In connection with long-distance shooting with the bow or the crossbow,
it is interesting to consider to what a surprising range an arrow can be
thrown by hand, with the mere assistance of a little piece of string.
In a few parts of the West Riding of Yorkshire, the ancient pastime
of arrow-throwing is a popular sport among the pitmen. Sometimes as many
as a couple of thousand spectators witness a contest between two noted
The matches are decided by the aggregate distance of an equal number
of throws (usually from twenty to thirty) by each competitor.
If a man sends his arrow let us say, 12 score, 13 score, 14 score yards,
in three throws, then his total is 39 points.
The ordinary thrower will cast the arrow from 240 to 250 yards, a very
skilful thrower will send it from 280 to 300 yards, the record throw being
A short time ago I entertained a party of arrow-throwers. Several of
them achieved a range of from 270 to 280 yards, as I carefully verified
at the time with a surveyor's chain.
The arrow is shaped from a rod of straight hazel wood of about the thickness
of a man's little finger, the hazel rods with dark-coloured bark being
preferred for making the arrows.
The rods are laid aside in a dry place for two years before they are
shaped into arrows. Though the finished arrow has neither metal head nor
feathers nor any form of nock, yet it flies through the air with the true
and graceful curve of the best arrow used in archery.
1 An arrow-thrower will often practise daily
for several weeks before he engages in a match, in order to accustom his
arm to stand the strain required of it when throwing the arrow.
It is also necessary that an arrow-thrower should train
his eye to give him the correct angle at which to cast the arrow, so that
he may obtain as long a range with it as his strength of arm admits.
In these arrow-throwing matches a considerable amount
of money is lost or won, and the couple of men competing often throw for
a stake of from £20 to ,£30, that has been subscribed for them
by their supporters.