by Ernest Thompson Seton
The tribe should own a Standard Target--that is, 4 feet across, circular, made
of straw, with a thin oilcloth cover, marked with a 9.6 inch center of gold
(called by some of our tribes "The Buffalo's Eye"); outside of that a 4.8
inch band of red, next a similar band of blue, next of black, next of white.
Sometimes black rings of the right size are made to answer.
In scoring, the gold is 9, the red 7, the blue 5, the black 3, the white 1. The
shortest match range for the target is 40 yards. If it is a 3-foot target the
match range is reduced to 30 yards.
A target can be made of a burlap sack about five feet square. This should be
stuffed full of hay or straw, then flattened by a few quilting stitches put right
through with a long packing needle. On this the target is painted of exact right
Each boy should have a bow that pulls from 10 pounds up; about one pound for
each year of his age is a safe guide for boys up to sixteen. He should have at
least 6 arrows and a quiver. The arrows 25 inches long, with 3 feathers,
cone-points of steel or iron; brass points are useless. A guard or bracer for the
left wrist is needed, and most boys require a glove to protect the fingers of the
Bows can be bought, but it is
more creditable if you make them yourself.
How to Make a Bow
a. The bow strung.
b. The cord fast at the lower end.
c. The cord with loop at upper end.
d. Feather ready to tie on.
e. Feathers lashed on.
Make a straight, sound piece of cedar, bodark, yew, sassafras, muIberry, apple
tree, black locust, ironwood, ash, elm, hickory, or hemlock. Cut it so that it is
half sap and half heartwood, flat on the sapwood side (or front) and round on the
heartwood side (or back). It should be about an inch thick in the middle
off to 3/ 4 inch at each end. Cut two notches and put on a strong linen cord, either a
bought bow-string or one made of many twisted linen threads. At one end it is fast to
the bow by a
timber hitch, at the other by a hard loop.
When strung the string should be
about 5 inches from the bow.
Arrows should be 25 inches long, and 3/8 of an inch
thick. They are made of pine or ash. The Eastern Indians made them usually of
arrow-wood or viburnum shoots.
Each should have a conical steel ferrule for head
and three feathers to make it fly true. The feathers are lashed on.
SIX SAMPLE ARROWS, SHOWING DIFFERENT FEATHERS
A is a far-flying steel-pointed bobtail, very good in wind. B is another very
good arrow, with a horn point. This went even better than A if there were no
wind. C is an Omaha war and deer arrow. Both heads and feathers are lashed on
with sinew. The long tufts of down left on the feathers are to help in finding
it again, as they are snow-white and wave in the breeze. The grooves on the shaft
are to make the victim bleed more freely and be more easily tracked. D is
another Omaha arrow with a peculiar owner's mark of rings carved in the middle.
E is a bone-headed bird shaft made by the Indians of the Mackenzie River F is a
war arrow made by Geronimo, the famous Apache chief. Its shaft is three joints
of a straight cane. The rip is of hard wood, and on that is a fine quartz point;
all being lashed together with sinew.
Holding and Drawing
It is very important to begin shooting in correct form and never change from
that if you wish to become a good shot.
Grasp the bow in the left hand. Put the
arrow on the string with the right. Hook the first three fingers on the string one
above, two below the arrow. The little finger and thumb do nothing. (f in top
Stand perfectly upright, left side toward the target, the heels 12 inches apart and in exact line from the target. Hold
the bow upright and the arrow
against the left side of it, resting on the hand. Draw the cord till the head of
the arrow touches the bow and the top of your thumb rests on the corner of your
You must sight along the arrow for direction, but guess for elevation. Hold it one
Release the arrow by straightening your fingers and at the same time turn
your hand back up, but keep the thumb tip at your mouth corner. Do not move the
left hand a hair's-breadth till the arrow has struck.
Begin practicing at very short
range and slowly increase up the standard, forty yards.
Unstring the bow when
not in use.
Birch Bark Roll