The Grand Western Archery Society was formed in 1861 to promote and encourage the practice of archery in all its forms, other than bow hunting, throughout the South Western Region of England.
The earliest records of organised recreational archery with the region was the formation of Old Sarum Archers in 1791, and a medal presented to Mr W H Goldwyer presented in 1793 at the Old Sarum Archers Annual Meeting can be found in the Salisbury Museum.
1852 saw the first major Western Archery Meeting when the first of six Devon and Cornwall Annual Archery Meetings was held at Bitton House in Teignmouth, the home of Sergeant Praed, a wealthy patron of West Country Archery.
On the 13th May 1861 a public meeting was held at the Waghorn’s Hotel in Taunton where a guarantee fund was started, and it was agreed to hold a “Grand Western Archery Meeting” in Taunton that year where prizes to the value of £150 at the time were offered.
1950 saw the Grand National Archery Society take on the role as the national governing body for archery in the UK, and identify regions and county associations as key elements of the national organisation. Somerset immediately formed its own county association that year, Gloucestershire followed in 1952 and Devon and Cornwall in 1952. Dorset and Wiltshire took a further three years before they also formed a county association.
With the new national structure in 1950 and the formation of the county associations the Grand Western Archery Society revised its own organisation in 1952 marking a new era in the development of the sport in the west.
On the 15th to 22nd May 1955, Grand Western Archery Society held the first Dunster Week incorporating the Somerset County Championships on the first Sunday, followed by the Grand Western Meeting over the following weekend.
The Grand Western Archery Society is today recognised, in accordance with the Memorandum and Articles of the National Governing Body for Archery in the United Kingdom, “The Grand National Archery Society”, (also known as Archery GB) as the regional society governing the sport of archery within the Grand Western Region.
The Society abides by the Rules of Shooting prescribed by Archery GB, and organises a number of Regional Tournaments throughout the year, including the Grand Western Archery Meeting in The Deer Park of Dunster Castle, which includes the Regional Championships and has been held there since 1955, and in 2015 it was the 142nd Open Grand Western Meeting.
There are around 150 individual archery clubs within the region with an overall membership of over 5000, including 1300 juniors. Around 50 archery tournaments are organised each year around the region by the county organisations and local clubs and participation is simply through application to the relevant tournament organiser, so it is fair to say that archery is a thriving sport.