The birth place of archery in Sarawak is the tiny district of Lawas, a predominantly Lun Bawang country sandwiched between Brunei Darussalam and Sabah.
It all began in 1969 following the appointment of Haji Salleh Baihaki Haji Jamel,48, as the Sarawak Administrative Officer(SAO) in Lawas. Back then, this father of seven had a simple archery set which he bought in Canada while pursuing a degree in Public Administration at the Carleton University in Ottawa.
"In Lawas, I used to fool around with my bow and arrows near my house. One day in 1970, Chong dropped by and he dicided to let fly a few arrows."
"I gave him a few tips and he slowly developed a passion for the sport," recalled Salleh, who become the District Officer of Lawas in 1971. He is now the manager of Tanjung Manis Sawmill Sdn. Bhd.
'Chong' is businessman Chong Yap Jin, who was then the headmaster of the now defunct Lawas High School. He began reading up on the sport and ordered an archery set from Australia. About 14 years later, when several shooting enthusiasts decided to form a shooting club, Chong succeeded in pursuading them to include archery as well.
The Lawas Shooting and Archery Association(LSAA) was formed in October 1984 with Chong,46, as the secretary and only archer. Today, about half of the LSAA's some 100 members are archers.
The association's first president was businessman Liaw Chong Hui. Building contractor David Kong succeeded him in 1988 before Lau Hui Lok, also a contractor, took over in 1990. Timber tycoon Liaw Ching Chui took over the helm since 1991.
"The only formal training we had was during the Pesta Lawas in 1986 when the late Datuk Haji Noor Tahir(who was then the State Minister of Environment and Tourism) brought in the former president of the Singapore National Archery Association Bill Wee to guide us".
"The two-day coaching session got us off on the right track because prior to that the members used books for guidance," said Chong.
To promote the sport among the younger generation, LSAA amended its constitution last year to enable school clubs to join as associate members.
Currently, only SRK Long Tuma and SMK Lawas have archery clubs and they train at their respective school field. LSAA members hold their regular meetings at the Chung Hwa Recreational Club but hone their archery skills at a housing site located about two kilometres from the town centre along the airport road.
Competitions are organised regularly and Sarawak has participated in the National Archery Association of Malaysia annual rivalry between LSAA and its counterpart in Kota Kinabalu.
Reference:The Sports Powerhouse Sarawak,by Persatuan Penulis Sukan Sarawak,1996.