STANDING for aiming may be done in three different ways: acute obliqueness wherein the mark is in line with the left shoulder, which is the method of abu-Hāshim al-Māwardi; direct facing of the mark wherein it lies, as it were, between the eyes, which method is called the Khusruzvani and is the way of Ṭāhir al-Balkhi; and a position halfway between acute obliqueness and direct facing, in which the mark is in line with the left eye, this being the method of Isḥāq al-Raqqi.
The reason for these variations is the desire for effective strength and deadliness. Said God: "Make ready against them what force ye can." This was interpreted by the Prophet to mean shooting with the bow and arrow. Those who advocate the position of acute obliqueness maintain that it offers greater strength and deadliness than either of the two other positions, because it makes possible a longer draw, a stronger bow, and the most powerful and effective shot. Furthermore, he who uses this position can protect himself with a shield, which he can hold while shooting.
On the other hand, he who employs the frontal position of directly facing his opponent, shortens his draw and, consequently, weakens his shot. Furthermore, he cannot enjoy the protection of a shield while shooting but is compelled to take it off for the operation, thereby exposing himself to the enemy. Only after he has finished shooting can he reach for the shield and try to protect himself. The clumsiness and weakness of this is very clear. Strong and powerful shooting, as well as the safest protection against the enemy, are possible only in the oblique position. It is the correct method, advocated and used by abu-Hāshim.
Advocates of the frontal position, which is free from any obliqueness, maintain that it offers greater accuracy and, therefore, is more deadly. Furthermore, though its draw is short, it still has power, strength, and deadliness; for deadliness lies in accuracy. Again, one who follows the frontal position may protect himself with a coat of mail or two, which will not interfere with shooting. On the other hand, the use of a coat of mail will interfere with the shooting of one who follows the oblique position, since it will crowd the tip of the bow and militate against the accuracy of the shot. If the tip of the bow is projected away, the accuracy of the shot will be disturbed, and if it is brought in, the shield will interfere with it. Therefore, the frontal position is claimed to be deadlier because of its greater accuracy. It is the method of Ṭāhir.
Those who advocate the position halfway between the oblique and the frontal, maintain that it has the advantages of both and the shortcomings of neither. It combines a long draw, which insures power and strength as well as deadliness, with protection through the use of shields and coats of mail without any fear of interference. This is the method of Isḥāq al-Raqqi.
There is a fourth position of standing for the aim, namely, standing with one's back to the mark and feet together in front; the archer then draws his arrow and turns, pivotlike, on his hips so as to face the mark. Throughout the operation his feet remain firmly planted together.