1902 Encyclopedia > Archery > Archery Equipment - Bows, Arrows, Clothing, Targets

(Part 7)


Implements for the practice of archery are principally made in London and Edinburgh, and are of various degrees of excellence. It cannot be too strongly impressed upon archers that they should select their gear from a maker of undoubted "good report." In the choice of a bow preference should be given to one which is under, rather than over, the strength which an archer can use without difficulty. The power required to draw an ordinary bow, for a gentleman, ranges from 40 to 60 lb (i.e. power to draw the arrow to the point) - 46 to 50 lb being the average power used for the "York Round." The "Royal Archers" at Edinburgh and the "Woodmen of Arden" are the only clubs shooting longer distances than are recognized by "the York." These longer distances are 180, 200, and 220 yards, requiring bows of from 56 to 64 lb. Power. Gentlemen's bows are 5 ft. 10 in. and 6 feet long. Ladies' bows, of course, are lighter, can be drawn by a power of from 24 to 32 lb, the length being from 5 ft. 3 in. to 5 ft. 6 in. Bows are made of various kinds of wood, such as lancewood, snakewood, washaba, and yew, -- the last being generally preferred for sweetness of material and steadiness of cast, though lance and other woods are found to be more durable, much cheaper, and quite as well adapted for practice. Bows are made of three pieces, two pieces, an done piece, and are called three-woods, two-woods, and self. Self bows usually follow the string. Two-wood and three-wood bows being made a little reflex, should retain their shape. It is important that all bows should be preserved from damp, especially those constructed of two or three pieces, as, not only does moisture affect the wood and cause it to warp, but it also dissolves the glue by which the parts are united, and renders the implement useless. For correct and precise shooting an archer must posses himself of the best arrows he can procure. These should be of a weight adapted to the power of the particular bow for which they are intended, and must be alike in thickness, shape, and stiffness. The standard length of an arrow used by gentlemen is 28 inches, and its weight is equal, in standard silver coin, to from 4s. to 5s; those weighing from 4s. 6d. The lady's arrow is 25 inches long, and weighs, is silver coin, from 3s to 3s 6d. Arrows are manufactured generally of red-pine timber, and the best are footed with a piece of hard wood, usually bullet-tree-glued on one end, upon the point of which the iron pile is fixed, and into the other end is inserted a wedge-shaped piece of horn, called the nock, in which a notch is made for the reception of the bow-string when the archer is shooting. The feathering of arrows depends in some measure upon the taste of the shooter. An arrow has three feathers-now generally taken from a turkey's wing-affixed edgewise at the nock end, about an inch from the end, equi-distant from each other, and parallel to the flight. The wings are much shorter than they were formerly, ranging from 1 1/3 to 2 ¸ inches in length, as the shooter may desire. One feather on each arrow is of a different colour from the rest, and is placed perpendicular to the line of the nock; it is called the guide feather (or "cock-feather") as it enables the archer more readily to place the arrow on the bow-string. By using feathers of the right or left wing for the same set of arrows, the natural curve of the feather is sufficient to impart to he arrow in its passage through the air a rotatory motion equivalent to the flight of a rifle ball. The best shaped arrow is nearly the same thickness from the pile to the under end of the feathers, from which it tapers off slightly to the nock. The full shouldered, or nearly parallel-shaped pile, is to be preferred.

In addition to his bow and arrows an archer, to be fully equipped, must have a drawing glove to protect the fingers of the right hand; an arm-guard made of stout calf, morocco, or other leather, to shield the left arm from the stroke of the string after the discharge of an arrow; a waist-belt in which to carry the arrows when shooting, and to which are attached a green worsted tassel for the removal of dirt, &c., from the points of discharged arrows; and an ivory grease-pot, containing grease for the drawing fingers of the glove, of which there are various kinds, every archer using that which suits him best. A doeskin glove, with the first three fingers tipped with smooth, firm calf or pig skin, about 1 x inch long, upon the fingers, and having a strap to buckle round the wrist, is about the easiest and best for use. The flat tab covering the three fingers allows them perfect freedom; but the ordinary draw-glove, with cylindrical points and straps up the back of the hand and around the wrist is preferred by many archers, whilst and around the wrist is preferred by many archers, whilst others again prefer screw tips, fitting each finger separately, and with a strap on the front. Then there is the quiver, which is generally made of Japanned tin. It is used to preserve the arrows from damp, &c., also for keeping the reserve arrows in, as only three a re used when shooting in company; it is never worn except when roving.

Targets consist of straw basses with painted canvas faces sewed on them. The "National" targets are 4 feet in diameter, and they have on their faces five circles or divisions, the centre one being gold, and scoring 9; the red scores; 7; blue, 5; black, 3; and the white or outer circle, 1. These targets are placed on stands constructed of three ribs of iron jointed at the top; the two side ribs have spikes on the front edge on which the targets rest; the centre rib is thrown behind, as a spur to support the triangle. There should always be a pair of targets provided by an archer in practicing, in order to save time and trouble; and a young archer has always been advised to practice at a short distance, and to lengthen it as he progresses-commencing at 20 yards, till he is able to hit the smallest mark, which will prove that he has attained command over his bow.

To enable an archer to keep a record of his shooting the following scoring-card will, be found useful (the marks may be made with the point of a pin or pencil):-

Archery Scoring Card image

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