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Home > Books > The Essentials of Archery > Roving
Roving

Get yourself a good long bow and go roving. Tuck half a dozen tough birch shafts, fletched with long, low turkey feathers, under your belt or slip them in your quiver. Adjust your leather armguard and put the "tab" in place. If you have a dog, take him along, he'll get as much fun out of it as you will. Saunter down the lane or strike off across the fields. The first target that catches your eye is a corner fence post. Draw, hold a second and away whistles your arrow. You miss by an inch, but you secretly figure it was a darn close shot at that.


Next there is a burdock bush. "Now if there was a rabbit right at the base of it, I'll bet I'd get him." A quick draw, a snappy release and the arrow speeds clean and true—right through the imaginary bunny. "That's shooting," say you. You walk a bit more and catch up with a friend. "Let's see you hit that telegraph pole, bet you can't." You nock a shaft—a favorite one, for now you're shooting under the eyes of a skeptic and critic. You take careful aim, loose perfectly and—a real thrill—you hit the pole dead center. "Gosh, you hit it!" "I'd like to shoot too, must be lots of fun." You affect indifference, as if socking a pole at that distance—all of forty yards—is nothing at all, and begin telling him something about bows and arrows.

After four or five of your friends are equipped, you can have real fun. You plan a roving course through the woods and over a hill. You lay out targets of various kinds. A corrugated box full of sod, a small flour sack full of leaves and dirt, a whitened stake, a wooden figure cut to resemble a bird, a toy balloon. Each one is placed from twenty to fifty yards apart, down the road, through the woods and up the hillside. You start at number one and shoot from mark to mark. He who gets around with the least number of shots, wins.

Years ago, in England, the home of the yeoman and long bow archery, elaborate roving courses were laid out. One of the famous ones, built about 1594, was near London and was called Finsbury Fields. The names of the butts or targets breathe romance and adventure. From The Castle to Gardstone was 185 yards: from Turkswale to Lambeth was 75 yards; from Bloody House Ridge to Arndol was 154 yards. From the Scarlet Lion to Jehu was 82 yards.

The course had hundreds of marks and could be shot over from many directions. After an exhilarating round of the course, the merry party could drop off at the Egg Pye or Whitehall for a tankard of ale and a cut of cold beef.

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