JUST as it is out of the question to lay down hard and fast rules for the archer to follow in making bows and arrows, so is it impractical to set rules to be followed implicitly in order to shoot correctly. Just as trees do not grow alike, so do people differ from each other. And although the majority of writers on the art of shooting with bow and arrow do give specific rules to follow, I believe the exceptions are so numerous that a better way for the beginner is not to depend too much upon such instructions. Each archer is bound to develop a certain amount of his own natural form. To work against this in an endeavor to faithfully follow the instructions that some writer gives, is to handicap instead of to help progress. Far better it should be for the beginner to read carefully what experienced archers have found from long study and practice, and then apply this information as best possible in acquiring some proficiency. If some good archers can be observed in action, so much the better. It is a fact that an archer can learn more from one day spent at a national archery tournament, watching other archers, than from reading all the books ever written. But even in watching others the beginner should not permit himself to become a blind imitator.
The beginner's physique may not be like that of any one of the experienced archers whom he admires. Naturally, therefore, he cannot hope to learn to shoot in precisely the same manner. He is bound to develop his own style to some extent, and he should not discourage himself in this. In the long run his own style may turn out to be one of the best assets he has as an archer.
In this connection, let it be remarked here that among expert archers whose ability is about the same, some* will be found shooting in one way peculiar to them, others in different ways. For a specific example, take the matter of the point of aim. But before discussing this perhaps I had better lead up to it with a little preliminary explanation.
If the beginner can refer to a number of pictures of prominent archers in shooting position, he will see that they all or nearly all draw their string hand just under the jaw and directly below the eye. This position—with the bow fully drawn—is known as the anchor. The beginner should make it a rule to adopt as soon as possible a certain anchor of his own. This should be regularly assumed for every shot. Only in this way can the beginner discover his errors and correct them. If a different anchor were assumed for each shot there would be no knowing what was wrong if no success was attained. But with the anchor being constantly the same the beginner soon learns to place his arrows by varying the point of aim and improving the loose. The loose, by the way, is the precise manner of letting go the bowstring in shooting.
Drawing each arrow the same, having established a permanent or perpetual method in shooting, and practice having improved the loose, attention to the point of aim becomes uppermost. And now here is where archers are prone to differ from each other. In shooting, each arrow describes an arc in its journey from the bow to where it falls. The trajectory is the height of the curve of the arrow above a direct line from the shooter's eye to the target. This is determined by two things; first, the cast of the bow; secondly, the loose of the shooter. The same bow and arrow may be used by two equally good shooters, and yet it will be noticed that one will put a higher curve on his arrow than the other will. Assuming that they both hit the mark, one may shoot the arrow on a curve which will be fifteen feet above a direct line at the apex of its flight, where the other shooter will send his arrow on what apparently is almost a perfectly flat flight.
With this introduction, let us get to the actual shooting.