ask the marshall true west archery contests

Were archery contests held out West?

Jennifer Malewski
Kansas City, Missouri

Archery was practiced almost entirely by American Indians in the frontier West.

Modern archery organizations date to post-Civil War, when ex-Confederate soldiers Maurice and Will Thompson—who weren’t allowed to own firearms—used bows and arrows to hunt. They also started some local archery clubs.

In 1878, Maurice wrote a book, The Witchery of Archery, that inspired the startups of several more archery clubs, most of them in the East and Midwest. A year later, these clubs established the National Archery Association. The sport didn’t take off in the West until after 1900.

Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian and vice president of the Wild West History Association. His latest book is Arizona Outlaws and Lawmen; The History Press, 2015. If you have a question, write: Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327 or email him at

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