Part 4 of 9
For a long time American archers were dependent on Great Britain for their outfits, and the relative merits of the foreign manufactures are well known among the fraternity. At this time, however, American bows are largely used, and are finding their way all over the country, to the gradual displacement of foreign makes of corresponding price and quality as fast as they are introduced. For beginners, probably the best bows used are what are known as "self-bows"—that is, bows made from a single stick. Of this class, the majority are lemonwood and lancewood. A good, serviceable bow to start with can be had for four or five dollars ; half a dozen arrows, say as much more; arm-guard, finger-tips, and quiver, say three dollars — so that a total of twelve or fifteen dollars will fit out the intending archer ready for the range. A straw target, thoroughly made, with regulation painted facing, will cost say six dollars, but can be bought by a club, or a few friends joining together, for common use. Once the probationary period is passed, the archer will become ambitious, and desire a better bow—and here his taste can be gratified with a large variety to select from. What are known as backed bows, made usually from two different woods (occasionally three), abound in styles and numbers, at from seven to twenty-five dollars in price, according to quality, through the various grades. Snakewood, beefwood, partridgewood, lemonwood, lance-wood, yew, and so forth, joined with ash or hickory for the back, are in common use here, and can be seen on any archery range. Perhaps the handsomest in appearance are the snakewood and hickory, the beautifully mottled dark wood contrasting well with the white. The more expensive bows of this class are marvels of finish and workmanship. Every part is wrought out to a certain scale so delicately graduated as to secure the best results in accuracy of shooting, elasticity, and strength. The yew, however, is the bow par excellence, and is unequaled in smoothness and elasticity of pull, quickness, and lack of tendency to "kick," noticeable in all other bows. The archer desirous of doing the handsome thing by himself can get a fine yew bow for two hundred and fifty dollars. Should that frighten the intending purchaser, perhaps a statement that a yew can be secured for fifteen or twenty dollars may be reassuring. The fortunate possessor of a fine bow is envied among archers less favored, but at the same time has a little extra care on his hands in giving it proper attention, although that should be done with every bow, whatever the quality. A frequent rubbing with an oiled rag is to the bow what careful grooming is to the race-horse; and the better taken care of, the better the results in every way, in either case.