Rites of Archery
The rites of archery were an important element in ancient Chinese etiquette. Archery was one of the six basic skills that scholars in ancient China needed to master. For a host and his guests, rites of archery involved three rounds of shooting. Based on the status of the participants and the occasion, there were three kinds of contests: the great contest (dashe) hosted by the king and ducal lords to select those to take part in sacrificial ceremonies, local contests (xiangshe) between scholars invited by local governors and held on the campuses of state-owned schools, and banquet contests (yanshe) hosted by the king or ducal lords when entertaining their officials. In such arrow shooting contests, archers must not only try hard to hit the target, they also needed to maintain the right stance and attitude. If one missed the target, he should think about whether he had maintained the right attitude. These requirements and the search for the cause of failure in oneself were in line with the requirements of moral cultivation. Therefore, in addition to being a contest of shooting skills, archery was important in fostering moral cultivation.
A virtuous man is like an archer. The archer adjusts himself and then shoots. Should he miss, he is not jealous of those who defeat him. He simply examines himself to find out why he has not won. (Mencius)
The archer must move in a proper way when stepping forward and back and circling round. He should be focused, keep his body straight, hold the bow and arrow steadily and skillfully. Only then can he start shooting at the target. By observing his movement, one can learn about his moral character. (The Book of Rites)