THE recent war, with its revival in new and more efficient forms of medieval weapons, seems also to have awakened the general interest of sportsmen in the gun's predecessor, the bow and arrow.
Four hundred years ago the bow and arrow held first place; now it has well nigh disappeared from the face of the earth as a weapon, except in the hands of the few savage peoples remaining, as yet, untouched by white man's influence.
It was to satisfy an ungratified curiosity on the subject that the writer spent on different occasions considerable time and not a little money on investigation of and experimentation with the possibilities of archery. As a gun crank, target shooter and hunter the writer necessarily considered, more or less from the viewpoint of one curious to know, the bow as compared with the firearms of to-day, and to what extent a bow could be made to serve practically the modern hunter, if at all.
Several years of traveling and residence in different parts of Central America gave the writer opportunity to see and experiment with native Indian bows and arrows. Wherever the Indian has been able to obtain firearms, the bow has been practically discontinued years ago in favor of the gun, usually smooth-bore and muzzle-loading. The bow is, however, often retained for shooting fish and small birds. Central American bows seem as a general thing to be rather short and doubtless they are made this way because a longer bow would be objectionable to carry about in thick jungle. The wood of which they are made varies but is frequently some one of the various species of palm. The arrows are usually of reed, tipped with a heavier wood, often black palm, and are not always feathered.