The Art of Archery
Part 4 of 4
If the Arrows fall upon the edge of a circle, it counts in that one which has the greater part; but if it is so equal as to make it, doubtful, which circle it is most in, the Arrow is counted as a hit in the outer-one, so again if the Arrow lights more upon the border than the outer-white, it reckons nothing; but many societies will not allow an Arrow to reckon in a circle, unless it is completely within it, but must be reckoned in the outer-one.
Ladies targets contain about five hundred and fifty square inches, and may be thus divided;—
The gold, twenty-one.
If these respective numbers are likewise divided by their width, their circumference will be—
For the gold, eight inches.
And which if laid out in straight lines will be after the same proportion as the former.
Mr. Roberts in his English Bowman, (page 113,) gives an account of the number of shots by which a member of the Toxophilite society won the prize in 1795; four in the gold; seventeen in the red; nineteen in the inner-white; twenty-four in the black; and twenty-six in the outer-white, in the whole ninety shots, which undoubtedly is very great shooting; but the value of those ninety shots he makes amount according to their system, to three hundred and forty-eight, when their real value is no more than one hundred and eighty-one.
Roving is another kind of shooting, very different from the former, but equally and to some Archers more pleasing, each shot almost always varying from the last.
The marks generally consist of Trees, Bushes, or any other conspicuous object.
The reason this kind of shooting is called roving, is, because the shooters are not confined to any particular spot, but shoot, from field to field, through a country of some miles in circuit. The sort of country most adapted to roving is, where there are many straggling trees, not confined in hedges, and where the shooters can without difficulty traverse from field to field.
A roving party should not exceed more than six persons, above that number they should divide into companies, thus the first company takes the lead, and when they have shot to the next mark, and walked some distance, then the second company shoot to the first, and so on with the others.
A company is not compelled to follow another company's marks, though they should never be more than a field or two apart.
The number of the game is optional, but latterly many Archers have made it seven.
Arrows that reach the mark within five lengths of its Bow, reckon, yet with this exception, that if several shoot within the distance, the nearest cuts the others out; thus A. and B. are adversaries, A. has two counts ; B. one; but B's Arrow is between A's two, by which he cuts A's furthest Arrow out, and does not score himself, because A's first Arrow is before his, but if A has two Arrows within five lengths of his Bow, unseparated by his adversary, then he scores two; in short every Arrow coming within the limits is cut out by the first of the adversary's, this law is thought by some Archers to be very arbitrary, and therefore is not generally followed.
Many allow every Arrow to count that is within reach; seven it has been said is game, but where two as partners shoot against, two, then a greater number is game.
When three Archers shoot against two of equal skill, then the three must reckon more to their game than the other two, but good Archers shooting against inferior one's may allow the odds.
In measuring the distance, the Archer places one end of his Bow against the tree, a foot from the ground.
Thus if two Arrows are even shot into the trunck of a tree, that one which is nearest to a foot from the ground, will cut the other out.
If an Arrow is shot into the ground within a foot of the trunk, and another in the branches, the first is the best shot, because the trunck is the mark, and not the branches, for from the elevation of the Arrow, it is most reasonable to be supposed, it would have gone a considerable distance farther if it had not been stopped by the branches, but if no other Arrow is within count, then that in the branches may reckon.
If every Arrow is allowed to count that is within the five Bow lengths, then more than seven ought to be the game.
When an Arrow is shot into a tree, or in wood of any description, and it does not conic out easily, the wood round the Arrow must be cut away.
The marks must be within the reach of every Archer's Arrow, and when that is not the case, then he who cannot shoot so far must walk in until he can, but then he must use a flight Arrow and draw it up to an elevation of forty-five degrees.
In measuring the distance of an Arrow from the mark, the Archer may place the end of his Bow to any part of the Arrow he likes.
Every Archer must measure the distance with his own Bow • but where two Arrows are nearly within an equal distance, then to see which is nearest they measure with the same bow.
He who gains the last shot, has the privilege of naming the next mark, and continues that privilege till another scores.
It is necessary for every Archer to have nearly a dozen Arrows by him, as in voting, a few will not be sufficient.
Blunt-headed Arrows are here better than sharp ones.
The marks are generally about two hundred yards distant.
Flight shooting is another kind of diversion with? the long Bow, but it is very little practised, as its only tendency is to see who can shoot farthest; it is rather dangerous to the Bow, as it compels Archers to use longer Arrows than general ; the longest and lightest that will stand in the Bow are selected.
The farthest Arrow counts, and so does every other that is sent farther than his adversary's: seven is game.
This is a round piece of paste-board of about twelve inches diameter, spliced in a stick and stuck in the ground, and generally placed from one hundred and fifty, to two hundred yards apart, and every Arrow that counts must he within three Bows lengths of the clout; and the reason it is limited to three, is that an Archer may soon shoot within that distance, when the marks continue the same; it is only when they vary in length, as in roving, that five Bow lengths are allowed.
Clout shooting is mostly practised by those, who have not the convenience of a ground near home, where they can shoot at targets or butts, hut have to resort to a common or public fields, in which case for their portableness the small mill-hoard target or clouts are taken with them. Some Archers near London make the clouts of white cloth with a seam on each side, and a stick run through for the convenience of rolling up. Seven is the game.
Mr. Roberts in his English Bowman, mentions a few other games, but which are seldom or ever followed, those most practised are the targets, butts, and roving.
The following articles are the Archer's accoutrements, and which he will find necessary to call into his aid,—viz:—The brace, the shooting glove, the tassel, the belt and pouch, the quiver, and grease box.
Buckles round the Bow-arm to prevent the string hurting it, which without one, would render the Archer incapable of shooting from the pain the stroke of the string would inflict. In former times many Archers did not wear any thing to protect the arm, but braced the string so high from the Bow that when loosed could not reach the arm, but such a plan is bad, and will often endanger the Bow; for as it always receives a jerk when loosed, if it is received when the Bow is much bent, the grain of the wood being likewise bent, is more likely to break from the force of that jerk.
Nor can a Bow overstrung send an Arrow so far as one understrung, like a man whose arm is half confined, cannot fling a stone so far as one who has the full use of it, so if a Bow is stopped in its velocity by the confinement of the string, it cannot send an Arrow so far as when it has a greater course to make,
A Bow is overstrung when the centre of the string measures from the centre of the Bow, more than six inches, and ladies' Bows five inches.
As then, there are two great disadvantages attending a Bow overstrung ; modern Archers always wear the brace, and which is generally made of stout leather: the surface should be smooth that the string may the better glide over it.
The Shooting Glove,
Is to save the fingers from being hurt by the string, and consists of three, finger stalls, a back thong cut into three slips and a cross strap, which buttons round the wrist, the finger stalls are sown to the three slips of the thong, and are put on the fingers that draw the string ; some Archers only use two fingers, but that can only be done to weak Bows, or short shooting ; to a strong Bow a third finger is absolutely necessary ; the stalls should not project more over the fingers than is sufficient to protect them, as the siring glides by, nor drawn so far as to cover the first joint, for that will confine them from the power of drawing up the Bow well.
Buckles round the waist, from which on the right side is suspended the pouch or bucket, to receive the Arrows, intended for present use.
The tassel is hung on the left side for the purpose of wiping the dirt from the Arrow, that may happen to cling to it, when drawn out of the ground.
The tassel is a very requisite accoutrement, to an Archer, for an Arrow can seldom be drawn from the ground without some dirt adhering to if, which if not wiped off will prevent the Arrow from flying. The tassel is then suspended from the belt on the left side for that purpose, and which is used directly the Arrow is drawn out of the ground.
The Grease Box
Is suspended from the middle of the belt, and contains a composition, for anointing occasionally the finger of the shooting glove, that the string may the more readily slip off, likewise the brace when it is worn rough.
Is never constantly worn but in roving; in shooting at targets or butts, it is placed a few yards by the side of them, two or three Arrows only being sufficient, the rest are kept in reserve, to supply the place of those that may meet with accidents, or for any oilier cause that the shooter may wish to change them. Quivers were formerly made of wood, and which were succeeded by those of leather, but for these last few years, tin quivers have been preferred by almost every Archer, as keeping the Arrows more secure from the wet, and being considerably lighter, and though the last reason, not the least, being three fourths less expence.
Is a long upright case for the purpose of containing the whole of the Archer's Accoutrements, it is considerably deeper at nearly the middle to the bottom, than at the top, the lower part holds a rack for above four dozen of Arrows; this rack docs not go quite to the hack, but a space is left for the Bows to hang behind; at the lop are generally a couple of drawers to put the smaller accoutrements, (see plate 2nd. figure 2.)
Gentlemen have their Aschams generally placed in their Halls, and is rather an ornament to them then otherwise, and among a society of Archers, when they are placed in a row in their pavillion or meeting room, with each, his arms and crest painted on them, they assume a noble appearance.
This can hardly be said to come under the head of Archery, for not. one rule in the foregoing pages is applicable to this; but those who used them in former times in battle, were always stiled Archers, or Cross Bow Men, and indeed they might be called so with more propriety then those who use them now, for those Archers discharged Arrows from their Bows; the present ones shoot only bullets, whatever might have been its powers as a weapon of war; it is now like the long Bow, reduced to an instrument of amusement, and that amusement chiefly confined, and for which it is well adapted for shooting Books, Haves, Rabbits, and Game in general.
The modern Cross Bow for that purpose possesses one great advantage over the fowling piece, which is, that in the discharge, it is free from any loud noise, for a person when shooting with a fowling piece in a rookery or warren, is sure to alarm the whole fraternity by the report of the first fire, which makes it a considerable time before he can get a second, but a Cross Bow has only a slight twang in the loose.
It likewise possesses an advantage equal with the rifle, the aim being guided by the position of a small moveable bead, and which can be placed to such an exactness as to bring down at ninety, or one hundred and twenty feet to a certainty, the object aimed at.
The shooter will please to observe the following directions, how to use the Cross Bow.
Pull back the spring at the lower end of the butt, No. 2.
Bring out the lever to its full extent, No. 3.
Place the end of the Bow against the ground, almost perpendicularly down.
Rest the butt-end firm against the thigh, or lower part of the body.
In the string, a place is made to receive the ball, called the cradle, No. I.
With both hands close on each side of the cradle, pull the string up to the end of the lever, till the eye under the cradle fastens on the catch, called the tumbler, No. 4, then press the hall into the centre of cradle.
Bring the right arm forward, that the palm of the hand may rest on the button of the lever.
Push the lever home and not pull it.
The hand must not be taken from the button, until certain the lever is fast within the spring, as the velocity with which it would return, might hurt the shooter was it to strike him, and probably break the stock.
If the object should remove while drawing up the Bow, let the lever go gently back, but. if it is already fast at the spring, even then, it were better to shoot the ball waste, then to keep it long in full tension.
But if the lever is let back, the string may be kept over the tumbler.
Before any one can shoot with certainty, he must be sure the bead is set correct.
Let it be observed, that at the end of the Bow is the fork, No. 5, which when not in use, lays flat down, when it is in use, it is pulled up; from one side of the fork to the other runs a line, and upon this line, the bead is made to act.
At the lower end of the lever over the trigger is an iron plate, (figure 6.) which likewise pulls up and down ; through this plate are three or four small holes, all of which but one are stopped up with wax, that one according to the shooters own convenience, through this hole he (his eye an inch or two from the plate,) takes his aim, and whatever is the object, he must place the bead in a direct line with it, so that if the object is small, the bead may intercept the view of it.
To set the bead correct, let the shooter place a small piece of paper against a bank or wall, forty or fifty feet distance, and shoot at it, if the ball goes to the right, the bead must be turned round to the right on the line which crosses the fork more or less, according as it is wide from the mark; if the ball goes to the left, then the bead must be turned to the left.
A superficial observer would perhaps act quite contrary, hut reflection Will convince him otherwise, for if the bead is turned to the right, after it is once placed in a line with the mark, the bead gets out of that line, to replace it therefore in the line, the whole Bow must be moved to the left, which will of course shoot a ball to the left of the last shot, and consequently nearer the mark.
Again, if the ball goes over the mark, the line must be moved a few notches higher on the fork, if the ball goes under the mark, then the line must be lowered.
But if the ball goes both higher and on one side of the mark, then the line must be raised, and the bead turned.
The ball should be put exactly in the centre of the cradle.
Care must be taken that the left hand which supports the Bow, be below the surface of the stock, that the string may not hit the fingers.
The stock of the Bow is held in the same manner as a gun.
The trigger under the stock is likewise the same as in a gun.
Beside the trigger, there is a button at, the top of the stock, immediately behind the sight, which if pressed down by the right thumb, will discharge the Bow: some Bows have only the button, and not the trigger, but the trigger is best.
The string is seldom taken off, even though it is not used for several months, this perhaps may be from the difficulty attending the unstringing it, which requires a little mechanical operation, but if a person can get into the right method, when he intends to lay the Bow aside for some months or weeks, it will be of more benefit to the Bow, than keeping it constantly bent.
The stringer is simply another string, with hooks and screws, the hooks are put on each end of the Bow and screwed tight to it, this done, the lever is brought forward, and instead of the string, the stringer is carried over the tumbler, and drawn up, the siring then becomes sufficiently slack to be taken off; the same method is to be observed in putting on the string. To disencumber the stringer from the tumbler, it is best to be let down again by means of the lever, and not to discharge it by the trigger.
The Bow should be kept in a dry situation, to prevent it rusting.