Archaeological discoveries proved that archery in China dates back 20,000 years. Practical archery takes three conditions: a bow strong enough to propel arrows, arrows that are sharp enough to kill, and a technique to ensure the stability of arrows in fight. The bow and arrow in ancient China fully met the three conditions. Archaeologists have unearthed finely made arrowheads in a site of the Paleolithic Age in Shanxi Province, and could be mounted on a shaft. No bow was found at the site, since bows were usually made of wood, bamboo and perhaps tendon of animals and could not remain intact for so many years. But the arrowheads were enough to prove the existence of bows.
As for how to keep the arrow stable in flight, Kao Gang Ji, the earliest work on science and technology in China, writes under the item of The Archer: “Decide the proportions of the shaft to install the feathers. The feathers at the end of the shaft are installed in three directions, and then the arrowhead is mounted. An arrow thus made will not lose its balance even in strong winds.” It also says, ”When the feathers are too many, the arrow will become unstable.” Later on, ancient Chinese develop bronze arrowheads and the crossbow, upgrading archery to a new height.
Yuan Men She Ji (Magic Shot Outside the Military Camp)
Yuan Shu sent 100 thousand troops, led by General Ji Ling, to attack Liu Bei. For fear of Lü Bu in Xuzhou who might lend Liu a hand, Yuan wrote Lü a letter, together with many food supplies as gifts, asking him not to help Liu. Liu, on the other hand, wrote lüa letter asking for assistance. “If I remain an onlooker with folded arms,”thought Lü, “I will be in danger after Yuan defeats Liu. But if I help Liu, Yuan will be be resentful to me.” So Lü invited both Liu Bei and Ji Ling to a banquet.
Lü sat between Liu and Ji at the banquet. After a few rounds of toasts Lü began, “Please grant me a favor by stopping the fight.” When Ji Ling refused, Lu shouted for his long lance to be brought over. Both Liu and Ji got a fright. “I’ll stand my lance 150steps away outside the gate. If my arrow h its its edge you two will stop your fight. And if I miss the target you have your own way.” Ji secretly hoped that he would miss the target, while Liu crossed his fingers wished Lu succees. Lü and wine brought up to him. After each one had a cup Lu arched his bow, aimed and shot with a big shout. The arrow flew like lightening toward the target, and hit right on the edge of the lance. A big applause rose from everybody around. Lu dropped his bow and laughed, saying, “You see, even the heavens wish that you stop fighting.” With his excellent archery, Lü averted a fight between the two sides.
Qutu Tong (AD 557-628) was born in Chang’an (Xi’an of Shaanxi today) and belonged to the minority of Qutu. He was a famous general in the early period of Tang Dynasty and one of 24 heroes in Lingyan Pavilion.
The ancestors of Qutu Tong belonged to the tribe of Kumoxizhong and subordinated to Murong of Xianbei minority. He immigrated to Changli (Chaoyang of Liaoning today) and then settled down in Chang’an. Qutu Tong was a model of fortitude, loyalty and rectitude. He loved strategies and was good at archery and horsemanship. He was once the general of Left Cavalry in Sui Dynasty. After he submitted to Tang, he was a general under Li Shimin. He made the greatest contribution in pacifying the rebellion of Wang Shichong. He was respected by Emperor Taizhong of Tang.
Qutu Tong passed away in the second year of Zhenguan Reign (AD 628) at the age of 72. He was conferred the title of Right Supervisor of the Masters of Writing and the posthumous name of “Zhong” (Loyalty) by Emperor Taizhong. Qutu Tong and Fang Xuanling were moved to the royal temple of Emperor Taizhong in 23rd year of Zhenguan Reign (AD 649). Qutu Tong was reconferred with the title of Sikong (Minister of Public Works) on 14th Mar. of the fifth year of Yonghui Reign (AD 654) by Li Zhi, Emperor Gaozong of Tang Dynasty.