The Royal Company of Archers, the Queen’s Bodyguard for Scotland marched through St. Andrews today. I have no idea why. It wasn’t the best weather for being an archer in.
Some time later, they marched in the opposite direction and some of them dropped in to the Whey Pat for a swift refreshment.
While I wasn’t rude enough to take any pictures in the pub, I was intrigued by the chance for a closer look at their kit. The bow is a traditional wooden self longbow, probably of yew. Each archer carries three arrows, and while they were also wooden, they were more obviously modern, with a plain brass pile, a transparent red plastic nock. Although the arrows being carried had plainly never been used, each archer’s set seemed to have distinct fletching. Whether this was intention or coincidence, I don’t know. Each also carries a short sword, which so obviously resembled a gladius that I was actually relieved to find it described in Wikipedia as “a short gilt-headed Roman sword”.
Behaviour was interesting too; on entering the bar, arrows went straight on the bar. I guess this was a practical thing, as when worn they’re slung at the right side, protruding downwards in front of the body and upwards to the rear. You can see how this might be awkward in a bar situation. I was slightly surprised when they left to hear “Who’s not got a bow?”. Clearly the Royal Company of Archers don’t buy into a more archaic version of the Rifleman’s Creed! It would be interesting to know to what extent Archers kit themselves out, and to what extent they’re issued with their gear. It seems clear that some order their own bows, as they’re quoted as being patrons of Richard Head Longbows, but “Who’s not got a bow?” suggests that, for some, bow ownership is less of a concern.
After all that, here’s a link for anyone experiencing a sudden inexplicable urge to listen to Barwick Green.