The Archery Library
Old Archery Books, Articles and Prints
Home > Books > Arab Archery > Notes
1. The siyah was the stiff, unbending extremity of each limb of the bow. As will be observed in the later text, it was sometimes considered to be the entire end beyond the bending portion, and sometimes more strictly confined to the part up to the nock
2. After extended research, it is deemed probable that when the word shawḥaṭ is used in this connection it refers to a species of yew. Nab‘ has been defined as "white poplar," but this is by no means definitely established, and is even open to grave doubt because it is taken later in this text as synonymous with shawḥaṭ.
3. Hijāz, or Hedjaz on some maps, is that part of Arabia between the central desert and the upper half of the Red Sea. Hijāzi is an adjective form.
4. This is an important sentence, as it clearly differentiates between the three kinds of Hijāzi bows and the true composite, for these are said to be made by reducing the size of a stave of wood by shaving down its sides, while—in the text to follow—we shall see that the composite bow is built up of substances of various origin. In fact, the author explains that the composite bow is "described as separated because of the disconnected nature of its parts before they are put together." Inasmuch as the mu‘aqqabah (literally: reinforced) and the murakkabah (literally: put together) are both made of wood, horn, and sinew, this distinction in their mode of manufacture lends support to our conception of their different character as presented in footnote 6.
5. The qaḍīb is obviously the self bow. The filq seems to be a wood-backed bow, or bow with a belly of one kind of wood and an applied back of another kind, as in the case of a yew bow with the belly of heart wood and the back made of a separate piece of sap wood, glued together. In the Arabic dictionaries, the word sharīj is said to be sometimes synonymous with filq, although, in general, it appears to indicate more extensive or diverse splitting. Here, although the filq and sharīj bows are enclosed in the same category of Ḥijāzi bows, there is an implied difference. Probably the sharīj is a bow made of two half-filqs spliced at the grip, although we advance that hypothesis with diffidence because of the fact that the text gives no suggestion of transverse discontinuity. There is also a possibility, though a less likely one, that it might mean a laminated wooden bow, which is a bow of at least three layers glued together. Such bows are common in many countries, notably Japan, Belgium, France, and America, and they may be so constructed as to have many of the characteristics of the composite bow.
6. See Appendix, 1. Reinforced Bows.
7. Wāsiṭ means middle and the town is so called because it lies halfway down the Tigris from Baghdad to the gulf.
8. The Arabic word which is translated as "arm," is bayt, which literally means "house." It may also denote a section of the zodiac or have usages which indicate boundaries. As "house" would not be a true translation of the sense in English, we have substituted the word "arm" because of its customary application to this part of the bow. It means the flexible portion, composed of a thin slat of wood, covered with horn on the belly and sinew on the back, which lies between the grip and the stiff, wooden siyah. The two arms are the sole source of power in the bow.
9. This passage proves that the foot bow was nothing else than the cross. bow in its earliest stage and, because of the new light which it sheds upon the development of projectile weapons, it is of the greatest importance. when taken in connection with the full account of the majra which is given in Section XLIII, we see that the channeled arrow-guide was at first held loosely in the hands for the purpose of shooting a short arrow with a long and powerful draw. When it was fastened to the bow and fitted with a lock and trigger, the crossbow was born. The name of foot bow was then applied to it because the far end was held against the ground by pressure of a foot in the stirrup while both hands were used to draw the string of the heavy bow into the lock. By experiment we have verified the fact that friction of the bowstring upon the surface of the majra may result in a noticeable diminution of force.
10. See Appendix, 2. Length of the Composite Bow.
11. Although the word bayt is generally used for the elastic arm, in this paragraph it refers to the whole limb and is so translated. Like siyah, it is capable of extended meaning.
12. See Appendix, 3. The Composite Bow.
13. Because of the differences between the European and American manner of drawing with the fingers and shooting from the left side of the bow, and the oriental manner of drawing with the thumb and shooting from the right side, we have found it necessary to coin some words, one of which is clench. In this translation, clench is synonymous with lock, the latter being perhaps a more literal translation of the Arabic word qaflah. In the European finger draw, the hand is wide open exposing the entire palm, but in the oriental draw it is locked into a tight fist. The clench, or lock, is therefore this tightly contracted arrangement of the right hand, The word grasp, used as a noun, which might easily be confused with clench, refers to the grip of the left hand on the handle of the bow. The word grip, however, used as a noun, we have limited to mean only the bow handle.
14. This casual statement is of unusual importance as it throws additional light on one of the most controversial points in the history of archery, namely, what was meant by Roger Ascham in Toxophilus, which was published in 1544, when he said: "double nockinge is used for double suertye of the shafte." Nearly a page of close-set type in Elmer's Archery is devoted to a discussion of the meaning of that statement without reaching a definitive conclusion. It might have meant that the nock was reinforced by a longitudinal slip of horn, set in a sawn slot at right angles to the notch, as is done today and was done in an ancient English arrow found in one of the Westminster buildings. This device is for no other purpose than to prevent the shaft from breaking at the nock and might logically have been called "double nocking," though we have no specific proof that it was. That would be one kind of "suertye of the shafte." The alternate meaning might apply to the crisscross nock described here and fortunately corroborated on page 150. No English arrow with such crossed nocks is known to exist nor to have been described unmistakably in literature, though the large, bulbous ends of the ancient English arrows would give plenty of room for so much cutting. It, too, would give "suertye of the shafte" if that surety referred to quickness, and therefore safety, in fitting the arrow to the string. Now, for the first time, we have proof that two nocks did exist in one arrow.
15. It is amazing that this old manuscript on archery has vicariously resurrected the ancient Arabic system of conveying numerical values by a highly developed sign language involving the use of only a single hand. Though scholars have suspected that such a medium once existed, its details were completely lost. At present it is believed to be extinct. By its delicate and accurately formed manual postures, it is sharply differentiated from the crude gestures of ubiquitous distribution which indicate "the nine digits" and some of their more simple combinations by holding up an equal number of fingers.
16. Although a mystical significance is assigned to this act of walking barefooted to the target, the practical value of it is so apparent to an archer that he may wonder if such a law of religious observance did not arise as a corollary of empiricism. The compelling motive is the fear of stepping upon a snake; not on a serpent, but on a hidden arrow that is technically called a snake because it has missed the target and has buried itself so invisibly under the grass or in the sand that its presence cannot be detected by the eye. It is impossible for the layman to realize how absolute this concealment can be. An archer may hunt an hour or more for a snaked arrow—perhaps crossing and recrossing it many times—and even then may find his search to be unsuccessful; unless he finally resort: to the use of a rake or hook to scratch up the ground or should happen to tread upon the shaft and probably crunch it. To avoid this latter catastrophe the Asiatics developed the propriety of kicking off their loose shoes, so that the snake in the grass could be felt, but not broken, by their sensitive feet.
17. Weight as applied to a bow is not its actual heft in the hand, as it is with an arrow, but is the amount of force required to draw its arrow to the head. Here "pounds" is a free translation of the Arabic measure of weight called roṭtl, the exact value of which will be discussed in a later chapter. To convey the sense of this passage "pounds" serves very well.
18. see Appendix, 4. Bracing.
19. There is really very little to choose between these two schools of nocking, the difference being only in the slight difference in space lying between the string and arrow before the nocking is completed. We have always practiced and taught the method of Ṭāhir and Isḥāq, but among Americans in general it is rarely used. Nearly all Americans nock an arrow by holding it above the feathers and placing it on the string like a woman sticking a clothespin on a washline.
Since all sounds originate in vibration, the due to the peculiar shape of the oriental one which Ṭāhir heard was nock. Its slot is wide and rounded, to give freedom to the string, but it has narrow lips to keep the arrow from falling off. Thus the narrow opening would pluck the string and the wide nock would give it room to vibrate. The whole would be instantaneous and would indicate a strong bow and perfectly fitted arrow and string such as one might expect from a master archer.
20. While this description is clear, the lock is certainly not "seventy-two" as described earlier.
21. Bleeding from minor wounds on the flexor surface of the forearm is lessened or even checked by thus squeezing together the two parts of the arm.
22. We interpret this word—oblique, obliquely—with reference to the turn to the left of the head on the neck. Actually, the position of the archer is sidewise to the target but, because of anatomical limitation, the head cannot be turned fully to the left—at least in most archers—and, therefore, must remain at an angle, or oblique, to the direction of the arrow, or line of aim.
23. This means that the head of the arrow is to be raised by bending the hand upward at the wrist.
24. While "jerk" does not convey the exact meaning of the original because it suggests inaccuracy, a better word does not come readily to mind- The central idea of most of these descriptions of drawing and loosing is that the archer may take as much time as he wishes in pulling back most of the arrow, but for the last few inches he must be quick and he must finally loose in a snappy manner without letting the string creep or his fingers drag.
25. To the layman, this releasing of both hands by making the shoulder blades meet may sound like nonsense. If taken too literally perhaps it is, but to the practical archer it is quite intelligible. The prime requisite in loosing is to create as little disturbance as possible in one's artillery (see I Samuel 20:40) while keeping it at the highest potential of efficiency. This is accomplished by maintaining absolute steadiness of the hands and arms while the shoulder blades are slightly approximated. of course they cannot really be made to touch each other, but they feel as if they were going to do so, and, as a result of their contraction, the tension between the hands is increased just enough to pull the string off the fingers if the clench is not simultaneously strengthened. While the idea of releasing the right hand is clear to anyone, that of releasing the left is more obscure. It is true that many of the best modern archers allow a free movement of the bow handle within the grasp of the left hand at the exact moment of loosing and this, with the consequent "follow up" or sustained tension of the bow hand is apparently what the author means. At the end of Section XVI he suggested it as used by the Persians. Yet many an equally good archer never relaxes his grasp but holds on like a vise to the very end of the loose. If the author also had this mode in mind, he must have referred to the preservation of tension or the "follow-up" when he wrote of the release of the left hand.
26. This breaking of the nail probably does not mean a splitting of the nail itself, which we have never seen, but a separation of the nail from the matrix at the cuticle. This accident to fingernails has often occurred in our experience on American shooting fields, and many such injured men have courageously shot out the match in spite of agonizing pain.
27. At this point it seems pertinent to scan the general skeletal anatomy of the forearm, wrist, and hand in order to harmonize the conceptions of the author with our own. The forearm contains two bones, the ulna and the radius. The former is big at the upper end, where it forms the elbow by articulating with the humerus of the upper arm, but it tapers down to hardly more than a point at the lower end, where it forms little more than a side flange to the wrist joint. The radius is very small at the upper end, where it is attached to the ulna in a free manner which permits the hand to be turned on either its palm or back, but at the lower end it is very large and forms nearly the whole width of the wrist.
In the wrist itself are eight small bones called carpals which look like irregular pebbles and which move on each other to varying extent. Beyond them lie the five metatarsals, one for each finger, forming the solid part of the hand.
Although the flexibility of the wrist is due to the great number of joints between so many bones, it is commonly called the wrist joint-not joint seven by doctors. Apparently its complex structure was not understood by our Arabic author, and by "wrist bone" he usually means the bases of the first or fifth metacarpals with, possibly, the two carpals with which they are principally joined. Thus, he often means what we would think of as part of the hand rather than wrist.
28. "Into the bow" means between the bow and string, the idea being that the hand is bent back at the wrist.
29. The Arabic expression which is translated "the intrusion of the lower limb upon the upper limb," is without a literal equivalent in English. It may also be translated as "the predominance of the lower limb over the upper limb," and as "the prevalence of the lower limb." It occurs in several places in the manuscript and seems to mean that the lower limb—being shorter than the upper limb—may also, in such cases as are under consideration, be stronger than the upper limb. In some sentences it is freely translated so as to indicate that fact. If such an imbalance exists, then-in the highly reflexed and delicately balanced composite bow—the lower limb will remain much less bent when the bow is strung and consequently will be closer to the string; thus making the string lie at an angle to the grip instead of correctly parallel. The stronger limb will also resume its original status, or return to rest, more quickly than the weaker limb, and, for that reason, will not only cause the bow to kick in the hand but will so jerk the string as to produce an unbalanced propulsive impact on the arrow. The effects attributed to this "prevalence," or "intrusion" of strength, can be explained by this interpretation.
30. See Appendix, 5. The Male Feather.
31. See Appendix, 6. The Cubit.
32. See Appendix, 7. Weights of Bows.
33. See Appendix, 8. Sighting and Range.
34. The Arabic words which are translated as "acute obliqueness" indicate the position, or standing, of the archer, which in England and America is known as sideways. In it, the archer's two shoulders are in line with the mark, or target, and his head is turned sharp to the left to bring the right eye into the direction of aim. The greatest reach is obtained by this method because of the full extension of the bow arm, and the greatest strength can be applied because traction is made by the powerful muscles of the shoulders and back—very much as in swimming by the breast stroke—and not by the weaker muscles and more constricted movements of the arms; all of which seems to have been understood by abu-Hishim and the author. The reader can see the possibilities in himself by extending his left arm first to the left and then to the front and noting the difference in the distances between his hand and right eye.
35. "Power and strength" are terms of such nearly identical meaning as to be difficult of interpretation. It seems to us that their intended significance is length of cast and force of impact.
36. Here, as elsewhere in the manuscript, the word "competitor" seems to mean flight shooter, that is, one who strives for distance and not for accuracy of aim. Similarly, "competition" and "competitive" will be found to refer to flight shooting.
37. This measure includes the two flexible arms and the grip but excludes both siyahs. The one preferred by abu-Hāshim adds one siyah to this but subtracts the width of three fingers.
38. The statement that an arrow might be as long as a bow could be made only if the bow were of the very short composite type. If the bow measured three cubits and a finger, of sixty-five inches, as is stated on page 77, an arrow of that length would be absurd. It would be equally absurd to say that the longest accurate range is forty-five bow lengths, if the bow were no longer than an arrow. The author seems to give without distinction the opinions of his several authorities, who, in one case, may have had in mind either the wooden bow or a backed one of similar pattern and, in another case, the highly recurved and very short fully composite bow. To analyze the citations, with their consequently conflicting measurements, is more than difficult and can be done only by appraisement of the context.
39. These two words, recurvature and incurvature, are literal translations and have never been used previously in works on archery in the English language; the customary terms being reflexion and following the string. We will retain them, however, as they are convenient and seem to fit the requirements very well.
40. This is the common experience of all archers and is due to two factors one in the archer and the other in the bow. Naturally, the archer becomes stronger and more skillful with practice so that his bow feels lighter because of his own improvement. But the bow itself loses strength because of the compression and extension of its components; ligneous cells are crushed, sinews are stretched, and other forces of minute disintegration occur which, as a whole, lessen the power of the bow—a process technically known as sinking. some archers who have shot composite bows tell us that they have found this sinking to be more rapid in such bows than in wooden ones, and our limited experience has bred in us the same opinion. It may be noted in passing that bows of steel undergo no demonstrable change.
41. This passage is of great importance as proving that the Asiatics were able to restore or increase the cast of their bows by adding sinew to the back whenever it became convenient to do so. This fact, we think, has not been brought out in any other book that has been published in the English language.
42. See Appendix, 9. Horns Used in Bows.
43. This picture of the oriental flight bow, which the author calls "the competition bow," fits perfectly into all known requirements. Because a short object which is bent will return to normal sooner than a long one of the same material, each bending arm of the bow is shortened by the breadth of two fingers. It is also rounded to provide depth and reduce wind resistance. To bring the bow up to the length necessary for the arrow, the grip and siyahs are made longer. Since the siyahs are inflexible and their movement is imparted by the arms, their greater length gives longer arcs for the nocks to travel. As these arcs are traversed almost as quickly as shorter ones would be, greater speed is given to the tightening of the string, on which the projection of the missile depends.
To understand the phrase "the looser the bow," one must remember that an unstrung oriental bow may be so recurved that its ends may touch and make it form the letter O; or it may be even more recurved until the siyahs overlap and make it look like a pretzel. obviously, when this recurvature has been reduced by stringing, and thus brought to a condition of incurvature, the internal tension, or potential force of the bow, is much greater than it would be if there had been little or no recurvature. Therefore, the bow with little recurvature would be less taut, or "looser" and "safer from possible defects."
44. This is an important paragraph. It takes us into the personal confidence of the author and shows us what he was: a true toxophilite who stood almost alone in his effort to revive this nearly forgotten but intrinsically fascinating art. It also furnishes the evidence which proves that he was a Moroccan writing in Morocco.
45. Bearing in mind the climate of Morocco (winter is the rainy season and summer the dry season), it is apparent that most of the effects which the author attributes to cold and heat are really due to the presence or absence of moisture. When uninfluenced by humidity, cold will slightly contract a string and heat expand it, but neither will be enough to be noticed by the archer. Portions of the text sufficiently indicate the author's real meaning.
46. We have seen strings on African bows of the primitive tribes which consist of a single strip of bamboo. They are perhaps as much as a quarter of an inch in width but much less than that in thickness, being decidedly flat instead of round. The arrow for such a string has a flat heel, instead of a nock, and is held against the broad side by pressure between the thumb and forefinger. This pinch-hold gives a weak tractive power which would not suffice for a Persian bow, and so it is more than doubtful if the author had a string of that kind in mind. Bamboo is a grass and can be shredded. Possibly, strings of the regular type were made from its fibers, though we have never seen any nor have we read of them elsewhere.
47. See Appendix, 10. Knots.
48. This Arabic adjective is derived from Ṣa‘dah, a small town near the fringe of the western Arabian desert.
49. This naming "in reverse" is very unfortunate, as it is annoying and confusing—apparently not only to the reader but to the author himself, since he is not consistent throughout his manuscript but, in many places, uses the words short and long to indicate the actual measure of strings from end to end. In English, the distance between the string and the grip is called the height of the string.
50. This sudden blaming of long siyahs for producing incurvation of the bow seems to be an indirect way of saying that the string is too short—in actual length—for them-as long siyahs would have no such effect if the string were in proportion.
52. The accuracy of two of the author's statements are open to dispute. At least in the American and English style of shooting—where the bow is of wood and the arrow passes on its left side—the forearm is much more likely to be hit by a low string than by a high one; and, also, a low string will cast an arrow farther than one of high bracing. Both of these facts are opposed to the sense of the text and it is hard to believe that the right sided shooting of a composite bow would cause widely different results.
52. See Appendix, 11. The Dirham and Its Equivalents.
53. See Appendix, 12. Lengths of Arrows.
54. It is this reference to shawḥaṭ that rouses our doubts as to its restricted identity with yew, for yew is too crooked and heavy to make the best arrows and, in most localities, is also too rare and expensive. Some of the highest authorities on wood in the Smithsonian Institution and in various national and state departments of forestry are also interested in archery, yet none of those whom we have consulted can find a proven definition for shawḥaṭ. When the author of the manuscript uses the word to name the wood that is most suitable for bows, we believe that he means it to indicate yew. When he uses it for arrows we feel, but cannot prove, that he refers to some sort of pine, cedar, or spruce that is like yew. Shawḥaṭ may be a somewhat generic name which covers several related species, just as the English use the word "deal" for many kinds of resinous woods. This hypothesis is rendered more plausible because of the fact that shawḥaṭ is stated to be synonymous with nab‘, shiryān, and khalanj.
55. This distance of five or six fingerbreadths from nock to feather is extraordinarily great and affords additional evidence of the fact that Arabian arrows were sometimes very long, as we deduced from the text on page 104. The greatest distance from nock to feather that we can find among our collection of exotic arrows is two and a quarter inches, occurring in Chinese war arrows that are thirty-eight inches in length, over all, and have twelve inch feathers. This is practically the same as the width of the three large fingers in "the count of one" (see page 112) that is mentioned below. Most arrows—everywhere—are fletched as close to the nock as will leave room for the fingers or the thumb and some oriental arrows have no space there at all.
56. See Appendix, 13. Relative Weights.
57. Ibn-‘Aṭīyah was a distinguished scholar in Andalusia, Spain. He died Anno Hegirae 542, Anno Domini 1164.
58. In a composite bow the central lamellar base need not necessarily be made of a variety of wood that would be suitable for self bows as the horn and sinew provide the real strength and the wood serves for little more than a frame for them to be glued to. So, if nab– should really be white poplar, as suggested in footnote 2, it might do very well because of its power of holding glue. Perhaps the same could be said for orange. Excellent modern wooden bows have been made on a sort of composite principle; for example: with a hickory back, a dagame belly, and a central layer of practically inert beechwood.
59. The length of the string, in this instance, is not that confusing "nomenclature in reverse" of Section XXXIV, where a "long" string was actually a short one, but it really means what it says. Therefore, since the string is long, it would not bend the bow very much in the bracing. The bow is then called "low-braced" and the height of the string from the grip is short. Both empirical and mathematical tests have proved that a bow will cast further when it is low-braced than when it is braced too high, although there is naturally a definite minimum in effective low-bracing. Here the author seems to recognize that fact and to express it quite casually, which is particularly interesting when we recall that on page 99 he made the directly contrary assertion that high-bracing "increases the flight and force of the arrow."
60. Many modern flight shooters actually do this pounding with the advanced foot—either by instinct or design—and it is interesting to observe that the impulse manifested itself just as strongly four centuries ago as it. does today. At the moment of loosing, the flight shooter lunges forward and upward and stamps downward with his front foot to accentuate the attitude and preserve the balance of the body. Since the majority of archers are right-handed and the bow is held in the left hand, this advanced foot is normally the left one ; but for him whose "left hand is stronger than his right"—the left-handed archer—the right hand holds the bow and the right foot is the one which does the stamping. Thus the anonymous "some archer" had a good deal of truth on his side. However, if he did have thoughts like these in mind, our author apparently misinterpreted them in the bias of his own conceptions: attributing the inequality of brachial strength not to right- or left-handedness—with the resulting contrast of posture—but to a lack of even tension between the arms during the drawing of the bow. The assertion that neither foot should be pounded in the case of balance between "hands of equal strength," quite possibly may be the author's personal addition to the meaning of the authority whom he cites—a completion of the picture according to his own lights.
61. It is the very last, final jerk of the fully tightened string that sends the arrow off on its flight. If the fibers of the string are separated in some place and kept spit, time and energy are lost when those fibers are pulled together again by the shot; and the sharp, efficient twang is lost from the bowstring just as surely as the clear tone of the string of a musical instrument is lost if it be similarly maltreated. In fact, the bow is the earliest form of stringed musical instrument, and many primitive races will use the same bow for shooting and making music. But—to return to the subject—the untwisted and ensalivated string will not shoot so far as one that has not been treated in this manner.
62. Remember that the bulging Oriental nock is often the widest part of the arrow.
63. See Appendix, 14. The majra or Arrow Guide.
64. To illustrate the value of this type of nearly vertical shooting, we will cite two well known historical examples:
In 1066 when William the Conqueror attacked the English near Hastings, the latter defended themselves by making a wall with their shields, which they interlocked and held with great power. Even cavalry could not break it- Then, as is clearly shown in the Bayeux Tapestry, the Norman archers shot high in the air so that the English were either obliged to raise their shields over their heads and thus break the wall or else be hit by the descending arrows, as was, in fact, the fate of King Harold.
    The second incident occurred in 1096 during the Peasants' Crusade. The place was in Asia minor about fifty miles southwest of Constantinople and the occasion was the rout which followed a disastrous defeat of the crusaders by the Turks. This quotation—slightly abbreviated—is from The First Crusade, by August C. Krey: "Above the shore of the sea was an ancient deserted fortress toward which three thousand pilgrims rushed in flight- They entered it in hope of defense, but, finding no gate, they piled up their shields and a huge mound of rocks in the doorway and bravely defended themselves with lances, wooden bows, and sling stones. But the Turks surrounded the fortress, which was without a roof, and aimed their arrows so high that they fell from the air in a shower and struck the enclosed Christians, killing the poor wretches."
65. That these two types of nockless arrows are practicable is proven by the fact that both of them were independently invented by Earl Mead of Cleveland, Ohio, and patented by him in 1930. The application for that patent lies before us and the following descriptions are taken from it.
   1. The nock end of the arrow is tapered conically and fits into a metal seat, or ring, which is set in the string and tied there.
   2. "A streamline arrow in which for the arrow-nock there is substituted an axial opening in the arrow which receives a projecting member integral with the bowstring seat." The bowstring seat may be either movable of immovable on the string. In a specimen that we saw, the seat was of brass and the pin was a piece of thin wire nail about a quarter of an inch in length. Excellent scores were made with arrows of this type but the odd nocks did not catch the popular fancy and their manufacture was soon discontinued.
   The word birūn is Persian and means "a projection." As it was a foreign word to the author, it is retained here without translation to denote this previously nameless object.
66. The face of a person with normal hearing automatically turns toward a sound in order to balance the tonal quality in both ears. By thus holding the bow arm extended directly before the face, and with the head immobilized on the neck by the pressure of the upper arm on the left cheek, the arrow is likely to be well directed when the range is short.
67. See Appendix, 15. Meaning of fard and qīrāt.
68. See Appendix, 16. The Returning Arrow.
69. See Appendix, 17. Featherless Arrows.
70. This apparatus will certainly work, although we have found that so much force is absorbed by the shaft which is attached to the string that the missile does not fly nearly so far as when it is shot from the majra which is described on the pages immediately following. However, the archer soon finds that there is an unmentioned factor which places his bow in the greatest jeopardy. All bows are built to withstand a strain in one direction only, that is, the bend toward the archer, and when the bow is loosed in normal shooting and the arrow leaves it at its position of rest, the bow receives no further strain beyond a jarring that is well within its limits of safety. But the attached shaft introduces an enormous stress in the wrong direction, which the bow is not built to withstand. Instead of the string's being freed after the loose it is given a terrific yank toward the bow, which pulls the tips toward the grip and, in combination with more complicated stresses, may even break one limb off near the handle. we had this happen to an excellent osage bow. whether or not other types of fracture might occur we have not had enough experience to say. The voluntary statement of the author that the second type of shooting with a guide was "better for the bow" suggests that he, too, had witnessed similar mishaps.
71. All the oriental bowstrings that we have seen have been two or three times as thick as ordinary American strings.
72. The rings of iron or copper that are fastened at each end of the majra are for the purpose of preventing the shuttle like "nock," or horn-piece from leaving the groove. The rear one is not indispensable but the forward one is of great importance. we found it better practice to set this ring bar a few inches from the extreme end, where it could be reached by the shuttle without undue strain to the bow while the tip of the majra was still resting on the bow-hand and bow.
   The word "hit" is rather indecisive. The missile certainly can be pushed all the way along the groove from the limit of the draw but, on the other hand, it is possible to tuck the missile under the front ring and let it receive a hammerlike blow from the shuttle nock. In fact, this principle of the blow was finally adopted in crossbows as providing a greater propulsive force than the long push.
73. As with so many of these stunts, we had to try this one out in order to see just what the author meant. our attempts were successful but the thing is nothing more nor less than a toy. We cannot conceive of its serving any useful purpose as the cast of the outflying bird arrows is not great and accurate aim is impossible. The socket must have a cavity of about one and a half inches to hold ten small arrows, and, if its wall is one eighth of an inch in thickness, the groove of the majra should be fully two inches square to allow free movement and let the arrows out under the terminal ring.
   We also made a shuttle nock which was surmounted by a crosspiece that rode on top of the majra and contained holes about one inch in depth to contain the nock ends of the arrows. It worked all right, but the majra must then be shot on the right side of the bow in the oriental fashion to keep the crosspiece from hitting the hand. We believe that the first type is the one the author had in mind.
74. Complicated, difficult, and confusing as this description seems to be, it can be resolved to reasonable simplicity when put to the actual test of shooting. To explain the text, we would begin by saying that the bow-hand had better be held palm up with the bow horizontal while the arrows are being laid upon it and nocked, as in this prone position they lie side by side and so do not become jumbled. However, they will also remain in place if the bow is inclined backward somewhat, but less than the horizontal. The string is then taken deep between the middle and ring fingers, not with the intention of drawing, but simply that the arrows may be steadied by the fingers until they can be supported against the side of the bow by the elevation and pressure of the left thumb. In our experiments we could cover only seven arrows with the left thumb, but with thinner shafts, a longer thumb, and more practice, it is probable that another archer could increase the number to the required ten. when the left thumb has obtained a good lateral pressure on the arrows, the bow is held erect. Then the temporary grip on the string—which kept the nocks from slipping off—is removed and for a moment the right hand is not engaged at all. Then the lock, or draw, or clench, of twenty—in which the thumb is laid between the first two fingers—is placed on the string. If it is done "edgewise"—which would seem to mean the edge of the hand on top—all the fingers can play a part in holding the nock ends steadily against the string. As the author allows, some archers may do better with other locks.
75. It is rather unfortunate that, in English, the word nock is used to mean two different things: the notch and the end of the arrow which contain the notch.
76. We have tried this method of quick repetition in shooting and a convinced that it can be mastered by practice, though it is very difficult f one who is not trained to the thumb draw and shooting from the right side of the bow. It could not be applied to the European manner of shooting from the left side. The fundamental idea is that the drawing hand hold several arrows tucked away toward the outer edge of the palm and he there by the three fingers mentioned. Then, by successive movements of the palm which are almost instinctive, one arrow after another is allowed to be taken hold of by the index finger and thumb, nocked, drawn, and released, while the other arrows still are held in the palm of the drawing hand awaiting their turn. The word "slam" may be a translation of excessive meaning, but it is intended to convey the idea of a very rapid movement and is difficult to supplant with a better one.