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Home > Books > An Essay on Archery > Chapter IV
Chapter IV
Part 2 of 2

If we have recourfe to the commentators on thefe paffages, we fhall find no ray of light thrown upon them, by which the fenfe becomes more confpicuous; for they, being men more converfant with books than Bows, have glided over thefe parts without appearing to fee the impropriety of them.56

Mr. Barrington, in his Effay, inferted in the Archaeologia, relates a tradition, that one Leigh, an attorney, at Wigan, in Lancafhire, fhot an Arrow a mile at three flights. He is reported to have fat on a ftool, the middle part of his Bow being faftened to his one foot, to have elevated that five and forty degrees, and to have drawn the ftring with his two hands applied to it,

I cannot avoid being of opinion, that this fact fully illuftrates thofe beforementioned; and conceive, that the real method practifed by the nations beforenamed, was exactly on the principle of this curious experiment.

In the time of Henry VIII. a droll circumftance happened, which, if I underftand the affair rightly, has fome relation to this pedeftrial Archery. I allude to this paffage in Hollinfhead, viz. "Now at his returning, (Henry VIII.) many hearing of his going a Maying, were defirous of feeing him fhoot; for at that time his Grace fhot as ftrong, and as great a length as any of his guard. There came to his Grace a certain man, with Bow and Arrow, and defired his Grace to take the mufter of him, and to fee him fhoot. The man put one foot in his bofom, and fo did fhoot, and fhot a very good fhot. Whereof not only his Grace, but all others greatly marvelled. So the King gave him a reward for fo doing. Which perfon afterwards, of the people and the court, was called, Foot-in-bofom."57

How a man could fhoot, or, indeed, how a man could put one foot into his bofom, I am at a lofs to conceive. More probably this Archer muft have put his knee into his bofom, and have fhot his Bow by preffing it with his foot, which would in this cafe project forwards.

The obfcurity in which all the facts relating to pedeftrial Archery is enveloped, induced me to try a few experiments, and to my furprife found the pofture lefs inconvenient than may be imagined. If a perfon fit, and elevate the left leg, turning the toe a little inwards, and place the middle of the Bow againft his foot, at the fame time preffing it with the left hand clofe to the fhoe, to prevent it flipping, he will be able to draw a very ftrong Bow without much difficulty; and I have no doubt, but that by practife the art of aiming with tolerable exactnefs might be acquired. This circumftance affords me an additional reafon to fuppofe the Ethiopians, Arabs,&c. fhot in this pofture, as I have before intimated. I cannot, however, recommend this attitude to the
Panciuti!

We find, that anciently there were five different ways made ufe of by the Archers of various countries in drawing the Bowr viz. 1ft. (by the breaft.) 2d. (by the right ear.) 3d. (by the fhoulder,) 4th. Ab Inguine, which is faid to be familiar to the Parthians.

"Illi vergatis jaculantur ab inguine bracis."
Proper. Lib. IV. El. 2.

"Vulnera feu Parthi ducentis ab inguine ferrum."
Perfius. Sat. V.58

5th. is the method wherein the foot is ufed inftead of the hand.59

It is impoffible to give a written defcription in what manner the body fhould be held, while fhooting in the common way, as it varies in almoft every inftance. It is much lefs difficult to direct what attitudes fhould be avoided. For there are many more ways of doing wrong than right. Afcham has delineated the feveral awkward and inelegant pofitions in which the Archers in his time fhot; and as it would be impoffible for me to paint them in my own language fo well as he has done, I fhall copy the paffage.

"All the difcommodityes which ill cuftorn has graffed in Archers, can neither be quickly pulled out, nor yet foon reckoned by me, there be fo many. Some fhooteth his head forwarde, as though he would byte the marke; another ftareth with his eyes, as though they fhould flye out; another winketh with one eye, and loketh with the other; fome make a face with wrything thyr mouth and countenaunce fo, as tho' they were doing you wotte what; another blereth oute his tongue; another byteth his lippes; another holdeth his necke awrye. In drawinge, fom fet fuch a comparffe, as though they would turne about, and bleffe all the field; other heave thyr hand now up now downe, that a man cannot difcerne whereat they would fhoote: another waggeth the upper end of his Bow one way, the nether end another way. Another will fland pointing his fhaft at the marke a good while, and by and by, he will geve him a whippe, and away, or a man witte. Another maketh fuch a wreftlinge with his gere, as though he were able to fhoote no more as long as he lived. Another draweth foftlye to the middes, and by and by it is gone you cannot know howe. Another draweth his fhaft low at the breaft, as though he would fhoote at a roving marke, and by and by he lifteth his arme up pricke heyght. Another maketh a wrynching with his back, as though a man pinched him behinde. Another coureth downe, and layeth out his buttockes, as thoughe he would fhoote at crowes. Another fetteth forward his left legge, and draweth back with heade and fhoulders, as though he pulled at a rope, or elfe were afrayd of the marke. Another draweth his fhaft well, untill within two fingers of the heade, and then he ftayeth a little, to loke at his marke, and, that done, pullith it up to the head, and lowfeth: which waye, although fome excellent fhooters do ufe, yet fhurelye it is a fault, and good mennes faults are not to be folowed. Some draw to farre, fome to fhort, fomte to flowlye, fome to quicklye, fome hold over long, fome let go over fone. Some fette theyr fhaft on the grounde, and fetcheth him upwarde; another pointeth up towards the fkye, and fo bringeth him downwards. Ones I faw a man which ufed a bracer on his cheke, or elfe he had fcratched all the fkinne of the one fide of his face with his drawing-hande. Another I faw, which, at every fhote, after the loofe, lifted up his right legge fo far, that he was ever in jeopardye of faulinge. Some ftampe forwarde, and fome leape backward. All thefe faultes be eyther in the drawing, or at the loofe; with many mo, which you may eafely perceyve, and fo go about to avoide them. Now, afterward, when the fhaft is gone, men have many faultes, which evill cuftome hath brought them to; and efpeciallye in cryinge after the fhaft, and fpeaking wordes fcarce honeft for fuch an honeft paftime."

It is unneceffary for me to repeat, that thefe faults fhould be avoided in learning to fhoot, as they not only are extremely ungraceful, but likewife increafe the difficulty of drawing the Bow.

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