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"...It is a long tale..." — Aragorn
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Bows were a common weapon in Arda. Though mainly associated with Elves, all peoples, Good and Evil, were known to used them, most notable of them being the Numenoreans, Rohirrim, Orcs and even Hobbits.


Bows varied in shape, size and material. While Elven flawless bows were made from wood, Numenorean and Orcish bows were made of steel, forged in armories.

Notable bowmen


It is possible Tolkien's fascination with bows came from Red Indian stories:

"Red Indians were better: there were bows and arrows (I had and have a wholly unsatisfied desire to shoot well with a bow)"
On Fairy-stories
"But he [Tolkien] liked Red Indian stories and longed to shoot with a bow and arrow."
J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography