Here’s a club that’s been going for 60 years, is based in woods between Meltham and Honley and has more than 200 members.
It’s the Valley Bowmen of Huddersfield archery club and people are always keen to take up this age-old skill which can use modern gadgetry these days.
The club was formed back in 1963 off Knowle Lane by Ricky Farrar and some of its members are in their early 80s but new members are joining all the time, including entire families.
Over the years archers from the club have represented both Yorkshire and Great Britain.
The club received £50,000 from Sport England Lottery funding in 2012 to set up its own clubhouse – named in honour of its founder – which is a renovated shipping container complete with kitchen and store.
Valley Bowmen do two-hour taster sessions for people interested in trying out the sport and also run beginner courses.
The club’s members will be celebrating its diamond jubilee at its base on Sunday, July 9, with a fun shoot in the morning and a competition in the afternoon. For the fun shoot all the members have to use the club’s equipment as many of them have their own high tech archery gear which can cost thousands of pounds.
Valley Bowmen run around 11 courses for beginners every year with each one spanning three weekends from 12noon to 3pm on consecutive Saturdays. If people like it they then join up and members now regularly take part in national competitions.
It’s the ultimate outdoor sport but Valley Bowmen now have an indoor archery range so can continue their sport all year round.
This was completed in December 2021 thanks to another £50,000 Sport England grant with the club raising the other £26,000 it needed for the project.
The club now has 207 members including 32 juniors aged from 10 to 18.
Club secretary Paul McGuire said: “It’s a great setup we have here now and it’s debt-free. Many archery clubs share sports fields with rugby, football and cricket clubs but we have our own grounds which means we can use it whenever we want.
“Every member has access to the facilities so they can shoot whenever they want.”
Paul, 75, of Kirkburton, has been a member for 15 years.
“I’d played football and squash and when I was well into my 50s wanted another sport but decided crown green bowling wasn’t for me,” he said. “As a kid I loved playing with a bow and arrow so did some research, discovered the club, completed the beginner course and I’ve been here ever since. It’s an individual sport at heart but we also compete as a team too.”
Club treasurer John Sinfield, of Holmfirth, has been a member for seven years.
“I drove past it one day, thought I’d have a go and so did the beginner course,” he said. “It really helps me to relax and clear my mind, especially if I’ve had a stressful week at work. It’s really you against yourself, always trying to improve.”
The club is set up for disabled use with a disabled toilet and everything is wheelchair accessible.
There are three kinds of bows members use. Traditional longbows are made from natural wood such as yew while the two other types – recurve bows and compound bows – are manufactured from aluminium and carbon fibre. All Olympic archers use recurve bows.
Quite a lot of strength is needed to use some of the bows – a traditional longbow can need 140lb of tension to pull the string back which is massive. The more modern bows can be far less than that with recurve bows around 46lb and compound bows as low as 15lb.
Both the longbows and the recurve bows shoot the arrows in an arc while the new high tech compound bows shoot them in more of a straight line and have gadgets to help pull the string back so it’s more like using a trigger. They can even have magnifying lenses and spirit levels to ensure the shot is just right.
With the longbow and recurve bow the archers need to use their fingers to pull the string back so if the release isn’t spot on it can quickly send the arrow flying off course.
Good quality recurve bows with all the attachments can typically cost between £1,800 and £2,500 while compound bows can often go over £2,500. Compound arrows for them can cost up to £45 each and have to be bought in sets of 12 although most members do pay a lot less. Anyone wishing to take up archery doesn’t need to spend so much as a starter kit can typically cost between £150 and £200.
Valley Bowmen of Huddersfield has its own equipment and always advises people to use that until they become proficient before even thinking of buying their own bows.
This is because weights and tensions all change as the user becomes a better archer.
The Valley Bowmen shoot at targets set typically at 20 yards, 50 yards and 60 yards with the furthest one set at 100 yards which is around 92 metres or 300ft.
Club fees are £70 a year for adults and £30 for juniors and disabled members. People who join also have to pay insurance to the sport’s governing organisation, Archery GB.
The club is run voluntarily by a committee of seven members who all have their own roles and the club also relies heavily on members who volunteer to help out on beginner courses, taster sessions and have-a-go events around the districts. The club is also registered as a Community Amateur Sports Club.
To find out more about the club, contact it or book a taster session or beginner course by going to http://valleybowmen.co.uk/
Written by ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire freelance journalism agency AH! PR (https://ah-pr.com/) specialising in press releases, blogging, website content and copywriting.