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Home > Books > How to Train in Archery > Chapter VI: The Effect of Weather upon Shooting at the York Round
Chapter VI
The Effect of Weather upon Shooting at the York Round

The archer can never hope to be more than a bungler in the York Round if he makes no note of the weather, and if he really thinks of taking a high place at the Grand National meetings, he must observe every pulse of the wind even to the slightest breath Not only this, he must also learn the effect of cloudy, partially cloudy, clear, damp or misty eather, and he must experiment with the sun at his back, his side and in his face, in order to become accustomed to every shade and sheen of the weather.

After you have learned to make a perfect line shot in perfectly still weather, pick a windy day and so arrange your targets that the current of the wind shall be at right angles to the range, that is, blowing straight across it. This done commence shooting as usual and you will see your arrows, instead of keeping their direct course as they did in still weather, drifting with the wind far to one side of the center line of aim. You will discover at once that you have a new obstacle to overcome. you must in taking aim, allow for the drifting of your arrow, a very delicate operation, indeed, requiring the nicest discrimination and faultless execution. You cannot be taught to do this by any written or oral directions. You must experiment with patient care. Keep your eyes open. Keep constantly in mind all the philosophy of shooting and be ready to overcome every little exigency as it arises.

An instance in actual practice may be worth relating here. A number of gentlemen were shooting the longest range of the York Round when suddenly their arrows began to fly badly on account of the feather end wagging in mid-air. Every shot that hit the target was on a certain side of the center line, excepting the arrows of one shooter who continued to keep his usual score. After the match was over the last-named archer explained his success. "I saw," said he, "the leaves on the old apple tree near the middle of the range stirring very rapidly, and I at once knew that a slender current of wind - a cats paw - was moving there, whilst it was calm as stillness itself where we were standing. I could note exactly the point where our arrows entered that current so I said nothing, but quietly made due allowance for the drift, and won the match." The explanation was a valuable lesson to all who heard it.

When you first begin to allow for drift, you are almost sure to overdo it. Unless the wind is very high the change of the position of the bow-hand is barely noticeable, but it is, nevertheless, essential, and cannot be neglected. Suppose the wind is going across the range from right to left with sufficient force to drift your arrow two feet in its 100 yards flight. You may then aim at the right hand edge of the target. But a wind, like Virgil's woman, is

"Varium et mutabile semper,"

and cannot be expected to blow steadily for five consecutive minutes, wherefore you must learn to detect its every variation of strength and direction, and to allow for it with something like precision. Nothing is more exasperating than after relying upon a certain force of wind, to see your arrow keep a dead line exactly to the spot from which you expected it to drift into the target, all on account of a sudden lull: Nothing, we say is more exasperating unless it be a flurry of wind springing against the shaft, after it has left the string, and bearing it wide of the mark.

It is a very good thing for the beginner at the York Round to set up a tall staff with a streamer on it somewhere to one side of mid range, so that he may judge of the force and direction of the wind.

But it is quite as n ecessary to al] ow for the retardation of the arrow when the wind blows up the range, and for its acceleration when the wind is down the range, as to allow for its drifting with the side wind.

When the wind is up the range, i.e., blowing towards the shooter from the direction of the target, the elevation of the bow-hand must be greater than in a calm or a side-wind. So when the wind is down the range, i.e. blowing from
the archer towards the target, the elevation of the bow-hand must be lessened.

There will be an apparent difference in the elevation necessary, especially at the 100 yards range, on a clear and on a cloudy day; the elevation being apparently less on a cloudy day.

If the weather is damp, your bow, its string and your arrows will be more sluggish than in perfectly dry weather, consequently your aim should be higher. Whenever from any cause, your targets are taken to a new range, where a background, strange to your eyes is presented, you will observe an effect upon your shooting. So, on a familiar range, where the back-ground happens to be the sky, variegated clouds or shadowy wreaths of fog may distract your eye.

 But the most refractory feature of weather is that peculiar wavering sheen which dances in the air on hot midsummer days, demoralizing" one's sight and effectually crippling his score. It is best to not shoot in such weather.

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