Since prehistoric times, people have used bows and arrows to hunt food, defend themselves, and compete in games. Good archers need steady hands and excellent eyesight. They also need a sense of angles, triangles, and basic trigonometry.
Ups and Downs
In order to hit a target, an archer must be able to judge distance. Most competitions occur on level surfaces. However, highly skilled archers also attempt to hit targets above them and below them on steep slopes. When an archer is shooting at an angle, she needs to be able to estimate the horizontal distance to the target. If she only takes into account the diagonal, she will miss her mark because of the effects of gravity. Archers learn how to use the sine of an angle to find the horizontal distance to a target.
If an archer can estimate the angle to her target and the distance up (or down) the slope, she can use the sine function to find the horizontal distance. Good archers practice estimating angles and distances to ensure that they can calculate them quickly and without help during a competition.
Some American schools have begun to teach archery through their physical education programs to improve students’ coordination, mathematical sense, and self-esteem.
Throughout history and across cultures, people have valued skilled archers. Check out the videos and links below to learn more.