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Home > Books > Arab Archery > XV. On the different draws and the manner of locking the thumb and the index finger on the string, and on the rules of arranging the index finger upon the thumb
XV. On the different draws and the manner of locking the thumb and the index finger on the string, and on the rules of arranging the index finger upon the thumb

THE draws agreed upon by experts are six: the sixty three, sixty-nine, seventy-three, eighty-three, twenty four, which is called the Khusruwāni [after Chosroës, king of Persia], and seventy-two, which is called the reserve Whatever draws there are besides these are of little use The strongest and most useful of these draws is the sixty, three, followed by the sixty-nine, which, though weaker is supposed to be smoother and more accurate. It is weaker because it lacks the clench. Most archers use these two draws.

The seventy-three is weaker and easier to draw, but i is faster in release. The eighty-three is supposed to be stronger and therefore can be used with heavier bows though it is very much like the seventy-three in release The reserve draw, which is the seventy-two, is the draw of the non-Arabs. It is good for drawing strong bows an (for practicing with them. It is, however, difficult to re lease. It consists of locking the index finger and the middy finger upon the thumb.[20]

The twenty-four draw is worthless except in drawing supple bows employed in trick shots. It was current among the Turks and Greeks because they employed nondescript and supple bows and locked their fingers in whatever draw occurred to them. They also had the twenty-one draw which, in weakness, is like the twenty-four. The exact manner of these draws may be learned from the section on finger reckoning and computation already described (Section VIII).

The Six Different Draws or "Locks" According to the Arabic System of Finger Reckoning
The Six Different Draws or "Locks" According to the Arabic System of Finger Reckoning

The Slavs (al-Ṣaqālibah) have a peculiar draw which consists of locking the little finger, the ring finger, and the middle finger on the string, holding the index finger outstretched along the arrow, and completely ignoring the thumb. They also make for their fingers finger tips of gold, silver, copper, and iron, and draw with the bow upright.

The Greeks have a draw which consists of locking the four fingers-the index finger, the middle finger, the ring finger, and the little finger-while the bow is in a horizontal position (rāqidah) ; and, holding the arrow between the middle finger and the ring finger, drawing toward the chest. This is indeed a corrupt draw used by the ignorant.

Regarding the exact manner of the draw, experts have disagreed as to where the string should be in relation to the thumb as well as where the tip of the thumb and the index finger should be. Some hold that the string should rest in the middle of the distal phalanx of the thumb obliquely toward the tip, while the tip of the thumb lies upon the top of the middle phalanx of the middle finger, and the middle phalanx of the index finger lies upon the middle of the distal phalanx of the thumb with the distal phalanx of the index finger bent over the side of the thumb, and the joint of the base of the index finger next to the knuckle of the thumb beside the nock. In drawing you widen the space between the thumb and the middle finger while the tip of the index finger lies outside the string [to the left]. This is the method of abu-Hāshim al-Māwardi. Al-Ṭabari related that al-Māwardi was wont to place the tip of his index finger inside the string [to the right]. This, I believe, is an error by the scribe, otherwise, a mistake resulting from his ignorance, because placing the string obliquely in the joint of the thumb, which is the method of abu-Hāshim, precludes the possibility of holding the tip of the index finger inside the string.

Others hold that the string should be in the joint of the thumb straight without any obliqueness, while the tip of the thumb lies upon the top of the middle phalanx of the middle finger, from which the thumb will not be separated in drawing, and the inner part of the phalanx next to the nail of the index finger upon the nail of the thumb just below its knuckle and down to a third of its nail. The tip of the index finger should be inside the string. This is the method of Ṭāhir as reported by al-Ṭabari under the section on clenching on the string.

Still others hold that the string should rest just in front of the joint of the thumb, close to it, while the index finger is inside the string. This is the method of Isḥāq. Some of the authors on this science related that the method of the experts was to place the tip of the index finger on the string, for it insures greater accuracy and strength and quicker release. Consequently there are three schools concerning the position of the tip of the index finger: to hold it outside the string, inside the string, and on the string. The first draw, with the oblique position of the string in the joint of the thumb, insures the quickest release, and is the oldest method. It was used by the expert Persian archers. The second, with the straight position of the string in the joint of the thumb, offers the strongest draw. The third gives a quicker release than the second and a greater range than either. It is used by the experts of our day.

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