Where does come from?
From ancient mammoth hunting to the legend of Robin Hood, archery has a long and rich history. This is why it was proposed to Unicode in 2015 with a number of other sports-related emoji to “fill in gaps in symbols related to popular sports—with special attention to sports featured in international competitions such as the Olympic games.” Unicode 8.0 approved the bow and arrow emoji just in advance of the 2016 Rio de Janeiro summer Olympics.
The emoji—fairly uniform across platforms apart from some minor color differences—depicts an arrow strung in a bow and ready to fire.
While the original intent of the bow and arrow emoji was to celebrate the sport of archery, it became a symbol of the mythic Cupid and therefore love. In Roman myths, the goddess of love, Venus, deployed her mischievous son Cupid, to strike powerless humans with his arrows and fall in love. These associations have continued into modern times—from popular music to, well, emoji.
Who uses ?
Alongside the heart with arrow emoji, 💘, the bow and arrow emoji is commonly used to express love, affection, and attraction, whether it’s their bae or a celebrity crush. It’s very popular on Valentine’s Day.
— ❥loona pics (@loonalog) July 14, 2018
— BarDown (@BarDown) February 14, 2018
Actual archers, and fans of archery, string the bow and arrow emoji to show off their skills or cheer on a competition.
Fictional archers, and their fans, also love the bow and arrow emoji. Characters include Robin Hood, the superhero the Green Arrow, and all things Hunger Games, thanks to the fierce slinging of its lead character, Katniss.
Robin Hood 🏹
— 🕊 (@rarees3) August 10, 2018
— Thia (@siIvrIinings) March 22, 2018
— Mr.Anonymous. (@Ray48846464) May 11, 2018
Starry-eyed astrology enthusiasts also use the bow and arrow emoji when discussing the sign of Sagittarius (and the constellation it is based on), which also has its own emoji form, a glyph representing an arrow: ♐.
Sagittarius Lady 🏹 pic.twitter.com/LHoJErZdqS
— ❄Nadooshka (@nadia_n2012) July 8, 2018
Archery is all about hitting the target, which we use as a metaphor for something being perfect or on point—and making for a creative application of the bow and arrow emoji, often joined with the direct hit, emoji 🎯.
— Michelle Minniti (@michie8) August 10, 2018
Breakfast was on the money 🏹
— .King Day 🍦🤴🏽 (@__Chop_) December 28, 2017
When the emoji debuted in 2015, the website Bustle even cleverly suggested to their readers to use it in sexting to indicate an orgasm.