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Chapter XI
Part 2 of 3

The quiver for the arrows, and a cover for the bow, may be anything that suits the archer's fancy. There is plenty of variety to choose from, at prices to suit all pockets. Though not commonly used, bow covers are very desirable; for if they do nothing else they keep the bow dry. I consider the best bow covers are those made of automobile top material—simply a long tube with a flap cover at one end fastening with a strap and buckle.

There are, by the way, quite a lot of good archers who will not use a quiver in connection with target shooting. They find it bothers them, and like better to lay their arrows out conveniently on a rack placed in front of them. A popular form of receptacle for them is a holder for fishing rods, made for salt-water fishermen in connection with surf-casting, where it is detrimental to the reel to lay the rod down in the sand. These holders are thrust down into the ground and hold the arrows upright, as in a vase.

To the beginner who is unfortunate in not being associated with other archers, the thought of buying a specially made target is rather unattractive in the initial stage of his interest. He thinks he would rather get some practice at some sort of a makeshift; but it is not often that he hits upon the best one. This is nothing other than baled straw or hay. The cost of this is attractive, in comparison with the prices of targets seen in the archery goods catalogs.

To get the best use out of baled hay or straw, pile it up to form a regular butt, and fasten the target cover on this. To make a good butt, have a light frame of wood and stack sections of the bale or bales up against this, flat sides on, and secure these by roughly binding them on with twine. For the best results, the frame must be propped so as to slant backward a little, when the weight of the packed hay or straw will anchor the structure better. Such a butt will stand a lot of shooting. Keep it covered with a tarpaulin between-whiles.

It is possible for anyone to make a regulation straw target, but it is far from a light job. In the first place, assuming that your time and labor are worth consideration, you want good straw to work with, so the target will last. Hand-threshed rye straw is the proper thing— and that may be as hard to find as a volunteer target maker who has had experience in the work I Machine threshed rye straw, if of good growth, is by no means to be sneezed at. Next in order comes good wheat straw, the last oat straw. Marsh hay, especially the salt-marsh kind, should be better than oat straw, and so should good timothy hay. But to go back to machine-threshed rye straw, let me say that an important consideration to the target maker is the workability of the material he is called upon to use. Machine threshing crushes rye straw very desirably, from the maker's point of view, and it does not materially reduce the shooting life of the target, either. As for making a target of salt-marsh hay, I should prefer to be excused. I fear I should find it too difficult to handle. If the reader has ever visited a horse-collar factory, and seen the collar makers at work on rye straw, my objection will be sustained. It is the same horse-collar makers, by the way, even in these days of motorized traffic, who are responsible for rye straw being so scarce—they and prohibition!

Before telling how to make a straw target of regulation style and shape, let me warn the reader that it is the most laborious work done in connection with the making of archery goods. Next, let me caution against the spurious advice that the straw is easier to handle if wet.

Though it softens the straw, and thus expedites the work and saves some effort, dampening swells the straw, and when the target is finished and laid aside, it dries out soft. A soft target is an inferior one. For another thing, the wetting starts the straw on the way toward rotting —and the time will come soon enough when the archer will really need to wet that same target. When a target reaches the stage that it will no longer hold an arrow, it can be tightened temporarily by wetting it. So do not dampen your nice new target straw.