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Pre-Industrial Sporting Activities





ArcherArchery dates back to prehistoric times, however, its appeal was re-discovered in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth-century. Archery developed as a sport as a result of the marginalisation of the development of guns. It was an opportunity for men and women to socialize and an opportunity for flirtation, mostly the aristocrats. Women were also able to compete in the archery competitions, as it was a fine way to display their femininity. The clubs that were formed were a fine way for the ladies to be introduced to the gentlemen, flirtation and even romance.

The Welsh were in actual fact the first to use a longbow in war, after its prehistoric counterparts, due to the Norman conquest. Thereafter, the longbow became a primary weapon in warfare, and was widely used in preparation for a war. However, the use of the bow in war declined and by the fifteenth-century, and archery was only a pastime.

The re-kindling of archery in the eighteenth-century owed a great deal to Sir Ashton Lever. He was the former of the Toxophilite Society in London in 1781. Archery soon became a widespread, fashionable, sociable occasion among the gentry, owing to the attraction of George, Prince of Wales to the sport. Archery meetings soon became lavish meetings, where not much was care was given to the archery, but the socialising. A Welsh club, the Royal British Bowmen, turned country houses into entertainment venues with marquees and servants. It was a very formal occasion, as guests would dress elegantly to define their sense of status and identity. The members of the British Bowmen club would march onto the ground, waving banners and flags with music to accompany them, and a salute of guns.

The Napoleonic wars caused disruption to the game of archery, however, once the wars were over, the game was revived, with many old clubs reforming and many new clubs being formed. Developments were established in the middle years of the eighteenth-century, as a national championship developed with set rules. The position of women was also increasing, the Royal British Bowmen being one of the first to admit female members to their club. By the early nineteenth-century, archery became known for its female members involvement. The sociable occasions would not be complete without the females to participate or as guests.

A meeting was held in York in 1844, the first ever of the Grand National Archery, displaying increasing intersest in archery as a sportimg pastime. However, by the 1860s, the fashion for archery had worn away, leaving it once again as a traditional pastime.

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BowlsBowls, along with archery, is one of the oldest sports played in Britain. There has been great rivalry between the two sports over the centuries. It is believed, according to records, that bowls was played as early as the twelfth-century in Britain.

Bowls were made out of wood such as oak, yew, ash, boxwood and holly in the fifteenth-century. It was not until the sixteenth or seventeenth-century that the hard wood lignum vitae was used.

Strangely enough, it was down to the Scottish for the basis of the current laws of bowls, even though it was a sport most associated with England. There was a meeting held in Glasgow 1848, where W. W. Mitchell collected the laws from many differnt clubs, and produced a code of law used by many even today.

It was not until 1905 that the International Bowling Board was formed, Wales being one of the foundation members.

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