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4. Bracing

Correctly speaking, stringing means the fitting of a bare bow with a string, and bracing means flexing the bow thus fitted and slipping the eyes of the string into their nocks preparatory to shooting. Bending, incidentally, applies also to bracing the bow, not to drawing it. However, the author of our manuscript and nearly all modern archers use the word stringing as synonymous with bracing, and this practice we have followed in the translation.

All twelve methods of bracing that are described in this section are feasible for straight bows and for bows of moderate recurvature, but for Oriental bows that are so recurved—or reflexed—that when at rest they look like an inverted letter C, or an ellipsoidal loop, or even a pretzel, several of the methods would be practically impossible. The fact that all of them are offered in reference to the Arabic bow may be accepted as further evidence that that weapon was not as recurved as were many of the Turkish, Persian, or Asiatic Indian bows.

The easiest way to bend any rod is to press the ends in one direction and the center in the opposite, and that fundamental principle holds good for the bow. Therefore, all methods of bracing are merely different ways of applying force against the back of the bow near each tip and resisting that force, or making contrary pressure, at the grip.

The following synoptical scheme may help in understanding the twelve methods, all of which are reversible to right or left:

The only method that seems hard to understand is number ten. To do it, the archer first steps into the bow with one leg—between the bow and the string. He then lays the bow down his back and brings the lower end out to the front between his legs, where it is hooked onto the thigh if the bow is a short one, or onto the shin if it is a long one. The bracing is then done by grasping the upper tip with one or both hands, either above or behind the head, and pulling it forward while the body inclines anteriorly from the hips. The shin, or thigh, and one or both hands control the two tips while the grip rests somewhere on the back. The upper eye slips in the nock easily. It is not nearly so hard as it sounds and is a good way to brace very heavy bows.