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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 3 of 3

Such arrows should weigh ten dirhams each; the wood and feathers weighing four dirhams, and the arrowhead six dirhams. According to others, the wood and feathers should weigh eight dirhams and the arrowhead four dirhams. Still others favor three dirhams for wood and feathers and five dirhams for the arrowhead. Ṭāhir, however, said that the wood and feathers should weigh two dirhams and the arrowhead six.

These weights govern the ḥusbān and the dawdan. The ‘uṣfūri, on the other hand, should weigh three dirhams, perhaps even less, and be of very thick wood. Its arrowhead should be designed to penetrate strong shields.

The best arrowheads for the guide arrows are the short round, the short triangular, and the long kinds of both. The best feathers are the soft and smooth. There should be two side feathers just outside the groove of the guide at the pen-shaped end, and a "male feather" (dhakar) in the hollow. This third feather should be long and low, never high lest it should get stuck within the guide and, consequently, militate against the driving force of the bow.

Iron needles, with nocks or without, hot or otherwise, can also be shot through the guide. Those with a nock are made in the shape of the ḥusbān arrows and vary, likewise, in size, according to the differences already mentioned in connection with the ḥusbān. The end of such a needle is either triangular or round and thick: slightly thicker than its own shaft. It is trimmed with three feathers with the aid of thread and tar. It is very good for penetrating shields and thrice reinforced armor and the like, which are otherwise difficult to penetrate.

Those which have no nocks have a greater driving force and a more telling penetration. The part where the nock should normally be is exactly like the rest of the stele. A special and separate nock is made for such an arrow from the tips of goat horns. Such nocks should not exceed the joint of a finger in length. Each is so turned that it is just as large as the opening of the guide. A hole is then bored transversely in its center. The size of the hole should be equal to the thickness of the string. A groove is then sawn obliquely from the end of the horn to the hole, which groove should also be as wide as the thickness of the string. This is nocked to the string at the time of shooting. Sometimes, however, the hole is bored through the horn piece, but no groove is sawn from the end of the horn to the hole. Instead, the horn piece is strung on the string before the bow is braced and before the eyes are made on the string. It remains there always. The first method is preferable since you can remove the horn piece from the string the moment you are through shooting.

The next steps are to make a hole in the end of the removable nock the size of the rear end of the needle you desire to shoot, insert the end of the needle into the hole, lock your fingers thereupon, draw, and shoot.

If you wish to shoot a hot needle, both the guide and the removable nock should be made of iron or copper. The needle is then heated and, with the aid of a pair of pliers, is laid in the guide and its end is inserted into the nock. Thence it is shot. Only such needles as have no nocks are heated and shot while hot. The part to be heated most is the arrowhead—the other part not being heated much lest the feathers be destroyed or the tar which holds the threads around the feathers be melted and thereby cause the feathers to become loose. In such cases it is better to hold the feathers in place with very fine copper wire.