The Archery Library
Old Archery Books, Articles and Prints
Home > Books > Arab Archery > VIII. Things the archer should know.
VIII. Things the archer should know.
Part 2 of 2

The archer should also learn and practice the following four sets of things so that they may become second nature to him. These are:
Four firm: a firm grasp with his left hand; clenching with his right hand; drawing with sixty-three the firmness of his left hand, arm, and shoulder.
Three loose: a loose index finger in his right hand; a loose index finger and thumb in his left hand; a loose arrow when the bow is drawn.
Four steady and motionless: the head, the neck, the heart, and the feet. The feet should be firmly planted on the ground.
Five straight and outstretched: the elbow, the arrowhead, the nock (fūq), the aim, and the posture.

The archer should also know exactly how strong is his bow and how heavy is his arrow.

To insure the utmost power in the release of the arrow four things are necessary: a firm grasp, a draw of sixtythree, a steady clench, and an even loose.

What the archer should avoid are the following fifteen things: drawing up to his left shoulder, drawing up to his right shoulder, drawing up to his chest, drawing past his right eyebrow, drawing past his forehead, a loose grasp, slackening the clench, ignoring to open his right hand after loosing, blocking the nock of the arrow, projecting his chest, bending his left arm, holding the grip of the bow away from his wrist the width of two fingers and over by placing it in the palm of his hand, bending his head over his shoulder, opening his left hand at or before the moment of release instead of his right, and neglecting to bring the arrow to a full draw.

Archers hold that bringing the arrow to a full draw comprises half the art of archery, while the other half comprises the clench, accurate aim, and a steady left hand. It has also been said that a full draw is surely fire, while an incomplete draw is mere smoke.


Among the proprieties of archery is the correct deportment in carrying the bow. When strung it should be carried in the manner in which the Apostle of God commanded that it should be carried, that is, as Gabriel carried his bow in the Battle of Badr, and as ‘Ali ibn-abi-Ṭālib was wont to carry his. The Apostle of God appeared one day carrying his bow strung, his left hand grasping its grip and its string over his left arm. When the bow is not strung it should be carried with the left hand grasping the grip and the upper siyah pointing forward as though one were about to brace it.

Another is the manner of carrying the arrows. The arrowheads should be gathered within the right palm or interspersed between the fingers of the right hand in order to avoid hurting anyone, especially in crowded and narrow places.

Another requires the archer to bare his left arm lest the string hit his sleeve and thereby interfere with loosing. The right arm remains covered. The Persians hold that the right arm of the archer constitutes nakedness and therefore should never be uncovered. Consequently, they have made themselves special shirts to be worn while engaged in shooting. These shirts have no sleeve for the left arm but have a long sleeve for the right arm. Upon loosing and dropping the right arm, the long sleeve likewise drops and covers it.

Another demands that the archer walk barefooted when he is picking up his arrows for shooting. This is in accordance with a tradition ascribed to the Prophet, which regards the course between the archer and his aim as a strip of Paradise.[16]

Still another requires the archer to remain erect while he shoots, whether he shoots standing or sitting; not to use too heavy a bow which is beyond his ability to control; nor to employ an arrow too long for his bow or too short. He should try his arrow before the start of any contest, for it has been said: "Fletching precedes shooting." He should also know exactly the weight of his bow, the extent of its cast, the range of its arrows, and the weight of each arrow. If the arrows are of the same weight the archer should hold them in the same way, otherwise, each according to its respective weight.