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Is a bow made from horn, wood, and sinew laminated together. The horn is on the belly, facing the archer, and sinew on the back of a wooden core. Sinew and horn will store more energy than wood for the same length of bow. The strength can be made similar to that of all-wood "self" bows, with similar draw-length and therefore a similar amount of energy delivered to the arrow from a much shorter bow. However, a composite bow requires more different materials than a self bow, its construction takes much more time, and the finished bow is more sensitive to moisture.
Composite bows have been known from archaeology and art since the second millennium BCE, but their history is not well recorded as they were developed by cultures without a written tradition. They originated among Asiatic pastoralists who used them as daily necessities, classically for mounted archery although they can also be used on foot. Such bows spread among the military (and hunters) of civilizations that came into contact with nomad tribes; composite bows have been used across Asia from Korea to the Atlantic coasts of Europe and North Africa, and southwards in the Arabian peninsula and in India.
The details of manufacture varied between the various cultures that used them. Initially the tips of the limbs were made to bend when the bow was drawn. Later, the tips were stiffened with bone or antler laths; post-classical bows usually have stiff tips, siyahs, made as an integral part of the wooden core of the bow.
Like other bows, they lost importance with the introduction of guns. In some areas composite bows were still used and were further developed for leisure purposes. Later Turkish bows are specialized for flight archery (shooting for distance). Composite bows are still made and used in Korea and in China, and the tradition has been revived elsewhere. Some indigenous peoples of the Americas made bows backed with sinew, but are not known to have used the true composite bow. Modern replicas are available, often made of fiberglass.
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