The history of the arrow and bow of the Turks stretches back
to very distand times. In the legend of
Oguz Khagan we see it taking its place either as a means of
war or as a symbolic element.
In Central Asia the arrow and bow, together with the sword,
whether in hunting or wars was a most important weapon. The
sword was used as the close range weapon and the arrow and bow
as the long range weapon.
With the acceptance by the Turks of Islam, as well as the
importance given to arrow and bow there were added a special
religious significance. From the written sources coming down to
us today from the first century of Islam (we find that) the
arrow and bow even more that other weapons is given a special
place. In this subject we have also learned of Hazrat Mohammad
many perceptive efforts.
We see more than 40 Hadiths (study of the prophet) attribute
to Hazrat Mohammad and directly and persistently indicating his
efforts. We want to give a few examples from the Hadiths
concerning the important of archery:
"The one who makes the arrow, the one who presents the
arrow, and the one who shoots the arrow are destined for
"Teach your children to read the Koran and arrow shooting (archery)"
"The spaces between where an arrow is shot and where it falls are gardens
of paradise for you"
From medieval times through the nineteenth century, archers
of the Islamic crescent, which stretches from Turkey eastwart to
India, were renowed for both their exceptional skills and their
superior weapons. And archery developed and reaching its zenith
in the Ottoman Empire.
The First Sport Club
Contests played an important role in the Turkish sports
history. Wrestling contest, caicque races, horse races, cirit (a
game with horses and javelins) and c÷gen games (a game similar
to polo), sword-shield combats drew the attraction of public for
The most spectacular contests were undoubtly marksmanship and
archery contests. Archery has been performed as a regular and
planned branch of sports in Ottoman Empire since from the second
half of the 15th century. Thus, there were 34 big arenas
specifically assigned to archery activities in the Ottoman
period. These places that were provided in several cities were
called 'ok meydani' ("oq-meidany" arrow-place). Those were the
places where the contests and trainings were held while they
served as grand facilities where the sportsman live and had
their own allocations, managers and staff. There were standing
sportive activities under a scheduled order in those arenas.
Turkish miniature details about horse race,
demonstration and wrestling.
The most notable of these arrow places was of course Istanbul
Ok-meydani (Fig. 1). It was officially donated to archery
activities by Mehmed II. (Conqueror) just after the conquest of
Istanbul in A.D. 1453. The borders and purpose of use of the
field were set clearly by the Sultan's firman in order to
prevent violations such as burial of the dead, entrance of
ungulates, construction of houses, agricultural activities.
The facility was opened at
and closed at November (Ruz-i Kasim). Shootings and
contests used to be held on Mondays and Thursdays, so there were
48 days for official contests and practice and the sportsman
could do free practice (mesk) rest of the time.