Cog Icon signifying link to Admin page

Royal Burgh of Selkirk and District Community Council

Selkirk Silver Arrow Competition 25 May 2019

The Queen’s Body Guard for Scotland, the Royal Company of Archers visited Selkirk on Saturday 25 May 2019 for the traditional Shoot for the Selkirk Silver Arrow.

The Silver Arrow has been shot for by the Royal Company of Archers since 1660, and the 2019 Shoot was the 32nd occasion on which the prize has been shot. The shoot at Selkirk now takes place every six years in rotation with the Royal Company’s three other country prizes at Biggar, Peebles and Montrose.

The Shoot took place at The Haining, following a civic lunch for the Archers and local dignitaries at the Victoria Hall, Selkirk. The Royal Company then marched to the Shoot from the Victoria Hall, accompanied by Selkirk Silver Band.

Following the Shoot, the Royal Company marched back to the Victoria Hall and then entertained a number of guests to the traditional Dinner at Bowhill, courtesy of the Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch. 

A total of 15 Archers competed, with the Royal Company Officer-in-Command Alan Simpson convincingly winning the Selkirk Arrow. Each Archer shot a full programme of 12 ends, measuring 180 yards.

Walter Simpson from the Royal Company said: “In spite of the intermittent slight drizzle we had a lovely, enjoyable, afternoon.”

Notes provided by Secretary – Royal Company of Archers

The Arrow is on display each summer in the Selkirk Courthouse, mounted on a silver frame created by the Royal Company to hold the medals detailing each winner. This will be the 32nd time the Royal Company has shot for this prize, although the frame also holds the 9 medals recording the winners over the first few years of its existence, before it fell into abeyance.

The Arrow frame rests, in its display cabinet, on a plinth which was donated by the Royal Company to the local Ettrick Forest Archers, who were founded in 2007 and who hold an internal club shoot for the Arrow each year. These winners are recorded on this plinth.

The Arrow was first shot for in 1660, at a time when the bow and arrow was still an important weapon in battle and towns were expected to be able to provide a corps of archers for any campaign. However, as the efficiency of guns and gunpowder improved, archery fell into abeyance.

This eventually sparked the formation of ‘The King’s Company of Archers’ in its initial form, in 1676, to “encourage the Noble and Useful Recreation of Archery, for so many years much neglected”. Its title was changed to ‘The Royal Company of Archers’ in 1704 when it was granted a Royal Charter by Queen Anne. There was a further title change to The Royal Company of Archers, King’s Body Guard for Scotland, following the visit to Edinburgh by King George IV in 1822 where the Royal Company provided a ceremonial guard.  This visit had been organised by one of its members, Sir Walter Scott. The Company now has 570 members, 420 of whom can be called upon for ceremonial duties to support the monarch in Scotland.

Sir Walter Scott was also key to the renewal of the competition for the Selkirk Silver Arrow. He found it in a dusty cabinet in 1818, and organised a shoot for it. However, given that there were not many archers around other than the Royal Company, it was almost inevitable that the Arrow was won by a Royal Company member, and was taken for display at Archers’ Hall in Edinburgh.

Since then, it has become one of their principal prizes, in conjunction with other Silver Arrows also created initially before the Royal Company and resuscitated in later years. These include the Peebles Arrow dating from 1628, the Musselburgh Arrow dating from 1603, and most recently the St Andrews Arrow dating from 1618, for which the Royal Company first competed, in the rain, in 2018.