Longbowmen in Preston mark the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt

The archers take aim and fire

The archers take aim and fire - Credit: Archant

Samlesbury Longbow Archers mark special occasion Photography by Glynn Ward

Gladys Kay, checking scores with her mediaeval clipboard

Gladys Kay, checking scores with her mediaeval clipboard - Credit: Archant

They were horribly outnumbered but Henry V’s troops triumphed at the Battle of Agincourt, largely because of their longbowmen. The battle took place 600 years ago and the anniversary was marked with re-enactments on the battlefield in northern France and at Preston Grasshoppers Rugby Union Club, which is also the home of the Samlesbury Longbow Archers.

The group hosts a series of shoots throughout the year, including an annual Agincourt event and this year’s was the biggest yet, with 70 shooters lining up all dressed for the occasion. ‘The medieval dress is compulsory, it is always a very colourful assembly,’ said group treasurer Gladys Kay. ‘A couple of the people who took part are re-enactors but this is not a re-enactment, it’s a competition with prizes awarded to the best archers on the day.’

People came from across the country to take part in the day and archers using traditional hand-crafted longbows shot at targets depicting both English and French knights and shields. Trophies were presented to the sharpest shooters, the best dressed and also to the archer who hit most of his own side’s targets.

Gladys is a former history teacher who took up the sport in 1997 and she added: ‘It’s good for fresh air, exercise and upper body strength. It makes me laugh when people in shops offer to carry things for me. I always think “I’m stronger than you, I could carry you”.

‘Your shoulder muscles develop well and because long bows are less accurate than other bows, there’s good exercise in walking and bending to collect the arrows.’

The Samlesbury Longbow Archers split from the Bowmen of Pendle and Samlesbury in 2004 and now have 43 members, most aged between 50 and 80. Details of their events for 2016 are on the club website, samlesburylongbowarchers.co.uk, and they will host three beginners courses starting in April, June and July. For more information contact Gladys on 01706 225462.

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