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Panda Bowmen      WA 80 cm archery target

Those were the days

The history of archery and the origins of Panda

Archery is one of the oldest sports in existence, with evidence of it having existed in the Stone Age. It is mentioned in the Old Testament, for example II Samuel 22:35 - Esau and Ishmael were archers, as were the Judeans, Israelites and the Egyptians and eventually the great Roman Legions adopted its use.

Such was the importance of archery in Tudor times that all adult men were required by law to attend archery practice every Sunday after church, so that if war broke out there would be a ready army of skilled archers with little training required.

Throughout history, the archer has changed the destiny of nations. The bow has been the decisive factor in too many battles to be remembered. Today the use of the bow is confined to an exacting sport, with a great number of followers. Archery featured as a sport in the early years of the modern Olympics until 1920, before being revived in 1972. Since then it has been fully established as an Olympic sport - however, not being a spectator sport, little is known outside its own realms.

To everyone interested in delving into its history, legends, myths and achievements, a vast wealth of knowledge is available - archaeological and anthropological.

A new facet of this many-sided sport was developed many years ago in hospitals such as Stoke Mandeville, Lodge Moor and Pinderfields when it was realised that people with physical disabilities could benefit from its therapy.

Our founder Chris Wright (who sadly died in 1993) decided that the club should be formed with the aim of bringing people with disabilities together and promoting the sport of archery.

In 1955 a sub section of the Infantile Paralysis fellowship formed the IPF Bowmen of Leeds.

In 1962 some club members broke away from the IPF and changed the club name - they wanted to incorporate other people with disabilities and so spread the aims of the club further afield. This turned out to be a wise decision and the club was renamed Panda Bowmen, the name being derived from Polio and Disabled and the panda was adopted as an insignia.

The club has had many grounds, the latest being West Park Leeds Rugby Union Club.

Panda Bowmen will be celebrating their 70th anniversary in 2025.


  Pictures kindly denoted by Colin Bowes and Bernard Wright
Founder Chris Wright is congratulated on his winning darts at St Anne's Hotel, Burley, Leeds
A late finish to a match between St Anne's Darts Club and PANDA Bowmen st St Anne's Hotel, Burley, Leeds in 1962
Janet Gomersall, pictured in September 1982, set a number of club records between 1986 and 1996 which remain unbeaten in March 2022
Tony Baldwinson, pictured in September 1982, set a number of club records between 1987 and 1997 which remain unbeaten in March 2022
Archers against the darts team at Meanwood Working Men's Club. Colin Bowes low centre with Janet Gomersall pointing at the bull.
Roger Smith - with the Michael Bentine trophy for Wheelchair Archer of the Year in 1978