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All about Beursault shooting

an archer aiming at his target in Bersault shooting

Nowadays, it is mostly practiced in Picardie and Ile-de-France. Promoting honor and courtesy, the traditional foundation of bow companies, beursault shooting also requires rigor, discipline, concentration, but above all optimal self-control. 

So, if you want to join the world of beursault shooting? Here is everything you need to know about the subject.

The history of Beursault shooting

Beursault shooting, also called beursault, beursault game or even noble bow game, has been practiced in France for more than seven centuries in the "jardin d'arc" or "jeu d'arc", but also "beursault" from which it takes its name. It is a discipline regulated by rules of honor and courtesy. Among these rules, there is the encoding that relates to decorum and safety. 

The ritual illustrated in the game is based on the symbols of the Catholic tradition, to which the Knights of Archery are initiated, ensuring the proper management of the Archery Company.

The different types of beursault shooting

The beursault shooting can take various forms. It will be used for :

  • Traditional shooting (St. Sebastian's Day and the bird shooter)
  • Garden parties, installation parties, mourning parties, etc.
  • The awards of Company, Roy, Knight, Constable, etc.

The awards will be drawn on cards decorated for the occasion.

As for the competitions, we have :

  • General Awards
  • Bouquet shooting with a specific card and marmot. This competition is among the qualifiers for the French Championship.
  • The beursault competitions, included in the qualifiers for the French Championship.

The specificities of the target

Concerning the names of the different areas of the target, here is what you should remember:

  • The external string is called the large string. Its diameter is equal to 450 mm.
  • The 2/3 limit string is called a small string. Its diameter is equal to 125 mm.
  • The central ring is called "Black". Its diameter is 40 mm.
  • The central point in white is called Fly and it measures 10 mm.

The diameter of the target can be roughly equated to the width of a man's chest. The height of its center is 1.10 meters from the ground, which corresponds to the joint of the armor. 

The bow game

The beursault shooting is formed by two opposing butts 50 meters apart. These butts are called attack butts and master butts. The area between the two butts is called allée du Roy. The security - on both sides of this allée - is ensured by wooden panels 4 m high. These panels are called guards and are placed all along the alley. Now comes the allée des chevaliers, used by the shooters to get from one butt to the other.

According to tradition, the butts must always be decorated with their coat of arms even when there is no shooting. Otherwise, the butt is said to be: dead or cried.

 The procedure of the Beursault shooting

The shooting takes place in 20 stops (round trip) preceded by 2 trial stops. Each butt is under the supervision of an archer called Panton guard. This one is responsible for the security, the marking of the marmot (in the general prices), etc. 

In beursault shooting, the archers are grouped in squads of 5 to 6 individuals max. At the beginning of the competition, each archer shoots an arrow from the master mound to the lead mound. Then, they start from the knight's lane to the attacking mound. After the archers have regrouped, they go through the scoring process before shooting to the master mound. 

In Beursault shooting, the phrase "Ladies and Gentlemen, I salute you" is mandatory before the first arrow is released.

Counting the points

To count the points, you must know that :

  • An arrow hitting the target is called Honor. Since the string is unfavorable, even if the arrow hits the large string, it will not be counted. The arrow is considered to have only grazed the opponent's chest.
  • An arrow placed inside the small cord is called a rosary. Again, if it hits the small cord, it is not scored.
  • An arrow hitting the black or "black shot" will be given favorable treatment.
  • An off-target arrow is called "burned" and can only be removed with the head uncovered.

Beursault is the only archery discipline where honors are scored first before points are counted. According to the jargon of this discipline, staying on the map means staying in the honor, literally and figuratively. This is part of the initiation into the Knighthood of the Bow. 

The winner is determined as follows:

  • Greatest number of honors,
  • In the event of a tie, highest number of points,
  • In the event of a tie, most rosaries,
  • In the event of a tie, most blacks.

Note: In the General Awards, the center has a mini target called a Marmot. The arrows in it are measured against the center. Afterwards, the marmot is removed and signed by the Panton guard and the archer. At the end of the general prize, the archer who shoots the best arrow receives an award.