Members of the Mount Allison Archery Club practice Saturday morning at Marshview Middle School. The local club is now accepting members of the Sackville community.
The ancient sport of archery, which can trace its beginnings back more than 12,000 years, is making a new start in Sackville and may prove to be another means of more closely bringing together Mount Allison University students and residents of the greater community.
The Mount Allison Archery Club recently decided to expand it ranks and borders and to invite any folks interested in the sport to attend and join the club, which resulted in about 30 town residents joining another dozen students.
It was back in 1968 that the late Rod Matattall formed the Bordertown Archery Club in Sackville and it functioned somewhat successfully until 1972 when it closed down due to a lack of numbers. But during that period tournaments were held on what is now the Mount Allison soccer field, while members like Matattall, Alan Balser and the late Lee Lowerson travelled to competitions in such places as Gagetown and Moncton.
Mrs. Matattall recently recalled how members would come to their home and practice at the rear of their property, and she would provide a lunch for the 10 or so members who regularly attended. She said they all enjoyed the fellowship resulting from the gentlemanly sport but it just seemed to "peter out."
But this appears to have been the history of archery.
Historically, it was used for hunting and combat while in more recent times it has become a competitive and recreational sport. A person who competes is known as an archer or bowman, while an expert can be referred to as a toxophilite.
The first indication of the use of archery in Europe can be traced to well before 10,000 BC to an area in Germany north of Hamburg. Arrows were made of pine with flint points and may have been launched by spear throwers rather than by bows.
The development of firearms rendered bows and arrows obsolete in warfare.
A level of popularity seemed to have been attained in the 17th century when societies were set up in various locations but it remained a small and scattered pastime for 100 years when it again became fashionable. It went through another decline near the end of the 19th century when croquet and tennis gained in popularity.
Primitive archery was again revived in the United States in the 20th century and from the 1920s new forms of the bow have been developed and old skills restored.
Bow hunting is still a hobby in various parts of Canada but requires the hunter to get fairly close to the prey before launching an attack. However, Balser pointed out recently that bow hunting is permitted a few weeks longer than regular hunting each season.
The local club is being headed up by president Jeffrey Tang from Ontario and vice-president Conor McKibbon-Green of Saint John. Both are veteran and skilled marksmen and more than willing to offer their services to newcomers to the sport.
Due to certain requirements, the club will continue to be known as the Mount Allison Archery Club but it is open to anyone interested in the sport. Arrangements have been made to use the Marshview Middle School as its headquarters. Indoor target practice will be held in the basement during inclement weather and the field just east of the school will be the scene at other times.
Weekly sessions will be held on Fridays from 6 to 7:30 p.m. and on Saturdays from 10 to 11:30 a.m. and newcomers will be welcome.
The yearly membership has been set at $55.00 but those wishing to experiment may take part at a cost of $5 a session.
The directors stress membership is open to anybody regardless of age and experience and they invite people from throughout the region to come and try their skills with the bow and arrow.