Take the matter of holding the bow. Two great archers differ on this. One makes the statement that the archer should squeeze the handle as if he would crush it, and the other, a champion many times over, states that he holds the bow loosely in the hand with excellent results. Here again, you see, it is futile to lay down hard and fast rules for shooting. What answers perfectly for one man will not fill the bill for another. It is safe to say on this point, however, that an average grip that gives complete control of the bow at the moment of release is perhaps the best for the average shooter. Such a grip is used by the great majority of really good archers.
The proper position for the arrow to ride as it leaves the bow, is directly above the handle and not on the handle. The correct nocking place on the string is something to establish and use regularly. It is a good plan to add a little colored silk to the whipping on the string on each side of the nocking place. To locate this nocking place on the string, take a carpenter's square for a guide and, with the bow braced, place a mark on the string directly opposite the riding place of the arrow.
The odd feather on the shaft, or as we call it in archery, the cock feather, is always placed so that it will not touch the bow in passing. As previously remarked, this feather usually is of a distinctive color so as to be easily recognized. Where the feathers are all of the same color, as in peacock feathers, the cock feather is easily found by looking at the nock, being directly at a right angle to the direction of the notch.
In drawing the bow the archer takes the nock of the arrow between the index and second fingers, holding the nock lightly. The fingers must be bent sufficiently to enable drawing up the bow, but never should be hooked too much. The third finger is commonly used to help in, drawing up the bow, but there is some objection to its use among the skilled archers, the reason for which has been given previously.
The release as ordinarily used is simplicity itself, but the perfect release is an art to be acquired. There are two methods known as the slip loose and the snap loose. The latter is accomplished by drawing the arm back somewhat smartly as the fingers are loosed, thus in a manner giving a snap to the release. The slip loose is accomplished by opening the fingers, and is the easiest of the two to acquire. Each archer will have to determine for himself which is the easier to accomplish and which produces the best results as far as he is concerned. To simply open the hand, or rather extend the fingers sufficiently to allow the string to slip off the fingers, is claimed to be slow. To snap the fingers off without taking the hand away from the anchor is claimed to be much the better method, and especially makes for a de-cidedly lower point of aim. The latter, by the way, is something which the average archer is always in search of, particularly when shooting at the longer ranges.
Perhaps it is well to add a few words of explanation on the point of aim. This, in effect, calls for shooting by the method which in artillery fire is known as indirect firing. Supposing an archer stands 60 yards from his target, he may place an aiming mark on the ground at a distance of 50 yards from him. This mark, of course, is directly in line with his target. In shooting, having nocked, swung his bow from horizontal to vertical and drawn up his arrow to the head he will slowly raise his bow hand until the point of the arrow reaches that mark which he has placed on the ground 10 yards short of the target. That will be the aim at which the arrow is loosed; the line of sight is directly from the shooter's eye across the point placed on the ground at 50 yards. Now, assuming that the arrow hand is always drawn to precisely the same anchor at the shooter's jaw, it will easily be understood that the distance shot will be regulated by the elevation of the bow hand. Therefore, it will pay the beginner to give early and close attention to the exact elevation given the bow hand; that is to say, he must acquire absolute regularity of elevation while continuing to shoot at the same mark for the same distance.