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Home > Books > Hunting with the Bow and Arrow > Archery equipment
Chapter VII
Archery equipment

Besides a bow and arrow, the archer needs to have a quiver, a bow case, a waterproof quiver case, an arm guard or bracer, and a shooting glove or leather finger tips. Our quivers are made of untanned deer hide, usually from deer shot with the bow. The hide, having been properly cleaned, stretched, and dried, is cut down the center, each half making a quiver. Marking a quadrilateral outline twenty-four inches on two sides, twelve at the larger end, and nine at the smaller, in such a way that the hair points from the larger to the smaller end; cut this piece and soak it in water until soft, and wash it clean with soap. At the same time cut a circular piece off the tough neck skin, three inches in diameter.

With a furrier's needle having three sharp edges, and heavy waxed thread, or better yet, with catgut, sew up the longer sides of the skin with a simple overcast stitch. Let the hair side be in while sewing. In the smaller end sew the circular bottom. Invert the quiver on a stick; turn back a cuff of hide one inch deep at the top. To do this nicely, the hair should be clipped away at this point. This cuff stiffens the mouth of the quiver and keeps it always open.

Now put your quiver over a wooden form to dry.

Arrow heads of various sorts used in hunting
Arrow heads of various sorts used in hunting

I have one like a shoemaker's last, made of two pieces of wood separated by a thin slat which can be removed, permitting easy withdrawal of the quiver after drying. When dry, your quiver will be about twenty-two inches deep, four inches across the top, and slightly conical. Cut a strip of deer hide eight inches long by one and a half wide, shave it, double the hair side in, and attach it to the seamy side of the quiver by perforating the leather and inserting a lacing of buckskin thongs. Leave the loop of this strap projecting two inches above the top of the quiver. In the bottom of your quiver drop a round piece of felt or carpet to prevent the arrow points coming through the hide.

If you are not so fortunate as to have deer hide, you may use any stiff leather, or even canvas. This latter can be made stiff by painting or varnishing it.

Such a receptacle will hold a dozen broad-heads very comfortably and several more under pressure. It should swing from a belt at the right hip in such a way that in walking it does not touch the leg, while in shooting it is accessible to the right hand or may then be shifted slightly to the front for convenience.

In running we usually grasp the quiver in the right hand, not only to prevent it interfering with locomotion, but to keep the arrows from rattling and falling out. When on the trail of an animal we habitually stuff a twig of leaves, a bunch of ferns or a bit of grass in the mouth of the quiver to damp the soft rustling of the arrows. Sometimes, in going through brush or when running, we carry the quiver on a belt slung over the left shoulder. Here they are out of the way and give the legs full action.

To keep the arrows dry, and to cover them while traveling, we make a sheath for the quiver of waterproof muslin. This is long enough to cover the arrows and has a wire ring a bit larger than the top of the quiver sewn in the cloth some three inches from the upper end. This keeps the feathers from being crushed. The mouth of this cover is closed with a drawstring. On the side adjacent to the strap of the quiver, an aperture is cut to permit this being brought through and fastened to the belt.

The bow itself has a long narrow case made of the same cloth, or canvas, or green baize with a drawstring at the top and a leather tip at the bottom. Where several bows are packed together, each has a woolen bow case and all are carried in a canvas bag, composition carrying cylinder, or in a wooden bow box. In hunting we prefer the canvas bag, but you must carry it yourself, any one else will break your bows.

The bracer, or arm guard, is a cuff of leather worn on the left forearm to prevent the stroke of the bowstring doing damage. Some archers can shoot without this protection, but others, because of their style of shooting or their anatomical formation, need it. It can be made like a butcher's cuff, some six or eight inches long, partially surrounding the forearm and fastened by three little straps or by lacing in the back. Another form is simply a strip of thin sole leather from two to three inches wide by eight long, having little straps and buckles attached to hold it in position on the flexor surface of the wrist and forearm.

Necessary archery equipment
Necessary archery equipment

The bracer not only keeps the arm from injury, but makes for a clean release of the arrow. Anything such as a coat sleeve touching the bowstring when in action, diverts the arrow in its flight. On the sleeve of your shooting jersey you can sew a piece of leather for an arm guard.

While one may pick up a bow and shoot a few shots without a glove or finger protection, he soon will be compelled to cease because of soreness. Doubtless the ancient yeoman, a horny-handed son of toil, needed no glove. But we know that even in those days a tab of leather was held in the hand to prevent the string from hurting. The glove probably is of more modern use and quite in favor among target archers. We have found it rather hot in hunting, so have resorted to leather finger tips. These are best made of pigskin or cordovan leather, which is horse hide. This should be about a sixteenth of an inch thick and cut to such a form that the tips enclose the finger on the palmar surface up to the second joint and leave an oval opening over the knuckle and upper part of the finger nail. The best way to make them is to mould a piece of paper about each of the first three fingers on the right hand, gathering the paper on the back and crimping it with the thumb nail to show where to cut the pattern. Lay the paper out flat and cut it approximately according to the illustrated form.

Transferring these outlines to the leather, cut three pieces accordingly, soak them in water and sew them. This stitching is best done by previously punching holes along the edges with a fine awl and sewing an overcast stitch of waxed linen thread which, having reached the end, returns backward on its course through the same holes. This makes a criss-cross effect which is strong and pleasing to the eye.

The ends of the finger cots should be sewed closed, protecting the fingers from injury and keeping out dirt. While the leather is still soft and damp, place the tips on the fingers and press them home. At the same time flex them strongly at the joints and try to keep them bent there. Such angulation helps not only in holding the bowstring, but keeps the tip from coming off under pressure. When dry, these leather stalls should be numbered according to the finger to which they belong, coated lightly with thin glue on the inside and waxed on the outer surface. Then they are ready for use.

An archer should have two sets of tips so that, should misfortune befall him and he loses one, he is not altogether undone. When not in use keep them in your pocket or strung on the strap of your bracer. In by-gone days they were sewed to straps which fastened to a wrist belt, thus were more secure from loss, but more cumbersome.

From time to time oil your tips and always keep them from being roughened or scratched. With a small amount of glue in the tip one has only to moisten his fingers in his mouth and the leather stall will stick on firmly. We have also used lead plaster of the pharmacopoeia for the same adhesive purpose.

In the absence of pockets in ancient days, the archer carried his extra equipment in a wallet slung at his waist. Even now it seems a handy thing to have a deerskin wallet six by eight inches, by an inch or more deep. I frequently carry my tips, extra string, wax, file wrapped in a cloth, and a bit of lunch, in such a receptacle.

With his bow, his quiver, a wallet, our modern archer is ready and could step into Sherwood Forest feeling quite at home.

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