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The Art of Archery
Part 2 of 5

Now as to the elementary technique of bow handling: First, string the bow. Place the end of the lower limb (the one on which the string is tied), against the hollow of your right foot, on which your weight rests as you stand. Grasp the handle of the bow with your right hand, its back toward you; place the ball of your left hand on the back of the upper limb near the horn, and press, holding the handle rigid (Fig. 1). As the bow bends, push the loop of the string up with the fingers until the loop is in the nock of the horn. A little practice will accomplish this feat. To unstring, reverse the process.

Now stand about 50 yards in front of the target, which is hung on its tripod, the lower edge four feet from the ground. Stand with the left side (unless you are left-handed, in which case all processes are reversed), square to the target so that both shoulders are in exact line with the bull's-eye, or gold. Heels should be about six inches apart, toes turned out. Grasp the bow lightly in the left hand, upper limb to the right, so that the thumb and forefinger encircle the handle at its top. Keep the closed hand straight with the wrist all through; in this way the string will have a clean sweep when the arrow is discharged.

Take an arrow by the shaft in your right hand and place it on top of the horizontal bow; and while you hold it there with the thumb or forefinger of the left hand, adjust the nock on the string with the right fingers, keeping the odd feather up (Fig. 2). When nocked, arrow is held in place on the string between the first and second fingers, which should not pinch. With the three fingers hooked on to the string, half-way up to the first joint, the draw is made.

The shaft of the arrow lies in the groove made by the bow hand against the bow immediately above the handle. Tilt the bow to the right about 15 degrees, to prevent the arrow from falling away. The best finger protector for a beginner is an old kid glove. Cut away the thumb and little finger and reinforce the last joints of the remaining fingers with a smooth, pliable piece of pigskin, cut to fit, and sewed on. This isn't as hard on the fingers as regulation tips, is more easily managed, and will enable one to harden the fingers without discomfort.