Joined: Mon Oct 16, 2006 1:38 am
Location: Connecticut, USA
"Straight and True: A Select History of the Arrow"
I just finished reading the captioned book and thought it would be helpful to share my findings with viewers.
The author of this book is Hugh Soar, who has written a number of important books and articles on traditional archery from a historical perspective. He is one of the world’s most knowledgeable individuals concerning the history of archery. In his new book, he chronicles the history and development of the arrow from its early beginnings until the present time.
I found the book to be extremely interesting and well written as well as being very insightful. The author has drawn on his in-depth knowledge and expertise including a number of arrow artifacts and books in his extensive archery collection as well as similar material and items from other sources. It is evident that the book has been well researched. Hugh Soar has brought his considerable talents and resources together to produce a unique book.
An arrow, of course, goes hand in hand with a bow that is the source of its propulsion. There is much written about bows, but the literature on arrows is much more limited. Also, unlike bullets discharged from firearms where written material abounds concerning ammunition, the arrow has not correspondingly received the same attention.
Many factors influence the flight of an arrow, such as its spine or stiffness, its construction, its weight, its balance, the type of arrow-head used, the type of nock, the length, height, shape and amount of its fletching not to mention the type of bow used and the consistency of the archer in releasing the arrow. The arrow is certainly a complicated missile. Understanding the factors that influence its flight is key to producing an arrow that flies accurately.
Hugh Soar’s book researches the arrow back in time to the Paleolithic age to discuss the spear which was a forerunner to the arrow. He then discusses the atlatl or spear thrower, which used mechanical leverage to help power and propel the release of a spear. The advantage was the achievement of increased distance. This was later followed by the development of the bow which was then used to propel an arrow even further and more accurately.
He also traces the development of the arrow from Neolithic locations in different parts of the world to the use of arrows by Indians in North and South America. Also included is a discussion of the use of poisoned arrows. He describes and investigates arrows including their development which were used in many parts of the world including the Far East, Mongolia and then Europe.
It wasn’t very long after the arrow ceased to be a prominent factor in warfare due to the invention and use of gunpowder that it became the focus for recreational use. However, the arrow had been effectively used as a major instrument of war for a very long period of time and consequently changed the outcome of battles and the course of mankind. Developing technology eventually became the catalyst for metal arrows, such as, aluminum. Other synthetic materials have also played a role in modern times.
Accompanying each chapter are detailed reference notes that help to support, clarify or expand one’s understanding of the chapter material. Also, I found that the detailed ‘glossary’ was very helpful in explaining the terms used – many of which are unique to the arrow. Hugh has also included a very helpful ‘bibliography’ that can be used for further research.
One of the things that I really appreciated is the level of detail including dimensions provided in the description of many of the arrows discussed. It helped me to better mentally visualize and understand the arrow or arrows being discussed.
After reading Hugh Soar’s book, I am left with a much greater appreciation and understanding of the import of the arrow, its development and its place in history as well as in today’s world. Not only that, but I found the book to be a most enjoyable and interesting ‘read’.
In my opinion, this book should have a place on every archer’s bookshelf. I also believe that one of Hugh Soar’s goals in writing this book was to whet the appetite of readers to indulge in further investigation of the arrow, and in my case he has certainly achieved that.
Reviewed by David C. Sterling, member of the Society of Archer-Antiquaries, the Archery Collectors Guild and the Compton Traditional Bowhunters