From The Grey Tower Library
Introduction: The bow is unlike many of the other types of weapons that you can learn here at the Tower. It does not lend itself to sparring the way that other weapons do, so this resource has been put together as a way of allowing spars between archers. It's in two parts to allow two options. One is the Obstacle Course, which can be run on one's own (it's the final lesson in the Basic Archery Class) or as a 'competition' between two or more. The second is as close to sparring as one can get with the bow. It's based off the idea of modern day paint-ball.
The Obstacle Course
This is a series of five archery obstacles that you move from one to the other on a field outside the usual yards. Three to five arrows per obstacle is typical.
First Obstacle: This obstacle is two small towers with a thick circle of cord between them. A trainee mans one tower to pull the cord. There's a wooden dummy hanging from it that will move as the cord does. It will be up to the trainee for which direction, at what speeds, starts and stops. The trainee will also pull the arrows out of the dummy to hand back to the archer.
This is a view from the front of the obstacle. The positions of the 'people' are for relative size and not for where people stand when at the obstacle. Placement is rougly five yards away.
Second Obstacle: This one is a tall tower that has a cord attaching it to a pole that is about the height of a tall man. A trainee mans this tower as well and will be in charge of loosing the dummy from the top at their timing and discretion, only checking readiness on the first time. It will slide down at great speed. The archer stands a little behind and to one side of the pole and will have to fire at the dummy as it comes towards them. The trainee will pull it back up and pull free the arrows in between drops. (There is a board for the trainee to stand behind, so s/he doesn't get hit by stray arrows!)
This view is from the size. Again, 'people' are relative height and not position - you stand a couple feet back from the pole.
Third Obstacle: This part of the course is operated by a foot lever that sets a grouping of pulleys, wheels and weights in motion. This will cause five padded planks to rise, hold a few moments and fall back in a random pattern from behind a row of hay bails. Since you don't know which one will come up when, you have to watch carefully and aim quickly.
These are two views - front and side - for how it works.
Fourth Obstacle: This is like a target range, but smaller and more contained so that it fits in the small field the course has. It tests distance with five large hay bails set at random (not graduated) distances with boards painted white hanging on them. You start at one end and fire at each as you go.
This is a top view to sound how far the haybails are from the firing line.
Fifth Obstacle: This one is another tower, but the students climb into it. There are five foot levers that run close to one side and attach to pulleys and weights. You hit each one and a bag with some sand and other things inside is launched upwards in to the air, rising over the edge of the tower to waist level if not higher, and you have just one chance to shoot it before it falls. You can collect these arrows from the bags when you reach the bottom and replace the bags for the next student.
Last view is from the side to show positioning. Like the third obstacle, it works from the 'magic' of pulleys and levers to hit a lever at the top and launch up the basket with the ball in it. The arrow's impact will push the bags back from the line of launch, but weight in them will prevent it from going too far.
The Sparring Arena
A little beyond the obstacle course is a small area of trees, along with a small wooden shack and many rocks and boulders. This provides a sort of 'real life' environment with many hiding places for an archer to work from.
For use in this 'sparring arena', there are special bows and arrows.
The bows are smaller and have less of a draw weight, so they have less power behind them. It's been measured so that it will not kill a person if it's used against them, although a very sizeable bruise will still appear.
Arrows have special tips that are small balls of fabric and padding that contain a sort of paint dust. 'Spar' partners wear white jackets. When an arrow hits them, they are marked. 'Fatal' areas are marked with circles on the jackets.
Rules are simple. Use the terrain to your best advantage. Shoot your opponents without getting shot. If you're hit in a 'fatal circle' then you're automatically 'out'. This can be run in teams or one versus one.
- Example Fanfic: A First Spar by Riahana Ferria
The Mounted Archery Course
In the woods just outside the Tower proper, there is a series of clearings used for training archers in mounted archery - where they are safely out of range of hurting anyone during their learning time.
The first part is the riding course. It's a large circle made by posts inside the clearing where one can practice riding using only leg and seat cues, going in a circle either direction. There is enough room to go at the walk, trot or canter. In the center of the ring is a line of posts where the rider can travel between them in serpentine fashion.
Next are two locations for practicing shooting the bow. The first is at a standstill on horseback where you can fire the three forms: the forward shot, the side shot and the backward shot. The second part is a long straight-away that the horse can move at a walk, trot or canter down and practice the same three shots, in the order of the targets.