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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

"Women Archers of Jane Austen's Day" from Maria Grace

Good morning, Janeites! Today brings to a close Maria Grace's Toxophilite series, which takes a closer look at the place of archery, particularly for women, in Regency times. If you missed any of this series, you can find the first part here, and last week's post here. And of course, don't forget to check out Maria's answers in this year's Janeite Conversationsand her contributions to this year's giveaways!

Women Archers of Jane Austen's Day

Instructions and fashions for the young women archers.

When shooting with their societies, women wore the uniform associated with their group. The Hainault Foresters’ uniform as described in their rules:
Nankeen great coat, black silk collar, dark green silk cape; lappels, cuffs, and pockets, bound with black; full green sleeves down to the elbow, tied with black ribbon in the middle of the arm; a single row of uniform but­tons, the front of the coat bound with green: black beaver hat, plain green band round the crown, buttoned up on the right side with uniform button and gold twisted loop, with green cockade and feathers. (Arnstad, 2019)

From the Manchester Art Gallery: This worsted dress in green and salmon pink was probably worn by a female member of the Royal British Bowmen archery society around 1820. The high waistline and decorative hem are typical of 1820s fashions, while the zig-zagged or vandyked sleeve puffs over a contrasting layer of green fabric echo the slashing techniques which enjoyed popularity during the early 17th century.
Lincoln green plain weave mohair and worsted mixture, trimmed with salmon pink mohair / worsted mix and black velvet. ... Band of pink fabric and black velvet edging neckline, centre front bodice seam, centre back opening and in double horizontal bands on shoulders; deep band of pink triangles edged with black velvet along skirt hem; upper sleeves trimmed with puffs of pink fabric, gathered to armhole and extending into eight points, edged in black velvet; lower sleeves trimmed with four pink horizontal bands around gathers at lower edge;

Archery Jackets

The jackets that went with the archery uniform gowns sported special features that made them especially functional while being fashionable at the same time.

From the Manchester Art Gallery: Archery like most sports, requires freedom of movement and demands considerable exertion. Sporting clothes even as early as the 1790s, and even for women, had to reflect this need. Although this green glazed worsted archery jacket has been fitted very tightly to the wearer's body, the pink undersleeves are attached only at the top of the sleeve openings, leaving the rest of the sleeve to hang loose. This innovative construction detail would have allowed the wearer to move her arms far more freely than in corresponding daywear.

Women's Target shooting

Archers also wore protective gear, a brace to protect the arm from the bow string and a three fingered shooting glove . In addition, they wore a belt to hold a tassel for cleaning arrows, a grease box to anoint the glove and brace and a pouch for arrow also made up the uniform. A quiver was not used for target shooting.

Women archers usually shot at a distance of about fifty yards. In contrast, men often shot at distances up to one hundred yards. Two targets are placed opposite each other and the archers would then shoot from one to the other. When all the group finished shooting at one target, they would walk up to it, gather their arrows, and shoot back to the one they came from, minimizing the effort spent in retrieving their arrows.

In order to keep score, printed cards were marked with pins to register hits and their location since pen and ink which would have been difficult to manage on the archery ground. Societies often awarded prizes based on scores for where the arrows hit and for the hit nearest the center of the bullseye. (The young lady’s book, 1829)

Find references HERE

Read more about Regency era archery HERE
Discover more about Regency era amusements HERE

Though Maria Grace has been writing fiction since she was ten years old, those early efforts happily reside in a file drawer and are unlikely to see the light of day again, for which many are grateful. After penning five file-drawer novels in high school, she took a break from writing to pursue college and earn her doctorate in Educational Psychology. After 16 years of university teaching, she returned to her first love, fiction writing.

She has one husband and one grandson, two graduate degrees and two black belts, three sons, four undergraduate majors, five nieces, is starting her sixth year blogging on Random Bits of Fascination, has built seven websites, attended eight English country dance balls, sewn nine Regency era costumes, and shared her life with ten cats.

Jane Austen, Austen in August, blog event, Jane Austen fan fiction, JAFF, The Book Rat, BookRatMisty
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  1. I've enjoyed your series and learning more about archery in this time period. I was surprised to hear that a quiver wasn't used as when I pictured their uniform, I imagined a quiver on their back. Loved the photos showing examples of what the uniforms looked like. I also hadn't realized that women usually did 50 yards when their male counterparts did up to 100. Thanks for sharing this information with us.

  2. I loved the outfits and the rules are so interesting. Thanks for sharing Maria.


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