HOW TO NOCK AN ARROW IN THE MANCHU STYLE
How to nock an
arrow is one of the first archery techniques
learned by those taking up any type of archery
training. If you are using a Manchu archery set,
including a thumb ring, this page will be
especially useful to you. The following
artical was written by Sifu
Scott M. Rodell.
1: This archer is getting ready to draw an arrow -
Detail from Ma Chang Lays Low the Enemy Ranks.
Lessons in Manchu
1. Loading and Nocking
Scott M. Rodell
Manchu Bannermen into combat.
nlike target archery, Qing era Manchu archery was a martial
art. In practical terms, what that meant for the archer, was
that he trained to shoot at a target that was shooting back.
And that target, constantly changed its position. So just as
Bannermen on the battlefield of Qing China, those practicing
the Manchu style of archery must draw, nock and shoot
without ever taking their eyes off their opponent. In this
lesson, we are going to look at the steps used in Manchu
archery to draw and nock an arrow. This method is the same
for both mounted archers and those on foot.
From the beginning of this sequence, through having loosed
one's arrow, one's eyes never leave the target. Standing
with feet slightly wider than shoulder width, torso
perpendicular to the target, hold the bow level in front of
the torso at just above waist level. Then the string hand
reaches back and, grasping an arrow at midsection, draws it
from the quiver. (See
Picture 1. This Manchu archer is using a quiver but
sometimes arrows were thrust into the belt
Next the string hand carries the arrow forward underneath
the bow and into the bow hand, placing it in the notch
formed by your thumb and bow. (See Pictures 2 and 4
). Once there, it is
grasped with the index finger of the bow hand. If the grip
of your bow is too thick to hold the arrow securely with
just your index finger, then you can also use your thumb to
hold it in place.
Picture 4: Detail from
Qianlong Hunting Rabbits.
Make sure you apply pressure directly onto the bow with the
grasping finger or the arrow may slide out of place.
Picture 3: Detail
from Qianlong Hunting a bear
With the arrow now held in place against the bow, slide
the string hand back down the length of the arrow and over
the fletching. As your hand glides over the feathers, feel
which way the nock is oriented and turn it into proper
alignment with the string. This is easy to do because
Manchu arrows are typically fletched with the feathers
aligned with the nock with a noon-3-6 feather
configuration, like the tail of a plane.
With the arrow properly aligned with the string, slide it
forward with the string hand and nock it. Once nocked,
release the pressure of the bow hand finger on the arrow for
a moment and draw the arrow an inch or so, just enough to so
that there is adequate pressure between the nock and bow
grasp of the bow hand fingers to hold it in place on the
string. (See Picture 3
Then, with the index finger of the bow hand holding the
arrow in place, the thumb of the string hand can wrap around
the string, just below the nock, so that the thumb ring is
against the string and the bottom of the arrow nock.
Picture 2: Detail from Qianlong Hunting
The index finger of the string hand then wraps over the
thumb and rests atop the upper edge of the thumb ring.
With the string hand in this position, use the index
finger of the string hand to apply pressure from the side
of the arrow to hold it in position against the bow and
release the pressure on the arrow that was being applied
by the bow hand index finger. Having released its grasp on
the arrow, the index finger of the bow hand is pointed
straight, and forward at the target. Holding the arrow in
position against the bow with the index finger of the
string hand, one can now raise the bow for the draw.
Qianlong Hunting Rabbits
Upon releasing the arrow towards the target, the string hand
opens backward in a vertical arc, then circles downward to
where it can easily draw another arrow and repeat the
For more information about
Manchu Archery, please see:
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