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mental_floss's Be More Interesting series will teach you new interesting skills. This week, Max Silvestri learns to master archery.

(And don't worry--the regular list show will continue on Wednesday!)

Music provided by Scorebuzz Music.


Archery is the coolest way to quickly deliver a pointed stick to something into which you want to put a hole. But it's not the easiest skill to pick up, so today we're going to get a lesson from Al, at Queen's Archery.

 Meeting Al

Max: Hi, Al

Al: Hi, Max. Welcome to Queen's Archery.

Max: How long have you been in the archery business?

Al: I have been in this business for over fifty years.

Max: That is so many years.

Al: It is a lot of years.

Max: Why is it called 'archery'? Why is it not called 'arrow-ing'? Or 'bowmanship'?

Al: Because when you shoot, you have to take into account at different distances the arch of the arrow.

Max: It's been a good couple years for archery in movies and TV. I feel like, there was that movie Brave. There was Katniss, from The Hunger Games.

Al: Absolutely.

Max: Um, have you seen an influx of more young and female archery fans out there? 

Al: Exactly. A lot of women are taking up archery for the first time. And the scoring is done exactly the same way for both men and women. 

Max: So now that I know a little bit about archery, you think you could teach me how to master it?

Al: I will make you into a professional archer. 

Max: Fantastic. Let's do it. 

 The Origin of the Bullseye

Max: So this is the famous bullseye.

Al: The word 'bullseye' was created in the mid-1800s. The men of the village, well, they didn't have targets so they would go out into the field where the cow pastures were, and they would find the skull of a bull, and that would-

Max: At least the bulls were dead for it. I was gonna say, I bet bulls hated-

Al: Well that would have been- right, that was a nice thing. And they would set the skull up on a post and they would step back and they would shoot at it. The person that hit the skull in the eye would be considered hitting the bullseye. 

Max: I'm glad we no longer live in a world where there's just bulls' skulls everywhere. Is bullseyes just about getting in as close- (gestures to bullseye)

Al: That's it. That's as simple as it is. There's the 'x'. You see it right there. 

Max: Yup. I've seen a lot of movies where people put arrows in a bullseye and then another person splits that arrow in half.

Al: Splits the arrow. 

Max: Can you do that? I'd like to learn how to do that. 

Al: It definitely can be done. And actually I have proof of it on the other side of this wall. There are a series of split arrows which we call 'Robinhoods' because that is the man that made the split arrow famous. 

Max: Yeah. Alright the suspense is killing me now, can we actually shoot a bow and arrow? Can I put my hand on it?

Al: I can't wait to have you shoot a bow and arrow. 

 Learning How to Shoot

Al: Now this is the bow. Your fingers go on the string. One on top and two below, leaving room for an arrow in between your top and bottom two fingers. Then place your thumb and pinky together. This is the rest position. Just remember the word 'rash'. R-R-A-A-S-H. 

Max: Raaaaash.

Al: This is the first 'r'. Rest. Then we put an arrow in the bow by taking you hand, turning it backwards, pulling it out, crossing over your hand, placing the back of the arrow onto the string with a clicking sound.

Max: I make the sound, or the arrow?

Al: It'll make a sound. There you go.

Max: Okay.

Al: There you go. From 'Rest', you raise your bow up into the 'Ready' position, bending it slightly at the elbow sideways. Then raise your back elbow high. Bent arm, high elbow.

Max: This doesn't feel natural.

Al: No, it's not.

Max: You sure it's right?

Al: It's- this is correct. From 'Ready' you go to the 'Anchor' position by pulling back, placing your finger in the corner of your mouth. Then close your left eye to 'Aim'- that's your second 'A'. You're aimed in the bullseye?

Max: Yep.

Al: Then the 's' is 'Shoot'.

Max: How do I shoot?

Al: Release the string. Just keep aiming and release the string. And 'Hold'. That's the 'h'. Hold, as your follow-through, come back to the 'Rest' position, and that was a perfect shot. You have to do it again.

Max: Alright, I'm gonna use your system, and I'm going to try to do it again. So.

Al: Okay. Turn your hands backwards.

Max: Lower the arrow.

Al: And I won't tell you anything this time. 

Max: Ah! That feels great, that feels really great. Feels amazing. 

Al: You are the man!

Max: I realize I'm only about seven feet away from the target, but this is, uh-

Al: No, it doesn't matter. 

Max: Thank you so much. 'RRAASH' works.

Al: You are an accomplished archer.


Max: So now you have what it takes to impress anyone. All you need is a bow, some arrows, a wide-open space, bullseyes, training in a six-part system called 'RRAASH', and mental focus. Great aim takes practice. Luckily, this is one beverage that always hits the spot. Cheers! Until next time, I'm Max Silvestre from Mental Floss and Dos Equis, reminding you to be more interesting.