The practice of archery as a pastime has at no time since 1673 been extinct in Great Britain, but with the exception of The Society of Richmond Archers, (Yorkshire) in England, and "The Royal Edinburgh Bowmen" in Scotland, no organization, of toxophilites exists whose history dates back to the seventeenth century.
In the year 1843 archery was greatly revived throughout the United Kingdom, and in that, year Mr. William Gray, then secretary of the Thirsk Bowmen, began a correspondence with several of the most prominent archers of the different societies then existing, for the purpose of establishing an annual competition by all the archers of the kingdom at a grand National Meeting. Being faithfully seconded and assisted by Mr. Henry Peckitt of Carlton Husthwaite, and the Rev. J. Higginson, the effort resulted in the establishment of the Crand National Meeting, the first of which was held at York, and the last in 1878, at Turnbridge Wells.
In preparing the regulations to govern the shooting at these National Meetings, much consideration and discussion was given to the question as to the proper "Round" to be shot. The "York Round," consisting of seventy-two arrows at 100 yards, forty-eight arrows at 80 yards, and twenty-four arrows at 6o yards was finally adopted, and the wisdom of the choice of the number of arrows and the division has been so fully proved in practice that all public matches shot in Great Britain by gentlemen are decided upon the result of either a single or double York Round.
In 1854 a second great meeting of archers to be annually held at Leamington was established under the title of the "Leamington and Midland Counties Meeting" and the York Round was adopted as the round upon which prizes should be awarded.
In 1859 the "Crystal Palace" meeting was established upon a similar plan, and the York Round adopted. Finally, in 1861 a fourth great annual meeting of archers was organized under the title of the " Grand Western Meeting." This meeting also accepted the York Round as being the best possible arrangement of distance and number of shots.
Each of these four great annual meetings lasts through two days, and the York Round being shot upon each day, the prizes are awarded to the winners of the greatest number of points in the double York Round. Despite the adversities of weather, these meetings have been held without failure since their establishment, with one exception, in the case of the Grand Western in the years 1865 and 1867.
That the proportionate number of arrows alotted to each distance in the York Round is correct, there can now be little doubt.
Since the first Grand National Sheeting in 1844, many attempts have been made to either lessen the number of arrows shot at the longer ranges, or abolish the one hundred yards range altogether. The more experienced archers have always met these attempts with such convincing arguments that the York has been preserved in its integrity as the one round at which all public matches are shot.
The last controversy upon the subject was begun in the London Field in the year 1873, by a long letter from Mr. Thomas Francis Rolt, of Stow-on-the-Wold, who advanced many ingenious arguments to prove that one hundred yards was too great a range for accuracy, and favoring the curtailment, at least, of that range. This letter provoked replies from all the leading archers of Great Britain: among them Edwards, Moore, Walford, Walrond, Palairet, Foster and Ward. So unanswerable were the arguments advanced by these veteran archers, that Mr. Rolt in a subsequent letter said that "it would be absurd to wish for a change, had one even the power to make it "
The division of the York Round is such that an archer of medium skill will usually obtain about the same gross score at each of the three distances Thus an archer who scores 500 points at Ihe Double York, will get about 160 points at each range. The archer who is less proficient will obtain his greatest number at 60 yards, while the expert will secure his larger score at 80 and 100 yards.
A beautiful feature of this combination of distances is the opportunity it gives to the archer who deems himself a good shot at one particular distance, to distinguish himself, and perhaps bear off the most desirable prize at his favorite range, while he would have no hope of accomplishing such a feat at the combined ranges. Thus one archer will attend the National Meeting because he is a good shot at 60 yards, and will be satisfied with having achieved distinction at that range; while another will prefer the longer ranges, and will win his honors at 100 yards.
The adoption of the York Round by the National Archery Association of
the United States as one of the rounds upon which inter-club competitions
by societies belonging to the Association will be shot, and declaring by
the constitution that the Championship Medal shall be awarded to the archer
making the greatest score at the Double York Round, at the National Meeting
each year, will doubtless have great influence in causing the archers of
America to do most of their practice shooting at the ranges of the York
Round. Many will at first object to the long range shooting, but with
practice it will grow in favor with all, and in a few years will be as firmly fixed in our esteem as it has been in that of the English people.
The "National Round" shot by the ladies of Great Britain at all public meetings, consists of 48 arrows at 60 yards, and 24 arrows at 50 yards. Generally the prizes are awarded upon the result of a Double National Round.
In America the practice of archery has been of such short history that no round has yet become an accepted standard, and the National Archery Association had much difficulty in the selection of the ranges and number of arrows to be shot in the competition for the Championess Medal.
The ranges shot by the English ladies, most of whom have had years of practice, were found to be too long for practice by our ladies at present, and after much discussion the "Columbia Round" was adopted as the best possible arrangement that could yet be made, though there can be little doubt that in the course of two or three years when our ladies have attained to greater proficiency, longer ranges will be required.
The Columbia Round consists of 24 arrows at 30 yards, 24 arrows at 40 yards, and 24 arrows at 50 yards.
These distances are well suited to the present state of skill and practice among our ladies, and the ranges and division of arrows will be in great favor for the first year or two. It will be then time to consider the matter of extending the ranges.
In this little work it would be useless to give special directions as to the proper manner of shooting at the ranges of the Columbia Round, as all directions given for the York Round apply equally well to the Columbia.
The prizes at the National Meetings will be awarded to the best scores upon the Double Columbia Round, to be shot through three days. We shall expect to see some fine scoring by our ladies at the ranges of the Columbia, for "you must remember, good my host, that weapons are wielded not by strength, but by art and sleight of hand."