The Club first came into being when Deer Paddock Archery Club at Staybrook was wound up on 20 April 1951 after a very short existence. The few items of club equipment that remained and the residue of the clubs funds (which amounted to 17 shillings and 9 pence) was passed on to the newly-formed castle moat bowmen. They officially met for the first time and formed as a club on 10 May 1951 in Hythe at the house of the club’s first chairman, Mr. Kingsley Drummond. One of the founder members at the meeting was Reg W. Grinstead along with his sister and fellow member, Pauline Cann.
At the club’s Golden Jubilee Tournament, Lady Conway of Allington gave the club permission to shoot in the private moat of her home, Saltwood Castle. The first shoot took place on Sunday 13 May 1951. The first competitive match was a Western round at home to Hastings & St. Leonard’s Archery Club on 7 October 1951, which the club unfortunately lost! The Club’s first indoor shoot took place in the Drill Hall in Shellons Street, Folkestone, with other outdoor shooting on the Folkestone Football Club Ground.
In 1953 an annual match for a shield was arranged with Thanet Archery Club and, apart from a few interruptions, these matches are still being shot today. The first honour for the club was claimed by Mrs. Billic Gosnold, who won the ladies’ round at the Kent championships in 1953. She went on to win again in both 1954 & 1955. In the winter of 1954 the club joined the British Archer Postal League Competition and won their division on the first attempt. Apart from the odd season here and there the club has taken part in the indoor postal Portsmouth league ever since.
1955 saw two additions to the club. The first was Castle Moat’s longest-serving member, Jack Stevens, joining the club. It is a great pleasure to still count him among the members. He has contributed a great deal to the club and maintained its equipment over the 50 years plus of his membership. The second addition was the club’s name lengthening to include the words “and Folkestone”. Castle Moat made its first venture abroad in 1955 with five members shooting in an international Popinjay Tournament at Hazebrouk in France. The following year, Rob Can, a club stalwart, organised the very first William Somner Tournament. An important event, the club has been involved int his every year since 1956
When Sir Kenneth Clark asked the club to cease shooting at Saltwood castle in 1963, the club began to look for new grounds, The new outdoor venue was found at Folkestone Football Club (along with spells on the local polo ground), where the club shot until 1985 before moving to its current home in the grounds of the Folkestone School For Girls. Between 60’s to 80’s, membership fluctuated over this period from less than a dozen through to around twenty. During this period the club became involved in various new ventures. One activity is the annual fixture against Ashford Rifle Club, arranged for New Year’s Day, and first began in 1975. This match is quite a unique event as part of the competition involves an exchange of weapons match.
One of the club’s members, Joe Iverson a wheelchair archer, represented England in the International Paraplegic Games in Brussels in 1978 and did so again the following year when the games were held in Geneva. The winter season of 1994/95 saw numbers of members fall alarmingly and no more than eight archers attended the Postal League Matches at any one time. Fortunately, concerted efforts were made to build up the club again and this has now resulted in the membership reaching an all-time-high with considerable improvement being made by all archers, resulting in a record number of rounds being shot and many new club records being established during the 2000 season. In 2007, member Melissa Carter represented Great Britain in Italy and North Korea as a visually impaired archer. Many of the Castle Moat’s members assisted at the archery world cup held in Dover in 2007.
On Sunday 1 July 2001, the club staged a 50th anniversary Grand Celebration Shoot where a few of the club’s founding members attended.
Castle Moat is often asked to arrange “have-a-go” sessions at fetes and functions, and has been involved with the Lyminge and Newington fetes for many years. In 2005 when the club organised a session at Port Lympne Wildlife Park, TV presenter Ray Mears spent a lot of time with our members shooting the longbow! Today, almost half our members shoot the longbow, with most of the equipment being made by one of our members, Malcolm Keene, who is a member of the Bowyers and Fletchers Guild.