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Home > Books > A Treatise on Archery > Laws for archers
Laws for archers

The following summary articles are offered to Archers desirous of forming themselves into a society, as a kind of basis, upon which they may draw out their Laws.


The society should consist of a certain number of effective members.[6]

The society to be named appropriately, viz: from the name of the Town it is held near, or from the County, or from any other local situation, as the "Kentish Bowman," the " Yorkshire Archers," the " Woodmen of Arden," &c. (see page 66.)

The society should have a Patron and Patroness, [7] a President, three or four Vice-Presidents, besides the usual Officers of Secretary and Treasurer, and a Committee, to regulate their finances and other affairs.

The patron and patroness to retain their titles during their own pleasure, the president and other officers to be elected annually.

Each member should wear an uniform, the coat of green, the other part of the dress of a buff, or some light, colour.[8]

Care should be taken that every member's coat be cut from the same cloth, as there are various shades in the colour of green, likewise that they be made after one fashion: this circumstance is mentioned, because it has been observed of late years in a soci­ety near London, that scarcely three members have their coats of the same shape or colour,—A grass green is the proper colour.

The society should have a certain number of stated days to shoot, some more grand than others, [9] the common meetings once a week, the grand days about four or five times during the summer months, and should have a particular name allotted to each of them, as for instance, " The Spring meeting,"—" The Patron's meeting",''—"The Summer meeting,"—"The Lady Patroness's meeting,"—"The Autumn meeting," &c. on which days to promote and encourage emula­tion,—prizes should be shot for.

On target and other grand days, every member should appear in full uniform. On weekly meetings every part of the dress might be dispensed with ex­cept the coat, but on other days when members only meet to practice, the whole might be dispensed with.

In respect to the disbursements, it is recommended that the society do abstain from all extraordinary expences, for unnecessary expenditures have been the cause of reducing the number of many societies, [10] a committee would prevent any thing of this nature occurring, as it might be made part of their duty so to do, and to render an account at the close of every season to the whole society.

But upon any extra grand day being proposed, it should be the business of the committee to look into the state of their funds, to see if a. sum could be spared to cover the expences attending the same, and if not, any further sums intended to be raised, should be done among the attending members, and not the absentees, many a gentleman may have no objection of paying his annual subscription though seldom attending, but not approve of after-calls, when he does not partake of those diversions which caused them. [11]

A certain sum should be set apart to defray the charges of each target dinner, the deficiencies to be made good by the parties present.

Instead of adjourning to coffee houses and hotels to dine, a pavillion ought, to be erected in the archery ground, and one person, or the whole of the members in turn, should provide a collation and for which, to give in his account to the treasurer or committee.[12]

A meeting should likewise be summoned every winter, for the purpose of auditing the accounts of the last year, electing fresh officers, receiving subscriptions for the ensuing season, and making,- any other arrangements that may he deemed necessary; a sum out of the fund should likewise he allotted for the dinner on this day, this meeting; to be called " The Winter Meeting."

The Archery ground to he a good one, should he at least two hundred and fifty yards long, and one hundred and fifty wide—upon a level.—'Tis best to have sheep to feed upon it, as their constant grazing keeps the grass continually and regularly low, the grass several yards about the marks should he kept particularly short, that the Arrows may not he lost.

Every Archer should have his mark painted on his Arrow, under a penalty.

Four shooters is the proper number for each target, though if the meeting should he numerously attended, then six Archers might be allowed, but no more.

When the number of shooters at each target amount to four and upwards, they should divide themselves into pairs; the first pair to shoot alternately their al­lotted number, and after that, another pair should then come forward in their turn.

If the shooters at one target have all shot their limited number of Arrows, before the shooters at the others, they must wait till all have shot, and then walk a regular pace to the opposite targets, except where one breaks a string, or meets with any other accident, then the rest go on without him, and he himself looses the benefit of those shots he might have had in the time he is repairing his damages.

Where there are many sets of targets, a person should he appointed to stand half-way between the opposite ones, about twenty yards from the line of the outer set, where he can command a view of the whole Archers, who when they have all shot, may march at a signal given by him, such as waving a small flag.

On what is called "Grand Days," a band of music stationed behind the observer, playing while the Archers are marching from target to target, has a very pretty effect.

No one should be allowed to stand in front of the shooter, for any object that catches the eye, may draw his attention from the mark.

A fine ought to attend the non-compliance of members not appearing in uniform according to the articles, and likewise for the breach of any other article.

No member ought to be allowed to shoot, until he has paid up his subscription and fines that he may have incurred, or if he was permitted, to be disabled from winning any prize.

None but members ought to shoot on Grand Days, and any one introducing a stranger[13] to shoot, not entitled, should merit the censure of the society, if not fined.

While one is shooting, he that is to shoot next, should have his Arrow ready nocked to the string, that too much time need not he lost.

When an Archer has shot, he must turn round to his left, and go behind the person he is shooting with, who then in his turn comes forward and shoots his Arrow, which having done, he turns to his left, and the first Archer comes forward again and shoots his second Arrow, and so on in rotation. An Archer must stand in front of the mark he is shooting from, and if his Arrow should fall from the string and he cannot reach it with his Bow, it must he ac­counted a shot.

It is customary on "Grand Days," particularly on the "Lady Patroness's meeting," for every member to invite a few Ladies, and in the evening to have a Ball in the Pavillion, on which occasion the Ladies in compliment to the Archers, generally form part of their dress of green.

As the exercise of shooting with the long Bow is to promote a manly amusement, and not for the purpose of gambling: all sums of money shot for, or wages won, should be forfeited to the fund.

He who on a target meeting wins the greatest prize, is on the same target meeting in the year following, the captain for the day; the whole business of that day is under his direction, and it is his duty to see that every member acts conformable to the laws of the society; he takes the chair and all appeals are made to him. He who wins the second prize is the lieutenant, and in the absence of the captain, takes his place and performs his duty.

One of the articles in the laws of the Scorton Archers runs thus:—
" VII, Item. For as much as
"the exercise of Archery is lawful, laudable, health-
“ful and innocent.; and to the end that. God's Holy
"Name may not be dishonored by any of the society,
"it is agreed and hereby declared, that if any of them
"shall that day, curse or swear, in the hearing of any
"of the company, and the same be proved before the
"captain or lieutenant, he shall forthwith pay down
"one shilling, and so proportionate for every oath;
"to be distributed by the captain to the use of the
" poor of that place, or township where they shoot;
"and in case of refusal, or neglect to pay the same,
"then such party to be excluded from shooting, till
"payment is made as aforesaid."
—A very good law, for as swearing is unbecoming the character of a gentleman, every thing should be excluded that is derogatory to good behaviour.

One of the articles in the Toxophilite society, mentions that if any member marry, he shall treat the rest with a marriage feast.

The following is the form of privilege, sent from one society to another.

The society of Yorkshire Archers, to the president for the time being, and the rest of the members of the Toxophilite society at Leicester House.

The society meeting at Chapel-Town, under the title of Yorkshire Archers :—

Send Greeting,

In consideration of the good will we bear to Archers in general, and especially to the worthy members of the Toxophilite Society, and being zealous to promote and bring into universal practice and perfection, the ancient renowned and universal science of Archery, and knowing that to cultivate a free communication and intercourse between the several societies in Great Britain, will greatly contribute thereto—We have thought (it to give and grant to all and every the members of the Toxophilite Society of Archers, the freedom of this our society, that is to say, the free liberty of associating with us and of shooting at the butts and targets of our society, on our days and times of meeting, to which we most cordially invite you, when and as often as the same shall happen to be convenient to you, or any of you.

Given under our seal at Chapel-town, the fourth day of October, in the thirtieth year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord King George the III. and in the year of our Lord, 1790.

WENTWORTH FITZWILLIAM.
President.

Henry Dixon,
Secretary.

The Author is perfectly aware that books are but imperfect means of conveying instruction, he there­fore does not flatter himself, that he shall be more fortunate in being understood than an Author upon any other science, but still in the absence of personal instruction, the above may be of some utility to the young Archer, who, if ever he feels disposed to honor the Author with a visit, he will be happy to devote an hour or two to his service.

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