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Thoughts on Archery
Part 2 of 5

Well, perhaps the wise heads are right, who are slowly but surely demolishing our inherited beliefs. How sad to think of the next generation of boys with no Robin Hood to glory in, and no William Tell (at least no apple-shooting in connection with him)! And in all probability the apple story about our first parents, will soon be pronounced another myth. However, out of respect to my ancestors, I still pin my faith to the "Foresters Good."

In looking over an old book published in the early part of the seventeenth century I find that the redoubtable Robin was a member of the noble family of Huntingdon, but owing to a series of wild deeds and misdemeanors he was banished from his ancestral halls, and became outlawed and took up his abode in Sherwood forest, whence he became the terror of the inhabitants of the neighboring countries. This same account also makes Friar Tuck and Little John actual personages, the former being a renegade known as the Curtal Fryer, and the latter's real name being William Fearlock. After digesting all these facts, the modern theory of the "Sun God" and the Dawn Maiden, versus Robin Hood and Maid Marian, seems to me rather far-fetched. But I do not imagine for an instant that the fame of Robin Hood (whether he be real or imaginary) would have been handed down to our time had his weapon been any other than the symmetrical bow. I remember being in Canada at the time of the Fenian fiasco of 1869. And when the Canadian volunteers returned to Montreal with their few beggarly prisoners, and various odds and ends of spoil, captured from the poor mistaken lads, one could scarcely help smiling at the incongruous array. But suddenly the smile was changed into a fixed gaze of interest as one of the volunteers marched past, bearing proudly on his shoulders a veritable cross-bow captured from the enemy. The spectators were lost in amazement that here, in the latter part of the nineteenth century, was prepared for use in warfare an almost obsolete arm. Just how it came about I could not learn, for the misguided youths were too much chagrined at their ignominious position to talk much. But after seeing that relic of the past I seemed to have more sympathy with the poor fellows, and my thoughts were carried back instinctively to the days of chivalry; in fact it was the sole redeeming point in the whole affair.

The Romans had a law that every man should practice shooting in times of peace until he was forty years old, and that every house should have a bow and forty shafts (the name by which arrows were originally known) ready for all occasions.