The collection of over 4,000 objects consists of archery material from all over the world. The nucleus of the Collection was donated in 1946 by Ingo Simon, a life-long researcher into the development of the bow, and a skilled and dedicated archer. His flight-shot in 1914 of 462 yards was a world record until 1933. He died in 1964, and his widow Erna, herself an accomplished archer and Lady World Champion in 1937, endowed a Trust in 1970 prior to her death in 1973, for the purpose of conserving and developing the collection.
The Simon Archery Foundation was formed to administer the Trust. In its inaugural year it commissioned Vilma Chiara (Dr. Schultz) to bring back a collection of archery material from her River Amazon expedition.
The Foundation's object is to collect archive material and to act as a repository for material relating to the development of archery, especially as it was Ingo Simon's wish that the exhibits should be of 'some use however little, to the advancement or retention of knowledge' because he thought it 'a great pity when an art of any sort - gets forgotten'.
Over the years the Collection has been added to and it now includes crossbows from Europe and Asia, composite bows which include a large number from India and Pakistan, Japanese laminated bows, longbows, steel bows, quivers, Japanese bow and arrowstands, thumb-rings, native bows mainly from Africa, the Pacific Islands and South America, and arrows from all these places.
Japanese bows dating mainly from the l9th and 20th centuries, are also of a composite design but differ in that they are made of a laminated bamboo and are invariably beautifully lacquered. They are of an average length of around seven feet and are designed with two-thirds of the bow above the archer's hand and one-third below. The traditional English six feet and five feet longbows dating from the l9th and 20th centuries and used by gentlemen and ladies when archery became a sport, are self bows of yew or are laminated. The steel bows as used in the 1950s and early 1960s, the modern fibreglass bows and the modern take-down bows can also be viewed.
The Indian, Persian, Chinese, Mongolian and Turkish composite bows dating from 1703 to the 19th century, are made of a flexible wood, horn, shredded sinew, and animal glue and all are decorated. Some elaborately so. These bows are drawn with the use of a thumb ring.
Arrows in the collection include: wood-barbed fishing arrows; bone, iron-barbed or blunt-ended for hunting; British longbow arrows with hardwood footings; tubular steel and aluminium arrows for steel bows; Turkish flight arrows, slender slim with conical piles of horn or metal, designed for distance; Indian armour-piercing arrows with pyramidal or square heads, and broad-headed and leaf-headed which are more suitable for hunting; and Chinese arrows with long fletchings.
The carefully created Japanese cane arrows are proud works of art: the leaf-buds are smoothed down with emery paper and if the arrows are not to be lacquered black, the node is high-lighted; the fletchings are heron, hawk, crane, eagle or falcon feathers.
The crossbows include examples used for war, hunting, poaching or target shooting from the 16th century up to the present date. Some have a fine decorative inlay of ivory or wood whilst others are of a simple design..