It is almost certain that the early use of archery would have been for hunting, as the firing of arrows from a distance provided a safer way to kill an animal than spearing it from close or driving it over a cliff. However, it did not take long to realise that archery could prove very useful for the neutralization of another human being, such as an enemy or a competitor. Once people began to settle and regard a particular piece of land as theirs, this inevitably resulted in conflict with others. As a consequence archery, along with other warfare means, became a significant part of many armies. Therefore arrow smiths aimed to craft the most effective heads for killing. As the armour craft developed and improved, so arrow heads were adjusted and their shape changed, requiring better armour; and so smiths made more efficient heads and so the race went on. By the Middle Ages a number of different shapes for different applications had been created. Leaf-shaped arrowheads were rather common, as their aerodynamic shape enabled a controlled and far-reaching firing.
To discover more about warfare and weapons in the Middle Ages, please visit our relevant blog post: Medieval Weaponry.