Arrows vary in form more perhaps from whim and opinion than from the advantages attending any particular shape; for if they be well rounded, it matters little whether they are " high-chested," or " small-breasted," or "tapered." Some are made thickest directly under the feathers, and taper gradually to the pile; and these are best calculated for distant flights: for short distances, those that are thick at the pile and slope towards the nock, answer equally well. The nock of the arrow was sometimes made of solid born, but it is now merely inlaid; it should be as nearly as possible the size of the, string, fitting closely, but without requiring force to fix it.
One of the most important parts of the arrow is the feather, without which the flight could neither be distant nor steady. Of the three feathers with which every arrow is furnished, one, it will be observed, generally differs from the other two in colour; this is called the cock-feather, and must always be uppermost on the string, or the others will (as Ascham expresses it) "run on the bow" and impede the flight of the shaft. As, however, all the feathers are sometimes of the same colour the best rule for placing the arrow in the string is, that the feather which is on the horn of the nock, whatever be its colour, is to be considered the cock-feather, and be uppermost or opposite to the side which rests on the bow. Feathers, after they are put upon the arrow, are generally covered lightly with gum-water, in order to give them a greater degree of stiffness.
The piles or heads of arrows are made both blunt and sharp; certain disadvantages, it is said, attend both these shapes; but the only practical one appears to be, that sharp piles penetrate further into the target, and are less easily extracted, than blunt ones.
The bracer is a piece of stout polished leather, buckled round the bow-arm, to prevent the string hurting it; in form it is generally oval, varying in size according to the method of holding the bow and the size of the arm.
The shooting-glove consists of three finger-stalls fastened round the wrist by a button or string, and may be used with or without a glove. It should be made of stout pliable leather.
The belt and tassel need hardly be described; the former buckles round the waist, and has the pouch for holding the arrows intended for present use fixed to it on the right side, and on the left the tassel for wiping the arrow-heads when drawn from the ground.
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