Perhaps the bravest shot ever taken with a bow and arrow that didn't involve killing animal or man was that taken by Antonio Rebollo in 1992. Standing in complete darkness, Rebollo—who suffered from polio as a child—aimed at a target 181 feet away and 70 feet above his head. He shot one custom-made, flaming arrow from his ebony recurve bow on a perfect arc that set alight the cauldron above Barcelona's Olympic Stadium. The shot not only hit the target, it continued out of the stadium to land, as planned, in a sandbox surrounded by (very trusting) policemen.
It's unlikely that you can hone your Robin Hood game to the level possessed by Rebollo, but you can have his bow. For that shot, he chose a Mamba, a gorgeous recurve crafted by Martin Archery Inc., a family-owned company in Walla Walla, Washington, that has made bows for half a century.
Like all traditional bows from Martin, the Mamba is handmade at the company's plant in Yakima, Washington. The light-colored riser, or handle, is made of several exotic African hardwoods that are highlighted in maple. The black limbs are laminate maple, sandwiched between glass-fiber plies.
The Mamba is living history, but so are all recurves. The bow style is 3,500 years old, credited to the Assyrians, and ingeniously improves upon the longbow by bending the limbs of the bow back upon themselves to increase the force behind the arrow. The black limbs of the Mamba, beheld in profile, look like a snake rising to strike. The result: recurves offer the ability to punch through armor in a smaller bow size, which could be taken on horseback or tromped through the bush. Try that, oh English archer, with your six-foot-tall longbow.
Lighter than it looks, the Mamba exudes sleek elegance. At 50 pounds of pull, it takes a practiced hand to draw it back to your chin and hold the aim steady—unlike modern compound bows, recurves have no pulley system to halve the draw weight, but die-hard traditionalists prefer the recurve's smooth release, as well as its stunning curves.
A Mamba can be made with 30 to 70 pounds of pull. It retails for $465.