An Act concerning shooting in long bows

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An Act concerning shooting in long bows (1511) by Henry VIII
1663047An Act concerning shooting in long bows — 31511Henry VIII

Though firearms using gunpowder grew increasingly important during the sixteenth century, long- and cross-bows still remained important weapons. In this statute, Henry VIII orders that all men under the age of 60 practice shooting regularly, and that fathers be responsible for providing their sons and young male servants with archery equipment and training. Statutes of the Realm, 3rd Henry VIII, c. 3, p. 25. Spelling and orthography modernized.

Act concerning the Shooting of Long Bows[edit]

The King our sovereign lord, calling to his most noble and gracious remembrance, that by the feat and exercise of the subjects of this his realm in shooting of long bows there hath continually grown and been within the same great number and multitude of good archers which hath not only defended this realm and the subjects thereof against the cruel malice and danger of their outward enemies in time heretofore passed. . . and albeit that diverse good and profitable statutes in the time of his noble progenitors and predecessors kings of this land for the maintenance of archery and longbows heretofore have been made, amongst which the right famous king of noble memory Henry VII, father to our said sovereign lord by authority of diverse parliaments caused good and noble acts and statutes to be established and made. . . yet nevertheless archery and shooting in longbows is right little used but daily diminishes, decays, and abates more and more. . . And also by means and occasion of customable usage of tennis-play, bowles [lawn-bowling], classhe [skittles], and other unlawful games, prohibited by many good and beneficial estates by authority of parliament in that behalf provided and made, great impoverishment hath ensued. And many heinous murders, robberies, and felonies be committed and done. And also the divine [service] by such misdoers on holy and festival days not heard or solemnized to the high displeasure of the Almighty God.

Wherefor the King. . . hath ordained, enacted, and established that the Statute of Winchester for archers be put in due execution. And moreover that every man being the King’s subject not lame, decrepit, or maimed, nor having any other lawful or reasonable cause or impediment, being within 60 years, (except those men, spiritual men, justices of one bench or of the other, justices of the assize and barons of the exchequer) do use and exercise shooting in longbows, and also to have a bow and arrows ready continually in his house to use himself, and do use himself in shooting. And also that the father, governors, and rulers of such as be of tender age do teach and bring upon them the knowledge of the same shooting. And that every man having a man child or men children in his house shall provide, ordain, and have in his house for every man child being of the age of seven years and above till he shall come to the age of seventeen years, a bow and two shafts to induce and learn them and bring them up in shooting and shall deliver all the same bow and arrows to the same young men to use and occupy. And if the same young men be servants that then their masters shall abate the money that they shall pay for the same bows and arrows of their wages. And after all such young men shall come to the age of seventeen years every of them shall provide and have a bow and four arrows continually for - authority to commit every such offender to ward [jail], there to remain without bail to such time he or they so offending be bound by obligation to the king’s use in such sum of money as by the discretion of the said justices, mayors, bailiffs, or other head officers shall be thought reasonable that they nor any of them shall not from thence forth use any unlawful games. And that every bower [bow-maker] within this realm always make for every bow of ewe that he maketh to sell at least two bows of elm or other wood of mean [moderate] price.