Archers on target at the Links

Montrose 450 committee chairman David May is shown some of the finer points of the archery by one of the Royal Company of Archers on Friday.
Montrose 450 committee chairman David May is shown some of the finer points of the archery by one of the Royal Company of Archers on Friday.

LONGBOWS and arrows rather than clubs and balls were the order of the day at Montrose Links on Friday when the Royal Company of Archers visited the town.

They held a demonstration shoot as part of the Montrose 450 celebrations and the scene harked back to a time when archery practice was held regularly on the links.

At one time the sport was as popular as golf in the town, if not more so, and the Montrose 450 committee was keen to bring it back to recognise its place in the history of the links area which has been used for many recreational pursuits down the centuries.

Alan Crow, chairman of Montrose Golf Links, said: “The demonstration by the Royal Company of Archers of longbow archery was a key event in our calendar of celebrating the 450 years of golf at Montrose Golf Links as the area was used by various sports including golf and archery.

“The archery which was demonstrated was what would have been practiced in the mid 17th century and gave those who watched an insight into this as the archers explained and answered questions from the public about the event.

“Our thanks are very much due to the council staff for laying out the area for the demonstration as without their help this could not have gone ahead.”

The Royal Company was formed in 1676 as a private archery club to encourage the sport, but was appointed as the Sovereign’s Bodyguard in Scotland in 1822 for the historic visit of George IV, the first time since 1650 that a reigning monarch had ventured north of the border.

Although fulfilling a mainly ceremonial role, the Royal Company members still carry their bows while on official duties, including Royal garden parties at Holyrood and the investiture of new Knights of The Thistle, and keep the ancient skill alive by shooting in competitions around the country.

They compete annually for 22 major prizes, including The Queen’s Prize which is presented to the winner before the Royal Garden Party at Holyrood Palace.

James Graham, 3rd Duke of Montrose, was Captain General of the Royal Company from 1824 to 1830 and the current duke, also James Graham, is currently one of 12 Brigadiers within its ranks.