History of York Archers
York Archers was founded in 1928 by a small group of archery enthusiasts. To put this date into perspective, in 1928 Fred Bear was 26 years old, Saxton Pope had published his classic “Hunting with Bow and Arrow” just 5 years earlier, and the Great Depression had not yet begun. Shooting occurred at multiple sites, most likely with significant overlap in dates. From information pieced together from old newspaper articles, it appears that the club shot at Haines Race Track (near what is now Nello Tire) until 1940, putting up and taking down targets for each shoot. For the following 14 years the club used Smalls Athletic Field (part of York City Schools), and starting in 1954, Memorial Park (now Bob Hoffman Fields). York Archers also shot indoors at the YMCA, where up to 30 shooters could be accommodated at ranges up to 28 yards. There were many influential members during these years, but the most prominent was D. Everett Moore, building engineer at the York YMCA, trap and skeet expert, and designer of the York Archers' clubhouse.
Dr. Michael Bowser, a now-retired oral and maxillofacial surgeon, joined York Archers in 1949. At that time the club was using the farm of one of its members, Gilbert David, where they had established a rocky 14-target field course which both encroached onto neighboring properties and promoted the destruction of countless cedar arrows. After returning home from Air Force duty in the Korean War, Dr. Bowser identified a tract of land in Lower Windsor Township surrounding Cabin Creek that he envisioned would be an ideal site for an archery club. He and his wife Jean purchased the property in 1953, and as soon as the ink was dry on the deal, club members began construction of the upper 28-target field course. Dr. Bowser paid the property's carrying costs until York Archers accrued enough money to assume ownership. Club members worked tirelessly and enthusiastically during these years to develop the raw land into an archery club. With the help of Dr. Bowser's tractor, a bulldozer provided by Duane Shaull (of Shaull equipment), gravel donated and hauled by J.E. Baker, dynamite for stubborn tree stumps, and most importantly thousands of volunteer hours, the road, range, clubhouse, and two 28-target field courses were created. The clubhouse was completed in 1958, the same year as the club's first formal field shoot.
The club incorporated in 1958, and the following year purchased the 55 acres from the Bowsers for their original cost, $3,500. They also bought an adjacent 22 acre tract from the Red Lion Water Company for $1,100. There were 10 individuals listed in the incorporation document: D. Everett Moore, Gilbert David, Edward Bowser, Jr., Raymond Shewell, Beatrice Brown, Eugneia Shewell, Harry Bott, Charles Hetzel, Ralph Hull, and Michael Bowser. Gilbert David served as the incorporated club's first president.
York Archers pioneered the sport of 3-D shooting. Starting in the mid-to-late 1950's, the club held 3-D shoots using full-sized homemade targets including a motorized running deer, and hosted a “Bowhunter Weekend” designed both to entertain and to prepare participants for the upcoming archery deer season. These shoots began long before McKenzie and Delta targets were introduced (1983), and the International Bowhunters Organization (the primary governing body for tournament 3-D archery) was founded (1984). The club still holds its traditional Bowhunter Weekend in addition to many competitive 3-D shoots throughout the year. The running deer still works.
Today's York Archers exists because of the cumulative dedication and enthusiasm of many people over many decades, each with nothing to gain except to promote and participate in the sport that we love. We are particularly grateful to Dr. Michael Bowser for his vision and commitment, and to the countless volunteers who built the club then, and continue to make it work now.
Eboracum Supremum: read about the history of the York Archers emblem.
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