Asian Traditional Archery Research Network (ATARN)

A1, Cloudridge,
30, Plunkett’s Road,
The Peak, Hong Kong.

Tel: (852) 2895-4488
Fax: (852) 2808-2887
April 29, 2001

Letter from Peking (September 1998) Letter of November 1998 Letter of December 1998
Letter #2 of December 1998
Letter of Jan 1999
Letter of February 1999 Letter of March 1999 Letter of April 1999 Letter of May 1999
Letter of June 1999 Letter of August 1999 Letter of October 1999 Letter of November 1999
Letter of December 1999      

Dear All,

As part of my re-vamp of our ATARN website, I installed some statistical software to track the use of the site starting from the first working day of the year, January 3. I’m not sure what I expected, but the figures for the last 20 days are 980 visitors who downloaded 65 MB of data from ATARN. The directories which took the most traffic were Root (27%), Chinese (21%) and Korean (18%).

So someone, somewhere, finds us useful. That gives me a lot of encouragement. What would give me much pleasure (and comfort) is if there could be more written contributions from you and (proportionally) less from me. That is not to say I want to write less (I am addicted), but I would like to see a wider range of views and talent expressed on ATARN.

The INTERNET is a completely different medium for writers compared with what has gone before. You don’t have to get everything right first time. You only have to have an open mind when people point out mistakes, and I can arrange for amendments to be uploaded on-site site quickly. That means that very soon, each article goes through an informal peer-review and benefits from refinements based on the comments of our whole traditional archery community.

I have just returned from a business trip to London. It was a great pleasure to be able to chat on the phone to Douglas Elmy of the Society of Archer Antiquaries, who has supported ATARN with many warm words. The second great pleasure was to visit Edward McEwen at his home.

Edward has a wonderful combination of language skills, a finely honed interest in history, skill as both archer and bowyer and a warm, outgoing personality. All that aside, it was wonderful to see his collection of Asiatic archery equipment. Some of the items were totally new to me: in particular a pre-Han Chinese crossbow mechanism in which the internal working elements of the mechanism were supported in a bronze jacket which clearly wrapped around the outside of the wooden stock. This may represent a transitional form from the pre-Qin/Han mechanisms (without bronze housings) to the Han mechanisms (which normally had bronze housings.) I would like to ask Edward here if he could employ another of his great skills – technical draftsmanship – to provide ATARN members with a sketch of this particular item from his collection.

At the End of February, after the Chinese New Year Holiday, I am travelling to Chengdu to visit the descendants of the Chang Xing Bowyers. I hope to be able to provide a detailed report after that. I do not anticipate being able to find material to supplement Tan Danjiong’s excellent and detailed report, but I am intrigued by the idea that his daughter took third place in a women’s sports championship on the basis of traditional Chinese archery skills passed down from her archery-instructor father.

In May/June, I hope to gather some material to fill the as-yet empty ‘Manchu/Sibo’ pages of ATARN. I plan a visit to Chapchal (about 400km west of Urumchi) to the last remaining community of Sibo Manchus.) They will hold an annual archery festival on 21 May.

While I’m on festivals, let’s keep a diary of Asian traditional archery events (including Asian-related events outside Asia). Please will you send me in your events and dates so I can devote a section of ATARN to them? As a start, I have the following contribution from Jaap and Kay Koppedrayer:

International Horseback Archery
The Fairgrounds, Ft. Dodge, Iowa
September 7, 8, 9, 10, 2000

Fearless and proud warriors once rode on horseback from Mongolia through Central Asia and into Europe. Their bows were strong and powerful; their skills in archery extraordinary.

In the Americas there were also powerful warriors whose knowledge of the bow and of the horse was unsurpassed. And elsewhere – Japan, Persia, India bow culture, horse culture was highly developed. In many places these traditions have continued. In others they are being revived. And this year in North America there will be an extraordinary opportunity to participate in the first international gathering that will draw people from some of these different cultures together. In September 7, 8, 9, and 10, the Fairgrounds at Ft. Dodge, Iowa, will host America's First International Horseback Archery Gathering and Competition.

Many events are planned for horseback archers, regular archers, spectators, and entire families. Kanjuro Shibata Sensei, kyudo master, 20th generation bow-maker and bow-maker to the Imperial Court of Japan and Sam West, his International head instructor, will be demonstrating kyudo, a form of Japanese archery.

Three Mongolian nationals, including the female national champion of Mongolia, Munkhtsetseg, will be coming, their first time in North America. Two contingents from the Lakota Nation, Oglala Lakota from Pine Ridge and Sicangu Lakota from Rosebud will be setting up their tipis, and Kassai Lajos of Hungary will be once again demonstrating his horseback archery skills. There will be others, including Bob Berg of Thunderbird Atlatl and Lukas Novotny of Saluki Bows, presenting workshops and offering training in use of atlatl, horn bows, thumbring shooting, and other skills. The public is welcome to come and watch.

Programs for training in horesback archery Beginners and Advanced.Public Lectures, Demonstrations Target Round, Popinjay Shoot, Archery Games Youth Program.

For further information, Jaap Koppedrayer at (USA) 519-595-8791
Meg Beshey at (USA) 515-573-5996 Lukas Novotny at (USA) 419-832-2105.

I had always thought it would be nice to replace the old shop sign of Ju Yuan Hao, the Peking bowyer, which was lost in the Cultural Revolution. So on the basis of his descriptions and some old photographs, I had a copy made in Shanghai, and I have presented it to him on behalf of myself and ATARN, as a mark of support from all of us. 

I would like to make up a 'panel of experts' to help ATARN members and the public at large with specific questions about Asian archery. I would put together a page which would give an area of expertise or experience, a name (or pseudonym) and an email address. The email address would be '' : that is to say, I would give each volunteer an email account at ATARN. You personal details and your personal email account would not be revealed, so your privacy would not be compromised.

I (naturally) will volunteer for Chinese archery. Please will you volunteer to become an ATARN 'expert' and receive your own email account at

Please also let me know whether you would like a moderated newsgroup on ATARN. I can set one up here (not accessed through a news server). I would act as moderator, and keep off spam, nuisances and off-subject material. Or you may feel that existing newsgroups are sufficient, in which case I'll leave it.


Yours faithfully,


(Stephen Selby)