FORUM - anecdotes and frequently asked questions

The prime purpose of the website is enable our members and other interested parties, to have access to our ancient records which previously could only be examined on the day of the Competition itself by looking through our hand written Record Books or visiting The Public Records Office at Northallerton in North Yorkshire by appointment.

We will try to answer and feature relevant questions about the Society in general but any correspondence regarding other aspects of the Society should be addressed to The Clerk whose address can be found on the Contacts page.

Other items of correspondence that appear do so if they are thought they may be of general interest to members.

  Question... I am looking to trace an ancestor ?
  from Hundreds of people  
I am looking to trace an ancestor called 'name'. Did he ever take part in the Ancient Scorton Silver Arrow Tournament?
This is by far the most frequently asked question we receive from people all over the world doing family history research.
We do not have the resources to carry out individual searches and you would need to look through our records yourself to see if your ancestor is listed there. If you do find your ancestor was a past Member of the Society and wish to submit any information, anecdotes or photographs you feel would be of interest, we would be pleased to hear from you. Good luck with your research.
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  Question... Who is the Council of Captains ?
  from Mark.  
Dear Editor,   Can you tell me who exactly are 'The Council of Captains', when they were formed and their function?
I have not been able to find anything in the Records about them etc but a Council by definition is a group that hold meetings and if so, when and they held and are they minuted? I assume they are made up of former Captains?
The first mention of a 'Society of Captains' (not a 'Council') was in 1968. (See 1968 record) It was proposed by Frank Newbould (Capt 1951) that a 'Society of past Captains' be formed to organise any future meetings if the new Captain and Lieutenant were unable to do so for any reason.
Frank tells me that it was in case both the new Captain or Lieutenant were both taken ill - 'or worse', and was a precautionary standby measure to ensure the continuance if something befell the new Captain and the Lieutenant.
Since then a number of occasions have arisen where former Captains have been asked by members to decide on certain issues: for example, which of five submitted designs for the 300th Centennial Badge to chose as all the members at the meeting couldn't unanimously agree. Their opinions are usually sought by the Clerk writing to them and not as formally minuted meeetings as such. Editor
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  Question... Temporarily incapacitated ?
from Ian in 2010 and also from Danny in 2011.  
I'm shortly to have an operation on my shoulder which will put me out of action and I wont be able to draw a bow for a long time whilst my arm is in a sling. I still intend to come to the Scorton, with my pals and meet up with old friends over lunch but under the rules, unless I shoot with the Captain I would not be able to attend the annual meeting because of a temporary disability, which is somewhat discriminating given the number of years of allegiance to the Society. Is there any way an exception can be made and if so, what's the best way to go about it?
The exact rule to which you refer is:
"16 The annual meeting is held after the Luncheon. Only those who have shot the bow with the Captain in the morning session may stay and attend the meeting. The Captain acts as Chairman and it is usual for the Lieutenant to read the Minutes of the last meeting which are signed by the Captain after agreement by those present. The Clerk shall make notes of the meeting to assist the Captain".

Do what a couple of our older members do. Enter competition. Shoot as many or as few arrows as you are able (any member of this number would help you given the circumstances) even if the arrow only travelled a few feet, you have still shot the bow with the captain - and then could retire.
A couple of octogenarians already do this because of their 'less agile ability' and long may they continue to be a part of our proceedings.
Way back in the 1800's, after attending for 70+ years, Matthew Greathead aged 94 was pushed up and down in a bathchair. No one told him he could not attend anymore! Now enough of these excuses - just be there with a bow. You have one arm - we'll just have to lend you the other!
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  Question... How do I raise a proposal at the AGM ?
from Steve.  
What is the procedure should I wish to raise something at the Society of Archers AGM this year? Do I need to put something in writing or do I simply make it known on the day? Cheers!

Proposals, which should be seconded, should be put in writing and sent to The Clerk. It would be then given to the Captain who acts as Chairman (sometimes the Captain can request that the Clerk deputises for him) and be read out at the AGM. Officially, any proposal that may implement a change in the Rules would need to be advertised in accordance with Rule 6 of the Revised Rules of 1823.
Historically, being a totally democratic Society; during the AGM, the Captain / Chairman asks if any member wishes to raise anything under ‘any other business’.
Here members have an opportunity to raise issues and gauge whether or not it would be worthwhile to make a formal proposal.
There are two main things, especially for new Members, to remember before making any Proposal.
1. The Antient Silver Arrow and the Society of Archers have run successfully since 1673 with very few changes. The consensus of opinion by most Members is: “Why change a successful recipe that has lasted almost unaltered for over 300 years?
2. Sometimes an issue may require further investigation by looking back through the Society Record, where it has most likely already been raised before.

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  Correspondence from the Football Association
Tom Harold, Brand Manager, The Football Association.  

Dear Society of Archers
Can I confirm to you that the mention of 'cursing' on the front page of your website is not a rumour!
The Football Association does indeed have a similar rule., under Players Misconduct Rule 3 item 1. A Participant shall at all times act in the best interests of the game and shall not act in any manner which is improper or brings the game into disrepute or use any one, or a combination of, violent conduct, serious foul play, threatening, abusive, indecent or insulting words or behaviour.
I cannot confirm, or for that matter even deny, whether we took the lead from The Society of Archers, as the FA was not formed until 1863, making you the more senior sporting body by 190 years.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed looking through your website and your long history and wish you all your members all the very best for the future. Long may you flourish.
Please be sure to visit us anytime at

Dear Tom
Thanks very much for your email. I am sticking with our side of the story!
Fine any of the professional footballers that curse on the field a whole pound - that will teach them!.
Though I cannot recommend allowing them to drink on the field of play. There have been times at our competition when a player 'has not quite given of his best' when this is the practise!
Don't hesitate to get in touch with us as the anytime in the future if you need any other help or advice on how to do things proper.
Long may the FA flourish too and thank you very much for writing and entering in to the Spirit which is 'the Scorton'.

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  Question... Breach of Trust ?
from Nic T.  

Thoroughly enjoyed my first Scorton, an amazing experience that I will certainly repeat. Cannot get over the gentlemanly approach and being at your honour to mark your own score card, quite unique and unheard of at any other sporting event I have ever been to. I am studying Sports Psychology at Liverpool John Moores University and would be very interested to know if anyone has ever breached this trust of honour and cheated when scoring their own card?

Scoring your own card is the norm in the Society of Archers, Antient Silver Arrow.
Sadly many other competitions assume people could or would cheat, hence 'double checking' scoring methods may be deployed. The Antient Scorton Silver Arrow is of course only open to gentlemen - and gentlemen do not cheat, so the tradition remains unaltered as befits our tradition.
That being said, regretably a cheat was once discovered in our number at Liversedge in 1993. It was his first 'Scorton' and the cad went into the score tent and was heard to give a false score by someone who had been on the same target. Discreet enquiries were made and following a second occurence he was ordered from the field of play by the judges.
A decision was made not to publicly name him in the minutes which are recorded forever but he was banned for life and his name removed from the scoring records, not worthy to appear alongside that of true sporting gentlemen. He has never been seen or heard of in the sport since.

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 Question on ... Provinence of two Scorton Silver Arrow Badges ?
from John M.   

Is it possible please to check on the provinence of two Silver Scorton Arrow / Society of Archers Badges advertised for sale by auction on eBay at {link-removed} One is a Lieutenants badge and the other a Captains badge both in silver.
These are described as very rare but the seller refuses to reveal the name of their owner except to the successful bidder.
Obviously I need to insure I am not bidding on anything stolen or a forgery. Do you have a list of those who have won both the medals or can you help in anyway?

Badges for the Lieutenant and the Captain were first introduced in 1950 as a lasting memento of the wearers achievement.
In that time, only 12 Members to date (2007) have ever won both these prestigious and much treasured medals..
I very much doubt whether any of those Members who are still alive today would ever contemplate selling their badges under any circumstances, so we can only assume that perhaps the reciprocant is now deceased and being offered for sale by possibly a relative.
The names of both the Lieutenants and the Captains are a matter of public record and if you are the successful bidder, no doubt you will
learn of the provinence which you can check out against our records.
I very much doubt that any of our Members would bid on these medals, unless to give them back to The Society and certainly no member would ever wear anything that they had not won for themselves.

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  Question on... How do you become / am I still a member of the Society ?
from Les E.   

I use to be a member of the Bowmen of Nidderdale and entered in to a club competition to win a place to compete in the Antient Scorton Silver Arrow Competition. The club folded several years ago, so can I take part in the Silver Arrow again without winning at club level?
Also am I still a Member of the Society or do I need to rejoin, if so, how?
The last time I came was in 1982 and it was held at Scorton - I finished 7th and it was really good to see my name in the records on the website, which I think is fantastic.

I assume this must have been something that your old club did independently to choose its best archers to send to the Competition.
However, It is not necessary to 'win' a place at club level before you can enter in to the Scorton Competition.
Membership of The Society of Archers, only exists on the day of the Competition itself. That being said, many Members have been attending for years and whilst officially we may only be Members for a day - once a Member, always a Member is how most of us see ourselves.
I hope we may have the pleasure of seeing you again soon, though you'll probably need a better excuse than this for not attending for the past 20 odd years!
Membership of the Society is open to all Gentlemen Archers aged over 21 who enter in to the Competition and agree to abide by the Rules.
Please hit the 'back' arrow at the bottom of this page and go the Competition Entry Pages for a Guidance Notes and an Entry Form.

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  Question on... Equality ?
from Diane B.   

In these days of sexual equality and political correctness, why do you exclude women from taking part in your competition and is this something that could be addressed in the future at one of your meetings?

The majority of all sporting competitions are single sex events; from bowls to tennis, golf to gymnastics and just about every event in the Olympic Games. A very similar and well supported competition called the Ascham Arrow Trophy is a ladies only event and shot at a shorter 80 yard distance. We cannot envisage a change to this established practice but in another 300 years, who knows?

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  Question on... Can I use some material and pictures from your website ?
from A R Mundy.   

I am with Rutland Archers and writing an article on Archery history and write to ask if I can use some of the material from your website and maybe a few of the pictures please?

This question is dealt with already in several places on the website., most notably in the 'Press Release' in the History section and in the 'Legal Notice' link on main index page.
You are free to use any reference or pictures from our website providing such material is credited with "© Society of Archers". No payment is required as such, though a voluntary contribution from any Professional Fee earning Journalists or News Mediums would be welcome to the charity: Harrogate Women's Aid Group., 46 East Parade, Harrogate, HG1 5RR.

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  Question on... Can 'foreigners' take part ?
from Duncan F.   

Back in 2004 Mr Duncan Fairweather from Sydney Bowmen, Australia wrote.....
Can 'foreigners' take part in the famous Antient Scorton Silver Arrow Competition? I am Australian but was born in Cumbria, England and I would be traveling from Australia to take part?
How do I go about joining the Society and can you help me by providing some details of hotel accommodation near to the venue if I am permitted to enter?

Yes - 'foreigners' can take part, subject to the Rules. We even let Archers from Lancashire enter!
If you won the Arrow you could not take it out of the County though.
Start by looking through the Guidance Notes for Competitors and then completing the Entry Form and sending it to The Captain before the closing date. All these are downloadable from our website, along with location maps to the venue and details on accommodation, hotels etc in the local area.
PostScript: Duncan is now a regular annual attendee, travelling all the way from Australia to join his fellow Members of the Society – who always look forward to the pleasure of his company.

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  Question on... John of Gaunt's Bowmen?
from F.Trowman.  

I am presently researching old Lancashire Archery Societies and I wonder if you or any of your members can fill a gap in my notes? Does John of Gaunt's Bowmen still exist and if so, do you have a contact name. If the organisation has ceased to exist, would you know of anyone whom I could contact regarding its history?
Regards & thanks, Professor F Trowman. email address:

I have passed your details forward to John Geldard in Lancashire who besides being an excellent Longbow man is a highly skilled bowyer and knows all about Lancasterian Archery Groups.

In the meantime, if anyone else can help Professor Trowman with his research, please write direct to his email address.

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  Question on... Which is the oldest ?
from Alan K.   

I would take issue with your claim that you host 'The World longest established recorded Sporting Event'.
The Kipling Cotes Derby Horserace goes right back to 1513 and is held each year in Yorkshire - that is a 160 years older than your Antient Scorton Silver Arrow!

Yes - and a great Sporting tradition it is too, usually held on the 3rd Thursday in March - at 'Shrovetide'.
I believe however that it was 'thought' to have started in 1519 but apart from just one mention of a race in 1555 there are no other records until the 18th century when it became a regular fixture in the Racing Calendar.
The Kiplingcotes Derby has not been held continuously each year, whereas apart from various war years, The Antient Scorton Arrow has been almost continuous since 1673. Our records go right back to 1673, proving our claim to the longest recorded sporting events in the world.
At least these two great sporting events are held in Yorkshire, so long may they both continue..
Further details can be found at

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  A nice story / anecdote about Ben Hird
from John B.   

Living adjacent to a field in the Lune Valley which has recently been used for practice by a local archer, it brought back memories of being taught the basics by Ben Hird when I was about 12 years of age - 46 years ago.
By chance I found your website and was excited to find mention of Ben Hird and read his book with interest The Antient Scorton Arrow which I was able to download from your website (marvelous, thank you).
Ben Hird patiently taught me (and generously gave me a bow) lived in residential caravan at Overstone Solarium Caravan Park, Overstone, Northampton and my parents owned the caravan parked next to his.
I recall with amusement that when arriving at our caravan, Ben would sometimes appear and very apologetically mention that he had inadvertently perforated my parents caravan with the odd stray arrow!
He kindly patched up the holes with filler but alas, his dexterity with the filler was no match for his talent as an archer!

Thank you very much indeed for sharing your wonderfully amusing story and I think fond memories of 'our' Ben Hird (Captain 1900).
Shooting holes in the side of a Caravan - oh errrh!
Today that's criminal damage & neighbours from hell all rolled in to one. Thank goodness your parents saw the funny side too.
It would have been around 1959 and Ben would be in his late seventies by then, with obviously a failing eyesight that comes with age!
Thanks again for sharing your excellent story with us.

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  Letter from America...
from Charley O.   

May I convey my best wishes to you and your Members of the Society of Archers in England.
Your website is a trove of highly interesting details and fascinating facts that I have spent many hours reading and enjoying.
I wonder if I may call on your undoubted expertise to try and help me with a problem and source of continual controversy and debate over in here amongst American Archery enthusiasts please?
I am a member of the S.C.A. here in Washington USA. and at present I am restoring a Yew Bow with horn knocks, 72" and 50lbs.
I have all the books but cannot prove conclusively that the genuine traditional English Long Bow were originally fitted with horn nocks. I am in to the arts and science part and wonder if you had an old picture or source of an old painting showing actual evidence of horn nocks?
Hoping you may be able to help. Thank you,

We cannot always help with technical questions but in an effort to help you, one of our American Archery Cousins, I forwarded your enquiry to Pip Bickerstaffe, one of England's foremost authorities on the Longbow, who also helped with the Mary Rose Trust Project (Further details about The Mary Rose can be found on our 'Links' page).
Because other Archery enthusiasts may likewise be interested, I have put Pip's reply in our 'features' page which can be accessed from the main menu on the main index page.

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