and a symbol of justice and equality. His maxim of robbing from the rich and giving to the poor has been used, adopted and exploited by all and sundry to identify themselves with the same powerful cause that Robin Hood did Ė the cause of the common man.

 

William Tell on the other hand is more mercenary and lone ranger. He has precious little time for making such overtly political statements and is introverted compared to Robin Hood. But he is no less of a shot and his balls are forged in the same fire as Robinís. This is established when after shooting the apple off his own sonís head, William Tell informs the governor (who forced Tellís hand in risking the boyís life) that if his arrow had injured his boy then the second arrow would have ended the governor. This confrontational attitude gets William into a good deal of trouble but transforms him from a pacifist blacksmith to a symbol against authority.

 

Robin Hood despite being a dead-shot uses the bow and arrow in his cause for the common man. Robinís cavalier and carefree attitude while relieving supply trains of the rich and powerful of their burden is a direct result of imminent death dancing on his targetís head in the form of his Merry Men and their arrows pointed at the vital organs of the target party. Precious few Englishmen would risk any sudden movement in such a situation; indeed they would rather hand over their cargo and run for their lives rather than risk life and limb.

 

The adoption of the bow and arrow as the primary tool by these two legends is also symbolic of a David & Goliath like story where skill, ingenuity and guerrilla tactics win over force, manpower and frontal tactics.

 

Random Trivia

 

Archery developed organically as a means of battle and hunting on every continent except Australia.

 

In medieval Europe, skilled archers would target their mark with two arrows. The first one aimed high to strike the enemy from above; and the second aimed dead straight with a shorter trajectory. The result being that two arrows would strike together and be tougher to deal with.

 

Archery is the national sport of Bhutan

 

Related Links on FactBehindFiction.com

Robin Hood

Sun Tzu & Espionage

Robin Hood 2010

The Trojan War: Kings, Warriors & Women

Ulysses of Ithaca: A Past Worth Forgetting

 

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The Sniper. A modern day archer a highly sophisticated weapon of war.

Paris - Prince of Troy, whose deadly aim took down Achilles.

Ulysses - the brilliant warrior who alone could draw his magnificent bow.

Sun-Tzu

William Tell & his son.

Robin Hood - probably the most famous archer of all.

Further Reading at

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