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The English Bowman
by Thomas Roberts, 1801.

Due to the different spelling and lay-out, it was chosen to publish this book in GIF-format as this enables an exact reproduction.

First page / Frontispiece / Dedication / Preface / Contents / List of Authors quoted / List of prints relative to Archery

An examination into the history, character, and military career of the English Long Bow, from the period of its introduction into Britain to that of its extinction as a weapon of war: collected from the best authorities: with the opinions of well-informed men, and some observations, upon the propriety of its abolition in the field.

Chapter I

Tracts &tc

Section I
Antiquity of the Bow - Superiority of the Bow as a Weapon of War, previous to the Knowledge of Gunpowder - Principles and Materials of Bows in General - English Nation renowned for Archery - Revolutions in the Art of War - Periods of All Arts

Section II
Introduction of the Bow into Britain - Partiality of our Ancestors for it founded upon solid reasons - Their Reluctance to abandon the Use of it.

Section III
Memory of the Bow still cherished in England - Advantage gained to our Enemies by the Relinquishment of it as a Weapon of War - Present State of the Bow in England - Probability of the partial revival of Military Archery in England - Neglect of it Disapproved

Chapter II

Extracts from Sir John Smith's Discourse on Weapons

Section I
Reasons for the Change in Military Weapons - Defects of the Musket - Imperfections of the Bow - Quicker Discharge of the Latter - Quick Firing Condemned - Superiority of Archers in the Field - Reasons - Effects of Arrows upon the Horse - Objections against the Bow answered.

Section II
Effects of Arrows more certain than those of Bullets - Arrows terrify the Eye - Sir John Smith's Challenge to teh Muesket - Difference between Range of an Arrow and a Bullet - Effects of Both - Effect of Archery proved by Examples - Battles of Crecy, Poictiers, Navaretta, Agincourt, and Herrings - Opinions that Archers cannot stand the Charge of Horse answered by Examples to the contrary.

Section III
Particular effects of Arrows againt Fire-arms, proved by Examples - KET's Rebellion - Rebellion of the West - Battle at NEWHAVEN- Superiority of English Bows and Archery, compared with the Bows and Archery of other Nations.

Chapter III

Section I
Authorities in Support of Sir John Smith's Observations - Disuse of the Bow, as a Weapon of War, in England

Section II
Comparison between the Bow and improved Fire-arms - Former Disadvantage of the Bow - Advantage of the Bullet over the Arrow - Peculiar Advantage of the Latter - Question, whether the Musket or the Bow can Discharge the fastest? considered - General Observations.

Section III
Observations on the Possibility od increasing the powers and Effects of the Bow - Causes of the Improvement in Fire-arms - Improvement in the Construction of the Bow.

An account of the revival of archery, as an amusement, in England: in which the value of it as an exercise, capable not only of affording much pleasure and satisfaction, but also of restoring health, and adding vigour to the nerves, and strength to the body, is considered.

Chapter I

Section I
Archery always an Amusement in England - Till of late confined chiefly to the North - Revival of Archery in the South - Cause - Value of the Art as an Exercise - Authorities - Archery paticularly recommended to young Persons - Not denied to old Age -Effect of Archery in relieving the Mind.

Section II
Archery used as an Exercise by the First Personages in all Nations - Fashionable in England in the Times of Henry VIII and his Successors, till the Revolution - Causes of its former Decline - Modern Archery patronized by the Prince of Wales and the Nobility - In the Hands of the Fair Sex - Defence of it in their Hands - Value of Archery in promoting liberal and friendly Society - Peculiarity of its Tendency in this respect - Unrestrained Pleasures of the Amusement

An inquiry and investigation into such extraordinary feats, as are said to have been achieved, in former times; and particularly by that great hero of archery Robin Hood; with an account of that famous outlaw from the most authentic record: and a comparison of those feats of archery, with such are well attested in modern times.

Chapter I

Section I
Preliminary Observations - Truth of the Existence and History of Robin Hood

Section II
Testimonies respecting Robin Hood's Feats of distant Archery - Observations - Shots from Turkish Bows - Shot from a Bow drawn with both Hands - Distant Shots by modern Archers - Observations on Robin Hood's Archery

Section III
Observations on the probable Extent of Robin Hood's Shots, drwan from the Power of the Bow supported to have been used by him - Conclusion

Section IV
Robin Hood's Feats of skill - Observations - Feats of Skill recorded of other Archers - Feats of Skill in Archery in modern Times

The art and practice of archery, including a comment upon the TOXOPHILUS of ASCHAM

Chapter I

Of the Instruments of Archery

Chapter II

Of the Bracer
Use of the Bracer - Form and Materials of the ancient Bracer - Modern Bracers

Chapter III

Of the Shooting-glove
Use of the Shooting-glove - Ancient Shooting-glove - Modern Shooting-gloves - Materials - Fingers used in drawing the String - Handle of the Bow formerly waxed - Now covered with Velvet, Shag, or Worked Lace.

Chapter IV

Of the String
Importance of good Strings - Whether the String should me made of Hemp or Silk - Strings how made - Different Effects of this and thin Strings - Of whipping Strings, and preventing them from wearing out

Chapter V

Of the Bow

Section I
Woods proper for Bows - Value of Yew as a Bow-wood - Superior Value of Foreign Yew - New Construction of the Bow - Origin of the Invention - Newly imported Boe-woord - Metal Bows

Section IIChoice of the bow
Rules - Defects to be avoided - Parts of Trees Used in Bowmaking - Observations

Section III: Of proving the Bow
How a good Bow may be known and proved - How it is to be altered - Reasons and Observations

Section IV: Of the Handle
Position of the Handle - Difference in Opinion on this Head - Observations

Section V: Of the Horns
Roundness to be observed in forming the Nock of the Horns - Method of placing the Nocks of the Horns formerly used in Scotland - Ornaments for the Upper Horn

Section VI: Length of the Bow
Mr. Barrington's observations respecting the Standard Length of the Bow considered - His Errors on this Head pointed out - Statue of 5 Ed. IV. cited - Remarks on that Statute Observations on the proper Length of the Bow

Chapter IV

Of Arrows

Section I
Different Parts of a Shaft - Woods proper for Steles - Rules to be observed in Making Steles - Woods proper for War Arrows - Woods used for Steles in Modern Archery - Their different Qualities

Section II: Of weighing and pairing Arrows
Arrows weighed and paired in former Times - Now weighed by Troy Weight - Advantages of this Method - Scale of Weights for Arrows used in different Kinds of Shooting - Consequence of Shooting with Arrows of unequal Weights

Section III: Length of the Arrow
Length of the Arrow not noticed by Ascham - Opinion respecting the Length of the Arrow compared with that of the Bow - Length of Flemish Arrows -Reasons - Length of Arrows in Distant Shooting

Section IV: Forms of Arrows
Diferent Forms of Steles suited to different Shooters - Reasons and Observations - Principles of Arts Drawn from Observations upon the Wisdom of Providence, in the Formation of Animals

Section V: Of piecing Shafts
Reasons - Origin - Utility

Section VI: Of the Nock
Nocks of Arrows differently made - Advantages of different Nocks considered - Observations on the Double Nock

Section VII: Of the Feathers
Importance of the Feather - Observations on the Feathers of different Birds - Their different Properties in Archery - Value and Use of the Goose-Feather in former Days - Merits of the Turkey-Feather - Observations on the Feathers of teh Goose - Difference of Feathers in the same Wing - Reasons for paying Attention to teh Colour of teh Feather - Feathers the most esteemed when dropped.

Section VIII: Of setting the Feather
Feathers should be drawn with Care - Cautions and Reasons - Observations and Rules for using long and short Feathers - Opninion respecting the Inclination of Incurvation observed in setting the Feather - How far adopted by other Nations - Circularity the Primum Mobile in Archery

Section IX: Of trimming the Feather
Rules to be Observed in trimming the Feather - Plucking of Feathers Flight Arrows, how feathered.

Section X: Of the Head
Origin and Use of the Head - Different Kinds of Heads for pricking - Observations on the Use and Effect of each - Materials of Heads - Comparison between the Different Effects of sharp and blunt Heads, supported by experiment

Section XI: Of setting on the Head
Rules for setting on the Head - Reasons why the short Head is better than the long Head

Chapter VII

Of the Belt, Tassel and Grease Pot
Their different Uses

Chapter VIII

Section I: Of shooting in general
General Observations - Faults observed in Archers - Ascham's five Points of Archery

Section II: Of stringing the Bow
Cautions - Different Effects of the high and low Bend - Rule for ascertaining the proper Bend - Of Stringing a Bow that is cast - Position of the String to be attended to

Section III: Of Bracing and unbracing the Bow
Ancient and modern Methods

Section IV: Of standing
Rules to be observed in ascertaining the proper Position and Attitude of an Archer - Authorities Remarks ans Instructions Reference to the Frontispiece - Characteristics of Archery The Archer's Attitude a Subject of Admiration

Section V: Of nocking
Nocking the easiest Part of Archery - Cautions - Method of preventing irregular Nocking - Of handling the Bow

Section VI: Of drawing
Drawing the best part of Shooting - Rules and Remarks

Section VII: Of holding
How Holding is to be performed - Position in which the Bow should be held

Section VIII: Of loosing
Rules to be observed in Loosing

Section IX: Of shooting at marks
First Lessons

Section X: Of elevation
Observations on Elevation - Highest point of Elevation - Different Methods made Use of by Archers to obtain due Elevation - Remarks

Section XI: Of the wind and the weather
Necessity for an Archer to understand and study the Nature of the Wind, and to become well acquainted with the Flight of his Arrows - Difference of teh Seasons - Effect of the Weather upon the Bow and the Archer - Effect of the Wind in Archery - Course and Nature of the Winds - Cautions to be observed in Shooting neat the Sea Coasts and Rivers affected by a Tide

Section XII: Of the Footing
Footing or Standing in the Wind, the best Means of counteracting its Effects

Section XIII: Of taking aim

Section XIV: Of keeping a length
Cautions and Remarks

Section XV: Of shooting straight Observations - Different Means to shoot straight, used by different Archers - Different Ways of looking at the Mark - Nature and Powers of the Eye - Causes of not shooting straight - Remedy - Necessity of keeping the Eye always fixed on the Mark

Chapter IX

General observations and cautions

Section I
Means of attaining to Excellence in Shooting - An Art in Archery to be found out and commanded

Section II
Of using Strong Bows - General Rules for choosing the Power of Bows

Section III Affections of the Mind

Section IV: Of breaking Bows
Means by which Bows are broken - By the String - By the Shaft - By drawing too far - Remedy and Tokens of these Causes - By Frets - Observations on the Remedy for Frets - By Shooting in Winter

Section V: Of preserving Bows
Of polishing Bows - Bow Cases - Of oiling Bows

Section VI: Of unbending and changing Bows during Shooting

Section VII: Ascham's Conclusion

Chapter X

Of the several kinds of shooting, and the rules to be observed therein

Section 1. Roving
Section 2. Hoyle-Shooting
Section 3. Flight-Shooting
Section 4. Butt-Shooting
Section 5. Prick-Shooting
Section 6. Clout-Shooting
Section 7. Shooting for Prizes
Section 8. Of the Popinjay and Goose
Section 9. Of Pluck Buffet
Section 10. Of Fish-Shooting

A Remembrance of the Shows and Shootings, or Appearances of Archers, in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries


The Shooting of the Duke of Shoreditch (Anno 1583)

The Show at St. Martin's in the Fields, in setting up the Queen's Stake

A Relation of the several Appearances of Archers since the Restoration


A Glossary, or Explanation of the Terms Made use of in Archery