Learn about mounted archery

Tribesmen of Central Asia (after the domestication of the horse) and American Plains Indians (after gaining access to horses via Europeans) became extremely adept in archery while riding on horses. The light armored and highly mobile archers were ideally suited for battles on the Central Asian steppes, and they were a significant part of armies who repeatedly conquered large regions of Eurasia. The shorter bows are more suitable for use on horses, or the hybrid bow allowed mounted archers to carry out powerful weapons.

Seljuk Turks used mounted archers in the European First Crusade, especially during the Battle of Dorylaeum (1097). The strategy was to shoot at the enemy infantry, and utilize their superior speed to prevent enemies from closing upon them. Empires throughout the Eurasian landmass often strongly associated their respective “barbarian” counterparts with the use of a bow and arrow. This was to the point that even powerful states such as The Han Dynasty referred to their neighbors as the Xiong-nu, as “Those who Draw the Bow”.

For example, Xiongnu’s mounted bowmen were more than a match for the Han military, and their threat was at least partially the reason for Chinese expand into Ordos region to create an extra-strong, more powerful buffer zone against their enemies. It is possible that “barbarian” peoples are the ones who introduced archery or specific bow types in their “civilized” counterparts–the Xiong-nu and the Han being a prime example. In the same way, shorter bows appear to have been first introduced into Japan by the northeast Asian groups.

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