THE go-ahead has been given to an historic male-only archery event despite sexism concerns which were raised at a meeting.

As reported last week, a request was made to revive the Peebles Arrow event at Hay Lodge Park on July 19.

The organiser, the Royal Company of Archers, is the King’s Bodyguard for Scotland.

But Tweeddale East councillor Marshall Douglas told a meeting of Peebles Common Good Fund on Wednesday evening that he had received a complaint from a constituent saying the event is “sexist”.

Earlier, Charlie Watts, secretary of the Royal Company of Archers, made a presentation to the gathering, as Hay Lodge Park is one of its assets.

Mr Watts said: “For us [the Peebles Arrow] is the second most senior prize, not quite as old as the Musselburgh Arrow but in our minds it is distinctly better, but maybe that’s because I have a slightly biased opinion of Peebles – bearing in mind my mother-in-law lives in the Manor Valley.

“What we would like to do, is what we have done every six years for more than 350 years, is to gather on the High Street by the Tontine Hotel, march behind a band up to the Hay Lodge and shoot our competition over 180 yards.

“It is longbow archery and we will shoot for approximately two-and-a-half hours with targets at each end, and for health and safety will require to seal off the Hay Lodge to keep spectators at an appropriate distance.”

Mr Marshall said he received a complaint from a constituent.

He said: “The complaint says that females are not involved in either the march or the competition nor the event afterwards (a Tontine dinner).”

The councillor asked Mr Watts if there was any truth in the event being called sexist.

Mr Watts said: “I am quite grateful that you have brought that to light, it is something that really exercises our minds.

“An institution that has been around since 1676 formally – and informally much before then – is slowly lurching into the 21st Century.

“We will have female archers on parade but not until 2025; so unfortunately, that means we will miss out until the next time we come to Peebles.

“We have no rules saying that females cannot be members of the Royal Company.

“It has been some time and effort to try and persuade individuals to join the Royal Company and not everyone wants to join.

“Especially among the female community when they are trying to shoot arrows over 180 yards which takes some effort.”

Tweeddale West councillor Drummond Begg said: “We had examples of this with the Open golf where organisations haven’t quite caught up.

“There’s a nervousness about how people perceive events that aren’t as inclusive.”

Mr Begg added that sport and competition has changed too over the centuries.

Viv Thomson, a fellow Tweeddale West councillor, said: “If Marshall had not asked that question I would have supported this event. The events we put on should be accessible to all and this is not, it will be in 2025, but at the moment I can’t support this.”

Mr Watt said: “The challenge we have is to develop a trophy that has been fought for on the men’s side since 1628, to create an additional prize that females can shoot.”

Mr Watt added that in six years’ time there will be both a male and female competition.

Tweeddale East councillor Julie Pirone said: “I think it’s a fantastic event that touches all of our history.

“I would like to see that we grant permission for it to go ahead again.”

The chairman said there was a proposal, from Ms Pirone, to support the event and there was a counter motion from Ms Thomson seconded by Mr Douglas, saying she would only support it from 2025.

The vote to support was carried by three votes to two.