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The Art of Archery
Part 4 of 5

The point in drawing to the chin is this: Both eyes are kept open, but the right eye—supposing the archer isn't left-handed and reversing the processes—takes the lead, so to speak, and all is seen from its focus. Now, to shoot true, the arrow must be wholly within the plane of a straight line running from the eye focus, across the knuckle where the arrow touches the bow, to the object shot at. It is easiest to keep within that plane by drawing to the chin under the eye, as it gives a definite point of contact; when an arrow flies to the right or left, it is pretty surely due, provided the bow arm be held absolutely firm at the time of release, to the arrow having been drawn a trifle outside the plane spoken of. This can be corrected at the next shot.

Having gone thus far in the process of shooting, the loose claims, and always will claim, utmost attention. It is accomplished, not by opening the three fingers for that will give a sluggish loose, and besides will likely jerk the arrowout of the eye-plane, but the fingers are pulled off the string, smoothly, deliberately, firmly. On no account, after the draw is completed and while steadying on the aim, must the pull be relaxed. Keep the pull on till the final action of release. This pulling off the string is not done by the fingers or hand alone, but by both, combined with an entire arm movement, which, however, should be very slight. It is the most difficult feature of shooting, and only by unremitting attention can it be mastered. The shooting will steadily improve as the loose is perfected.

Another essential from which the attention cannot be released a single moment is the managment of the bow hand. This must be held absolutely firm. And this doesn't require bull strength, unless the archer is over-bowed, i. e., using a weapon beyond his strength. Grasp the handle lightly at the beginning of the draw and keep it so till the moment the draw is being completed; then squeeze the handle as if you would crush it. That produces rigidity all through the left arm and will maintain this rigidity till the arrow is gone. Don't relax the squeeze and drop the bow hand the moment you loose; that is sure to result in dropping the arrow and spoiling the shot. Keep the pull on the string fingers till the loose, and keep the bow hand firmly extended till the arrow is well gone. Never take the attention from these cardinal points.

Mention is made of "bull strength." Anyone can pull a bow occasionally, as in hunting or flight shooting, far stronger than is possible in target practice, where many dozen arrows are shot in two or three hours' time. But as two or more persons shoot together on a target, and as the supreme muscular effort comes only at the last six inches of the draw and lasts only a second or two at each shot, the strain of archery is not great and the sport may be followed with benefit by persons who through age or physical disqualification cannot attempt anything so vigorous as tennis, for example,

Now comes the point of aim. Since the arrow cannot be "sighted" like a gun barrel, on account of the acute angle it makes with the line from eye to object, the aiming must be from the tip of the arrow to the object. The object is a relative one. If 50 yards is the distance, with a 50-pound bow the arrow should fly nearly horizontal, so that in aiming the bow hand must be depressed till the steel finds a point on the ground, this side the target, which will make the shaft about parallel with the ground. The exact spot depends on the strength of the bow, and the archer's skill. It must be found by experiment.

To shoot 60 yards, the point will be nearer the target, as the arrow will describe a low arch, and to shoot 100 yards there is a decided trajectory, and the point of aim will lie above the target on some object in the background. In all cases, whether on the near or far side of the target, this object must be in line with the gold of the target, and in elevating to the point of aim the arrow should take a straight upward line. In drawing, do not start out of a straight line, so that you will have to swing around in a curve.