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Home > Books > Arab Archery > XLI. On sundry points not yet mentioned concerning the competition bow, the description of its arrow, and the manner of its use, together with some of the tricks employed in competitions
XLI. On sundry points not yet mentioned concerning the competition bow, the description of its arrow, and the manner of its use, together with some of the tricks employed in competitions
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WE HAVE already described the competition bow; there is no sense in repeating that. One thing, however, was left out which we shall now state; namely, that it should be made of shawhat, nab‘, orange, or any similar wood which is light and flexible.[58] The wood should be felled at the right season (the autumn) and left to dry in the shade, thereby becoming a better absorbent of glue. The horn should be taken from goats and should be soaked in water for a long time. The string should be thin and strong, and in length almost that of the bow itself.[59]

The arrow of the bow of competition should be round, thin, spindle-shaped [barreled], light, hard, strong, and free from any weakness. It is thinned down excessively next to the nock and trimmed with pinion feathers. The feathers should be the width of three fingers in length and trimmed low on the end toward the nock and on the end toward the head. Another kind may be made like the wing of the martin. This is done by trimming each feather at its base and making its tip similar in shape to the tip of the wing of the martin. The tip of each feather should be toward the nock. The feathers should be three in number and placed at a distance from the nock.

The heads of these arrows should be light and made of iron or ivory, or of the quill of the feathers of an eagle. Into the groove of the nock at its middle point, a hole, two thirds of a grain of barley in size, is sometimes bored with the point of an awl or some such instrument. It is supposed to enhance its speed, accelerate its flight, and strengthen its drive.

The arrow, including the arrowhead and the feathers, should weigh six dirhams; others said seven dirhams, and still others said eight dirhams. The author maintains that there is, in reality, no disagreement here, because the weight of the arrow depends on the stiffness or flexibility of the bow. Normally, competition bows should have light arrows; but, in many cases, even an arrow of eight dirhams is too light for a competition bow.

Furthermore, the arrows should be made by forcing them through a ring as has already been described under the section which treats of the making of arrows. Arrows for competition bows should be shorter than the ordinary arrows by the width of a fist. If the ordinary arrow measures the width of ten fists, the competition arrow should measure nine. Others held that it should be shorter than the ordinary arrow by only one degree—a degree being the width of one finger.

Finally the competition bow should be heavier than the ordinary bow by three rotls.

When you desire to compete, take your stand obliquely, and grip the bow with the Persian hold, which is the oblique hold. Place the thumb of your left hand between the index finger and the middle finger, project the lower tip of the bow a little away from your hip, and face the wind; but do not shoot skyward lest the wind force the arrow down and lessen its speed; likewise, do not shoot downward lest its range diminish. Lean on the right leg more than on the left, and look up; not to the place where you intend to shoot. Then draw quickly with one continuous draw, straighten your stand gradually as you draw, and then release with a sudden jerk without pause. Experts hold that in target shooting the pause is both desirable and good, whereas in competitive flight shooting it is very bad. Your release should therefore be quick and sudden without pause.