On Ancient and Modern Scoring
Part 2 of 3
In 1844 the first Grand National Meeting was held, and the spur it and the succeeding meetings gave to the pursuit of Archery, and the beneficial effects of a proper inducement to its practice, soon became apparent. Amongst the first to emerge from the "slough of despond," in which the art had so long slumbered, were Messrs. Bramhall, Maitland, Muir, Hutchons, and some others, followed shortly afterwards by Messrs. Moore, Garnett, Ford, Hilton, and other good Archers and true. Before, however, giving any of the scores of these latter magnates, it is necessary to bear in mind the distinction between match-shooting (more especially as regards the National Meetings) and private practice. Many, taking an interest in the subject of Archery, and hearing of the great things done at the present day when compared with the achievements of a former period, immediately refer to the records of these National meetings to find these great scores, and, to their surprise, discover that, excepting in one or two instances, the shooting, when compared with that of forty or fifty years back, is very little belter. This, however, is not a just comparison, since, no such gatherings existing in those days, the best scores made then (many of which I have given) were obtained either in the ordinary practice-days of the Club, or at their quiet private matches. To shoot at the Grand National Meeting is a totally different affair, as every Archer who has tried the experiment is too well aware. Here the excitement of the occasion, the number of competitors, and the vastness of the assemblage, are enough to upset the firmest nerves—they need, indeed, be of iron, to remain totally unaffected. Added to which, it is an opportunity of making a good score that occurs but once a year, and even this is often marred by unfavourable weather. Hence every Archer, I may say, I think, without exception, falls below his level at this match; consequently, his real powers, excepting amongst the initiated, cannot be judged thereby. In comparing, therefore, the scores of this day with those of a prior date, such only must be looked at as are shot under similar circumstances.
In the following scores I do not pretend to give specimens of the shooting of all the good Archers of the day, but of such only as, through some authentic channel or other, have come to my own personal knowledge. They, however, will be sufficient for the purpose I have in view, namely, to show the great development of the powers of the bow that has taken place of late years.
The following are the first and second scores in a match that took place the 9 th of October, 1850, on the Toxophilite ground, for a handsome silver cup, presented by W. Peters, Esq., the distance being 100 yards:—
The next score is one with which, on the Toxophilite ground, I won a
handicap prize of £15, in June, 1854, thirteen
216 shots, 197 hits, 1011 score.
In November, 1851, a friendly passage of arms between Messrs. Ford, Bramhall, and Moore, resulted in the following score—the double York round of 144 arrows at 100 yards, 96 at 80 yards, and 48 at 60 yards, being shot:—
The 100-yard part of the shooting was very good; Mr. F. getting at this distance 127 hits, 617 score; Mr. B. 114 hits, 504 score; and Mr. M. 100 hits, 440 score. This is not, however, one of the most favourable specimens of this last-named gentleman's shooting. The following is a better one, obtained in private practice—still the double York round:—
288 shots, 252 hits, 1288 score.
Here is also an excellent double York round of Mr. Bramhall's:—
288 shots, 256 hits, 1322 score.
At 100 yards, 117 hits, 535 score; at 80 yards, 91 hits, 497 score; at 60 yards, 48 hits, 290 score.
Also a goodly specimen of 60-yards shooting by the same gentleman—the St. Leonard round:—
75 shots, 74 hits, 504 score.
The following are two good examples of 100-yard shooting, achieved by Mr. Charles Garnett:—
One of the most promising shots of his day, both for style and accuracy, was Mr. E. Maitland, of the Queen's-Park Archers. Unfortunately for the cause of Archery he went abroad, and thus his career as a bowman, for a time, came to a conclusion. He has since, however, returned to this country, and we anticipate seeing him speedily resume his position amongst the first Archers of the day. The scores that follow were his best. The St. George's round:— 100 yards, 36 arrows, 25 hits, 97 score; 80 yards, 36 arrows, 34 hits, 190 score; 60 yards, 36 arrows, 36 hits, 196 score: total—
108 shots, 95 hits, 483 score.
Also a good St. Leonard's round, 60 yards —
75 shots, 75 hits, 467 score.
Another member of the same Society, Captain Flood, has also achieved some very creditable shooting, more especially at 60 yards; for instance, for 36 arrows, 36 hits, 222 score; and for 75 arrows, a score of 417.
The St. George's Club have turned out some very excellent Archers, amongst whom may be numbered Messrs. Hutchins, Marr, and Heath. I subjoin two specimens of Mr. Marr's best shooting. The St. George's round:—100 yards, 36 arrows, 24 hits, 114 score; 80 yards, 36 arrows, 32 hits, 118 score; 60 yards, 36 arrows, 35 hits, 181 score: total—
108 shots, 90 hits, 413 score.
Also a better specimen of 60 yards shooting by the same gentleman:—
36 shots, 35 hits, 225 score.
The following is one of Mr. Heath's best scores, the St. George's round:—25 hits, 89 score; 31 hits, 139 score; 35 hits, 203 score; total—
108 shots, 91 hits, 431 score.
The National distances, until of late years, have not been much practised in Scotland; consequently our friends over the border have not as yet achieved similar scores to those here given. At their point-blank distance, however, (100 feet) Mr. Watson, of the Royal Company, has put nine consecutive arrows into a four-inch paper; and Mr. Muir five—two undoubtedly clever performances. The latter gentleman, at 100 yards, has also put in thirty-eight arrows out of forty-eight; several times twenty-four arrows out of twenty-five; and similar achievements. His best score, however, to my mind, is the following, distance between 20 and 30 yards •.—
Two shots, two hits, score, a hawk and a crow (fact).
Under the risk of being considered egotistical, but to oblige the request of several correspondents, I now give the three following speciments of my private practice—I need hardly say my best. The first two are the single York round of six dozen, four dozen, and two dozen. At the first I made (with an Italian self yew-bow of Mr. Buchanan's, and 5s. arrows of Mr. Muir's) 71 hits, 335 score, (missing the 59th shot); 48 hits, 272 score; 24 hits, 158 score; giving a total of—
144 shots, 143 hits, 765 score.
At the second (with a yew-backed yew-bow and same arrows) 66 hits, 344 score; 47 hits, 301 score; 24 hits, 164 score; total— 144 shots, 137 hits, 809 score.
The following is a St. Leonard's round, at 60 yards:—28 golds, 37 reds, 7 blues, 3 blacks; total—
75 shots, 75 hits, 555 score.
All these scores were made in the public gardens at Cheltenham, in the presence of many persons. With the private shooting of many excellent Archers, such as Messrs. H. Garnett, Hilton, Mallory, &c., I am unacquainted, and therefore unable to give specimens of it.
As a matter of considerable interest to the general body of Archers, I shall now give the names of the first and second winners (ladies and gentlemen) at all the Grand National Meetings up to the present time—also their gross hits and scores. It must be borne in mind that the number of arrows shot at all these gatherings (with the exception of the first, when only half the quantity were shot) was 144 at 100 yards, 90 at 80 yards, and 48 at 60 yards, for the gentlemen; and 96 at 60 yards, and 48 at 50 yards, for the ladies,—excepting in the instances that will be specially referred to.
No ladies appeared at this Meeting; and, as already mentioned, the gentlemen only shot one-half the quantity shot since.
At this Meeting the ladies shot 144 arrows, at 60 yards only.
Close fighting indeed! No ladies shot at this Meeting.
The ladies again shot at 60 yards only, the number of arrows being 144, as before.
During both the days of this match a very strong wind prevailed, accompanied with constant showers. The difficulty of scoring was, consequently, very much increased. At this Meeting the ladies shot 72 arrows at 60 yards; and 72 arrows at 50 yards.
My first appearance at these tournaments—my place at the finish being so low down in the list, that I have never to this day had the moral courage to enquire how far from the bottom it was. I mention this in the hope it may prove a consolation to many other young Archers, who having attended their first National Meeting with great hopes of success, founded upon the steadiness and goodness of their private practice, have returned home, as I did, sadly disheartened and crest-fallen,—not because of their failure in getting a prize, but on account of the excessive falling-off in their anticipated scoring. I cannot too often impress upon these the fact, that shooting at the National Meeting is totally different from private practice, or small match-shooting; and rare indeed is it that the Archer attends one of them for the first time without a signal failure to his hopes, and a score very much below what his private shooting had led him to look for.
The weather again unfavourable, a good deal of wind prevailing, and many showers. The Champion's Gold Medal was first awarded at this meeting. This was gained by myself, though obtaining only the second prize,—the medal being given for the greatest number of points gained by any Archer. These points are reckoned in the following manner:—Two for the gross score, two for the gross hits. One for best score at 100 yards, and one for best hits at ditto; and the same at the 80 and 60 yards. This makes ten points in all. I gained five points, Mr. Moore four points, and Mr. Attwood one point.