On Keeping a Line
If the archer has carefully practiced and become habituated to the method of "standing" "nocking," "drawing" "aiming" and "loosing", particularly described in the foregoing chapter, he will have mastered a good part of the difficulty connected with "keeping a line," by which is meant shooting in the vertical plane of the gold of the target, or, in common parlance, "making a good line shot."
Nothing connected with archery is more beu-tiful to see than the straight flight of an arrow, and on the other hand one cannot think of anything quite so disagreeable to the bowman as a shaft which sails for the right or left of the target.
The York Round exacts the most perfect line shooting. From sixty to one hundred yards - that is: 60, 80 and 100 yards, the three ranges of the York Round - may be taken as the limit of long range shooting and it is easy to see how at such ranges keeping a line will affect the archers score. The target is 48 inches in diameter and is divided into five concentric circles, practically equal in width of space they occupy. If you keep the flight of your arrow in the exact vertical plane of the gold, you will hit the gold, if you keep a length. If you shoot a little too high or a little too low you will hit in the red - a little higher or lower still will be in the black and so on. But if you have not kept a line, you may miss entirely, or barely make the outer white, on an exact level it may be with the gold showing that if you had kept a line you would have scored 9 instead of 1. When it is understood that a movement of one inch with the bow-hand or the slightest irregularity of loosing the string at the point of shooting, will toss the arrow away to one side or the other of the target, the importance of perfect steadiness and smoothness of holding and loosing becomes apparent as regards "the keeping of a line."
But the manner of drawing has much to do with the flight of the arrow. If you twist the string awry, even in the smallest degree, or hold your bow so nearly vertical that the shaft falls away to the left, or hold your right elbow so that the forearm makes an angle with the arrow, or keep your right hand too far away from your face, you cannot shoot in the line of your aim.
The following is our method of training for line shooting and we are satisfied after the most exhaustive practical test that it cannot be improved: Take position, hold the bow, nock the string and draw as directed in the preceding chapter; but, before drawing, level the arrow, properly nocked and ready for shooting, directly at the lower edge of the target, in a line with the center of the gold. Then raise the bow-hand vertically till you think you have the proper elevation; draw smoothly and steadily to the pile of your arrow, your right hand passing just below the right side of the chin, and loose smartly and smoothly. Now if you have leaned the upper limb of your bow somewhat to the right in drawing, and have kept the vertical line in raising your bow, your shaft will fly directly to, or over, or under the gold in accordance with the elevation given to the bow hand.
If the arrow should fail to fly in line, look carefully to all the points of shooting and you will soon detect the reason. Most likely you will shoot to the left of the line at first. This is caused by two faults. First: Holding the bow too nearly vertical, which gives the arrow a tendency to fall away trom the upper limb. Secondly: Drawing the string awry by keeping the right hand too far out from the right side of the chin. If your arrow flies smoothly, but off to the right of the line, it is, probably, the result of pushing in that direction with your bow-hand, a thing to be strictly avoided.
Hesitation at the point of loosing will destroy the alignment of a shot, so will any wavering from fixedness in the direction of the eyes. On the other hand great rapidity of movement should be avoided unless it be natural to the archer; a rare thing, indeed. The proper time of drawing, aiming and loosing all together is from one and one-half seconds to two seconds, according to the archer. Bring the string back with a steady, even sweep -- keep your eyes so fixed that you see the entire arrow, and at the same time look squarely at the point of elevation or aim. In raising the bow-hand see that the point ot the arrow passes vertically across the gold.
To execute a perfect line shot it is also necessary to draw the arrow full up to the pile at every trial. Your bow will not work well unless you give it the utmost draw that the length of the arrow will permit.
Your arrows for the York Round must be perfect in make and all of one length, weight and pattern of stele, pile and feathers, else you will fail to keep the line.
Avoid fast walking, running or any other violent exercise just before shooting, as nothing so distracts the line of a shot as excited nerves.
A bow too heavy for the archer causes his left arm to quiver and waver in drawing If you are not exceedingly well trained and very strong in the shoulders and arms, do not use, in the York Round, a bow drawing more than 49 pounds. Your most perfect shots will be made with a bow which you can draw with almost careless ease. Fifty-two pounds of actual draw is as heavy as the writers of this book ever use at the York Round. Length of arrow 28 inches, weight mark 4.9. and 4.6.
For rules and directions for line practice with a view to shooting game
see, "WITCHERY OF ARCHERY".