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Archery is the chosen sport and method of hunting for Robin Hood. In medieval England the sport was hugely popular and archery was in common use. Most people associate Robin with using a longbow and it is likely that this type was around during that time as it is mentioned that the Normans used the weapon in the Battle of Hastings.
The longbow is traditionally five to six-feet tall and actually firing from a medieval longbow took some effort in comparison to today’s modern bows. Draw weight could be up to twice as heavy (tight) than current bows and arrows. Given the size and effort, it seems unlikely then that Robin would have practised archery from horseback.
The preferred wood for making a longbow was yew and it is thought that making one could take up to four years as the wood had to be treated and dried. The average longbow could also fire arrows of around 200 metres and again due to the effort of firing, around six arrows a minute could be fired by archers in battle.
The Silver Arrow Competition
Archery takes on a particular relevance in the Robin Hood legend during the tale of the Silver Arrow competition. Did Robin really split an arrow? The legend comes from the ballad the Gest of Robin Hood where Robin disguises himself to defeat the Sheriff in the competition.
Early references mention Robin ‘splitting the Wand’ which was a small piece of wood placed against the target. Whilst it wasn’t quite as difficult as an arrow tail, it would only have taken a practised archer to achieve such a feat.
Where To Find Archery
You can try your hand at archery at several venues around Nottinghamshire. During main visitor periods, it is not uncommon to see have-a-go archery taking place near the Major Oak in Sherwood Forest. In fact it’s a certainty at the Robin Hood Festival.
You’ll also be able to take an archery session at a few different activity centres including One4All Group at Langar Karting and Quad Centre, the Adrenalin Jungle or during your stay with Forest Holidays. All of these venues offer other activities too and it’s a good opportunity to take archery in with experiences like 4x4 driving or karting.
We even have archery manufacturers in Nottinghamshire, head to KG Archery near Ollerton and you may get the chance to see traditional longbows being made.
With so much history and activities available in Nottinghamshire, we’re the spiritual home of archery.