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Home > Books > An Essay on Archery > Chapter II
Chapter II
Part 5 of 5

Plate 1 from  "An Essay on Archery" by Walter Moseley.
Plate 1

The Efkimaux, bordering on Hudfon's Bay, in North America, make ufe of a Bow, acting on the fame principle as that of Otaheite. The wood part is about four feet, or four and an half in length, about three quarters of an inch in thicknefs, and two or three inches in breadth, having the fame dimenfions throughout. At the diftance of eight or nine inches from each end, there is an abrupt curve; and on the back of this inftrument there are a number of ftrings made of the finews of deer, drawn tight, and faftened at the indented parts A and B, (Fig. 6, Plate I). Thefe ftrings act in the fame manner as the cord on the Otaheite Bow, and encreafe the force of the projecting power very much. It is the cuftom of the favages to foak thefe Bows in water before ufing, as it contracts the finews, and makes the inftrument ftronger. The curves at A. and B. are made by means of thick pieces of horn, which are fattened to the wood on the outer fide the Bow; the Wood being firft cracked and preffed into an angle. And as the horn is in a figure fitting into this angle, and is bound tight, it confines the wood part in the curves from moving, when the Bow is made ufe off This Efkimaux weapon is a very extraordinary fpecies of the Bow, and unlike all others.

In Lapland, it is faid by Scheffer, the Bows are compofed of two pieces fixed together with glue, one of which is of birch, and the other of fir-tree; which, he fays, on account of the refin it contains, is very proper for the making of Bows. They have a cafe likewife of birch, in order to prevent injuries from rain or fnow. The Laplanders, in joining the two parts of their Bows, ufe a peculiar kind of glue, prepared from the fkins of fifh. Thefe Bows, by the meafure given by our author, appear to be extravagantly long.28

The wood of the Palm tree was very much ufed of old for the purpofe of Bow making, and feems to have been the moft favourite material among many nations.

Metalic Bows, of filver, gold, and brafs, are mentioned; but it is probable this fhould be efteemed as metaphorical, as they could not be made to anfwer the purpofe of fhooting with, in any tolerable degree. When gold and brafs Bows are fpoken of, I fhould fuppofe thefe inftruments were of a yellow colour only, refembling gold or brafs. This kind of diction is exceedingly common in all writings. We, in our days, have heard of people with brazen-faces Not becaufe fuch faces were actually made of brafs, or becaufe they were yellow, but becaufe they poffeffed another property which that metal has in common with others. Bows of fteel are mentioned in the book of Job, (Ch. xx. v. 24.) "The Bow of fteel fhall ftrike him through." But we are ignorant how they fafhioned them.29

The modern Bows ufed in England are made of feveral kinds of wood. Yew has been by far the longeft in ufe, but it is not fo much efteemed at prefent as fome other kinds. The foreign woods,imported into this country for the purpofe of dying and Cabinet making, are fome of them very proper for the making of Bows, fuch as Fuftic, Rofewood,&c. and there is a kind which bears the name of Cocoa-tree, which anfwers pretty well for making ftrong Bows. The modern Bows are conftructed of two pieces, a body part, generally of elaftic, often of brittle wood, and a thin ftrip of Afh, Elm, or Ickery, which is firmly fixed on the back of the other. This back not only prevents the body from fplitting, but at the fame time renders the Bow infinitely more difficult to draw.

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