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Thoughts on Archery
Part 5 of 5

The Turks have the reputation of being great flight- shooters. It is stated that, upon July 9, 1792, Mahmoud Effendi, Turkish ambassador, showed his strength by shooting 415 yards against wind, and 482 yards with the wind, in the rear of Bedford House, London: and he affirmed that Selim, then grand seignior, often shot 500 yards.

Archery is still carried on to a great extent in the Ottoman Empire. Each sultan when he comes to the throne tests his skill with the bow; and he is invariably found to be most proficient in the art. If he were otherwise it would be hardly courteous to proclaim the fact.

Flight-shooting is not much practiced now. Target-shooting proves the skill of the modern archer. English clubs shoot at from 100 to 60 yards for gentlemen, and from 60 to 40 for ladies. I again quote Maurice Thompson, who gives his own experience in shooting wild turkeys in the swamps of Florida at 150 yards, with arrows twenty-eight inches long; he also relates how a band of archers defeated a crack rifle team, and gives the score thus:-

  Rifles    Archers
At 100 yds. pt blank 193  At 20 yds. pt. blank 44lb. bow 200
At 200 yds. pt blank 109  At 30 yds. pt. blank 44lb. bow 184
At 200 second round 156  At 40 yds. pt. blank 44lb. bow 146

thus proving that the good old bow and arrow still hold their own.

One can hardly expect, in these days of Krupp guns, and other wholesale means of wiping out human life, to see the bow restored to modern warfare, but there are many who would be glad to see archery again take its place as the king of athletic sports. It has everything to recommend it; it is both health-giving and exciting, and if differs from other sports inasmuch as it gives actual pleasure to the mere beholder. Who can stand unmoved and view the graceful pose of a well trained archer of either sex, clad in their picturesque costume of Lincoln green and silver trimmings? Watch the superb poise of the whole body, braced for the draw of the bowstring, how each different muscle is brought into play, the head thrown back with careless abandon, the entire form replete with supple movement. Who, I say, can stand indifferent and see the winged shaft, when, after being liberated from the tension of the bowstring, it takes its flight with a whiz, until it finally buries itself in the target? Every one is on the qui vive to know whether it has struck "the gold," or how near it has come to it. The target for competitive shooting is constructed of straw covered with painted canvas, representing four concentric rings and a bull's-eye. This latter is a gold spot in the center, and the number of times this is hit is scored as so many "golds." Out- side of this comes a red ring, then white, black, and again white. The general size of a target is four feet in diameter, with a nine-inch gold. The score is kept as follows: Bull's-eye, 9; first ring, 7; second ring, 5; third ring, 3; fourth, or outer white ring, 1.

It is well known that here in the United States archery is but little practiced, though a few years ago an effort was made in fashionable circles to establish its claim as an exciting pastime, and no Newport or Long Branch cottage was considered complete without its targets on the lawn.

Why should it be so? What has led to the decadence of the bowman's art? Is it merely a freak of fashion? I suppose it requires as much skill to be a good tennis-player as it does to be an adept with the bow and arrow. But I don't think it requires as much muscular exertion, which, I suppose, serves to make it popular with people of delicate physique. I imagine that the carelessness in the matter of costume on the art of the archers has had something to do with the lack of interest in the sport, as it, above all others, requires its devotees to be suitably equipped. The green velvet suit and Tyrolese hat seem to be a necessary adjunct to the bow and quiver. Another important point is the locality chosen for a competition. In order to carry out the illusion, we want to see archery practiced in some sylvan spot, cool and shadowy, with graceful elms and umbrageous oaks to lend their kindly shelter to the tired competitors after they have shot their round of arrows, and where the spectator can recline on mossy carpets, and invoke the spirits of departed "merrie men," who once roamed through the forest glade.