Scorton Archers is a fine village club based up in the beautiful surrounds of North Yorkshire. We spoke to club secretary and former journalist Clive Kerfoot all about the club, the area’s rich archery history and plenty more…!

KUDOS: We’re really proud to have dozens upon dozens of archery clubs on our books, and it’s really striking – when we talk to those clubs – to hear the myriad ways in which people come to discover and get into archery, and also why they stay with it and what they take from it. It’s obviously not something that is taught in schools and it is very much outside of the mainstream – so when and how did you come to archery?

Clive: When I worked in London I used to pass an archery club and wondered what it would be like to be an archer but being busy I never got the chance to find out. When I moved back to North Yorkshire I thought I might perhaps take up fly fishing again. Then I discovered the house we bought in Scorton was less than a hundred yards away, along my own footpath, from the archery club. My decision was made.

It’s as good a reason as any! Can you tell us a little bit about the history of Scorton Archers, and how it got off the ground etc?

Scorton has a long association with archery. The first recorded mention that I can find comes from 1513 when the village was commanded to provide 24 sheaves of arrows (that’s 576) to Henry Vlll’s army which was on its way to the battle of Flodden Field.

On a less warlike note the earliest record of target archery in Scorton goes back to Sunday May 14th, 1673 when a group of local gentlemen held an archery competition in Scorton to shoot for an “Antient Silver Arrow”.  Apart from a few breaks for WWl and WWll the competition, known as the Scorton Arrow, has been held annually ever since and must always be held in Yorkshire.

Where the Silver Arrow actually came from is shrouded in the mysteries of time. One version says the Silver Arrow itself was given as a prize by Elizabeth l for an archery competition at Oxford.  It was won by Roger Ascham, who taught archery to Elizabeth. Although Ascham was living in Oxford his main house was in a village a few miles from Scorton.  When he died the Silver Arrow disappeared only to surface 105 years later as the prize of the “Antient Silver Arrow” competition in Scorton. The Arrow was donated as the prize by Henry Calverely MP, who lived in an adjacent village to Scorton and who, by coincidence, won the first competition. He said he had sworn a solemn oath never to reveal how he had come by the Arrow.

The modern Company of Scorton Archers, to use our Sunday name, was founded in January 1951 to help support the Antient Silver Arrow competition which was being held in the village that year, although we can trace our target archery roots back to before 1755 through Richmond (Yorkshire) Archers some of whose trophies we have inherited.

Wow! Now that’s what we call good local knowledge! So as well as being something of a local historian, what does your role at the club entail?

As Secretary I am the primary point of contact for the Club. I organise our shooting calendar, the AGM and annual maintenance day and beginners course and generally keep members informed of all archery related matters.  The Club is lucky to have very able, enthusiastic and diligent Committee members as well. One of my more enjoyable duties was organising our new Kudos kit and handing it out to our proud and sartorially elegant members!

Scorton Archers members show off their new Kudos kit!

Fabulous! So as well as being elegantly turned out, does the club have a particular ethos at all? And what kind of age range do you have at the club?

No particular ethos but, as we have kept the Club small, no more than 50 members at a time, we pride ourselves on being a friendly, welcoming Club. We shoot all bow styles and have a wide age range, from 10 to 70+.

It’s been amazing for us to speak to clubs across a range of sports who have all taken something positive from the lockdown period, for example with Zoom sessions, or that it maybe highlighted areas of their practices and methods that could be improved, issues that hadn’t dawned on them until we were all forced into this new stark reality. How did Scorton Archers deal with the challenges of the covid-19 pandemic?

Our coaches were superb during Covid. As soon as Archery GB, our governing body, said we could return to limited outdoor shooting we opened the range on an appointment basis each Sunday. We staggered start and finish times to keep the number of archers on the field to a minimum and instigated our own hygiene regime. The coaches set up the range, supervised the entire day, and put the stands and targets away at the end. I don’t think people quite realised how much work that entailed. During the period when we could not shoot at all we had, and still have, an active WhatsApp group.

The one message we stressed during restricted shooting was that it was not a return to normal so that when the Government lifted all Covid restrictions we appreciated all the more being able to gather as a Club on our field.  Our first Club Championships and BBQ for almost two years was joyous indeed.

We passionately believe in the notion that being a member of a grassroots sports club can help in ways exponentially above and beyond just the playing of the sport. Do you agree and do you see examples of that being the case?

I agree. Being part of a local club or organisation does immerse you in your locality. Whether you are new to an area or not it helps you make new friends and learn new things. Human beings are inherently gregarious so being part of a tight knit, like-minded group is an all round good thing.

Absolutely! And so, last but not least – it’s fair to say archery isn’t and probably never will be a mainstream sport, but we love it. What do you love about archery and how would you try and sell the idea of joining Scorton Archers to someone who might be thinking about it?

Archery is a sport that you can do at pretty much any age. We have a lot of family groups who are members. Where else can you see Mum, Dad and the kids all playing the same sport together at the same time. We also have single members who enjoy the camaraderie of shooting days.

Archery keeps you active and fit without the need to pound pavements or get sweaty or wear Lycra. It’s a good mental discipline too as you work to develop and improve your form.

For the more competitive minded there are plenty of different tournaments to enter though for many just the simple fact of being outside and loosing a few arrows at a target in the sunshine is enough.

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He’s not wrong! Thank you so much to Clive for his time and illuminating historical knowledge! It’s wonderful to speak to people so immersed in their sport and their club. It’s real, human passion and something we love to hear about and to share. Passion for sport, both ours and yours, is why we do this.

If you’d like to join Scorton Archers, you can contact them through their website, or simply drop us a line and we’ll put you in touch.

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