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Chapter XII
Standard Competitions
Part 4 of 4

In my own case, I suppose I have been very fortunate. From boyhood I have been consulted about archery, by all sorts of people, from the littlest boys of the neighborhood to the most famous archers from all over the world. Big and little, they have come to my shop, and they have written me seemingly bales of letters. Always it has been a joy to me to pass on information asked for, and to throw in a good measure of enthusiasm to boot. I recall the children perhaps best of all—their eager little faces, looking up at me all through the years, fascinated by the man who was in some way connected with the stories newly read to them of archers bold in the days of old. Robin Hood! Rob Roy! Locksley! King Arthur! Romantic names indeed, and a romantic sport it always is to young and old. I never tire of being questioned and stared at, for somehow all my life I have felt that my work has been a tribute to the memory of those great men who dignified archery by their part in it in the time when it meant so much in the affairs of the day and the destiny of the world.

I confess my interest never has extended to archery for the original use for which it was devised, killing. I have studied all kinds of bows and arrows, and found much to interest me in those made for warfare and for hunting. At one time, in company with Sir Ralph Payne Gal-way, I visited various museums to learn about Turkish bows, and you may be sure those we were permitted to examine were never made for target shooting. I subsequently made several such bows for Sir Ralph, and he used them for target and flight work. At another time I was called upon to set a stage piece for the Merry Men of England. Again, I was given the task to produce a bow that would bend to the full draw and yet be safe to shoot on the stage, at a distance of only 40 feet—and always hit the mark, so as not to endanger the stage folk. This I did for Lewis Waller to use in his play "Robin Hood," and it was a success too. In fact, I have had to do with as great a variety of work in connection with archery as perhaps anyone in the last hundred years. I have read a great deal on the subject, attended many tournaments, of all degrees of importance, have won some honors with the bow myself, even to the extent of being high man on more than one occasion when the company was neither scarce nor mediocre in shooting ability. I have been consulted and visited by the leading modern exponents of hunting with the bow, and by no end of archery goods merchants, makers and manufacturers. And after all is said and done, I am sure that it always has been and always will be the sport, the competitions in target shooting, that has held my interest, and will hold it, above all. The association, the fellowship of the archery fraternity, and the spirit of true sportsmanship pervading the tournaments, I am sure cannot be excelled in any other sport in the world. And this, I may add, is as it should be; for if there is any other sport which preceded archery in popularizing the exercise of true sportsmanship I have never heard of it.

It has been a real privilege to serve such a fine class of people as the archers who shoot for sport, and if I were to start all over again I could want for no more pleasant means of livelihood. But as for writing about it, I must confess this book has been the hardest job of my life. And so, to the reader who has not already made their acquaintance I would say, by all means read the books on archery written by Samuel G. McMeen, Dr. Robert P. Elmer and Dr. Saxton T. Pope. Even though for some unaccountable reason all were written by doctors, they are, I assure you, vastly better books than I ever thought they were before I undertook to write this one. For real enjoyment, I want nothing better to-day than to sit down with one of them before me, to picture for me the sport to which the good doctor, whichever one it may be, has given so much devotion purely as an avocation. I would that I had the gift to have put into this book of mine something of the same fine flavor, if for no other reason than to give similar pleasure. Not having it, the least I can do is to commend these really excellent works on archery.