The English theory and practice of target
Part 2 of 2
The ladies at the National Meetings in England shoot the National Round, which consists of 24 arrows at 50 yards, and 48 arrows at 6o yards. This round is usually doubled and called the Double National Round.
The following table contains the best scores ever made in England by ladies shooting the Double National Round for the numerous grand prizes annually offered:
These scores indicate such proficiency as ladies rarely attain to in any physical exercise.
In 1877 shooting 4 dozen arrows at 6o yards and 2 dozen at 50 yards, Mrs. William Butt scored:
That is, she hit with every arrow at each range and scored a value of nearly 6 to each shot. In other words she scored 410 out of a possible 643 in the aggregate. At 6o yards, hitting with every arrow out of 48, she scored 268 out of a possible 432*.
A "round " of shorter ranges than the York and National of England would seem to be preferable for American practice, especially for beginners. Nothing is so depressing to the novice as inability to hit the target, and a temptation to abandon the royal sport arises from a frequent loss of valuable arrows.
Always use a four-foot target even if you begin shooting at ten yards. Nothing so much assists the progress toward good shooting as for every arrow to keep within the circumference of the target; the archer can then note exactly the effect of each shot, and by comparison measure his constant advance in skill.
Of course it is doubtless better to adhere to the English rules in public matches, as by doing so we shall be able from year to year to compare our scores with theirs. But in private practice and at club meetings it will be found valuable to use shorter ranges. The following table contains scores made at different distances, by a number of English ladies and gentlemen, during the season of 1877, in prize meetings:--
In the above Mrs. Acklom made three successive golds at 50 yards, and Major Fisher three at 60 yards.
A prize for the best gold-that is, for the arrow striking nearest the exact centre of the gold-lends great interest to any match. There may be separate prizes, too, for the highest number of hits and for the greatest number of consecutive golds.
A very common rule at English meetings is for each member to pay a small money forfeit to the archer scoring the most golds.
Experience will teach the archer that skill in shooting at a target is to be acquired by just the same careful physical training and punctilious observance of rules which mould the athlete to the full measure of rowing, boxing, fencing or any other manly exercise. Ease and grace are of the first importance, especially to the lady toxophilite. Care should be taken to avoid falling into ugly habits, like drawing the face (instead of the bow) into wrinkles, or twisting the neck awry or pursing the mouth, or shrugging the shoulders. To stand at ease, to draw with confidence, to aim skilfully, and to loose sharply and smoothly is the whole art of shooting at a target. The guessing at distance does not arise, as that is already measured and known.
For convenience the English rounds are tabulated below:
Double York Round.
Ladies' National Round.
Double National Round.
* [These long-range contests are very exciting and beautiful; but they do not test the highest skill of the archer, else my years of patient study and practice go for naught. Point-blank range at an absolute centre is what calls out the bowman's finest powers. In a very fair and, in the main, favorable criticism of the first edition of this book, a leading English journal took occasion to doubt the practicability of my theory of shooting. As a remarkable instance of the beautiful accuracy of the English method at short range, the reviewer stated that an English archer had been seen to split in two, at the first shot, an arrow stuck vertically in. the ground ten yards away. If the egotism can be pardoned in order to save my theory, let me answer that I have, with my hunting arrows, broken 37 out of 50 Bogardus glass balls thrown into the air toward me at 12 yards. I have also hit a lead pencil five times in succession at to yards. So it seems fair to ask the critic for something better than the arrow-splitting feat before I abandon my mode of practice.]