Juvenile Bowmen (continued)
Part 4 of 7
Order of shooting
To be observed at all Targets belonging to the Society of Royal Kentish Bowmen.
That when the captain and lieutenant either of the last target, or for the time being, part with their respective medals to a better shot, those who receive them shall take the lead, and those who part with them retain their original places.
That there be two winter meetings between the last target in August, and the first summer meeting following.
That the committee for the time being, or the majority of them, shall have the power of appointing the times and places for such meetings.
That no business be done at such meetings, except the proposition of candidates, to be balloted for at the first meeting upon the Heath in the ensuing season.
The Society of Royal Kentish Bowmen having been presented with two standards,--one by the Hon. H. Fitzroy, the other by George Grote, Esq.,--have, according to Mr. Fitzroy's motion, appointed four standard-bearers, to be elected according to the rules.
And, in common with other corporate bodies, deeming the colours most sacred and honourable, and feeling the necessity of securing them, have thought proper to prescribe the following regulations, to be adopted by the standard-bearers:--
That it be the duty of the standard bearers to guard and keep safe from damage the standards of the Society.
That the standards be carried to and from the ground with the members attending in full uniform, on every target day, and at the first meeting in each year.
That the hour for beginning to shoot targets being fixed at twelve o'clock' it be required that two standard-bearers attend every target day, on which the standards are to be borne, properly accoutred, at a quarter before twelve o'clock.
That the standard-bearers appear in full uniform, with a cross belt of black leather and swivel affixed, for the more convenient carrying the standards, and an epaulet of gold according to the pattern first produced.
UNITED SOCIETY OF WOODMEN OF ARDEN, BROUGHTON ARCHERS, AND LANCASHIRE BOWMEN.
DERBY AND REDDLESTON ARCHERS.
Rules agreed to by the Derby and Reddleston Archers, established A.D. 1790.
I do not conceive any thing advantageous to the young archer can be added to the foregoing plain and simple instructions. His first essays, necessarily constrained and awkward, may excite the mirth of such of his companions as are conscious of superior skill. Let him not regard their laughter; be "nil desperandum" his motto, and a few weeks' assiduity will entitle him to laugh at others. We have all passed through a similar ordeal. The queerest of us never displayed one tithe of the ludicrous antics and gaucherie, which Ascham charges upon that "bold yeomandree," who frequented the shooting grounds during some of England's palmiest days of archery; and as the Toxophilus is not in the hands of every one, I will extract a portion of it for the reader's consolation. Hear him when he describes his awkward squad of bowmen.
"All the discommodities which ill custom hath graffed in archers can neyther be quycklye poulled out, nor yet sone reckoned of me, they be so many. Some shooteth his head forward, as though he woulde byte the mark another stareth with his eyes, as though they shulde fly out: an other wynketh with one eye, and loketh with the other: some make a face with wrything theyr mouth, as though they were doing you wotte what: another bleareth out his tongue: another byteth his lippes; another holdeth his neck awrye.
"In drawing, some fetch such a compasse, as though they woulde turne rounde and bless all the feelde: other heave their honde now up, now downe, that a man cannot discerne whereat they would shote: another waggeth the upper end of his bow one way, the nethyr ende an other waye: another will stand poynting his shafte at the mark a good whyle, and by and by he wil give him a whip, and awaye or a man wite: an other makes such a wrestling with his gere, as though he were able to shoote no more as long as he lyved: an other draweth softly to the myddes, and by and by it is gon, you cannot tell how: an other draweth his shaft low at the breast, as though he would shoote at a rovyng mark, and by and by he Iyfteth his arm up pricke heyght: another maketh a wrynchinge with his back, as though a man pynched him behynde: another cowereth down and layeth out his buttockes, as though he would shoot at crowes: another setteth forward his left leg, and draweth backe with heade and shoulders, as though he poured at a rope, or els were afraid of the mark: an other draweth his shafte well, untyll within two fingers of the head, and then he stayeth a little, to looke at hys marke, and that done, pouleth it up to the head, and lowseth; which waye, although summe excellent shooters do use, yet surely it is a faulte, and good mennes faultes are not to be followed: summe drawe too farre, summe too shorte,, summe too slowlye, summe too quickley, summe horde over longe, summe lette go over sone, summe set their shafte on the grounde, and fetche him upwarde: another poynteth up towarde the skye, and so bryngethe him downwardes.
"Ones I saw a man that used a bracer on his cheek, or els he had scratched all the skynne of the one syde of his face with his drawinge hande; another I saw, whyche, at every shoote, after the loose, Iyfted up his righte leg so farre, that he was ever in jeopardy of fallynge; summe stampe forwarde, and summe leape backwarde. All these faultes be eyther in the drawinge, or at the loose; with many other mo, whych you may easylye perceyve, and so go about to avoyd them.
"Nowe afterwarde, when the shafte is gone, men have many faultes, whych evyl custom hath brought them to, and speciallie in cryinge after the shafte, and speakinge woordes scarce honest for such an honest pastime. Such woordes be verye token of an ill mynde, and manifest signs of a man that is subject to unmeasurable affections. Good mennes ears do abhor them, and an honest man wil avoyde them.
"And besydes those whiche muste nedes have theyr tongue walking, other menne use other faultes; as some will take their bowe and wrythe and wrynche it, to poul in his shafte, when it flyeth wyde, as yf he drawe a carte. Summe wyll gyve two or three strydes forwarde, dancing and hoppynge after his shafte, as longe as it flyeth, as though he were a madman. Summe, which feare to be farre gone, runne backwarde, as it were to poull his shafte backe: an other runneth forwarde when he feareth to be shorte, heaveynge after his armes, as though he woulde helpe his shafte to fly. Another wrythes or runneth aside, to poule in his shafte strayghte. One lifteth up his heele, and soe holdeth his foote styli, as long as his shafte flyeth. Another casteth his arme backwarde after the lowse: another swynges his bow about him, as it were a man with a staffe, to make roome in a game place; and many other faultes there be, which come not to my remembrance.
"Nowe ymagen an archer that is clean wythout all these faultes, and I am sure every man would be delyghted to see him shoote."
BELT, BRACER, AND SHOOTING GLOVE.
A sheaf of peacock's arrows bright and keen
Under his belt he bare full thriftilie.
Chaucer's Squire's Yeoman.
And on his arm be wore a gai bracer.
A white dove sat on the castle wall,
I bend my bow, and shoot her 1 shalL
She 's safe in my glove, feathers and all.
Ritson's Old Ballads.
THE belt worn by our English archers was often called their girdle. Those who preferred the baldric suspended their arrows by a sort of running noose, or a small additional strap and buckle, which they tightened as its contents were gradually expended. The latter contrivance is thus noticed by Drayton:--
"Their baldrics, set with studs, athwart their shoulders cast,
In which, under their arms, their sheets were buckled fast."
Modern bowyers, who supply this, as well as every other article of our equipment, might greatly improve upon their present designs. Some alteration, for instance, is desirable in the arrow-pouch attached to the belt; the belt buckle' also, should be larger, and of cut polished steel.