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Ancient and modern methods of arrow-release.
Part 10 of 17

In Figs. 33, 34, copied from Rosallini, the thumb and the forefinger partially bent may be intended to represent the primary release, as in no other way could be interpreted the bent forefinger and straightened thumb holding the tip of the arrow, with three other fingers free from the string.

In the British Museum are casts of a hunting scene, and also of battle scenes of the time of Rameses II., in which the shaft-hand of the archer is in an inverted position. This form of release associated with a vertical bow is an impossible one. Either the hand is wrongly drawn, or the attitude of the bow is incorrectly given. The only explanation of this discrepancy is the assumption that the bow was really held in an horizontal position, and the release practiced was the one I have designated as the tertiary release. The Egyptian artist, ignorant of perspective drawing and utterly unable to represent a bow foreshortened, has drawn the bow in a vertical position. As a further proof of this, we find that the tribes of North American Indians and the Siamese who practice the tertiary release usually hold the bow in an horizontal position. An examination of the accompanying figures will make this clear. Fig. 35 is copied from the cast referred to in the British Museum, Fig. 36, from Wilkinson, Vol. I., p. 307; Fig. 37, from Wilkinson, Vol. I., p. 309. Reginald Stuart Poole, Esq., of the British Museum, has kindly sent me an outline of the nock end of the ancient Egyptian arrow which shows a straight and cylindrical shaft. Figs. 38, 39, 40, and 41 are copied from Rosallini. Fig. 38 is probably intended for the primary, Fig. 39 the tertiary probably, and Figs. 40 and 41 the Mediterranean form.

Turning now to the practice of archery among the ancient Grecians, we should expect to find among these people, at least, the most distinct and truthful delineations of the attitude of the hand in shooting. Hansard, in his "Book of Archery," p. 428, says of the ancient Greek archers, "Like the modern Turks, Persians, Tartars, and many other Orientals, they drew the bow-string with their thumb, the arrow being retained in place by the forefinger. Many sculptures extant in public and private collections, especially those splendid casts from the Island of Egina now in the British Philosophical and Literary Institution, represent several archers drawing the bow-string as I have described."