The English theory and practice of target
Part 1 of 2
THE points to be considered in target practice, are:
1. The distances shot-in yards.
The York Round, as shot at the English archery meetings, consists of 72 arrows shot at 100 yards, 48 arrows at 80 yards, and 24 arrows at 60 yards, the target being 4 feet in diameter. The Double York Round is, as the name indicates, the York Round shot twice.
The highest score ever made at the Double York Round was by Mr. H. A. Ford, at Cheltenham, in 1857. He scored hits, 245, value 1251.
In 1854 at Shrewsbury, he scored hits, 234, value, 1074. In 1858, at Exeter, he scored hits, 214, value, 1076. In 1867, at Brighton, he scored hits, 215, value, 1037. In 1856, at Leamington, he scored hits, 244, value 1162. A study of these remarkable scores convinces the archer that Mr. Ford must have mastered perfectly the very best method of target practice. From what he and other distinguished English bowmen have published on the subject, and from most careful comparison of their method with my own, I have concluded that, for target-shooting at fixed distances, the English mode of drawing and aiming is the best possible. But it will, if persisted in, utterly disqualify one for bird and game shooting, whilst my method is exactly adapted to training the sportsman for good work by field and flood. In a word, if you desire to become a master of the York Round, or of any other round of fixed ranges, in order to score up to a high figure at public matches, you should adopt the English method of shooting; but if you do not care for prizes and wish to excel as a rover of the green woods, adopt my method as otherwhere given in this book. As this chapter is written exclusively for those who desire to become expert target-shooters, it will be confined to a description of the best English practice.
THE SHOOTER'S POSITION.
"It must be understood," says an English writer, "that the proper position in archery is entirely artificial, and is used, as far as I know, in nothing else; that is, the weight of the body on the right foot, the body itself inclining slightly in the opposite direction to the arrow, and the direct line from the right elbow to the pile of the arrow, being an unnatural attitude, has to be acquired."
The left heel should be nearly opposite the hollow of the right foot. Both feet should be planted firmly on the ground, the weight of the body mostly on the right. The toe of the left foot should point nearly at the target, that of the right in such a direction as to form with the left an angle of about sixty degrees. This is a slight modification of the English rule, and archers will be compelled, on account of differences in the physiques of individuals, to vary it in accordance with circumstances.
In drawing keep the right fore-arm always in a direct line with the arrow.
Draw to just below the chin, or rather the right jaw, instead of to the right ear, keeping the arrow directly under the right eye.
Select a point at which to aim directly over and beyond the target. If your arrow fall short, select a higher point of aim, if it fly beyond, lower the point of aim, until you find the exact elevation of bow-arm necessary to reach the centre of the target. This point once fixed for a given range, your shooting ought to be quite close and even. For example: say you are shooting 40 yards with a 40 pound bow, and you find that, drawing as above directed, and aiming over the pile of your arrow, taking the top of the target, vertically over the gold, as the point of aim, your arrow strikes in the red above the gold, you lower your point of aim to the under line of the outer white and see your arrow find the centre. Then, of course, your point of aim at 6o yards, with the same bow and arrows, would be entirely above the target, and still higher as the distance increased. With this outline of the theory before him. the intelligent student of archery can, by a little careful experimenting, master the rudiments of the art.
The point-blank range of a bow with this method of aiming is that distance at which the arrow reaches the centre when the elevation of the left hand makes a straight line from the right eye through the arrow's pile to the gold, or, in other words, when the point of aim is the gold itself.
Some archers, when the range exceeds 80 yards, aim under the bow hand, instead of over the pile of the arrow; but it seems to me that this is bad practice.
At the Grand National Archery Meetings in England, the last of which was held at Tunbridge Wells, on July 24, 25, and 26, 1878, the York Round is always shot, single or double.
The following table of high scores at the Double York Round may prove of great value to those American bowmen who wish to compare their work with that of the very best of modern English archers:
It cannot fail to impress with wonder the archer who, after scanning the above table, goes out and shoots 144 arrows at 100 yards, 96 arrows at 80 yards, and 48 arrows at 60 yards, and then adds together the scores, to find that instead of counting 1251 it is well if the sum is over 500! Mr. Ford's record is certainly an admirable if not an unapproachable one. A score of 200 hits with a value of 900 is far above the average work of the very best living target-shots.