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IX. How to determine the cast of the bow, its weight, and the limit of the archer's strength in drawing

THIS is one branch of archery of which the knowledge is indispensable and ignorance of it will affect shooting considerably.

The archer can determine the weight of his bow in several ways. One way is to take his bow, braceit, grasp the grip with his left hand, hold the string with the index finger, middle finger, and ring finger of his right hand, and then draw the string up to the elbow of the left arm. At this point he should release his ring finger and continue to draw until he has drawn the full length of his arrow. If he can hold the drawn bow without shaking or trembling or straining, this will be the limit of his own draw and the one fit for aiming and shooting. If, on the other hand, at the release of the ring finger, his hand should shake and tremble and be unable to draw the string to the full length of the arrow, then the bow is a heavier one than he can handle.

Another way is to take a bow, brace it, nock an appropriate arrow thereon, place its arrowhead on the ground, and, spreading the feet apart, draw the full length of the arrow. If the archer succeeds in drawing the full length of the arrow in this manner, the bow will be the right weight for him. Otherwise it is too heavy and is unfit for is use. Having tested the bow in these two ways, the archer can then proceed to find its exact weight in pounds[17].

After bracing the bow, he should hang it by its grip on an appropriate peg in a wall and then suspend from the middle of the string some sort of basket. Next he should nock an arrow and start filling the basket with weights until the bow is drawn to the full length of the arrow. Thereupon he should empty the basket, count his pounds, and add to them the weight of the basket itself. The result would be the weight of the bow in pounds.


This method, which is called limbering, has been developed by experts and is used for practice and training. It requires a piece of wood turned to the size of the grip in thickness and length. Through one end of this a hole is bored up to about an inch from the other end. Another hole is bored horizontally from the side at a point one inch below the end which is still intact until it penetrates to the hole already bored vertically from the other end. The two holes meet at a right angle. A hook is then attached to the end which has no hole, and the piece is suspended by that hook. A stout string is passed through the end hole until it comes out through the hole in the side, whereupon a basket is attached to the string close to the ground and a loop is formed at the other end of the string. Weights equivalent to the number of pounds desired are then placed in the basket.

The archer should now place the thumb of his right hand in the loop and arrange his fingers thereon in a draw of sixty-three, in the meantime holding the piece of wood with his left hand as though he were grasping the grip of a bow. He should then draw the string in the same way as he would draw that of a braced bow. If the basket should prove too heavy he should remove some of the weights and if it should prove too light he should add thereto. In this manner an archer can determine the capacity of his draw.

Such practice is of great value to the archer who, through some reason or other, has been prevented from actual shooting with the bow. Through it he remains in trim and training. I have personally tried this operation and found it extremely useful, though rather strenuous and difficult. Attaching a pulley just above the side hole renders the drawing smoother and easier. Without the pulley I was not able to draw more than half of what I could draw with the actual bow but with it I could match that weight without any difficulty.