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Home > Books > The Art of Archerie > Chapter XIX
Chapter XIX
Of keeping a length, of wind and weather.

Having handled (as I hope) sufficiently this theme of fair shooting, there remains nothing now but shooting straight, and keeping a length, to make a man hit the mark, which is the full end of this discourse; now to shoot straight, or keep a length, cannot be done without some excellent knowledge of the wind and weather, therefore I will join them together, and discoursing of each in their proper places, show what belongs to the keeping of a length, and what to shooting straight.

The greatest enemies to shooting, are the wind and the weather, by which true keeping a length is chiefly hindered, which accident, if it were not, men by ordinary instruction might be brought to wonderful near shooting. For it is no marvel if the little poor shaft, being sent alone so high into the air amidst the rage of wind and weather, one blast hurling it one way, and another, another. It is I say, no marvel if it both loose the length, & miss the place where the shooter had thought to have found it. Greater matters then shooting are under the rule of the weather, and will of the wind; as sailing on the seas, and things of like nature, and as in sailing the chiefest point of a good master, is to know all tokens, which belong to the change of weather, and the course of the winds, that either by he may with more safety come to the Heaven; even so the best property of a good shooter, is to know the nature of the winds with him & against him, by which he shall sooner hit the mark. Wise sea masters, when they cannot win the best have, are glad of the next that is good; and shooters, although they cannot hit the mark, will be glad, and labor to come as near as they can. All things in this world, are imperfect and unconstant, therefore let every man acknowledge his own weakness, and only glorify him which is all perfection. The sailor that putts forth in all weathers, seldom escapes shipwreck, and the shooter, which makes no difference of seasons, but holds all alike, shall neither boast of winnings nor of virtue. Little boats and thin boards, cannot indure the rage of tempests, and weak bows and light shafts, cannot stand in a rough wind. And believe it , what archer soever shoots ignorantly, considering neither fair weather nor foul, true or false standing, nocking feather, nor head drawing nor loosing nor yet any compass, shall always shoot short and gone, wide and far off, and never cone near, except by chance he stumble on the mark; for ignorance is nothing else, but absolute blindness.

A skillful archer will first with diligent use and marking the weather, learn to know the nature of the wind, and will with wisdom measure in his mind, how much it will alter his shot either in length keeping, or in straight shooting so with changing his standing, or taking another shaft which he knows to be fitter for his purpose, either because it is lower feathered, or else of a better wing, will so handle with discretion his shot, that he will seem rather to have the weather under his rule by such care and circumspection, then the weather to rule his shaft by any sudden changing. Therefore in shooting, there is as much difference, between an archer that is a good weather man, and him that knows nor observes any thing, as is betwixt a blind-man and him that can see.

Moreover, a perfect archer must seriously learn to know the sure flight of his shafts, that he may be bold always to trust them: next, he must learn by continual experience to know all kind of weathers the signs when it will come, the nature when it is come, the diversity and alteration when it changes, and the decrease and diminishing when it eases: these things thus known and observed, and every shot diligently pondered, the ought our archer to compare the weather and his footing together, and with discretion measure them, so that whatsoever the weather shall take away from his shot, the same shall just footing restore again; this point well known, and discreetly handled, brings more profit and commendations to the archer, then any other secondary observation whatsoever.

He that will know perfectly the wind and weather, must put difference between times, and seasons, for diversities of times cause the diversity of weather. As in the whole year there are four diversities of times, the Spring, the Summer, the Fall , and Winter, so likewise in one day, there are also four diversities of time; the morning, noontide, afternoon and evening; and all these, both alter the weather and change a mans bow and strength, and to know that this si so, is enough for an archer, and not to search the cause why it should be so, for that is the office of the learned.

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