It is thought that the bow was invented in the late Paleolithic or early Mesolithic periods. The oldest known usage of the bow comes from Europe in Hamburg, Germany and and is date to the 9th millennium BC.
Bows have played a major role in early warfare from roman to the indian wars of the US, bows were deadly accurate and were widely used for more than just hunting.
In the Middle Ages, European powers made effective use of the longbow as a major weapon of war. It was an extremely effective weapon in battle and could penetrate armor from a considerable distance. The longbow however is a difficult weapon to master and requires years of training for effective use in war. A longbow which can pierce later medieval armour also requires a very strong man to draw it. In Medieval England and Wales, the longbow became a popular weapon, and archery was a popular pastime. When the quality of English archery began to decline in the 16th century, English monarchs went so far as to mandate by law longbow training for males of military age and placed restrictions on other physical sports such as football and ninepins so people would practice.
With the development of modern weapons using gunpowder, bows were relegated to use for hunting or for archery. Many avid hunters find the hunt more thrilling and actually more sporting by using the bow as opposed to a gun. There are also many archery clubs throughout the world who shoot the bow for sport and hold prestigious contests to determine who is the best archer.
Founded in 1931, the Federation Internationale de Tir a l'Arc (FITA), was as the international governing body for the sport of archery. The organization implemented standardized, international rules for competition which allowed the first World Championship.
After enough countries had adopted FITA's rules, In 1972 archery was then re-admitted to the Olympic Games and is once again an Olympic Sport.