After our latest few escapades with Warbows, namely the pig shoot, the visit to the Mary Rose Trust and our shoot with the folk from the Medieval Society, my affair with heavy bows has been rekindled. In years past when there were few shooting such monsters it was hard to find those of a like mind so you can only imagine my delight at finding a group of lads shooting big bows just 20 miles from me. The Company of Canterbury Longbowmen are based quite obviously around Canterbury and have managed to find themselves a landowner who acts as "patron" to the extent that they may shoot on Sundays over his land - "oh, how times have changed over the last 600 years" ( the smile you see on my lips is a wry one !)
There are few things apt in the archery world to elicit a double take than the mention of a one armed archer, I guess it would be nearer the truth to say that Chris has an arm and a half, in fact he puts it to good effect and can happily shoot a 50# Longbow. On order he has a 75# and over the next year intends to increase in weight until he can compete with some of the others in the club.
At present the group has just 5 archers, but they are looking to expand. The purpose of the club is to promote and preserve the Warbow and the traditions associated with it. Scott Young shoots the biggest bows and has several high altitude Italian self yew bows, at over 120# I can tell you that these babies really can kick out an arrow to tremendous distances.
I joined Scott, Dave Weller, Damien Halliday and Chris last Sunday to blast some arrows around their own very private shooting ground. Their 5th Member, John Burton was unable to make it.
With few wars to be had these days that let longbow archers join in, shooting the bigger bows is done for recreation. Any competitions are mostly shot in a spirit of camaraderie, which makes the whole experience of shooting so very enjoyable, it is often said that Golf is a good walk spoiled, by that same measure shooting a Longbow whilst out roving with friends is that same walk enhanced by an immeasurable factor as the conversation swings this way and that whilst deciding on marks at which to shoot. The watching too is as therapeutic as the shooting and there can be few things as graceful as a War arrow speeding it's way heavenward, forming a perfect parabola as it returns to mother earth several hundreds of yards away.
Edward 1st was not wrong when banning other much cruder sports and pastimes so that Men could shoot their bows on a Sunday, so here we are in a series of fields in Kent, on a glorious Sunday shooting our Warbows.
There are more and more such groups and clubs springing up all over the country as the fascination of the Warbow gains a foothold in not just the archery community but in the wider population. In my business I meet lots of folk wishing to have a try of archery and in particular the Longbow. Hopefully now that more people are shooting the heavier bows and it is a little more widely publicised that such clubs exist it's popularity will continue to increase.
The lads at Canterbury are holding an EWBS shoot ( English Warbow Society) on the 12th September at Chilham castle in Kent, it's a tremendously atmospheric venue and you can find out more info either by contacting them direct or through their facebook page. The Company of Canterbury Longbowmen are not re-enactors playing at bows and arrows, these guys can and do shoot the bows our forefathers shot - this is the real thing.
Contact details as follows - they are great guys who will be happy to introduce you to the bow, they don't mind if you just wanted to come to watch...
Scott Young 07737668724
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