The Sharpest Loose
From: The Archer's Register for 1904-1905, pp. 266-268,
Edited by H. Walrond
Every archer knows that the most difficult operation in shooting is the loose, and everyone will agree that the weakness of the fingers of the right hand is a common and most serious reason of breaking down in practice. Thus I was forced ten years ago to give up shooting, not because I could not continue, but because it interfered with other activities of the right hand, the latter becoming heavy and unfit for more delicate work—for example, drawing and music. But I could not give up for ever, archery having so strong an attraction for me that I was compelled to try and pick it up afresh. Of course, I found my hand was as weak as formerly for the loose, and therefore tried to loose in other ways, so as not to strain the fingers of the right hand. I tried the looses used by all other nations, including the Mongolian loose and the loose invented by the late Dr. Gruggen,. described in the Badminton Archery by Mr. Longman, and finally settled on a loose of my own, nearly coincident with the primary and the Wutah loose.
I have proceeded in the simplest way, and I have succeeded, in a measure scarcely expected, in getting a loose of the sharpest sort, not affected by any of the consequences of weakness. I prepared a puller, seen in the sketch, cut and filed out of hard wood or horn.
I have tried many patterns of this puller, to obtain the best fit for the hand and fingers, but the simplest has proved the best. One takes this puller in the fist, the arrow being suitably nocked, seizes the string with the edge so that the nock of the arrow comes in the groove, puts the thumb on the nock, or immediately above the nock on the edge, hindering the string from slipping down, pulls up in the accustomed way, elbow well up and to the rear, and presses the first knuckle of the forefinger firmly on the jawbone next the chin, the thumb resting under the jawbone. (A still firmer grip would be under the chin, but by many repetitions the chin may become hurt.) The aim being perfected, the thumb is lifted a little, and in this moment the string slips down the edge, and the loose effects itself in the sharpest imaginable manner. The grip of the bow most be tight and firm to effect a little more tension in the drawn bow and string, as a compensation for the wanting push the usual loose gives the string.
This loose is sharper than any finger loose can be. By it the right hand can hardly come away from the face, bone being against bone. From the same reason the creeping of the arrow and forward loose is almost impossible. The nook must keep exactly its position during the loose. A further advantage is, that it is suitable in the same way for weak and heavy bows, the loose proving itself as sharp by the weak as by the strong one: so being under-bowed is no disadvantage. Weakening or injuring the finger is impossible, the whole strength of the right fist being applied almost in the same manner as the left. In my opinion all disadvantages of the European loose are here wanting. Since the whole vigour of the right hand is applied, a stronger bow can be more accurately loosed than it could be by the usual loose.
Tight fitting of the nocking point is not necessary, because the thumb keeps the arrow on its place; but the usual lapping of the purchasable strings is too soft. The string must be lapped with as hard a thread and as tightly as possible, because the string is more liable to break, especially if it is a hard one. Notwithstanding, I could do 2000 shots with one string—a very flexible one.
I have practised this loose with bows of 201b. up to 501b., working exactly every time, and I could get more accuracy with it than with my ordinary one. Because it is not so liable to become faulty, one can turn one's mind intensely to the other weak points—the position, and particularly the left arm, resting in the main responsible for the accurate direction of the arrow.
I do not believe that a first-class shot will ever try to substitute this contrivance for his well elaborated loose. But there are archers enough with weak fingers unable to bring about a good faultless loose and not able to keep up the necessary strength a long time. Maybe they can do better with the described one in the same way as the author has been able to do.
How little strain this loose imposes upon the fingers of the right hand may be seen by the fact that I can shoot every day at least 100 arrows with a 461b. bow, in one year shooting 22,000 shots, visibly improving my shooting. Of course, now and then I lose my shooting, and must search for the reason of it; but I never found the fault in the loose, but mostly in the left arm, so that the saying, " If in doubt, blame the loose," here is out of place.