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Shooting the Bow

In 1545 Roger Ascham, the grand-daddy of archery, wrote a book called "Toxophilus", "The Schole of Shootinge Conteyned in tvvo Bookes". In it he states that "fayre shootynge came of these thynges: Of standynge, nockynge, drawynge, howldynge and lowsynge". Every writer since has reiterated these essential five points:—Standing, Nocking, Drawing, Holding and Loosing.

Figure 1

STANDING. Stand naturally and squarely on your two feet; don't try to toe in or out, and at right angles to your mark—your left shoulder toward the target, your bow in your left hand. The arrow is held in your right hand at the nock end, just above the feathers, and between your thumb and first finger. Figure 1.

Figure 2

NOCKING. Which means placing the arrow on the string. Pick up a shaft by the notch, carry it over the string while your bow is in a horizontal position so that it lays on the knuclde of the first finger of the left band. If you look down an arrow, you will see that the three feathers are placed so there is a free space between two of them. This permits the arrow to leave the bow without any feather hitting. The feather that is colored differently than the other two is the cock feather, and it is at right angles to the nock. When the arrow is properly nocked, it is also at right angles to the string. Arrows are shot from the left side of the bow (right banded archers), and they must be at right angles to the bow and string. They must not be tilted either up or down. Figure 2.

Figure 3

The bowstring is drawn or pulled with the first three fingers of the right hand. These three fingers are hooked around the string. The arrow goes between the first and second fingers. The bowstring cuts across the middles of the first phalanges or palm side of the tips of these fingers. With the string in place, as shown on Figure 3, you are ready to draw your bow.

Figure 4

DRAWING. You are standing at right angles to the target, and you are looking at it down your left shoulder and left arm. The draw is accomplished by a simultaneous movement of both arms—the left pushing out and the right pulling toward you and across the upper chest or should ers. You extend your left or bow arm and pull with the three shooting fingers hooked around the string. It is absolutely essential that you always draw the arrow to the head no matter what distance you are shooting, and that you draw the arrow so your right hand always comes to rest under your jaw or on the jaw or cheek, whichever suits your nature best. Figure 4.

HOLDING. After you have completed the draw, hold this position for a few seconds, during which time you get your aim and release the arrow, called "loosing". A common failing with beginners is to have the arrow fall away from the left side of the bow. Only practice in drawing will overcome this fault. Figure 5.

Figure 5

LOOSING. Means what it says—you loose or release the arrow and the bowstring propels it. Quickly straighten the three fingers hooked or curled around the bow string. You must learn to snap these three fingers straight at the same time, so that the release is true and smooth. Figure 6

Figure 6