XLV. Targets and target practice
Part 3 of 3
While this operation is being done, the other arrow will still be held with the little finger. After the first is release you push this second arrow with the palm of your hand an receive it with the index finger and thumb. Then nock draw, and release. This should also be practiced until it perfected. Then you may add a third arrow and do the same. When this is mastered, a fourth and a fifth arrow may be added; and so on.
Another way to do this stunt is by placing the arrows between the fingers of the right hand thus: the nock of each arrow between two fingers when the arrows are only three; if they be six, then place two arrows between each two fingers, or if they be nine, three arrows between each two fingers; or more as you are able. Then follow the rest of the operation as described in the previous paragraphs.
A third way, which is faster than the two already mentioned, consists of taking three or six arrows, depending on your ability, and placing their middle points between the fingers of your drawing hand, while their nocks and feathers are along the inner side of your forearm. You then proceed in the manner described under the first method of shooting shower arrows.
The first method, however, is the best because it is possible to effect a clench therein, unlike the others which preclude the clench because of the position of the arrows between the fingers. It has already been stated that the clench is among the main principles of good shooting.
A fourth method of shooting shower arrows has been described by some professionals. This consists of placing the bundle of arrows in the left hand and gripping it along with the handle of the bow. But this is indeed wrong and results in no shower shooting. It is wrong because it renders the grip weak. It results in no shower shooting because the archer will have to release his hand in order to bring the next arrow into a shooting position.
It is best for the beginner to practice these movements first without attempting to shoot. When he has mastered them, he may proceed to the actual shooting.
According to al-Ṭābari, some have maintained that the first man to evolve this method of shooting, namely, the shower or successive shooting, was Bustam. He is supposed to have seen one day a hawk attacking a stork, swooping down upon it and flying away, and swooping down again, and so on until the stork was killed. This is supposed to have given him the idea of repeated attacks from which he evolved the shower or successive shooting.
Others said that Kisra once ordered Bustam to shoot a lion in his presence. One arrow, however, failed to kill the beast, and Kisra exclaimed that an arrow was not a satisfactory weapon; unlike a sword with which one can strike one blow after another, or a spear with which one can thrust repeatedly. Once the arrow is released it is gone and the archer needs another. The interval between each two shots might endanger the safety of the warrior or the hunter. Bustam gave thought to the matter and subsequently devised the shower or successive shooting, with five, ten, or fifteen arrows, all held at the same time in the archer's hand. They are shot one after the other in rapid succession thereby rendering the bow and arrow superior to the sword and spear, because no one could possibly strike ten simultaneous blows with the sword or ten simultaneous thrusts with the spear as you would do with the shower arrows.
Al-Ṭābari said that he himself had shot in this fashion fifteen arrows, one after the other in rapid succession. This is the best type of shooting and there is nothing beyond it in power or accuracy, and no one can manage to do it except a person who has trained himself in it and has obtained mastery in it and also in horsemanship. The kings of Persia were wont to take children and teach it to them, rewarding those who mastered it and punishing those who did not.
Archery is the best weapon of horsemen, and the best among them have not ceased to confess their inability to oppose an archer.