Royal bodyguards shoot for Peebles Silver Arrow

The Queen's Body Guard for Scotland, the Royal Company of Archers, will be visiting Peebles on Saturday 14 May for the traditional Shoot for the Peebles Silver Arrow.

The Shoot will take place in Hay Lodge Park at 3pm following a civic luncheon for the Archers and other guests in the Tontine Hotel hosted by the Convener of Scottish Borders Council (SBC), Councillor Graham Garvie.

The Royal Company will then march to the Shoot from the Chambers Institution at 2.40pm. They will be accompanied by the Peebles Ex-Servicemen’s Pipe Band.

Councillor Garvie said: “The Silver Arrow dates back to at least 1628 and has been shot for by the Royal Company of Archers since 1796. The 2016 Shoot is the 24th occasion on which the prize has been shot for. The Shoot at Peebles now takes place every six years in rotation with the Royal Company’s three other country prizes at Biggar, Selkirk and Montrose.”

Following the Shoot, the Royal Company will march back to the Chambers Institution at about 5.30pm. In the evening, the Royal Company will then entertain a number of guests at a Mess Dinner being held in the Tontine Hotel.

The Royal Company of Archers is the official body guard to HM The Queen when she undertakes ceremonial duties in Scotland. The Royal Company has some 400 members of which about 60, usually those living in Scotland, are shooting members. The date of the Company’s founding is obscure but it was certainly in existence in 1676, when its constitution was first set down in writing. It was granted formal recognition by Queen Anne in 1704 and in 1822, in the reign of King George IV, was appointed the King’s Body Guard in Scotland.

The Peebles Arrow was originally one of the Silver Arrows offered as a prize by a number of Scottish Burghs in the days when archery was in danger of being overtaken by the popularity of firearms and gunpowder. It appears to have been first shot for in 1628 and was probably open to all comers. Only four 17th century medals remain attached to the prize, so it may not have been competed for often. On 12 July 1784, the Provost of Peebles took the Arrow to a ceremonial dinner to which he was invited by the Royal Company of Archers and as a result the Peebles Arrow became one of the Royal Company’s regular prizes. It was first shot for by the Royal Company on 3 June 1796 and is now competed for every six years in rotation with the Royal Company’s other prizes at Biggar, Montrose and Selkirk.

The shoot takes place at a range of 180 yards with archers using traditional wooden long bows and wooden arrows. Archers shoot in pairs, each archer shooting two arrows at an ‘end’ alternating with his partner or ‘Buttie’. After they have shot they move to the other end and repeat the process. All arrows which hit the target (or ‘clout’) score two points each. If no arrows hit the ‘clout’, the winner of an ‘end’ is the archer whose arrow is nearest the centre of the ‘clout’ and this scores one point.

The shoot for the Peebles Arrow consists of a maximum of 12 ‘ends’. If at the end of the competition there is a tie for first place, one more ‘end’ (a ‘prize end’) is shot to decide the outright winner.