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Practice in Winter
by F. Townsend
The Archer's Register, 1911
Part 1 of 1

[The following letter originally appeared in the Field of May 3rd, 1862. It was mentioned by Mr. Townsend in an article which he wrote in the Archer's Register for 1866, but lost sight of till the beginning of last year, when my attention was called to it. The reference given in the article being incorrect, it was somewhat difficult to find, but, having found it, it was reprinted in the Field of December 24th, 1910. I have seen one of these instruments at Aldred's, which seems to possess the advantages claimed for it by Mr. Townsend, and republish the letter in the Archer's Register, so that it may be available for reference in a more generally accessible form than in the files of the Field. The instrument would, however, be improved by reducing the distance from b to f, which at present is greater than it should be.—Ed. Archer's Register.]

Instrument for Archery Exercise

Sir,—During the last few years I have devoted considerable attention to the theory and practice of archery, but, in consequence of absence from home or from being engaged in other matters, I have frequently been unable to command the necessary practice. With a desire to overcome this difficulty, I determined to construct an instrument which would fulfil all the purposes of exercise, keeping the muscles of the arm, and more particularly of the fingers, in good condition; portable enough also to be packed in a portmanteau, and which could be used indoors without either bow, arrows, or target.

The annexed woodcut is a sketch (on a scale of two-tenths to the inch) of the apparatus, such as I have now perfected it, and the eminent service it has done me during the past and present year induces me to send you the present communication, hoping that other archers may be induced to try the merits of the apparatus, and may benefit by its use. I may add that in its present form it is inexpensive and easily made.

The instrument consists of the following principal parts: — The shaft (a) representing the arrow; the handle (b); two regulators (c); two pulling accumulators (d), each pulling 30lb.; the single or resisting accumulator (e) doubled round the end of the shaft; the string (f)

Instrument for Archery Exercise
Instrument for Archery Exercise

The shaft has a hole bored perpendicularly at i, through which a double loop of cord is passed, attaching the pulling accumulators by means of two pins, which pass through the loops on either side of the shaft. The other ends of the pulling accumulators are attached to the regulators by means of a cord.

The handle is perforated at m, through which perforation the shaft passes and moves freely, the aperture being considerably larger than the shaft; the handle is strengthened at this point by brass plates.

The regulators are so called because they regulate the weight pulled; they are passed through the handle at either end, and are kept there by movable brass pins. The lower regulator should be always fixed twice as far from the handle as the upper one. If the pins are placed in the last hole, the weight pulled is 48lb.; if in the fourth, 501b.; in the third, 521b.; and so on. For ladies, weaker accumulators should be used; I think they are to be had pulling only 201b. each.

The accumulator, e, also pulling 30lb., is doubled over the extremity of the shaft and firmly bound there, so that half lies on one side, and half on the other side of the shaft. (The brass rings should be removed from this accumulator, as they strike against the sides of the shaft in using the instrument, and wear away the wood.) To each loop is attached a strong cord, the extremities of which are fixed to hooks placed on the handle.

The string being either of cord or catgut, of the thickness of an ordinary bowstring, is fixed to the bar n, which latter is attached to the shaft by a brass or tin plate and screw nut; care should be taken that the string should be of such a length that, when pulled, it should describe the same angle as the string of a bow when the arrow is pulled to the pile.

The apparatus when in use is held exactly as the bow, and, the shaft being always in its place, the fingers are applied to the string and the draw made to the length of the arrow ordinarily used (a mark being made on the shaft as at g), exactly as if the bow and arrow were really in the hand, and no fear need be entertained in loosing the string. The front accumulators take the place of the strength of the bow, and the double accumulator at the end resists the force of the propelled shaft, which returns to its usual place, leaving the instrument ready for use again, without any further adjustment.

From my own experience I am of opinion that the instrument is eminently serviceable in the discovery and correction of faults in position, of jerking, or dropping the elbow during the loose, and of other bad habits, the archer being supposed to know the correct style, or to have a friend at hand who can instruct him.

The attention is not taken up by the success of the shot, or by the fear of overdrawing, &c., but is fixed solely on the correction of faults, and correctness in style.

The accumulators should be examined occasionally, and replaced by new ones if they appear worn; mine have lasted me twelve months. The best are to be had at Edmiston's, Charing Cross.

The instrument when complete should, if placed in a scale, weigh about the same as a bow and arrow. The best material is lancewood.

Oakfield, Leamington. Fredk. Townsend.