XIX. On aiming, which is the same as pointing at the target
Part 1 of 2
AIMING is the highest as well as the greatest, most difficult, and most abstruse principle of archery. It is the basis of all shooting. Experts have disagreed concerning it and have divided into three schools.
The first school looks at the target from the outside of the bow, the second from the inside of the bow, and the third from both the outside and the inside of the bow.
The inside of the bow is the side toward your right and. along which the arrow passes at the time of release; the outside is the other side which is toward your left. This should be carefully remembered because it is of basic importance in this section.
The method of the first school, namely, looking at the target from outside the bow, has three variations- The first consists of aligning the arrowhead with the target and focusing the sight on both with both eyes from outside the bow and, finally, aiming with the left eye. When the arrowhead disappears from sight, the archer frees the arrow immediately with a quick release.
The second variation consists of aligning the arrowhead with the target, focusing the sight on both with the left eye from the outside of the bow and aiming therewith, while at the same time the right eye is focused on the dustār of the bow, completely blind to the target, the head is straightened, and the lower siyah is brought a little to the left side. This is the method of abu-Hāshim al-Māwardi.
The third variation consists of focusing the sight of both eyes on one point by bringing the pupil of the left eye to its exterior angle and that of the right eye to its interior angle. This type of aiming is called the squinting aim and by some is supposed to be the best of the three. In the opinion of the author, however, it is the worst and most faulty and possesses the greatest margin of error; for if the archer should close one eye and open the other and aim with it by sighting obliquely, and then should close the eye which he had left open and open the one which was closed and should aim with it, he would realize that the aim of the two eyes in this position is never the same- How then could aim taken by this method be accurate?
In my judgment the best of the three kinds of aiming is that of abu-Hāshim.
These three variations which involve looking toward the target from the outside of the bow are all suitable for archers who face the target while seated or who stand obliquely as well as for those who are mounted or are in full armor. They are very effective because of the length of the draw that is used in them. They comprise the ancient method of aiming which was in universal use among the kings of Persia and expert archers.
The second school, namely, that of sighting at the target from the inside of the bow, has two variations. The first consists of aligning the arrowhead upon the target, focusing the sight upon both by both eyes, and maintaining it thereon throughout the operation of drawing. When the arrowhead reaches the thumb, the arrow is released.
The other variation of the second school consists in focusing the sight upon the arrowhead and the target with the right eye while drawing the arrow, and aiming therewith while the left eye is focused upon the dustār of the bow. On seeing the arrowhead reach the thumb, the arrow is released. This method is very accurate, and is suitable for shooting at near and small targets as well as for trick shooting. It is, however, extremely difficult as well as weak and ineffective, because the archer—seated as he is with crossed legs and facing the target directly—is unable to prolong his draw; consequently, the force of the arrow is weakened. There is no room in it for the least sudden jerk or pull before the release.
The third school, namely, looking at the target from both the outside and the inside of the bow, also has two variations. The first consists of holding the bow so that the upper end of the grip is on a level with the nose, aligning the arrowhead with the target, focusing the sight on both with the left eye from the outside of the bow and with the right from the inside, and drawing horizontally on a level with the lips up to a point the width of a fist from the arrowhead, at which point the draw is completed with a sudden jerk or pull and the release is made.
The second variation consists of aligning the arrowhead with the target and focusing the sight upon both with both eyes from outside the bow. After drawing two thirds of the arrow length until the arrowhead can be seen no longer, the left eye is kept in focus upon the target while the right eye watches the movement of the arrow from the inside of the bow. When the arrowhead reaches the thumb, the arrow is released.
Some writers on the subject have asserted that this second variation of the third school is the best one, being more accurate and less subject to error than any other method. The archer using it looks at the target from a position halfway between the frontal view and the oblique side view, thereby avoiding the shortcomings of both and being enabled to insure an accurate aim.