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Bow and Arrow Shooting
Part 1 of 6

To provide a basis for an understanding of the discussion to follow, it is desirable to describe briefly the method of shooting an arrow. There are many ways of holding and drawing the bow and "loosing" the arrow. Types of bow and methods of loose have been employed by ethnologists and archaeologists as "tracers" of races and cultures. In the country, as well as in England, from which our archery derived, we employ the three-finger, or Mediterranean, loose in which the string is drawn by hooking the first phalanx of each of the first three ringers upon it, with the arrow between the first and second fingers. The archer stands facing at right angles to the direction in which he intends to shoot, with the target at his left if he is right-handed. As he raises the bow with his left arm, he draws the string with his right, so that the plane of the drawn bow is approximately at right angles to the direction in which he is facing. Without moving his body he turns his head in the direction of the target and aims with his right eye (Fig. 1). His right elbow and forearm are well elevated, and the latter transmits the force from his arm and shoulder muscles through the fingers to the string. The string comes to rest, pressing against his chin. When he is ready to loose the arrow, he continues to exert force on the string with his drawing hand, slowly and deliberately, until the string slides off the ends of the three drawing fingers. In some kinds of field shooting, in hunting and in flight or distance shooting, the draw and loose are a continuous operation without an intervening pause. The practiced archer is careful not to move the bow hand until the arrow is well on its way, to avoid throwing the latter off its intended course.

The bow used in target shooting "weighs" (pulls) anywhere from 20 to 60 lb. depending on the strength of the archer [1] Its length is usually between 5 and 6 ft. Hunting bows range in "weight" between 50 and 100 lb. at full draw, but there are some archers of Ulyssean brawn who claim ability to draw up to 175 lb. Flight bows may draw 80 or 90 lb. for regular style shooting, and up to 200 lb. or more for use as "foot bows" which the archer straps to his feet and shoots by lying on his back and elevating his feet until the proper initial angle of the arrow for maximum flight is attained.

Bow strings are now almost invariably made of linen thread, although many other fibrous materials have been employed. A sufficient number of threads provides the requisite strength. Strings should be as light as is consistent with strength and durability. Of all available fibers, linen seems best to satisfy this requirement. It stands at the top of the list for its high tensile strength, small stretch and low mass per unit length in a given string.