Ancient archery event tests skills for 300th time

AN event that claims to be the world's longest-established sporting contest this weekend marked its 300th meeting of archers since the 17th century.

The Antient Scorton Silver Arrow contest was held in the North Yorkshire village where it was first staged in 1673, having been set up by a group of 17th century archers.

Throughout the intervening centuries the competition has been postponed because of wars and disease but the event in Scorton on Saturday marked the landmark 300th meeting in the event's 336th year.

A solid silver arrow trophy which dates back to the inaugural meeting was presented to Guy Hair, a member of the Bowmen of St Mary's archery club in Hull, who has been shooting for just 18 months.

Mr Hair was the first of the 139 competitors from across Britain, as well as Australia, Ireland and the Netherlands, to pierce a three-inch black spot on a traditional archery target from 100 yards.

The father-of-two, who used a 500 bow, said: "The competition is a part of living history, and it has been going for such a long time. You have to take a step back when you have won because it allows someone to become part of history.

"But there were far better archers than me who were there at the weekend, and it does come down to fate. There is always an element of luck involved when you manage to hit the target."

Mr Hair, who lives in Cottingham and works in the library of the East Riding College in Beverley, first tried the sport while on holiday in Wales.

Ninety one of the entrants in used a traditional longbow.

The Antient Scorton Silver Arrow's clerk, Andrew Neal, said: "A horse race challenged our claim to being the longest running sporting event, but we have records to substantiate when the contest was first held way back in 1673."

The competition will be staged in Hull next year as it is moved to the winner's home town or village.