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Mechanical Expedients
by Dr. Robert P. Elmer
Forest and Stream, July 11, 1914
Interesting Reflections of An Expert Archer
Part 1 of 2

AT the national tournament last August Dr. Case and Mr. Ovington placed on the ground between themselves and their targets easily visible objects to be used as points of aim. In doing this they transgressed no written law of archery and so far as I know received no verbal censure from anybody. Nevertheless Dr. Case saw fit to publish in Forest and Stream a short time later a thoughtful, scholarly article explaining at length the reasons for his act. Mr. Ovington followed suit in a later issue. The question at once suggests itself. Why did these gentlemen feel that a defense was called for? Was there some more or less definite unwritten law, or perhaps sentiment, among archers which made them feel a little uneasy until the question should be threshed out in print? Undoubtedly there is such a feeling and it relates not only to points of aim but to anything that means a deviation from the simplicity of ancient, elementary archery. Why this is so I will try to make obvious in this article.

There is no use in doing things by halves so if we are going to improve one part of the game let us make our efforts general. Suppose that first we find our points of aim on the ground for 40, 50, 60 and possibly 80 yards and place on them white pieces of paper to sight at. Then logically we should fix a sight for the 100 yard distance. For nearly all archers this would be above the target so we must stick a tall fishing pole in the ground behind our target and suspend on it at the right height from the ground something for a point of aim.

Having thus established perfect sights on the range let us apply ourselves to the improvement of our weapons.

In the first place the arrow must always slide past the same place on the bow but, as the left hand is liable to variations of position, we can here make a mechanical improvement. Instead of letting the arrow rest on the comparatively movable human skin we glue to the side of the bow a nice shoulder of wood and so eliminate this source of inaccurate shooting.

Furthermore the nock end of the arrow must be in exactly the same place on the string at every shot so we fix that mechanically by winding little lumps of thread about the bowstring above and below the nocking point. The arrow has then but one place where it can rest so another possible source of error is gone.

In order to get the same trajectory the arrow must be drawn back exactly the same length for each shot. No longer need we trust our carefully trained senses to secure this happy result but we merely join the bow to the bowstring by a piece of stout thread 27 inches long and then pull the arrow back till it is mechanically brought to a stop. Here is another thing made easy and accurate.