It was usually made of wood with a metal tip, often measuring over 10 feet long. It was designed for use by a mounted warrior, such as a lancer. It was used during the Classical and Medieval periods and evolved for use in cavalry. It was unsuited for throwing and repeated thrusting, unlike weapons that looked the same such as the spear, javelin, pike, and other similar weapons which were used for the infantry. Lances were also equipped with a vamplate, a small circular plate that prevented the wielder's hand from sliding up the shaft when in impact.
Though it was mostly known as a military and sporting weapon carried by European knights, the lance was used in a large part of Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, and wherever a mount could be used.