American Indians did not always have the bow and arrow. It was not until about A.D. 500 that the bow and arrow was adopted in Iowa some 11,500 years after the first people came to the region. Primary benefits of the bow and arrow over the spear are more rapid missile velocity, higher degree of accuracy, and greater mobility. Arrowheads also required substantially less raw materials than spear heads. A flint knapper could produce a large number of small projectile points from a single piece of chert. Even with the gun's many advantages in the historic era, bows and arrows are much quieter than guns, allowing the hunter more chances to strike at the prey.
Indians used arrows to kill animals as large as bison and elk. Hunters approached their prey on foot or on horse back, accurately targeting vulnerable areas.