The bow and arrow are known to have been invented by the end of the Upper Paleolithic.
Projectile points (used on spears or atlatl darts) are known from earlier prehistory, dating to the Middle Paleolithic. Bows eventually replaced spear-throwers as the predominant means for launching sharp projectiles on all continents except Australia.
Archery was an important military and hunting skill before the widespread and efficient use of firearms, throughout classical antiquity and the medieval period. Arrows were especially destructive against unarmoured masses and the use of archers often proved decisive. Mounted archers combined range with speed and mobility. Archery is also featured prominently in the mythologies of many cultures.