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Home > Books > Arab Archery > XLIII. On shooting with the ḥusbān, dawdan, and ‘uṣfūri arrows through the hollow of a guide
XLIII. On shooting with the ḥusbān, dawdan, and ‘uṣfūri arrows through the hollow of a guide
Part 2 of 3

The manner of shooting with a guide consists in holding the bow by its grip with your left hand, while the string lies on the inside of your forearm which is toward your face [supinated; canting the bow anticlockwise]. You then place the guide on the grip of the bow at the kabid point, holding it in place with your left thumb. Next, take hold of the ḥusbān arrow with your right hand, insert it into the guide, and hold the guide and ḥusbān arrow firmly with your entire right hand. Then turn your left hand over and hold the bow as you would when shooting an ordinary long arrow. Place the guide in the bow and place the bead, if there be one, between your little finger and ring finger, or, if there be no bead, you insert either the little finger or the ring finger in the loop attached to the guide. Throughout this operation your right hand firmly holds the end of the guide and the ḥusbān arrow.

You then nock the ḥusbān arrow and hold it in place with the tip of either the index finger or middle finger of your left hand—lest the bowstring should push it—and lock your right hand upon the tip of the guide and the string together with sixty-three. Then take your left index finger off the ḥusbān arrow and your left thumb off the guide. Holding the grip of the bow in a good oblique grasp, draw as you would when shooting with a long arrow row, and aim as you would when shooting with a long arrow, either from the outside of the bow or from the inside.

Now draw the full length of the guide, exactly as you would have drawn if you had been shooting with a long arrow, and release as you would have released in that case; after which, you open your hand as when shooting in the normal way with a long arrow.

Swing the guide around above the central portion of your head with a good turn and bring the bowstring to rest [literally: put it to sleep] on the inside of your left forearm as you did at the beginning, place the guide on the grip of the bow, nock another ḥusbān arrow for another shot, and so on and on. The secret of this type of shooting lies in the speed and dexterity of the hands.

To shoot with the guide and repeat the operation successively there are five different ways, one of which we have already described as comprising the opening of the hand at the time of release and swinging the guide around the head.

The second consists of the following operation: After shooting with the guide you bring it back with your right hand off into your face and over against your left shoulder. You then raise it with your hand, place your hand upon your back, and swing it twice before your face as you would do with a sword in a tournament. Then bring the bowstring to rest on the inside of your forearm and place the guide against the grip as already described. The third involves the following operation: When you shoot with the guide, hold it with your hand, hit its end lightly against the earth, then raise it with your right hand, swing it around, and place it against the grip as already described.

The fourth involves swinging it with speed immediately upon the conclusion of your shot, bringing it back, and pressing it down against the grip.

The fifth consists in employing both hands immediately upon the conclusion of the shot, bringing the guide and the grip together, the one upon the other.

The arrows shot with a guide are of three kinds: the first is known as the ḥusbān, the second as the dawdan, and the third as the ‘uṣfūri.

The ḥusbān is usually two spans and one phalanx in length, which is its maximum limit—the wood comprising two spans and the arrowhead the length of one phalanx. Some have said that it should be half the length of the ordinary arrow; others have insisted that it should be two spans in length including the arrowhead; while still others have maintained that it should be one and a half spans in length, which is its minimum limit. Those suitable for warfare should not exceed two spans in length including the arrowhead, and should not be shorter than one and a half spans. Those suitable for target shooting should be half the length of the ordinary arrow.

The dawdan should be one and one third spans in length including the arrowhead. Some said that it should be one span long excluding the arrowhead. Still others insisted that it should be one span long including the arrowhead; and others maintained that it should be two thirds of a span in length, which is its minimum limit.

The ‘uṣfūri should be two and a half phalanges in length, or two phalanges [ the middle joint of the middle finger].

The kind of wood suitable for these arrows is heavy, hard, and strong. Likewise, the arrowheads should be heavy as light ones are worthless for these arrows.

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