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Chapter XIX
The String, Bracer, and Other Implements
Part 2 of 2


The shooting glove has also gone through many changes; and numberless inventions--good, bad, and indifferent--have been brought out with a view of improving the loose. To obtain a good loose is such an important point that probably few archers of any note have not at some period or other tried many different experiments to secure it. It may be laid down as a rule that the leather of the tips or shooting glove should be as thin as it can be, consistent. with providing sufficient protection to the fingers, for to secure a good loose it is necessary to be able to feel the string. For a sharp loose nothing equals a kid glove, but few people have sufficiently hard fingers to be able to dispense with more protection than this affords. It is not proposed to give a list of all the various devices that have been in use, commencing with the glove used some two hundred years ago, which appears to have been a wonderful contrivance, as it was made a receptacle for a spare string, bees'-wax, grease, and a few other odds and ends, but only to name the best finger protection now a use.

Fig. 165
Fig. 165

The ordinary glove without anything else, or with pieces of leather sewn on to the first three fingers of the right hand (fig. 165), is often used, especially by ladies, and with the weight of their bows does well enough, though it is advisable that the leather sewn on the tips of the fingers should be hard--horse-butt for choice--as anything in the shape of soft or spongy leather does not give a good loose. For gentlemen, however, who use bows of greater weight, something more than a glove is usually required, as the strain on the fingers from loosing a strong bow is considerable; but the exact amount of protection necessary must vary with the hard ness or softness of each individual's fingers. The most usual form of protection now in use for the fingers are tips (of which there are two varieties, the `screw' and the `knuckle or parrot beak', and the tab, which, however, is not so popular as tips, though those who use it speak highly of its efficiency.

Fig. 166: Knuckle tip
166. Knuckle tip
167: Screw tip
167. Screw tip

The screw tip takes its name from having a small brass screw-bolt with a nut which can he adjusted and made as tight as may be desired, so as to prevent the tip from slipping off the fingers. It was invented by the late Messrs. Spedding and Mules. The knuckle or parrot-beak has no screw, but from its shape sticks to the fingers when the arrow is loosed. It was first introduced about thirty years ago, and no better pattern has since been invented. Both these tips are made of horse-butt; opinions vary as to which is the better shape, though the former is more generally used. Whichever shape may be adopted, it is most important that the tips should fit the fingers perfectly; for if they are too small the fingers will become cramped and be unable to loose the string properly. On the other hand, if they are too large they will fall off at the moment of loosing. Many tips must be tried on before a set can be found to fit, and this takes both time and patience, but a set of tips which fits perfectly is worth all the time spent in securing it. All three tips should be as nearly as possible of the same substance, and the tops of the fingers should just come to the top of the tips, which should fit well round each finger. Ivory, quill and metal have all been tried for the face of the tips in order to improve the loose, but it has always been found that ` there is nothing like leather.' It is not a bad plan to moisten the fingers and rub them on a piece of glue before putting the tips on, as this makes them hold; but unless they fit, no expedient of the kind will be of much avail.


The tab is usually made of two pieces of leather sewn together, the portion which holds the string being of horse-butt, and that through which the fingers pass of a more supple kind of leather. The method of using it is as follows:--The first finger is put through the hole A the top joint resting on a; the third finger is passed through B, and the top joint rests on b; the top joint of the middle finger is placed on c. The tab is then laced on the string, and the nock of the arrow held in the opening C. It is not, however, easy to hold the arrow on the string, nor is the tab easy to use, and consequently it is not recommended to beginners.


A grease box was formerly considered a necessity, as it was usual to grease the tips in order to assist the loose; but improvements in their manufacture have, happily, done away with this uncleanly habit, which was of doubtful utility.


is used to clean the dirt from the arrows which do not hit the target. It is made of green wool, and should not be too large. The top of it is often used by ladies as a pincushion, which will be quickly discovered by anyone who uses a ladles' tassel for wiping arrows.


The use of the belt and quiver has quite disappeared among men, the arrow-pocket in the coat having superseded it; and when this garment is doffed, the trousers-pocket acts as a substitute. With ladies, however, it is still required, as the quiver is their only means of carrying arrows. The belt is also useful for the purpose of suspending spare strings, bags, score book, tassel, and other feminine necessities. It is made of green, black, or huff leather, ornamented to the taste of the owner, silver prize ones being also occasionally worn by those who are fortunate enough to possess them.


The present system of scoring is to put down the arrows that hit according to their value. For instance, a dozen would be marked thus :

75,--, 531, 951 = 8, 36

the first three arrows shot having resulted in two hits-a red and a blue--the second three having missed, the three next having hit the blue, black, and white, and the last three the gold, blue, and white, being a total of 8 hits for 36 score. Any plain pocket-book will do to keep a score in in this way; but the fastidious can procure ready-ruled books on this principle at Aldred's, which certainly look more neat than a plain book, and save some trouble. All sorts of devices have been in use at various times for scoring, hut the above is the best method, as it is the simplest, records the result of every three arrows, and is the same as that in use at the public meetings; while all the old methods, especially that of pricking the hits on a card, were vastly inferior to it.


The cupboard, or place where bows, arrows, &c., are kept, is so named after Roger Ascham, and the term is also applied to the bow box, of which more hereafter. The ascham should be high enough to take bows at the back, and be so arranged that it also has a place for arrows in front; the bows should be carefully put away in the ascham after use, and they should either be hung up or else the ascham should have a false bottom, raised some inches from the floor, as a protection against damp. The arrows should stand on their points, and each arrow should have a separate cell to itself, so that the feathers do not touch. This can be done by having a stand in front of the bows, and two pieces of board with corresponding holes pierced in them placed one at about six inches from the bottom of the ascham, and the other fourteen inches higher up; the arrows can then be passed through the holes in the two boards, and will be kept in the required position. A drawer, can also be contrived to keep strings, tips, and the other necessaries. Of course great care must be taken that the ascham stands in a dry place, especially by the seaside; though damp is to be avoided, the bows, arrows, &c. should a not be kept too close to a fire, but in as even a temperature as possible.


As it is necessary for the archer to have his ascham to keep his bows and arrows in when he is at home, so also does he require some means of taking them safely about with him to archery meetings.

Fig. 169.

The bow-box is made to carry the bows, arrows, and other things required, and is for many purposes the best thing to have. When packed it can be placed in the luggage van, and will come out all right at the end of the journey, but it is heavy and cumbersome. It should be made to take not fewer than

four bows and two dozen arrows. The usual patterns open in the middle, the arrows taking up an unnecessary amount of space; the best plan is to have the bottom of the box to take the bows, and place the arrows side by side, the feathers being alternately at different ends, and as close as possible to each other in the lid, which should be about 2.5 inches deep; there should be fastened at each end of the lid two racks (Fig. 169) to take the arrows, and hinged to one side of each rack a piece of wood to bolt down over it in order to hold the arrows in their place. Between the two sets of arrows there will be plenty of room for spare strings, tips, arm-guard; &c., which can be kept in their place by a cover. The bows should simply be held by two leather straps and buckles screwed to the bottom of the box.

The box itself should have two leather straps screwed on to the bottom, which can be buckled over, with two handles between them. Oak is the best wood for the box, but if this is thought too heavy, deal can be used; in either case it should be made with a 'caddy-lid,' i.e. have an inside ledge all round it, or water will find its way in, should it be exposed in the rain.

The 'pole' is a case made of waterproof mail canvas which will hold four or five bows. It locks up by means of a strap and padlock, and is now much used, as it is very handy and light, and can be put in the rack of a railway carriage; but of course it is not safe to send it in the van, nor can it with prudence be left in the tent from day to day at a public meeting. It also necessitates taking an arrow box; but if the personal supervision it requires is not objected to, it is the handiest form of a portable ascham.

Arrow-boxes are made of all sorts of patterns, from the ordinary deal box with divisions, in which arrows are sent out, to the elaborate polished article decked all over with ecclesiastical brass ornaments. The arrow-box should have a small compartment in it to hold strings, bracer, tips, &c., and it should also be possible to take out any one arrow without disturbing the others. The best pattern, or, at any rate, one of the best, which meets all these requirements is that known as the `Wiltshire.' One end hinges, so that any arrow can be taken out (as they are placed in it in the same way as in an ascham). It is fastened when shut by the lid, which projects over the box all round, effectually keeping out rain, and there is a compartment for strings at the end. A piece of wood, sliding in and out to alter the length, will also allow of ladies' arrows being carried. The tin quiver of bygone ages, with the arrows all jumbled up together, is an abomination.


Targets should be four feet in diameter, made of wheat straw bound tightly round with tar cord, and should be thick enough to protect the arrows from the stands. The faces should be made of good floor cloth, well seasoned and 'flatted' having five equal concentric circles painted on them, the centre being gold, the others red, blue, black, and white. The stands should be 6 ft. 6 in. long, made of three pieces of iron or wood joined at the top, where there should be a spiked hook, two other spikes being placed one on each of the two front legs, about 3 ft. 3 in. from the top. If they are of iron they should be served round with hay and cloth, to save the arrows; if of wood they should be padded. The wooden target stands are supposed to save the arrows most, but from their greater size it is very doubtful if there is any advantage in having them.

It is advisable, if the targets are left out, to have loose waterproof covers which can he put over them when the shooting is finished.

170. Ancient French Ivory Bracer
170. Ancient French Ivory Bracer
(From the collection of C. J. Longman, Esq.)