The amazing Clan Hunter (War) Bow

18 March, 2021

Lucy J. Massaar Hunter-Weston

The firearm of medieval times was the bow and arrow – the war weapon of the time. Soldiers were required to hone their archery skills and the range of a flight arrow would have depended on the strength of the archer and the length and draw weight of the bow. A professional soldier would, on the practice field, be able to send an arrow between 200-300m (220-330 yards). However, in situ, on the battlefield, soldiers had to show almost inhuman efforts of stamina if they were to keep up this distance arrow after arrow for hours on end. It was almost impossible to be consistent.1

Hundred years war collage – Wikipedia

Young boys from as young as 10-years-old would have been expected to start their practise and work hard at building their stamina with archery skills. Most wars were fought using the Clan Hunter bow-type as a weapon and the boys would be selected for the army based on the skills they acould offer.

Detail of the Clan Hunter War Bow made by William J Hunter, Texas, U.S.A.

The wood used for making a longbow is traditionally the yew tree because of its strength and suppleness. In medieval times the wood was imported from Eastern Germany and Austria but by the 16th Century other wood had to be used as the supply of yew was virtually extinct and new planting could not grow fast enough to supply the demand. (Deforestation is not a modern dilema!).

The walled garden at Hunterston boasts a fine yew tree! 

You can find more information about the English Longbow here.

The Clan Hunter War Bow was made by our Clan member William J Hunter, Texas, USA. It is a fine example of a traditional war bow, made with only a knife and can be fired a distance of 180 yards. Click here for the video in which William Hunter demonstrates his skills.

William J Hunter, Texas, U.S.A.

VIDEO for WAR BOW – Filmed and produced by Graham Wright, Macer Venatorus.

The Ancient Society of Kilwinning Archers – photos curtesy of the Ancient Society of Kilwinning Archers

For many years Madam Pauline, Hunter Clan Chief, has granted the Kilwinning Archers  access to the Hunterston grounds for practice and tournaments. They are also present at our Clan Gatherings to help our members support the age-old tradition of archery. A strong arm, a steady hand and good sight is required for maximum success but with expert help and encouragement from Kilwinning Archers’ members, most people are not disappointed! Try your war bow skills at our next Clan Hunter Gathering!

The Ancient Society of the Kilwinning Archers boasts a history going back to 1488 when the first records were documented. In medieval times archery was promoted by royal decree so that young men could become skilled archers and therefore be ready for war. Archery practice using and competitions were a part of recreation at that time.

The papingo is a competition which the Kilwinning Archers hold at various locations in Ayrshire.

Papingo (Popinjay) means parrot and is, traditionally, a wooden bird hung out of the Kilwinning Abbey tower 116 feet off the ground. The shooting of the papingo takes place at the end of the days’ other competition. 

Hunterston Clout Trophy

The Kilwinning Archers hold regular archery practice sessions at Hunterston and hold a competition there called The Hunterston Clout Shoot. For the shoot the archers aim for a flag or target on the ground at a distance of about 180m (men) and 160m (women). The Hunterston Clout Trophy is a splendid silver horn which is the emblem of the Hunters of Hunterston.

Visit us at for information the Clan Hunter Gathering 2021.

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You will find us off the A78 just north of West Kilbride. Look for our driveway marked by stone pillars and "Hunterston Estate" 


Hunterston KA23 9QG
Telephone: 07980 209060
*This number is not continuously manned, so please do leave us a message. 


Acccess to Hunterston Castle is strictly by appointment. Note that as a historic monument, wheel chair access is limited. More visitor information is available on our visitors page .  Please email us to arrange a visit.