Now it happens that our lawn in the rear will accommodate a target at forty yards and I took advantage of this in testing my bows and arrows and generally enjoying myself. I noticed that my neighbor was not altogether oblivious of what I was doing and I was not surprised when, after some days of this, he came over to my side of the hedge and watched my efforts in silence.
Presently I invited him to join me and handed him a second bow. After a few preliminary instructions he managed to speed the arrow in the general direction of the target. A little later he began to hit the target. Pretty soon he remarked smilingly, "Don't you like to hear that "plop" as the arrow strikes home?" At the end of two hours of steady shooting he laid aside his weapon—somewhat reluctantly, I thought—and said, "Guess I"ll have to make a bow." And, sure enough, he did, within a few days. A little later he announced his intentions to make a man's bow, the results of his first efforts being more suited, he said, to his wife's strength; and soon after he presented for my inspection a good 45-pound lemonwood bow with which he, a novice, immediately proceeded to make four bull's eyes out of six shots. I no longer feel concerned about my friend's interest in archery, or rather his lack of it. He is now an archery fan and, I believe, for good.
Perhaps the social aspects of archery are its greatest attraction. While one may shoot with bow and arrow alone, he will find his real pleasure in exercising with a group of friends. The sport is not limited to any one sex or age. Women no less than men find in it a fascination; boys love it; elderly years are not a bar. A father who is puzzled how to bridge the gap of years may find in it the key to palship with his boy; a wife and husband may improve their comradeship; acquaintances may grow into friends; and ties of friendship may be even closer knit through the influence of this wholesome pastime.
The bow may be made to suit any height and any strength. While the tendency in some quarters is to associate it with toys given to children, let it be stated here that the bows with which we are concerned are not toys. They are weapons which can do considerable damage if not rightly used. Draw a bow and release the arrow; you will then understand the true meaning of the phrase "fly as straight as an arrow." In flight almost too swift for the eye to see, it strikes true on the target with scarcely a quiver. Shoot a dozen arrows; then approach the target and note the remarkable parallelism of all the shafts, each inclined just a trifle above the horizontal. Then note the depth of penetration of each arrow and you will feel the dawn of respect for the gracefully fashioned piece of wood which looks so harmless yet produces so much drive.
Being an outdoor sport, archery is an agency of health; and, because it demands skill, it is an agency of poise and control. The correct position at draw is one of grace and power, so men and women both appear to good advantage) while aiming at the target. For these reasons we commend archery to manhood and womanhood, to boyhood and girlhood. It is exercise but not too strenuous exercise; it is fun but not too boisterous fun; it satisfies the competitive instinct without arousing the combative instinct; and it supplies a pleasing, though not expensive, outlet for one's leisure.