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The Scorton Arrow Meeting

The Company take part in the 'Oldest open shooting event in the country'.

At a recent Court Meeting it was agreed that the Bowyers Company should field a team of archers at the annual Scorton Arrow Meeting and on Saturday, May 19th five Liverymen and Freemen, supported by the Upper Warden, duly formed up at St John Fisher School, Harrogate to take part in what is known as the 'oldest open sporting event in the country' along with almost 100 other gentlemen. Assistant Andy Barnsdale co-ordinated the group that consisted of Richard Head, Malcolm Grady, Alan Rogers and Mark Stretton. For Andy it was a return after many years to an event that he first entered 41 years ago. Malcolm has entered every year for a quarter of a century, but it was a new experience for the others. For Mark it was particularly welcome as he is often not allowed to compete in archery tournaments with his 140 lb warbow. The Scorton, with its history going back to 1673, has no such restriction.

The Scorton Arrow is unique in its set-up and is open to any Gentleman to enter with a bow and two arrows. It is shot two-way, with the archers shooting down the range and then back up. When an arrow hits the target he records score at a tent on the way to collect his arrows. In addition he receives 10p for a gold, 5p for a scarlet, blue or black and pays 5p for a white. Until decimalisation in the 1970s these amounts were in shillings and sixpences.

The Captain of the Arrow is the first to hit an inner black that has been added to the centre of the normal archery target for the event. Feelings are mixed as to whether it is desirable to win or not as the Captain has to organise the event the following year at a venue of his choosing, but within the ancient boundaries of the county of Yorkshire. By shooting, though, one automatically becomes a member of "The Society of Archers".

This year we were blessed with a lack of rain, but also a biting, cold wind in the morning. Shooting began at 10.30 and lasted for two hours. The Captaincy was only won a couple of ends before lunch, by a Gentleman shooting in the traditional longbow. He hails from Rotherham so next year the event will be a bit further south. The Bowyers group had a most entertaining day, although no trophies came our way. Overall, it seems that the shooting was profitable and Richard was 35p ahead by the finish. Other members were a bit shy in admitting how much they had made, but Andy sadly finished 5p down, after an encouraging start. Our hosts at Harrogate made us all very welcome and an excellent lunch was followed by the 304th recorded Annual Meeting of the Society of Archers and then two more hours of shooting. At the end a much-needed tea was enjoyed, followed by the prize-giving. This year, interestingly, all those who won a sweepstake prize donated it to charity. Another rule of the Society of Archers states that 10p must be paid for any "cuss" and the poor of the parish duly received a surprisingly large sum of money. Overall, it was a great day and one in which the Company showed in a most practical way its commitment to the sport that perpetuates the bowyer's craft.

Andy Barnsdale

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