I grew up watching Kevin Costner in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, so naturally, I’m pretty partial to anything Robin Hood related. When I heard about a Sherwood vs Nottingham archery competition, my interest was piqued and I had to learn more. **Cue Michael Kamen’s monumental movie score**
It turns out that there is a 61-year-old archery rivalry that tips its green feathered hat to Robin Hood and his band of Merry Men. For over six decades archers from the Pacific Northwest have come to Sherwood, Oregon to compete against archers in Nottingham, England. This dual-location tournament is called the International Robin Hood Archery Match, and it is every bit as epic as it sounds.
In 1956, the president of the Robin Hood Festival Association in Sherwood, Oregon challenged the archers in Nottingham to a battle of the bows. The city of Sherwood shipped 50 redwood oak trees to be a living memorial to bond the two sister cities, and a rivalry worthy of the English legend was born.
The tournament consists of two days of shooting, where archers shoot an American 900 round each day. Participants shoot 30 arrows at each distance of 60, 50, and 40 yards. The highest scoring archers are chosen for teams and their scores compete against the Nottingham scores. The Robin Hood Match has grown and changed over the years, but now includes teams of 8 for recurve bow and compound bow, and teams of 4 for longbow, junior recurve, master recurve, master compound, and master longbow.
This year Sherwood defended their International Robin Hood Match title. LimbSaver Pro Staff Brandon Tenner made the Sherwood Senior Recurve Team (the top 8 overall team that competes with Nottingham). His second-place score helped Sherwood secure their Tiffany silver engraved bowl trophy for another year. Brandon says the shoot is fun, laid back, and spectator friendly.
The two-day tournament takes place on the third weekend in July every year as part of the Sherwood Robin Hood Festival in Sherwood, Oregon. Some of the other festivities include an old-fashioned parade, the annual castle building contest, performances by local bands, all sorts of medieval re-enactments, and appearances by Maid Marion and her Court as well as Robin Hood and his Merry Men. The festival is free for all ages, so bring the entire family!
If you find yourself in Oregon next year during the third weekend in July, make sure you make it a point to visit Sherwood, just 18 miles southwest of Portland. You won’t want to miss the fun and folklore!
For more information about the Sherwood Robin Hood Festival, visit http://www.robinhoodfestival.org.
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Photos courtesy of Michael G. Underwood.