by Cliff Huntington
Roving can be described in the most casual form as wandering across the countryside
shooting at targets picked from random at various ranges and attitudes. This
type of practice has been around as long as bows, has enjoyed much popularity
at times and spawned many Rover's Clubs during the early portion of this century.
The following is part of an obscure article titled "The Call Of The Bow"
by Edward W. Frentz which appeared in the August, 1929 issue of St. Nicholas.
Frentz gives an interesting account of roving during those early years.
"The target archers, as I have said, are more in evidence than those
who shoot in woods and fields, for they usually become affiliated with some
archery club that has a range, and their gay- colored targets, set in a stretch
of close-cut green turf, attract the attention of passers; but there are hundreds
of others--solitary archers, both boys and men, who, having become interested
in the bow, and having provided themselves with suitable equipment, have shot
alone, roving or hunting, until chance has brought them into contact with
others of their kind.
It was in that way that the Rover's Club of Massachusetts came into being.
Two men who had used the bow for years, and had a wide acquaintance among
archers, conceived the idea of bringing together some of those who cared more
for the natural, informal shooting in woods and fields than for target-practice
at fixed ranges. A circular letter that they sent out brought a dozen men
and one or two high-school boys together for a week-end archery camp. Each
archer or group of archers furnished tent, mess-kit, and blankets. A `mess
sergeant' was chosen who bought all the food, and a community grate, army
boiler, an army coffee-pot, dish-swabs, dish- cloths, soap, and so forth.
The group went into camp in a pine wood in Petersham, on a Friday afternoon,
and for two days and nights the spot was a bit of old Sherwood Forest. Spare
bows leaned against the great trees, quivers filled with gaudily-painted arrows
hung from the limbs, and in a little glade on which the camp opened, a light-hearted,
laughing group of men and boys drove their sturdy hunting-arrows at `Lionel,'
a razorback pig made of burlap, stuffed with old pillows, and rigged to dash
across the opening on a taut wire. They shot too, at fixed marks, bottles
and empty cans set on sticks; and at evening, when the supper had been eaten
and the dishes washed, they gathered around a fire of blazing logs and sang,
to the accompaniment of an orchestra of boiler covers, combs, saucepans, and
a water-pail drum. When they broke camp and figured and divided the expenses,
they found that their two days of fun had cost each of them only a little
over two dollars.
Since then the club has had many other week-end meetings, some in the woods,
some on the sands by the sea, where they dug clams for their bake, chased
shore-birds, and shot at seals. The membership has grown, and the fame of
their good times has spread, until last fall (October and November, 1928)
Governor Brewster, of Maine, invited the members to be the guests of the State
for three days at Lucerne-in-Maine, where each member was provided with a
hunting- license and made `free of the woods,' to take game with the bow.
Twenty members accepted the invitation, and although they got no deer, they
did take one raccoon and eighteen porcupines, all of which were killed as
quickly and as cleanly by arrows as they would have been by bullets. Not wounded
creature escaped to suffer and die a lingering death. Only one archer got
a shot at a deer, and he missed. But no one complained. The trip was under-taken
partly to show that the bow and arrow in skillful hands can be used as a hunting
weapon as well as an implement of recreation, and the archers brought back
the same conviction that they took with them, namely, that good sport does
not always depend on a fat game-bag, and that it is better to lose by giving
your quarry a fair chance than to win by less generous means.
There is no reason why a Rovers' Club should not spring up wherever a group
of boys or men, who love the bow and like to use it in the woods and fields,
can get together for week-end or vacation camping-trips. Though the equipment
be of the simplest and the expense a trifle, the rewards in wholesome sport
will be something to remember."