History of the BLBS in Scotland

Until the mid 1980s there were no BLBS members in Scotland. Then in 1986 Tony Chilman (Glenrothes), Andrew Mackay (Ayr) and I joined all at about the same time. I was just out of the RAF and Secretary of the Easter Ross Field Archery Club so Hugh Soar, who was the BLBS Secretary, asked me to become the Organiser for Scotland. At that time there was little that I could do as I was at sea six days of the week. The three of us were about as far apart in Scotland as you could get so we saw little point in trying to organise a competitive bow-meeting. However, I did manage to get some interest in a Postal Portsmouth competition during the winter months. Patrick Moriarty, Scottish Organiser 1986-2001
Patrick Moriarty
Scottish Organiser 1986-2001

In February 1988, I came ashore and that changed everything. I now had time on my hands between training sessions for my new trade as a furniture restorer, and I had to travel down into the southern kingdom on a regular basis. Therefore I could attend meetings and find out how to run them. Hugh Soar was a tower of strength as was our President of the time, Col. Hugo Boehm. They were both a great help and gave lots of support.

By midsummer we had twenty-seven members so we decided to run our first Scottish meeting at Glenrothes on Saturday 22nd July 1989. Tony Chilman booked the ground and I handled the entries and finance with a setting up grant from Hugh. We had thirteen gentlemen and three ladies shooting. The day was scorching hot with temperatures in the nineties (94F max) and there was not a cloud in the sky. As the clouts were on the horizon getting a sight mark was not easy. My wife Jane and I put up two silver tipped arrows as the main trophies - for Scots only! These were made by John Sutcliffe in Yorkshire and tipped with silver piles made by Bill Campbell's cousin in Inverness and hallmarked in Edinburgh (Bill and his wife Barbara are still active in longbow archery and run Highland Longbows).

Mrs Helen Hobson won the ladies' with a score of 24 hits, 42 points and one clout. Col. Ronnie Macdonald of the Royal Company won the gent's with 26 hits and 42 points. Steve McCarthy, now the Society's Membership Secretary, was there and managed a two-clout end, which was very nearly a three-clout end, but although we could see where his third arrow had scored the edge of the clout, it went too far and was not touching it. Morally a three-clout end then, even if only two scored. Col. Ronnie confessed afterwards that he was well in practice and on a high, as he had won the Queen's Prize the previous day! The following day some of us shot an Albion for fun and the day was even hotter.

Later that year, the Postal Portsmouth started with a sponsored shoot for the Children in Need Appeal on BBC1. Twenty-six of us shot and between us we raised just over 1500 for charity. Jane Moriarty
Jane Moriarty
Scottish Co-Organiser 1986-2001

1990 was the year that BLBS Scotland really started to get up and running. Andrew MacKay had unfortunately been killed in a car accident in April 1989 and Ayr Archers asked BLBS Scotland to join with them in a commemorative clout to be held at the end of April. Thus, the Andrew MacKay Memorial Clout came into being, a shoot which still forms part of the official BLBS calendar.

The write-up in the Scottish press reporting our first clout had produced a few more members and our second meeting was held in August, laid on by master bow-maker Dick Galloway at Bonnybridge between the Antonine Wall and the Forth and Clyde Canal. This was the infamous Field Clout where the gents shot up and down hill and across a burn and the ladies shot across a gully! The following day a team of us shot a York/Hereford at Bathgate in the Scottish Archery Association's Edinburgh and Lothians Meeting. By now the Postal Portsmouth had caught the imagination of the Society and we had over eighty entries. We topped one hundred and twenty entries before I handed the running of it over to Bill James and Andy Haggan in Northern Ireland in 1996.

In September 1990 Jane (pictured left) and I moved from the Highlands to Ayrshire and we joined the Ancient Society of Kilwinning Archers. This meant that we were much closer to the main archery scene in Scotland and able to do a bit more.

In April 1991 we started the Zingari Meetings to introduce new members to longbow shooting and to the other members. It was a Western Round shot two ways on our landlord, the Earl of Lindsay's large lawn at Gilmilnscroft. In 1993 David and Susan Watts-Russell offered their paddock at Glenlogan by Sorn in Ayrshire so we moved there. At first these meetings were paid for by passing the hat round after lunch and it was all very like the original Zingari Archers who shot on each other's lawns in Ayrshire in the mid 1800s. Medals were the last few of a particularly nice design sold by Quicks before the mould wore out. The clout that year was the first to be held at Stair.

1992 saw an extra target meeting: the first Scottish Albion was held at Sorn Castle, just along the road from Glenlogan, by permission of Mrs Rachel Mackintyre and after some encouragement from Walter Simpson. However, the ground was not really suitable and the Earl and Countess of Lindsey and Abingdon hosted the next three Albions on the clout-sized lawn at Gilmilnscroft.

1993 was our first year on the Fountain Court at Culzean. The Marquis of Ailsa put up a trophy to be shot for by teams from Scotland and Ireland and he wanted it to be shot at Culzean Castle. So it was, and he stipulated that it was to be a Celtic Meeting with no English competing for his trophy. He did not want the meeting swamped by large numbers of English archers coming north to "hunt for pots".

Fountain Court, Culzean Castle Country Park
The Fountain Court, Culzean Castle

By 1996 numbers had outgrown both Glenlogan and Gilmilnscroft so we had to move. The Zingari was formalised and moved to Culzean, and the Albion was shot for a couple of years at Stair before joining the Zingari at Culzean. Green Hollow Bowmen were formed, and the Society in Scotland was approaching a hundred members and I thought it was time to increase the number of meetings held.

It was evident that there was a gap between York and Ayr in which there were no longbow shoots at all. Thus we Scots had to travel at least two hundred and fifty miles each way to any bow meeting south of the border. James Ingham, our President, wanted to try out "Scoring by Ends" and having a "Shoot-off" at the end of clout meetings to test their feasibility as criteria for the Patron's Medal, to be awarded for the first time at the Society's Golden Jubilee Meeting in 2001.

Therefore in 1997 the monthly Scottish Clout Series was introduced including scoring by ends and shoot-offs as well as the usual scoring. In spite of the gloomy predictions of some of the more intransigent traditionalists down south, shooting by ends was a success and the shoot-off was popular and thus the present format of clout shoots in Scotland came about.

We have been lucky. When we started we were supported by a number of titled and other private landowners in Scotland. Now we have the support of the National Trust for Scotland, Mugdock Country Park and Land Engineering Ltd. as well. Above all we have the enthusiasm of our members and run around thirty per cent of all the BLBS bow-meetings. Long may we continue.

Written by Captain Patrick Moriarty, Scottish Organiser 1986-2001

First presentation of the Moriarty Quaichs
The Moriarty Quaichs - The BLBS says thanks to Patrick and Jane for 15 years' worth of good shooting