I went for a broad range of activities in hopes to find a focus for my topic. My first step is to explore the history of the bow: there is little doubt that it was the most powerful weapon before guns came into the picture. I found out that one of the greatest collection is the Grayson Archery Collection , and the published book is a great introduction to learn about different cultures and how their bows / arrows differ. One theme is rather consistent though, throughout most civilizations: archery is considered an art form and a tradition that is greatly respected. Bows and Arrows have for millennia been seen as a decorative art avenue: most have beautiful markings on them.
I have been in contact with the museum and hope to interview a representative this week.
I also did some research on modern uses of Archery...as a sport (I learned that South Korea is dominant at the Olympic Event), for hunting (you can hunt deers and bears in NY state with a license, and rather disturbingly, with a crossbow if you are over 14 years old, more details here). There are also archery ranges, which I went to one Monday, and learned some basics in archery. One very important insight I received while I was there was how the instructor, who claimed he had trained people for most weapons in the military, said handling a bow and arrow is similar, but it is a much CALMER experience. I also felt that the importance of being good at archery is being calm and relaxed, and my shots improved drastically once I felt more at ease and relaxed into the sport.
I feel that while archery has been displayed in many forms of art, it has not been dealt with as critically. While it is a sport, it is still a deadly weapon, and a piece of creative work that I remembered capturing a massacre with a bow and arrow this was We Need To Talk About Kevin (Novel by Lionel Shriver, film by Lynne Ramsey). I didn't finish the book but the film did capture the deadliness of the weapon. I find myself asking, Why are people not as afraid of the bow and arrow? Is it because it is 'respected'? Is it because you need skills to be a threat? (though logically speaking, a skilled archer could probably inflict more damage to a shooter who doesn't know what he or she is doing). Would people feel differently in a place where guns are not as commonly found? I am curious about this train of thought, and might ask some experts on this.
I am also looking into ways to construct a bow, it just seems like a challenging project but one that might be extremely challenging. Will look into possibilities this week.
Here are some photos from my archery adventure.