HISTORY OF NEWPORT PAGNELL ARCHERS
Ken Croucher - Club Secretary 2016
Newport Pagnell Archery club (Newport Pagnell Archers) was formed in 1967 by a small group of enthusiasts meeting in the Ram public house, Newport Pagnell. The pub no longer exists but the Ram head sign is still the club logo.
Target Archery is largely an outdoor activity and for many years the club used the sports field adjacent to the Wolverton Road Youth Club. Facilities also existed for lock up storage of such things as target bosses and stands. Once established, the membership increased and the club stayed here for 26 years.
Archery, a long established national sport, is regulated by the Archery GB, (formerly the Grand National Archery Society, GNAS). It is divided into Regional and County groups each having their own organisational bodies affiliated to Archery GB.
Since it is a shooting activity Archery GB administers the sport with regulations, procedures and conditions of insurance. Any club registered within this framework will operate only with well established and proven system of shooting, both in competition and practice, in consequence shooting accidents are very rare.
Archery is also a worldwide sport and internationally managed by a governing body Wold Archery ( formerly the 'Federation International de Tir a L'Arc', FITA). Archery GB and World Archery work in mutual accord. It is included in the Olympics and the Paralympics which follows the Olympic Games at the same venue for disabled sportspeople.
Newport Pagnell Archers have always supported Wheelchair archers and assisted at the Stoke Mandeville Sports Centre to give archery help there. Currently the club has three wheelchair members with one of them being in the Paralympic team in the 1980 games winning a Silver and Bronze medal, and also taking part in the 1992 games in Barcelona. A further two members qualified for the 1988 games in Seoul one winning the individual Gold Medal and both winning Gold in the team event. In the 1992 games our Gold medallist came fourth by one point.
The problem that frequently besets archery clubs is the finding of a suitable outdoor shooting venue that will take at least a dozen targets and a safety overshoot beyond the maximum distance of 100 yards (ie. something in the order of a football pitch), not forgetting good access for the wheelchair users and nearby toilet facilities. The Newport Pagnell Youth Club field served us in good stead until this ground, owned by the Bucks Education Authority, had to become self financing. This meant a massive rise in annual rent, well beyond the modest means of the archery club. The club was also under pressure from football groups looking for local venues and able to pay as required. After one or two false starts a shooting area was found at the grounds of the Broughton House Hotel. Although limited in size, it was functional enough to keep the club going for 5 years. The club was then required to leave due to an impending expansion of the Hotel. After further searches the club found space at the Kingfisher Golf and country club at Deanshanger. Not ideal and technically no longer in Buckinghamshire. After about three years a change of Manager and attitude left the club searching again. Since the expansion plan at the Broughton Hotel had been put in abeyance, however, the club was allowed to make a temporary return and was good for a further two years before building work began.
The Clubs winter/indoor shooting facilities, one evening a week at the Ousedale School Newport Pagnell and one Sunday afternoon at Millmead sports hall at Wolverton, helped greatly in keeping the Club alive during these difficult times. Adjacent to Millmead Hall was an area of spare ground which was made available to the club for outdoor shooting, although this was limited in size with a large obstructive tree in the middle. It was used for around one and a half years before the Council required the ground for the construction of a Bowling Green !!! Complaining to the Council for being removed, the club was offered a possibility at the Caldecotte Project at Simpson. The ground was tried out and, after changing to a different position to avoid shooting into direct sunlight, the club's needs were met.
The Club is almost in its 50th year, it has held on to its registered name and is well known in County and Regional archery, hosting many County open events including Junior Championships and the indoor championships. Archery's disadvantage is that it is a non professional sporting activity with income only from membership subscriptions to cover ground and venue hire, purchase of equipment, provision of secure storage and insurance cover. Entrance fees for Tournaments are traditionally non profit making. The sport attracts practically no sponsorship or ' gate' money because it is largely a participating sport rather than a spectator event. It does provide a sporting and healthy outlet for people of an extremely wide age span. Archery is relatively inexpensive although equipment can be initially costly due to the employment of modern advanced materials.
An archery competition can last all day, it is ordered and requires concentration and personal discipline. There is no place for active aggression or bad language and it does not require a severe standard of fitness, although it does generate an interest in keeping in good physical condition. There is a system of achievement standards to allow individuals a route into national and international team selections.
For newcomers, the club runs beginners courses applying to both adults and juniors. Juniors, obviously, need a greater degree of training and supervision and to that end are taught by DBS-checked instructor-qualified members. This continues into further instruction and coaching for those joining on full junior membership. Juniors, as with wheelchair archers, do get priority consideration in view of a greater need for assistance. Many juniors have passed through the clubs hands over the years, many go on to do other sporting disciplines, some stay to become accomplished archers and some come back in later years to fulfil a competitive need that such as archery can provide.
All clubs are run by dedicated, enthusiastic and experienced people giving unpaid time to promote and practice archery. Newport Pagnell Archers has a committee of 8 officers consisting of Chairman, Vice Chairman,Secretary, Treasurer, Records Officer, Tournament Organiser, Equipment Officer and Social Secretary and meet once a month to cover and monitor all the aspects necessary to operate the Club successfully, it has a written Constitution and an Annual General Meeting. As mentioned before it has survived for over 49 years to date and is thriving. (With thanks to Peter Gawkrodger and Del Senior for their input to this history)