-----Original Message-----
From: Stephen Selby <srselby@atarn.org>
To: Thomas Duvernay <chungho@soback.kornet.nm.kr>
Date: 13 February, 1999 10:30 AM
Subject: Arab bow grip

You have raised some interesting points and it would be worthwhile to get
some opinions from one or two other Members. Would Giovanni, Bede and Thomas
please comment? (I might publish the resulting correspondence on ATARN.)
But I shall try to answer some points myself. >

> I read in a book called Arab Archery (which is a translation of a
>manuscript written in the 15th century) that Arabic bow has its center
>located at the point which is one finger width below the top of the grip.
>In other words, one finger width of the grip plus the the top limb plus the
>top siyah constitute one half of the bow while the remaining grip plus the
>bottom limb plus the bottom siyah constitute the other half of the bow.
>This means the top limb is slightly longer the the bottom limb and the top
>siyah is slightly longer then the bottom siyah.  According to the
>author(whose identity is unknown) of the manuscript, a bow with this
>configuration is the best.  (I don't remember exactly how he put it)
> After reading the book, I would assume that the author nocked the arrow
>perpendicular to the string (not pointing down or pointing up) and the
>would pass through the point which is one finger width below the top of the

Bede? Giovanni?

> I have not read any articles on Chinese Archery that mention anything
>the top limb being slightly longer than the bottom limb and I would like to
>know if you have.

No, I have not seen such comments in Chinese texts. Chinese bnows seem
always to have been symmetrical, and Chinese regarded assymetrical bows
(e.g. Japanese yumi) as an oddity.

But a low (I shall put some examples onto ATARN this weekend.) However, to
confuse the situation slighly, the correct grip for shooting the stone-bow
always required the bow-hand to be dropped well below centre. Sometimes, it
is hard to see on archaeological remains whether a stone-bow or arrow-bow is

> As far as I know, the Chinese bow of the Qing dynasty had both limbs of
>same length.

Correct. But I cannot be sure that the weights of the upper and lower limbs
were equal. Thomas: any comment?

>I also noticed from some photos (including the one in your
>articles published in Instinctive Archer) that archers shooting bows of
>dynasty nocked their arrows at the center of the string which made the
>arrows point upward.  I am curious to know what you think about that and if
>you have tried that.  I have never had good result with nocking at the
>center of the string which makes the arrow point upward.
No. Chinese archery manuals are explicit on the point that arrows may point
straight ahead (preferred) or down, but never up. The photograph in my
article may not be a helpful example: I suspect the archer was getting tired
of holding at full draw for the photograph and started losing his stance!

> I personally think the best place to nock an arrow is at the center of the
>string.  If both top and bottom limbs are of the same length then the
>of the) arrow would be pointing up (which I never had successful result
>with, the arrow would slap my hand).  If the top limb is slightly longer
>than the bottom limb then the arrow may be perpendicular to the string.
> Please let me know what you think and what your experiences were.
My understanding of modern recurves is that the upper limb is more powerful
than the lower and therefore the arrow must be nocked above centre to
compensate. I do not know the theory behind that. (Bede, do you know?) My
own Chinese shooting technique is to ensure that the arrow forms an angle at
90 degrees to the string before drawing and that it passes over my thumb
slightly higher than the centre of the grip. as my bow-hand fingers need to
have good contact with the front of the grip.