Archery men were special not just due to training time but body development.
When they did the examinations of the skeletons on a British warship wreck they were able to tell who was an archer by the lopsided bone development from years of pulling on the bow.
I think you have a little bit of a chicken and egg scenario there. Of course, people who drew bows had lopsided bone development but that was a result of the amount of time spent training - since actual battles were rare.
One could argue that the musket replaced the crossbow ( similar range, loading time) while artillery replaced archers ( better range ).
"Its adoption over handheld thrusting or throwing spears."
There is no reason to assume exclusivity, though. It seems quite logical to me that then, as now, different tools (weapons) suit different purposes. The atlatl was the obvious advance over the thrusting spear in that it gave range but a kill shot at long distance seems like a one in a million chance. But you could wound an animal and then finish it off with your thrusting spear. I would also expect such a hunter to carry something to do the work of a knife and even a tomahawk. I agree that in the hands of an expert archer a number of arrows can be fired quickly, but if a wild boar charges out of a thicket 10 yards away I think you'd have more of a chance impaling it with a spear because I don't know if you could even get one arrow off before it was on you.
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