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The Point of Aim and Other Mechanical Expedients
Part 2 of 6

In these later years of strife in all athletic sports for high attainments through competitive contests, one god or goddess after another of former glory has been tumbled from their time-honored pedestals by more and more exact and scientific methods for reaching higher results. Many men who have put into their work some factor which has brought it a little nearer to an actual science. I venture to say that every archer who, through long or continuous practice has succeeded in making record-breaking scores—however much he may be aided by individual endowments—has hit upon some special system of exact movements and positions which are duplicates, or strives to duplicate, in each act of putting a shot, and throughout each frame of every round. In time this oft repeated com-bination of movements, each factor of which demanded at first definite mental direction, must gradually become to a large extent subconscious acts of habit. Physiologically speaking, the brain has shunted the afferent and efferent nerve impulses of thought to the ganglionic centers which preside over the activities of the muscles in the required vicinity. The motor impulses now traveling over oft trodden paths of habit do not need to be individually guided, or even cognized by the brain, though it unconsciously sets them into motion through the machinery of thought and endeavor for ultimate results. It is at this point of attainment, whenever reached, in archery and music, that the performer commences to become the real artist of his art.

No very high repeated results in modern archery ever has or ever will be attained, except through mechanical accuracy of tools and movements. It goes without saying that the bow must be perfect in its essentials. I do not mean by that that it must be a high priced yew bow, because some of the record-breaking scores have been made with bows of medium grade, the same as some of the most important work in astronomy and microscopy has been accomplished with the lower power lenses; but it must be a bow which imparts no cranky or untrue movements to well loosened arrows. The arrows should be absolutely straight, of the same length, weight and poise, and perfectly feathered, so as to be true in their movements and exactly alike in a well directed flight, etc. And yet after all it is the man behind the gun who, if he attains to repeated high scores, must have arrived at a combination of movements —consciously or unconsciously— each factor of which blends harmoniously into the act which he repeats with near mechanical precision. If it were possible for human machines to exactly repeat all the factors on this combination every time, the present entrancing art and science of archery would cease to be a pleasure and a sport. It would be one of the many instances in which too much gold has destroyed the real beauty and happiness of lives.

Fortunately human beings are not made that way. for however much skill, steadiness of nerve and muscle a man or woman may possess, together with that unknown quality which comes through individual endowments, the normal beating of the heart with the arm extended—if nothing else—will sufficiently mar the repeated duplication of some one or more of the factors of the act of shooting to prevent the possibilities of archery deteriorating into the trueness, of machinery. Then think of the influences at work in high strung individuals under the stress of intense competitive desires at tournaments. I believe we need have no fear of the introduction of any methods within reason of sport which equalizes the opportunities of its votaries by limiting the element of luck, and especially not those methods which tend to develop instinctive subconscious movements along true lines.