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The Flight of Aboriginal Arrows

In general it may be stated that aboriginal arrows are inferior in make and shooting qualities when compared with those of higher grades of material culture. The specimens commonly found in museums, are, of course, badly out of shape; they are warped, split, loose in their binding of the head and feathers, and generally in need of repair. Even after being put in good condition, they are nevertheless very poor missiles when it comes to accuracy of flight, and in one quiver the individual specimens are of such dissimilar size and weight that no constant technique is possible while shooting them.

Many of the arrows figured in the accompanying plates were shot from their proper bows. The flight was erratic, flirting, and unreliable. No doubt in the hands of the original owner they were discharged in better form. This truth is apparent when an archer attempts to shoot a strange bow. Picking up a Japanese bow and shooting it either by the Japanese method or the English, one is surprised at the inaccuracy of his shooting. The arrows tend to fly widely to one side. I have often shot Ishi's bow and arrow; using his method, drawing the string with the thumb and holding the bow almost hori­zontal, I found myself very awkward and my shooting ridiculous.

If an archer accustomed to shooting a bow of one strength changes to that of another, he is at once thrown out of form. This is especially apparent in changing from a heavy to a light bow. Here his muscular adjust­ment is so unbalanced that in using the English type of shooting his arrows fly far to the left.