An offensive weapon used in hunting and war since early times. The earliest actual examples preserved in peat bogs date to the Mesolithic, but the
presence of small projectile heads on sites extending back into the Middle Paleolithic suggests that the bow is a much more ancient technology. There
are essentially three kinds of bow: first, simple bows comprising a basic flexible wooden core with the draw-string fixed at either end and a
hand-grip in the center; second, reinforced bows where the wooden core is strengthened by sinew and bark; third, the composite bow made
from various combinations of wood, bone, horn, and sinew. The composite bow is generally more compact and its development in the southern Russian steppe
in the early 3rd millennium is generally associated with archers needing to fire arrows from horseback.
A weapon for projecting stones or roughly spherical shot at high speed comprising two thongs attached to a pouch. By placing the shot in the pouch and
whirling it round to gather velocity the slinger can release one of the thongs to hurl the shot a considerable distance and, with practice, a fair
degree of accuracy.
Leading missile weapon of the Middle Ages, consisting of a short bow fixed transversely on a stock, with a groove to guide the missile and a trigger to
release it. The missile, known as a bolt, was usually an arrow or dart. First used in antiquity, it was an important advance in warfare. Its destructive
power came from its metal bow, which could propel a bolt with enough velocity to pierce
chain mail and gave it a range of up to 1,000 ft (300 m). Powerful and versatile, it remained in use even after the introduction of the
longbow and firearms and was not discarded until the 15th century. It has been used in modern times to hunt big game.