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Home > Books > An Essay on Archery > Chapter XIII: Of Skilful Archers.
Chapter XIII
Of Skilful Archers.
Part 4 of 5

"I was at Cafbin," fays Mr. Tavernier," at the time; and remember one horfeman, who, riding in his turn, when he came before the portal, flopped his horfe, and walked over the plain, contrary to the orders of the general. When he came oppofite the Butt, he refufed to fhoot his Arrow, and only raifed his arms in the attitude of drawing the Bow. This horfeman was unfortunately of a very forbidding mein; and the King, enraged to fee his difcipline fo grofsly difregarded, and by one he judged incapable of any excellence, gave immediate orders for him to be difmiffed the fervice. His weapons and horfe were taken from him on the fpot; and the King's directions would have been fully executed, had not one of the generals pleaded his caufe. It was reprefented to the King, that the cavalier,.. though fo ill-looking, was one of the beft foldiers in the whole army:—that he had fully proved his fkill and courage in the fieges of Erivan and Candahar;—and that his father was among thofe who maintained the attack of Bagdad three times. Having heard this character, the King, at the requeft of the officers, commanded the horfe and arms to be reftored to the cavalier, and he was ordered to take his turn in the review. He accordingly rode into the prefence of the king, and turning his horfe firft to right, then to left, in fome agitation, cried out, " Where would the King have me to fhoot?” On which one of the generals anfwered, "At the Target where the other horfemen have fhot." The cavalier fhaking his head, faid with a fmile, "Muft I direct my Arrows againft a turf? I would rather point them at the enemies of my country; then would I with more pleafure fhoot three Quivers full, than a fingle Arrow at this turf." He then, with great dignity, drew two Arrows from his Quiver, and holding one of them between his teeth, fitted the other into his Bow; when forcing his horfe vigoroufly acrofs the plain, till he had paffed the Butt, he in. the Parthian attitude, drove an Arrow into the center of the Target. Turning about, he in the fame manner fhot his fecond Arrow precifely into the hole from whence his firft Arrow had been drawn.

"The general who had before pleaded for the cavalier, now approached the king, and hoped the adroitnefs of that foldier had fatisfied the expectation he had raifed. At the fame time feeing the cavalier at hand, and prefenting him to the King, his Majefty not only expreffed admiration at his great fkill, but ordered five times the propofed reward to be given him."

The Turks are faid to have been formerly very dexterous in the management of the Bow, though at prefent that inftrument is little ufed among them. An old writer, who refided in Conftantinopleat a time when Archery was cultivated, fpeaks highly of the feats of thefe people.

Boys at the age of eight years, or even feven, began to practife with the Bow, in order to render their arms ftrong and fteady; and by the time they arrived at manhood, they could fhoot with fo much accuracy, as to drive an Arrow into the eye of a man, or could hit any part equally fmall. They could, during their practice, fhoot feveral Arrows into a mark not larger than a die, from the diftance of ten yards.

Once a year, fays the author alluded to, on a particular day the Archers were ufed to meet on a plain, in order to try their fkill in fhooting to a diftance; and the fpot where the moft remote Arrow fell, was always marked by a large ftone, fixed up by way of commemoration. This cuftom had fubfifted many years, and there were a great number of thefe ftones to be feen at different diftances on the plain.244 What is extraordinary in this cuftom is, that the Archers did not fhoot their Bows ftanding in the ufual pofition, but every one fat crofs-legged, in the manner common to the Turks.

It muft be obferved, that the Bows ufed anciently by the Eaftern nations, were much fhorter than thofe made at this time in England; for which reafon a man fitting on the ground would feel no inconvenience from the lower end of the Bow ftriking the earth in fhooting, which would have been the cafe had thofe inftruments been formerly as long as the modern ones.245

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