Qualifications and Training of the Turkish Archers
Shooting at ok-meydani was bounded to government approvals.
One had to have a license or be taking lessons from a proficient
archer. A proficient archer was determined to the archer
candidates who had provided pre-conditions, and gained the right
for education by a small ceremony. With those written approvals,
students could only be allowed to shoot and take education at
the ok-meydani, but werent allowed to compete or perform flight
shooting. Students were informed about the rules to obey, things
to beware and their obligations at the beginning of their
education. Ones whose backgrounds were ambiguous, ones who
behaved improperly, fools and mentally retarded were manifested
not to be teached for shooting.
To be a proper archer, one had to complete his long education
and finally had to able to shoot at the distance of 900
gez (approximately 594 meters). The successful candidates
used to acquire their proficiency license with a mass ceremony
and were enregistered.
A novice archer's initial work was to practice drawing the
bow. A special bow called "kepaze" was made for this with a
padded string. This practice was done with a Mediterranean
release (three fingers) only the bow was pulled to full draw and
then let down again. This is done until the archer can pull and
let down 500 times without tiring. Practice like this makes the
correct draw and technique automatic, much like the practice of
moves in some martial arts. The muscles also strengthen and
|Practice arrowhead for novice archers
(Military Museum, Istanbul)
The style of the draw was then slightly changed to the one
sued in target shooting, and a heavier practice bow used. Again
500 draws was used as the number to be achieved without tiring.
Archers also had to learn the same draw style in the same way
whilst seated. Eventually the archer was ready to move on to a
Often training with the practice bow would be interspersed
with pulling a heavy bow 5 or 10 times to build strength.
Another method was to use three bows. The archer would draw the
lightest 50 times, then the medium bow 50 times and finally the
heavy bow 50 times.
Apparently it was common advise for archers to draw their
practice bow 66 times every morning to keep their strength up.
At about this time the lock of the thumb was worked on with
an arrow fixed to the string. Finally indoor practice would
start using a sack at 44 degrees to the archer. The sack was
filled with wood shavings, cotton seeds and similar stuff.
Practice had to be every day. The bow used for this simulated
flight shooting was a weaker bow. A special arrows was sued for
this sack shooting.
After a period of this training and if the weather was
suitable the archer is allowed to practice outside. The bow used
for this stage of training was 130lbs draw. When he got tired he
would finish with a lighter bow. Each morning and each evening
300 arrows would be shot.
Occasionally an arrow with "peculiar fletching" was used.
This seems to have been some kind of flu-flu as it rapidly
slowed and had short range. It was used to detect errors in
technique and to be able to see the course of the arrow.
At last the archer was deemed to be ready to try flight
arrows, starting with easy flight arrows and ending eventually
with the best and hardest. There were four types. He would shoot
60 to 100 of each every day. Now he would be ready to try to
enter the archers guild but would have to be able to prove
through eye witnesses that he could hit distant marks and shoot
over 900 gez.