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Home > Books > A Treatise on Archery > The art of archery
The Art of Archery
Part 3 of 4

An Archer should keep his Arrows clean, and the feathers smooth.

He should before he goes into the field, see that his Bow and all his accoutrements are in complete order.

Viz:—That his Arrows want no piles—that no feathers are off, or otherwise out of repair.

The nock of the Arrow should exactly fit the string, not so large as to fall off, nor so small as to require force to push it on, for then it will break ; but. just sufficiently wide as to adhere to the string without pressure against the sides of the nock. Every Archer should have a small flat file to widen the nocks when they are too small.

The string should be whip'd with stout sewing silk on that part, where (he Arrow and the three fingers are placed, (viz:) opposite the top of the handle, and this ought never to he neglected, as from such neglect., proceeds the cause of its breaking, by the nock continually rubbing against it, and the breaking of a string, sometimes causes the breaking of a Bow.

When the' silk wears off, the string should be re-whip'd directly.

Some Archers likewise whip the eye and the noose, which though not absolutely necessary, is not a bad plan, for where there is any friction, too much care cannot be taken.

If any of the threads of the string are broke, 'tis best to throw it away and take another.

Two or three spare strings ready fitted for the Bow, and whip'd should be taken info the ground, for fear of accidents, and here let it be observed, that every Archer should know how to fix a string to his Bow.

It will be noticed that on one end of the string an eye is already made: the other, as Bows vary in length is left for the. Archer himself to fit on, but if he is not informed in what manner it is done, seldom of himself can do it right, though nothing more than what is called a "timber noose" (see plate 2, figure 3.)—the best way to get into the right plan, is to examine how the noose on an old string is formed.

The distance of the string from the centre of the Bow when braced or strung, for a. long Bow should not be less than five inches and a half, nor more than six, but for a Bow of five feet long, the distance ought not to exceed five inches.

The string should not be allowed to ravel, this often happens by its coming off and untwisting, particularly when it is drawn out of the cloth case.

When this occurs, it should be re-twisted and waxed before it is put on.

If the string is looped at the eye, to the top horn with a piece of silk cord or narrow ribbon, it will not then come off.

The distances for shooting are various, those at the butts are thirty, sixty, ninety, and one hundred and twenty yards.

Butts are made from long plats of turf, pressed close down, and are about eight feet wide, inclining narrower towards the top; the base is between three and four feet, thick ; the heighth at the middle about seven feet.; the top is generally finished according to the fancy of the Archer, as pyramidical, circular, or id the shape of an urn, (see plate 1, figure 4.)

Mr. Roberts recommends turf cut from commons as possessing the roofs of heath, and is therefore preferable to any other, because it knits the sods firmly together, and makes them more durable.

If the Butts are built in a field or pasture where sheep are suffered to graze, they should be fenced in with a slight moveable railing, to prevent the sheep from rubbing against the sides, and during the shooting, they should be penn'd up, to prevent accidents.

A set of butts consist of four, and so erected, that one shall not intercept the view of another; they take up very little room in width, and are generally built according to the plan laid down in plate 2nd. by which an Archer if he stands at the spot marked No. 1, has a thirty yard mark; let him stand at No. 2, and he has thirty yards back again. If he stands on the spot marked No. 3, he has a sixty yard mark, at No. 4, he has the same distance back again, from No. 2, to No. 5, is a ninety yard mark, at No. 6, the same back again from 5, to 7, and from 7, to 5, one hundred and twenty yards.

The two furthest bulls may be erected exactly opposite to each other, the thirty yard butt should be at least five yards from the line of the other two, and the sixty yards five more.

The mark fixed on the butts, is a round piece of pasteboard fastened by a peg through the centre, and the shorter the distance the smaller the mark is, thus for the 10 roods, or 120 yards, the mark is 16 inches in diameter; for the 12 roods or 90 yards, 12 inches in diameter : for the 8 roods, or 60 yards 8 inches; and for the 4 roods, or 30 yards, the mark is only 4 inches.

No shot reckons but that which is within the pasteboard, and he who hits it most during the day, is the winner, but where two reckon the same number, then his nearest the peg claims the game ; but when it is doubtful who has the best shot, then they shoot again,. and he who hits nearest the mark in any part of the butt, or to save time in that advanced state, who even shoots nearest the butt itself, the first shot is the winner.

The same at taget shooting.

Many Archers can shoot better at one distance than another, therefore, that no man shall keep an advantage to himself, 'tis customary to shoot an equal number of ends at all the butts.

A single end, is merely shooting at one mark, But a double end is shooting back again to the mark shot from.

Target Shooting.

Target shooting is generally at one distance, (viz:) gentlemen's at 100 yards, and the ladies at 50.

'Tis best for gentlemen to begin at 70 or 80 yards, and as they improve, to place them further apart.

The target consists of three things ; the bass, the facing, and the stand or frame.

The diameter of the gentlemen's target from the extremity of the outer circle is four feet, and all shots beyond that, do not reckon as being in the target.

The bass is made of compressed straw, and wrought after the manner of bee hives.

Some years since, there was a trifling controversy between a few Archers respecting the bass, (viz i) which was more durable, that made from thrashed straw, or from straw not thrashed.

Some were of opinion, that unthrashed straw was most preferable, because it remained unbroken by the blows of the flail; while others maintained that thrashed straw was the best, for the very reason the opposite party assigned; for as every unthrashed straw is hollow when formed into a bass, the Arrow which penetrates must split it, and therefore make it fall flat, thereby shrinking into a smaller space than before, loosening the binding, consequently weakening the whole fabric, and rendering it very soon unfit for use.

But when the bass is made of straw, already laid flat by the flail before it is bound, it cannot shrink into a smaller compass, by the penetration of the Arrow.

The facing is generally of canvass sown on the bass. There are four circles on the facing independ-ant of the gold or centre, (viz:) the red, inner white, black, ,and outer white, which last is bordered by a dark green.

Ladies targets are upon the same principle, but considerably smaller. There is likewise another kind of target made of millboard ; this is not near so durable as the former, but when they are to be carried to some distance every time they are used, they then become desirable, as being so portable, that a boy may with ease carry a pair, and the frames also.

It is not usual to shoot at one target only, but by having two, the Archers shoot from one to the other, and save a deal of unnecessary walking.

A young Archer should not shoot by himself, for he gets into a habit of indifference, but if he shoots with another, he then aims to emulate, and therefore in a little time shoots well.

As the great Advantage of Archery is the exercise which attends it; every person shooting, should walk himself to the place where his Arrows are shot, and not send another.

Not more than two or three Arrows are shot with at a time, for after that, the aim gets unsteady.

It is best to shoot with a little elevation, rather than point blank, that when the Arrow falls the feathers may remain above the grass; in shooting, point blank, the Arrow not only looses itself in the grass, but if it is anyways damp, spoils the feathers, besides loosing a considerable time in seeking for the Arrow.

Never shoot when the grass is above the shoes, unless at a very great elevation.

Do not shoot with another persons Bow, without his permission, for if it should break, the damage may be greater than the intrinsic value can repay.

At the targets two prizes are shot, for, one for the most number of hits, and the other for the shot nearest the centre; this is certainly the best way, as it is an encouragement to young Archers, and gives them a chance for a prize; for as every Arrow must have a lighting place, it is not improbable, that one of these may be placed in the gold.

The prize for numbers will always of course be won by the best Archer.

There are two ways in reckoning the numbers; one by the mere number of hits, without distinction to the circles; the other by the bits as they approach the centre, which the nearer it is, the more it reckons, thus a hit in the gold, is equal to nine in the outer-white, because the gold is nine times less in size, consequently nine time a less chance of hitting it.

Every circle approaching nearer to the centre, becoming smaller in the circumference, the chances of hitting them are likewise smaller ; therefore, are reckoned according to those chances, that are against the shooter.

The diameter of the gold is nine inches and a half.

The value of each circle according to the Toxophilite Society's system increases two, (viz:)

The outer-white, one.
The black, three.
The inner-white, five.
The red, seven.
And the gold, nine.

But they considerably over-rate most of them, the real value being for—

The gold, nine.
The red, three.
The inner-white, two.

The black, one and a quarter, or five counts, for every four hits.

And the outer-white one.

The target contains about seventeen hundred and fifty four square inches, and are thus divided into the five circles, viz:

The gold, seventy two.
The red, two hundred and fourteen.
The inner-white, three hundred and fifty-two.
The black, four hundred and ninety.
And the outer-white, six hundred and twenty-six.

If the aggregate amount of every circle is divided by its width, (viz:) four inches and three quarters, the circumference of each will be—

For the gold, fifteen inches.
The red, forty-five.
The inner-white, seventy-four.
The black, one hundred and three.

And the outer-white, one hundred and thirty-two; which if they could be drawn straight, their different lengths would he after the following proportion,


red Red

Inner white Inner white

Black Black


by which it will appear that the gold is a ninth part of the size of the outer-white, the red a third, the inner-white half, and the black only four fifths.

If a person was to hit the target every time, the chance of his hitting the gold, would be twenty-four to one against, him.

The skirt or margin of the target, has of late years by many Archers been called- the petticoat, and by others the sous.

In keeping an account of the game, a shooter at each target should have a card marked out into squares with the names of the Archers wrote down on the left side, and the names of the circles on the top, (see plate 2nd, figure 1.) where A. B. and C. are shooters; A. has got three shots in the gold, seven in the red, ten in the inner-white, twelve in the black, and twenty in the outer-white, which amounts in the total to fifty-two ; but according to the value of each circle, to one hundred and three, (viz :) by multiplying the hits in the gold by nine, in the red by three, in the inner-white by two, the black one fourth of its hits added together, and in the outer-white, each hit standing for one.

B. has three in the gold, four in the red, twelve in the inner-white, seven in the black, and twenty-two in the outer-white: the total of which is forty-eight, but the value ninety-three.

And C. has one in the gold, two in the red, four in the inner-white, six in the black, and ten in the outer-white; total twenty-three, value forty.

Let it be supposed, that the above three are shooting for a cup and medal, A, as having most number of shots, is entitled to the cup, and C, though he has a less number than B, yet his one shot in the gold being nearer than any of B's, is entitled to the medal, but one of A's is still nearer than C's.—A, cannot claim both prizes, but as he has won both, he may take his choice ; if he takes the medal for the central shot, B, as being next in numbers, cannot claim the cup, that would be unfair to C, who would be entitled to the medal, if A took the cup.—It seems but reasonable, that if A, takes C's prize, C, should have A's; as the cup is of the greatest value : it is not probable any dispute will ever occur.

A pin should be suspended from the card, to prick down the shots,—the mark of a pencil may rub out, and ink in the held is inconvenient, but the prick of a pin cannot easily be defaced.

The card only accounts for the bare number of shots, not the central ones, so when two or more have hits in the gold, to prevent disputes, every Archer should write his name over it, before he draws his Arrow, and which bye the bye would stand as a memorial of his achievements, as long as the target lasted.

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