As a craftsman, practicing the art of bow and arrow making for a living, I shall first discuss the archer's equipment. Such reversal of the usual order may tend to create the im-pression that I place skill and judgment in making the tools of archery ahead of skill and judgment in using them. This, however, is not the case. And although I may say I have nearly all my life been an archer of fair accomplishment, and have witnessed a great deal of good shooting, and enjoyed the acquaintance of a great many very able archers, I have no strong inclination to teach others to shoot, least of all to teach by means of a book. There are many better qualified, and such instructions on shooting as I give in a later chapter are to be considered as covering the essentials rather than the fine points.
And now as to making the archer's tools.
As I pause to consider where to start, I am reminded strikingly of the visitors who for many years have come to my workshop. These vistors are of all kinds, with a generous sprinkling of expert archers. And invariably, while making what is obviously a fraternal call in connection with placing an order for a bow, some arrows, or both, there is an irresistible desire to deeply probe the bowyer's knowledge of his art. Not a few of them seem to enjoy putting the man of sawdust and shavings through a sort of third degree. And invariably at the end of the interview, with an expression of thanks for the information obtained they leave with an air of having expected considerably more—as if suspecting the bowyer could have divulged many a secret had he been good enough. Yet there is nothing about the bowyer's art that need be guarded as a state secret, and one might readily tell every trick of the trade. But the bowyer is not paid for giving lectures; and remembering the cost of living, and the urge of sundry orders to be filled, he is reminded to get on with the work. Happily now, so far as I may have sinned in this direction, perhaps some omissions of information that have occurred are made up for in this volume.
As my experience has taught me that bow making easily comes first in importance, I shall take this up first. And here once again perhaps I may be excused for commenting on the ways of customers, for the benefit of the moral that is pointed. I have rated bow making as first in importance; but this is to be qualified. Very often the bow maker receives an order such as follows:
"Please send me a bow of such a length and weight, and the material for making a dozen best arrows, as I want to make the latter myself." These customers—and there are very many of them—consider bow making too big a job for them, but are sure of their ability to turn out "best" arrows. To the professional, however, this is amusing. Because he knows that a professional who knows his business can make a fair living at bow making, but an arrow maker has to grind hard and long, even with all his knowledge and skill, to make bare day's wages. The latter work is tedious and slow unless machinery is introduced—and machine-made arrows are unsatisfactory to the expert archer, who is the only customer who realizes the value of good arrows sufficiently to pay for them. To the professional, making arrows is no joke. He is ready enough to let his customer start out to "make his own," knowing full well that in due time the drudgery will come to him—from one more customer who has learned, in the best way, how to appreciate a real good arrow.