One of the most ancient and fascinating of all sports is the practice of archery. Archery, though now a pastime, was in ancient times a very necessary skill, one upon which a man's very life often depended, for bows and arrows found their first place in aiding man in his struggle for existence. To this fact, perhaps, can be traced the great fascination of the sport. Bows and arrows were developed from very elemental forms, into elaborate weapons for hunting and warfare. So closely is this weapon bound up with the history of mankind, that through the relics found in our museums, we can trace the development of the races of man. The native genius of each race shows itself very clearly in the development and peculiar form of this primitive weapon.
The bows vary in length from 30 inches, a length which seems to be quite common among our Indians, to bows of 7 feet in length as used by the Japanese. The arrows were made to fit the length of draw on the type of bow used, and were from 12 inches to 3 feet in length. Materials used were those most available and best suited to the man and his tools. The greatest progress and the greatest achievement in the use of the bow and arrow seem to have come from Northern Europe. The Normans used a bow about 6 feet in length and arrows from 28 to 30 inches, passing them on to the English at the time of the Norman Conquest. England practically paved her way to the greatness which she now claims, by the strong arm of the English yeoman, his yew bow, and his 28-inch, gray-goose-feathered arrows. The crossbow and the gun superseded the bow as implements of warfare and hunting, but these are now obsolete when compared with modern, high-powered firearms. Yet in England, France, and Belgium, there are many who still have a fondness for this sport of kings. In the United States, in addition to a National Archer's Association, there are clubs scattered throughout the length and breadth of the land. In the past few years, there has appeared more interest in this country as a result of the archery practice of the Boy Scouts, and due also to the stories and experiences of Dr. Saxon Pope and Arthur Young of San Francisco, dealing with their many hunts and excellent skill in archery.
This is a very brief summary of a few outstanding points that interested me in the sport, and there will be many pages written in the future on the long bow and the cloth-yard, feathered arrows, even though we have nearly perfect firearms that supersede by far the best accomplishments of the bow. A great part of the appreciation of archery tackle comes from its actual manufacture, and it is this fact which has prompted me to put down in pictures, drawings, and written words, the steps which I have found most effective in the manufacture of archery tackle. To give, in written words and pictures, the experience I have had working with the boys in my shop in making the tackle is rather difficult, but it seems justified when I think back over the difficulties I have had to surmount in getting this information.
For this venture, I owe the boys credit because of their enthusiasm in trying to acquire bows and arrows that would aid them in passing successfully their tests for the archery merit badge. For the actual knowledge of making the tackle, and the sources of materials suitable for the making of this equipment, I am indebted to many helpful men in Oakland, California, who have been exceedingly patient in instructing me in the practice of archery. Their sincere desire to have others enjoy the sport prompted their sacrifice, and so I, in turn, pass it on in this way, that it may bring to others all the pleasure it has brought me and the boys with whom I have worked.
Juvenile archery has during the past been neglected and unfairly hampered in its development. By simplifying the steps in making the tackle, and by organizing the material to work with, it will be possible for juniors to have their own archery clubs and develop the sport in this country as adults have. This development will be permanent only when boys can make their own equipment, at moderate cost, and shoot in competition with boys of their own age.
With these points in mind, I submit the following pages in the hope that the sport will develop and give pleasure to juniors as it has to many hundreds of men and women in this country. I would advise boys to follow the steps carefully in the construction of their tackle as these are the simplest, rather than the most elaborate, instructions for beginners, each step being essential to the production of a workable bow and arrow.