Here follows a small and good treatise teaching how to shoot with the long bow (arc a main), written and composed by one who does not give his name, at the request of many who wish to learn.
That many young men, noble as well as others, willingly spend time shooting with the bow, I am not astonished.
We learn from the first book of the Bible that the bow has been in use since the beginning of the world, for in it we are told that Lamech slew beasts with it. Further on, David took a sign from it from Jonathan, as appears in the first book of Kings. Again, as appears from his history, Hercules, the most mighty archer of his time, killed with it, while he was crossing the river, the giant who had robbed him of his wife. Also it was used by the archers who lived in the time of the Trojans. Similarly the book called "The Art of War," says that the ancients taught their children to shoot with the bow, hold it in the left hand, and draw it with the right, of which more hereafter.
Vegetius says that constant and persistent use of the bow is necessary even by skilled shots. Cato in his book speaks of how useful good archers are in battle. Claudius testifies that by his archers he several times overcame his enemies in battle, though they were few in number, and similar testimony is born by the gallant Scipio Africanus. Yet in no book which I have ever read, have I ever found anything about archery, except in the book of Modus and Racio, which slates that Sexmodus instructed his son, Tarquin, to shoot with a bow; the said Tarquin being such a skilful archer that he never failed to hit, at thirty dextres, an apple stuck on the top of a stake.
Inasmuch as owing to illness I have been obliged to abandon the said exercise, it is my fixed determination, as a pastime, to write down all I have learnt, so as to stir up those who are willing to learn. And, as the Philosopher says, the better the things known are, the more worthy are they to he loved and held dear.
True it is that archers have many times, during wars, prevented countries and kingdoms from being pillaged, and this not only in their own country. On the other hand, they have been the cause of other countries being conquered, as many great battles, both in this Kingdom and others, have been won by the archers.
There is therefore good and sufficient reason that these things should clearly be brought to the knowledge of men, and they will be divided into five principal parts, of which the first will speak of the bow, the second of the horns, the third of the string, the fourth of the arrows (trait), and the fifth and last, of how to shoot. And as I know that many take a pleasure in archery, I have resolved for my amusement, to write some things down. Not that I am not fully aware that there are many who know more about it than I do, and that it is unnecessary that I should speak Latin before monks, but solely because I wish that every one should become a good archer, begging that if there are faults they may be corrected, and that whatever may be found useful, may be taken in good part.