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Bow and arrow are one of the oldest tools of hunt and war. They were known to almost all civilizations since before the written history and are still in use today although not in such extent. Read about history of bow and arrow.
During the long history of China, archery held a very important place in the life of its citizens. It was one of the Six Noble Arts and a method of choosing officers in the army, a method of hunting and an art itself. Read more about history of Chinese archery.
Mounted archers were once the most efficient part of the army. Many civilizations owed to them their successful conquests. Since firearms replaced bow and arrow they no longer fight but they participate in an attractive sport. Read about mounted archery.
Crossbow is a younger sibling of a bow and arrow. It is easier to use and more precise with less effort but slower. That is why it replaced bow and arrow in battlefields until it was itself replaced with firearms.