THE contest for what is reputed to be the oldest sporting trophy in the world still competed for annually was held in Musselburgh.

The shoot for the Musselburgh Silver Arrow took place on Musselburgh Links, Musselburgh Racecourse, where members of The Royal Company of Archers, the Queen’s bodyguard in Scotland, traditionally compete in this historic event.

Constituted in 1676 for the “purpose of encouraging the Noble and Useful Recreation of Archery”, The Royal Company received its Royal Charter from Queen Anne in 1704.

Archery remains a principal activity to this day and the long bow is still carried by The Royal Company on ceremonial duties.

First recorded details of the Musselburgh Arrow competition date from 1603, and actually pre-date the formation of the Royal Company of Archers itself. Since 1676, however, the annual competition has been restricted to members of The Royal Company.

Exercising their rights as Freemen of the Burgh, The Royal Company paraded through Musselburgh. Led by the Loretto School Pipe Band, the archers made their way to the shoot via the ‘back roads’ from Gracefield car park near the Brunton Hall.

Michael the winner

The 2022 winner of the Silver Arrow was Michael Younger, from Edinburgh, who received the trophy from Councillor John McMillan, Provost of East Lothian.

A new, large arrow was presented in 1713. The victor of the shooting retains the arrow for a year and, on handing it over to the next victor, appends a medal to the arrow with an engraved personal motto, all of which are held by the Royal Company; 103 medals were held by the company by 1816.

After the recent competition, the archers, accompanied by members of East Lothian Council, formed a procession to make their way back to the Brunton Hall. Also in attendance was Monica Patterson, the council’s chief executive.

On arrival at the Brunton there was a meal, further presentation to the winning archer and signing of the Bond Book which is a record of the event.

The Silver Arrow shoot last took place in Musselburgh in 2019. There was no competition in 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic. The event was held at Palace of Holyroodhouse – The Queen’s official residence in Edinburgh – last year.

Members of The Royal Company of Archers wear a distinctive uniform featuring a dark green tunic with black facings, dark green trousers with black and crimson stripe, a Balmoral bonnet with the Royal Company’s badge and an eagle feather.