To qualify for one of the three tests, the rules require the Scout to make his own tackle. So far well and good; this I heartily approve, as no hardship at all. But I do consider it very much of a hardship to require the boy to perform the impossible with his home-made tackle. People who know nothing about archery, thinking of the boys in the smaller country communities as possibly having some advantage in being able to go out into the woods and "cut their own bows and arrows," may feel that any rule requiring the boy to make his own bow and arrows is a good one because it compels the city boy to get out into the woods, and that is supposed to be good for him. But in the present case such reasoning could not apply. The fact is, the city boy is just as well fixed as the country boy, when it comes to getting hold of the proper materials for making the kind of bow and arrows that are required to pass the flight shooting test and win a Boy Scout merit badge for archery. For with his bow and arrows of his own make the Scout is required to shoot an arrow 150 yards. No average boy, equipped with average tackle of his own make, can ever hope to pass this test. It automatically rules out all except the largest and strongest, equipped with exceptionally good bows and arrows. Oddly, in the target test, at 60, 50 and 40 yards, any kind of tackle is allowed, yet the scores required are easy for any boy.
In connection with the National and the Eastern Archery Association's tournaments, there has been for many years a competition consisting of shooting so many arrows a distance of 180 yards. This is but 30 yards farther than the Boy Scout is required to send his arrow, with tackle made by his own hand—doubtless this includes the bowstring. This competition I have mentioned is entered by many archers long accustomed to shooting at target range of 100 yards. Nevertheless, it is a common thing to see not a few of these mature adult shooters drop out of the competition, declaring that it is no use to make the effort as the distance is too great for them. And we must remember, in practically every case they will be found to be shooting professionally-made target bows and some even special flight bows.
If the real archers balk at 180 yards with the best equipment obtainable, then I say the distance for the Boy Scout should be 120 yards, and no more. While this would be easy for the big boys with plenty of brawn, it would not be beyond the smaller ones. And what good can the test be unless it offers encouragement to all to become archers?
Still another requirement placed upon the boy in order to win this badge of merit in archery is, he must learn the names of all the past champions and their scores. I am willing to bet that there are not three men in the two archery associations who can pass this test. I question if there are six archers in the entire country who could even guess the record score made by Dr. P. W. Crouch this year. It is a requirement having no useful purpose and should be abolished.
Everything that is a detriment to this fine old sport should be thrown out. But no one is going to take the bother unless he is interested, and so I say that the real archer will do well to go further than to merely serve his own interests. Everything having to do with archery should be in the hands of practical archers themselves, and then we shall have no more of these obstacles thrown in the way of the sport.