The pleasures and advantages of archery
From: The New Sporting Magazine
Vol. I, No. 1, pp. 30-32. June 1831.
Part 2 of 2
Equally adapted to every age and sex, to the sick and the healthy, the weak as well as the strong, affording exercise without fatigue, and combining with amusement that gradual excitement of the physical powers so desirable after a long-continued and debilitating illness, Archery, as might be expected, has attracted the attention and received the commendations of the most eminent physicians of all ages. Some persons have an idea that great muscular powers and considerable exertion are required for drawing the bow, of whatever size it may be. But this is quite an erroneous opinion; the strength of the bow may be, and is in general, adapted to the age, size, and sex of the party, and the mode or manner of drawing it very simple and easily acquired by practice.
One of the peculiar advantages of this delightful amusement, is the inducement which it offers to the fair sex to partake of active exercise in the open air. Field sports, in the ordinary acceptation of the term, are considered too masculine and inhuman,—too inconsistent with that "gentleness and sweet attractive grace" which should pervade their every thought and act.
"Far be the spirit of the chase frtom them!
To spring the fence, to rein the prancing steed;
The cap, the whip, the mascnline attire."
But, even by the most fastidious, Archery cannot be classed among the sports
"In which they roughen to the sense, and all
The winning softness of their sex is lost."
Being thus debarred, not less by public opinion than by habit and education, from participating in the more active rural sports, they are, to a certain extent, compelled to have recourse to amusements of a sedentary and domestic nature. Some ladies there are, indeed, to whom a rural walk presents at all times and in all seasons an unfailing source of amusement, and who do not discover an insurmounable obstacle in every hill, or disheartening difficulties in rugged paths and ploughed fields; but in general, when exercise is to be courted for its own sake alone, and without a more exciting motive than the preservation of health, it soon ceases to afford them gratification, and becomes an irksome and uninviting task.
As a recreation, therefore, which without creating satiety, affords constant and regular exercise, and while it tends to amuse and exhilirate the spirits gives strength and vigour to the limbs, Archery is of all others most deserving the attention of the fair sex.
An Archery Meeting seems too, to be peculiarly calculated for displaying the various orders of female beauty,—the simple, the graceful, and the commanding, appear to equal advantage, and a pretty face or a pretty figure, a well-turned arm or a well-turned ankle attract equal admiration in the elegant costume of an Archeress. Nor can a more graceful attitude be conceived, than that of an Archer at the moment of discharging the arrow; it has attracted the attention of painters and sculptors in every age, and been a favourite theme with poets from the days of Homer to the present time. The beautiful passage on this subject in the fourth book of the Iliad, must be familiar to every classical reader.
Such are a few of the pleasures and advantages which at a trifling expense, and with the most beneficial effects, this delightful amusement offers to almost every class of persons. To do justice to its various merits would require more time and ability than I can pretend to bestow upon it. This brief and hasty sketch may, however, be sufficient to obtain for it that attention, which, as an agreeable and salutary exercise for the youth of both sexes, and an infallible protection against "those foes to fair ones,—time and thought," it so pre-eminently deserves. In a future Number I shall, with your permission, offer a few observations on the proper equipments of an archer, and the rules to be observed in the several kinds of shooting.
I am, Sir, yours, &c.