There is now scarcely a county, or indeed any considerable town in England, in which there is not at least one association for the practice of the elegant and delightful pastime of archery. No apology can therefore be deemed necessary for an attempt to lay before the lovers of the art, in a volume of moderate price, a sketch of the history of the Long-bow in all countries, and especially in England, from the earliest period to the present time, followed by a summary, for the inexperienced, of such information as theory can supply, to regulate their first essays in a healthful and manly exercise.
It of course is not possible that theory alone can accomplish an archer; yet it must be allowed to be an advantage to a noviciate to have the opinions of the experienced, as to the choice of bows and arrows, the best mode of practice, the effects of wind and weather, the method of taking aim, the attitudes to be avoided, &c. &c., arranged for his perusal and guidance, previously to commencing on his exercise. Indeed, the glossary of the technical terms and phrases used in archery, would alone render such a compilation of unquestionable value to him. But, whatever he may learn from books will but little avail him in attaining skill in the bow, if the knowledge thus acquired be not followed up by steady practice, and stimulated by an emulation to compete (by observing and imitating their best qualities), with the proficient in the art.
It is hoped that the valuable particulars which illustrate the first two chapters of the work, as they have been culled with much care and trouble from rare and expensive publications, will prove acceptable, not only to the archer, but to the general reader also. The terrors of the bow, that "weapon of renown," by means of which empires were anciently subverted, have now, it is true, long since vanished for ever; yet there is enough in its former history to induce Englishmen in particular to cherish its memory, and to refer to the records of its achievements with interest and with pride.
Those chapters of the work which treat of the "art and practice of archery," are indebted in some slight degree to the author's practical knowledge of his subject, though infinitely more to the valuable works of Ascham, Strutt, Moseley, Roberts, Barrington, and other esteemed writers.
It has been the author's endeavour to compress the most useful and authentic information which he could collect, within such a compass as to render his work, in point of price, generally accessible. In doing so, he trusts it will not be found that he has lost sight of one of his grand objects, to keep alive that interest which has been recently rekindled in favour of a graceful, invigorating, cheerful, and therefore deservedly fashionable, amusement.