THE bow is part of an Englishman’s heritage. Henry I, King of England between 1100 to 1135, is credited with the first official encouragement of archery.

In the Middle Ages, archery was widely used in wars across Europe, but as the properties of gunpowder became more widely known from China through Asia and the Middle East to Europe, archery’s effectiveness in combat and hunting became less and less significant.

It remained a popular pastime, though, particularly with royalty and nobility, though and in the middle of the 16th century, the first clubs and competitions began to spring up in England. King Henry VIII founded the first archery club in England – the Brotherhood of St George – in 1537, while the first recognised formal archery competition took place in Finsbury, England, in 1583, with over 3000 participants turning up to test their aim.

Up until the present day, archery has remained a well-regarded sport – with a popularity that has increased significantly since it joined the Olympic schedule in 1900.

Today, the age-old art of propelling an arrow towards a target with unerring accuracy is as popular as ever both as a competitive sport or just a recreational activity with clubs across Britain teeming with budding archers.

The sport is alive and well in Bolton and local group, the Bowmen of Overdale celebrated their 70th year in 2019. Another group, the Deane Bowmen, are based at Eagley Cricket Club.

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