Mediaeval Archers used to shoot at a piece of split willow about six inches wide and six feet tall, set at 100 paces. The willow ‘wand’ represented an enemy of course, but would be much harder to hit being so narrow, especially with an English Longbow.
Even with modern bows and arrows this form of archery is very challenging, and to get a ‘hit’ is very rewarding, doubly so for those shooting Longbow and Barebow. It is in fact a very good way to improve left-and-right aiming and arrow control, and is ideal for lazy archers, as the target weighs next to nothing and is easy to set up.
We have some Wands in our store cupboard, made of white polyethyene foam rather than willow, and they often come out during beginners lessons, when we set them up 50 or 60 yards from the shooting line, a big step up from the distance the beginners would have been shooting up to that point, and it is most impressive how quickly both Adults and Juniors start hitting the wand.
Competitive Wand Shoots are very rare these days, but we are lucky because Mole Valley Bowmen, just over the boundary in Surrey, hold an annual Wand Shoot in May, at 100 yards for the Gents, and they include a Ladies distance of 80yards, and a junior 60 yard range.
The only other Wand Shoots we know of are held by South Wiltshire Archers near Salisbury, and Abbey Bowmen in St Albans, but unlike the ‘pure’ Mole Valley Shoot, the other two are a sort of hybrid Wand and Clout, the wand is eight inches wide (20cm) and set at 120 and 140 yards, with a 3-feet (90cm) circle at the base which is also a scoring zone.