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The Art of Archery
Part 1 of 4

How to Bend the Bow.

Plate 2
Plate 2

THE first thing necessary to learn, is to know which way the Bow should be bent; not knowing this properly, is the reason that it is sometimes broke by beginners in the attempt only to string it:—Put a Bow into the hands of a person who never saw one, and he cannot take hold of an instrument that will more perlex him to use rightly, simple as it appears.

Female Archers will please to observe, that the following instructions, though addressed to gentlemen, are equally applicable to them.

Observe—The flat part of the Bow is the outside, called the back.

The round part is the inside—and called the belly.

The round side is always to be bent inwards, or towards the string.

To bend it the reverse way will break it instantly.

Backed Bows when first manufactured are put into a reflexed frame, that by making them bend a little backward, may give them a quicker cast in shooting: if then a beginner should have a Bow that bends with the round part outwards, let him not suppose that it is to be strung so; but be it remembered, that a Bow however bent when unstrung, is invariably to be strung with the round part inwards.

The learner thoroughly understanding this part of Archery, may now attempt to string the Bow, which in his hands before, would have been in danger.

To String the Bow.

Take the Bow by the handle in the right hand.

This part by a young Archer is very soon forgot, who will take hold of the Bow continually above the handle, instead of the handle itself, which injures it very much, for as in the handle of the Bow lies the centre of action, so the resistance to each end of the Bow ought to be from that centre.

Remember then to take the Bow by the handle only.

The flat part towards him.

The right wrist to rest against his side.

Place the lower end of the Bow on the ground, against the inside of the right foot.

The lower end of the Bow has always the shortest horn.

Turn the foot a little inward to prevent the Bow slipping.

Bring the left foot near a yard forward—The right knee may be bent, but the left must be quite straight.

Place the centre of the left hand close to the wrist, upon the upper limb of the Bow, below the eve of the string.

The tip of the thumb upon one edge of the Bow, and a knuckle of the fore finger upon the other.

When the above is thoroughly understood, pull up the Bow briskly, with the right hand, and press the upper limb down with the left, sliding the wrist at the same time upwards towards the horn, till the eye of the string falls into the nock, [see plate 1, figure 1.] before the left hand is removed; be sure the string is quite in the nock.

It sometimes happens that the eye of the string gets under the thumb and finger, which makes it difficult to push it so far as the nock, but if the thumb and finger were pressed rather hard upon the two edges of the Bow, the string could not then so easily slip under, but must slide on before them.

If this is attended to, the learner with a very little practice, will soon be able to string his Bow, which is the most material thing in Archery.

If he cannot at first accomplish the stringing, it often draws from bin) a remark that the Bow is too strong, but here let it be observed, that it is not so much strength that is required as a knack.

The three last fingers of the left hand are of no utility, and may therefore be stretched out, for if they fall under the string, and it should not be carried directly into the nock of the Bow, the string in returning will pinch the fingers to such a degree, as to cause if the Bow is very strong, excruciating pain, nor is this all, for they cannot extricate themselves unless the Bow is bent again, which is not always very easy to be done.

Remember then to avoid this evil, stretch the last three fingers out, [see plate 2nd, figure 5.]

If the stringing is not directly accomplished, the practitioner should not be prompted by impatience to pursue any means contrary to the rules laid down.

If the Bow cannot be strung after a few minutes trial, let it be laid aside for a short time and resumed again,

The exertion of stringing, particularly if the Bow is strong, will sometimes force the right foot from its standing, to prevent which, place the foot against a wall or some other immoveable thing, and if the Bow cannot then be strung, let another person assist him, by drawing down the upper horn with his fore finger, taking care to keep it clear of the nock: with the strength of two persons combined, the Archer can hardly fail of succeeding.

Before the Bow is strung, observe that the string is not twisted round it, and that the noose is in the centre of the horn, and likewise when it is strung, see that the string from one horn to the other, runs parallel with the centre of the Bow, which if it does not, by slackening the string, the thumb or finger will place it in its right position.

To unstring the Bow.

The same attitude and action as described in the stringing, is to be observed in the unstringing, with this difference only—that the left wrist must be closer to the top—indeed so far, that the fore finger may reach round the horn, and the tip of it fixed in the eye of the string, this done, pull the Bow up briskly with the right hand, and press down the upper limb with the wrist of the left, the same as in stringing it, and the instant the string becomes slack, the fore finger which must be ready in the eye, brings it out of the nock. The movement of slackening the string must be very quick.

The finger must not attempt, to bring the string out of the nock until it is slackened, else the friction of the finger-nail will cut it, which at all times must be avoided, as it thereby weakens, and in time breaks it. There is another way of unstringing the Bow,—place the short horn on the ground, and the flat side of the upper limb on the palm of the left hand, the string upwards ; press the right arm down on the handle, and when the string is slightly slackened, the thumb of the left hand, which is close to the eye of the string will bring it out of the nock.

When the Bow is strong, both the stringing and the unstringing will become easier, by quickening the motion.

Attitude in Shooting.

Madame Bola, formerly a famous opera dancer, upon being taught the use of the Bow, declared that of all attitudes she ever studied, (and surely some little difference of opinion ought to be paid to one, whose whole life was spent in studying attitudes,) thought the position of shooting with the long Bow was the most noble, and elegant she had ever seen ; certain it is, that the human figure cannot be displayed to greater advantage, as when drawing the Bow at an elevation.

Observe—That no part of the front of the body is to be turned towards the mark.

Only the face—for instance.

If the mark is placed full south, the body ought to face the west.

The heels should be about six or seven inches apart.

The neck to incline a little downwards.

The left hand which holds the Bow must be held out quite straight,—the sure way to do this, will be to turn the wrist as much in as possible, by this means, the Bow by being grasped only very easy, will rest firm in the hand; but if the arm is not turned in, the strength of the Bow would fall upon the thumb, and the consequence of such holding will so strain the thumb, as to render it too weak to resist the strength of a strong Bow ; therefore, can never be drawn up to the head of an Arrow.

Remember then that the arm be so turned in, that the string strikes it when loosed ; the blow will hurt the arm without some protection, but that will be treated of hereafter.

When taking aim, the Arrow is brought up towards the ear.

Not in a line to the eye as many suppose. (See plate 1, figure 2.)

Nor must (the Bow be so held as to bring the pile of the Arrow in a line with the eye and (the mark, for in that case when shot off, will go considerably to the left of it, for draw three imaginary lines front the mark to the eye, from the eye to the string when drawn up, and from the siring to the mark, and they form three sides or triangle.

And then again, draw three more first from the pile of the Arrow to the eye, from the eve to the siring, and from the string to the pile, and they will form another triangle, distinct from (he first.

Thus if the left line of the small triangle he placed upon the left line of the largo one, the top angles of both, from the bottom right angle will point different ways.

It therefore appears evident, that as the nock of the Arrow is to the right of (he eye, so likewise must the pile or head appear to (the view on the right of the mark.

Some years since a gentleman conceived an idea that the Arrow should go through the Row, and not from the side, and consequently had a hole bored through one, which to keep it from breaking, was obliged to be strongly braced with irons; but no one adopted his method, and he himself soon gave it up.

In drawing the Arrow from the pouch, bring it out by the middle.

The Bow during this, may be held horizontally with the string upwards.

The arrow is carried under the string to the left of the Bow, still held by the middle, till the pile reaches the left hand ; the fore finger of which is thrown over it, while (he other hand retreats back to the nock, to look for the cock feather,[4] which when found, the Arrow is slid down the Bow, and fixed upwards on that part of the string, which is exactly opposite the top) of the handle. (See plate 1, figure 3.)

The finger of the left hand is then removed, and encircles the Bow.

Many beginners are in the habit of holding out the left fore finger when drawing the bow, to confine the Arrow from falling off the hand, hut that is quite unnecessary; the fault of the Arrow falling, is owing to the want of a proper method in drawing, which fault will wear oft" by practice; but as errors are often instantly corrected, when the cause is discovered, so will the learner perhaps be able the first time to overcome this impediment.

The reason of the Arrow falling, is this, that in drawing the Bow, the fingers twist the string, and the Arrow being on the string, is carried (he way the string turns, which is occasioned by the fingers holding it so far up as the. first joint, for as the tip of the fingers naturally hang over, it causes the greatest pressure on that or the left side; now hold the string as near to the tip as possible, and it will twist the other way, and the Arrow will go hack to its place.

The string should he about half-way between the "tip of the fingers and the first joint.

If the learner cannot yet make the Arrow rest on his hand, 'twere better till he acquired it by practice, to hold his Bow rather obliquely, than to stretch out his finger, for should he draw his Arrow up to the head, 'tis not improbable that in loosening it, the point might severely graze his linger. If the Bow is held a few degrees out of a perpendicular line, that and the knuckle, form a kind of groove for the Arrow-to slide in.

Another disadvantage attends the shooter, when he holds the string too far up the fingers, which is, that he cannot so easily disengage them when prepared too loose; therefore, it will be useless to be very nice and exact in taking aim, for the exertion the fingers require to disencumber themselves, will force the string out of its position, and however trifling it may be, will send the Arrow considerably wide of the mark.

But if the string is held as above described, the loose becomes easy, and as quick as thought, can command it.

In pulling the string up, the thumb is not used, only the three fingers,—and two fingers are better than three.

As the left hand raises the. Bow, the right should begin to draw, so that when it is held up to its intended elevation, it should be above half drawn.

It does not do to elevate the Bow quite undrawn, for the right hand in reaching to the string, displaces the position of the body.

It is the method of our best Archers as they raise the Bow, to draw it three parts of the way—there pause to take aim—then draw it quite up to the head, and instantly loose, for it should not be kept upon the stretch more then a second or two, for fear of breaking.

The best of Bows when drawn up to the head of an Arrow, are full seven eights towards being broke, for pull one up another eighth above the Arrows length, and it. is almost impossible, that it should escape from breaking.

When the shooting is finished for the day, or only suspended for an hour, 'tis best to unstring the Bow, but in going from mark to mark it is unnecessary.

When the shooting is over, the Bow should be well rubbed with a piece of dry baize, especially after rainy or hazy weather—The cloth case should likewise be kept dry.

It has often happened, that where ladies and gentlemen's Bows and Arrows have been promiscuously laid together, for a person to take up a lady's Bow, and not knowing any difference, a gentleman's Arrow which has stood till drawn up to the twenty-four inches but when pulled beyond that, has snapped in several pieces.

A gentleman on no account whatever, ought to take up a lady's Bow, even with a proper Arrow; for it being made much inferior to his strength, yields so easy to his pull, that he unconsciously draws it up beyond the power the Bow will bear.

A Bow of any description whatever, ought not to be drawn without having an Arrow in it, many only intending to try the strength of one, do not think that precaution necessary, and often draw it too far, supposing they could not go beyond the proper limits, but an Arrow is a guide to the arm, and warns one when to stop.

When drawing a Bow in a room, the person should turn himself from the windows, minors, and glass of every description; for should the Bow break, the damage will be then confined to the Bow only, otherwise, as pieces sometimes fly a great way, the mischief might extend to the above articles.—And he should still be more careful, not to draw a Bow when another is standing before him, for a stander-bye might receive great injury if the Bow was to break:—the shooter himself scarcely ever receives any, as the pieces fly from him.