National Geographic : 1955 May
© National Geographic Society 648 Kodachromes by Luis Marden, National Geographic Staff + Modern Crossbowmen of a Medieval Society Shoot Artificial Birds on a Lofty Mast + Bruges's Royal and Princely Guild of St. George was founded more than 700 years ago. Its first Golden Book of members bears the signatures of Mary of Burgundy, Charles II, Charles the Bold, Maximilian of Austria, and Philip the Good. Another old archery society, St. Sebastian's, uses the longbow. Queens Victoria and Elizabeth II have been enrolled as honorary members. When Charles II was an exile in Flanders, he took part in many shoots at St. Sebastian's. + Page 649. To cock the powerful crossbow, archers use a long metal lever and hook. They take aim with short feathered bolts. Feathered targets are attached by pulling the hinged mast down to ground level. Originally "birds" were fixed to stationary vanes of windmills, possibly the origin of the vertical shoot.