Silver Arrow archery competition

Wednesday 13 June 2012

The Queen’s Bodyguard for Scotland, the Royal Company of Archers, will compete in St Andrews this weekend in a special commemorative shoot for the St Andrews Silver Arrow; an archery spectacle dating back to 1618.

On Saturday June 16, 2012 at 2 pm the members of the company will gather in Parliament Hall, where the call “Who Shoots” will be issued by Vice-Principal for External Relations Stephen Magee.

The party will then parade, in green field dress and Kilmarnock style bonnets decorated with eagle feathers, through West Port via Argyle Street, Hepburn Gardens and Buchanan Gardens to the University sports fields.

The competition will commence at 3 pm and the winning archer will be decided. The company will then parade back to Parliament Hall; led by the winning archer who will later be presented with the Silver Arrow at a private ceremony in the Museum of the University of St Andrews (MUSA).

The competition has is origins in the seventeenth century when it was introduced as an annual event organised by the Faculty of Arts, to identify the champion archer of the University. The competition seems to have died out after the 1750s, possibly as a result of the unification of the two ‘Arts’ colleges in 1747.

Prince William showed talent for the sport when he got ‘hands on’ playing the computer game simulating the University’s Silver Arrow competition, c. 1700, during his visit to MUSA in 2011 when he came to launch the University’s 600th Anniversary Campaign.

The University has three silver arrows and seventy medals, all of which are on display in MUSA. Some of the winners went on to become important Scottish historical figures including James Graham (1612-1650), later first Marquis of Montrose and leader of the Royalist armies in Scotland during the Civil War, and his main military opponent Archibald Campbell (c. 1607-1661), first Marquis of Argyll.

Several winners of the St Andrews Silver Arrow went on to be prominent members of the Royal Company of Archers. Founded in 1676 The Royal Company of Archers is the Queen’s Bodyguard in Scotland. The Company has its home in Edinburgh, at Archers’ Hall, and they perform ceremonial duties when the Queen is in Scotland. The select membership has as qualifications the need to be of Scottish descent, own land in Scotland or to have served in a Scottish regiment.


Lieutenant Colonel Malcolm McVittie of the Royal Company of Archers is available for interview on 07743 707303

Category Sport

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