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Chapter XI
Part 3 of 3

If I may interject some more comment before describing the making of this target, let me add that it is not the shooting that wears out the target. It is the handling. Dropping the target, tossing it about, and particularly rolling it wheel-fashion, are the real sources of wear and tear. For long life it should be given very careful handling, and transported flat.

Usually it will be necessary to buy the straw in a bale. In this case, very often the nicest looking bale of straw will be found to contain a lot of trash in its interior. But no matter, and admitting the fact that it costs three times per hundred what it did ten years ago when straw was very much better, still there must be some straw. The thing to do is to get it and go to work with it.

Take a handful of carefully drawn straw, which as held is not less than five inches in diameter, and proceed to crush this and at the same time bend it upon itself in the manner of a clockspring, holding the stout wisp together by binding with twine, and sewing in the spiral as it grows around its center. As your first strand of straw begins to thin out, you must add more, always binding, crushing, compressing, bending and sewing. Of course, feeding in more and more straw is necessary, in order to prevent breaking the continuous band. Always, the straw must be very solidly packed, and laid so there is good continuity of long, strong stalks. The binding must be well done, and the turns firmly sewed together. The standard dimension for the completed target of straw is not less than 49 inches diameter, and the thickness must not be less than 4 inches. The face of the straw must be large enough to enable spreading thereon a regulation target facing of 48 inches.

After making one target, few archers will care to undertake making another. It is not only a mighty hard job, but as well a thankless one in the average small club. Really, it is a job for a machine; yet there is no machine for the job, so far as I have heard. We are told that it is work that can be done by blind men. I have never heard of a good target being so made, but I have heard that the cost is increased 50 per cent.

Any kind of string may be used in the sewing, but it will be well to select a strong kind made of fibre and not cotton string. The kind I use is Aslath yarn. This is strong, cheap and rot-proof to a large extent. A target can be made to last by giving it occasional attention, and tightening the sewing.

The target facing should be painted on sign-writer's muslin or cloth. This material is easily obtainable, and the cost for a single target face will be about 70 cents. It can be had in various colors. I always use white, as it saves painting the outer ring. The rings are laid out by placing a tack in the exact center, attaching a length of twine to this, making a loop in the twine at the proper distances and scribing circles with a pencil or with compass. The diameter of the center ring must be 9 3/5 inches, and the width of each additional ring 4 4/5 inches. The center is to be painted gold, and the others, naming outward, respectively red, blue, black and white. For the gold, do not use yellow paint; it is cheaper and better to have the standard gold finish. This can be easily produced with gold powder mixed with gold size and thinned with a little turpentine. Avoid using banana oil or other preparations already made up, in mixing your gilding, or your gold will soon turn black. The red should be a true scarlet and never a dark red. The blue should be a light blue, never Prussian blue. Enamel colors or oil paints should not be used, as they will shine and reflect the sun in a very bothersome way. The colors should be flat and ground in japan, never anything else. For the blue I have had to make up my own, as I have not found the right shade in a flat paint ground with japan. I use the best white lead with a little turpentine, and tint with Prussian blue to get the right standard target blue shade.

For the target rack, use light pine or spruce and never iron in any form. Simply make a light tripod, with two legs to the fore and one as a rear support; all attached at one central point. Just hang the target on this tripod, resting on the outer staves—which by the way are to be 6 feet long. When properly hung the bottom of the target will be 2 feet above the ground.