CARICATURE as regards archery must be divided into two separate portions, the unintentional and the intentional. With respect to the first, there are a vast number of prints and pictures representing archery in some form or other which are only caricatures, though probably nothing was further from the artist's thoughts than the representation of anything which was not strictly accurate, and in all probability he has remained in blissful ignorance of his failure.
These errors no doubt are generally the outcome of the total want of knowledge on the part of the artist of the subject which he endeavours to draw, coupled with a lack of sufficient observation. It is quite an exception to find any views of archery meetings which have appeared in the various illustrated papers which do not teem with inaccuracies, and it is difficult to believe in many instances that the artist was really present, though one may know that he was. Either the bows are made of the conventional Cupid shape, so modified by the individual taste and fancy of "our special artist" that by no possibility could they send an arrow any distance, or else the shooters are standing in a variety of attitudes suggestive of anything but a knowledge on their part of the art of shooting. It is quite common to find the shooters represented standing in front of the targets packed as close as herrings in a barrel, five or six shooting at a target at the same time. In some instances the targets they are shooting at are out of sight, in others not more than five hundred yards off. Drawing and loosing afford opportunities for the display of all sorts of eccentric attitudes and positions, and it is rare to find one archer in a proper position. Nor are these inaccuracies confined to newspaper illustrations ; they are to be found in many of the so-called "guides," and it is quite possible that some too confiding artist, conscientiously wishing to be correct, has, by studying these, been led into error.
Two prints published in 1790 by Rowlandson are curious examples of how the same artist can be accurate when he is content to copy someone who knows what he is about, and what a mess he can make when he follows his own unaided ideas. Of these two prints one represents gentlemen and the other ladies shooting; they are not caricatures, and less so than many of this artist's more serious drawings very often are. The first-named plate is a close copy of the print engraved by Heath from a drawing by Sclater, and is a very accurate representation of an archer of that day in the act of shooting, as might be expected from Mr. Waring's having stood to Sclater for the principal figure. In the second plate, however, Rowlandson has given free scope to his own rollicking imagination of what shooting should be, and the result is that the ladies are shown shooting with bows about two feet long, and apparently "treading the light fantastic toe" while in the act of shooting.