Olympics legacy hits the target for Hucknall archery club

The Rolls-Royce Bowmen of Sherwood held a Have A Go evening at Hucknall Rolls-Royce Leisure Club on Friday for members of the public.''Pictured are twins, Reece and Ciaran Wright aged 7 with their Dad, club member Shaun Wright. Shaun's Dad Paul and eldest son Liam are also members and the twins are hoping to join them soon.

The Rolls-Royce Bowmen of Sherwood held a Have A Go evening at Hucknall Rolls-Royce Leisure Club on Friday for members of the public.''Pictured are twins, Reece and Ciaran Wright aged 7 with their Dad, club member Shaun Wright. Shaun's Dad Paul and eldest son Liam are also members and the twins are hoping to join them soon.

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The much-vaunted Olympics legacy is alive and kicking -- and not just in London.

For here in the heart of Hucknall, an archery club is thriving on the back of the success of the 2012 Games.

The Rolls-Royce Bowmen of Sherwood club has been firing arrows at the Rolls sports field, off Watnall Road, for 57 years.

But never before has it seen such a surge of interest in the sport.

“When I first joined the club four years ago, there were 34 members,” says the Bowmen’s development officer David Jackson. “But now we have double that number.

“The exposure archery received at the Olympics obviously helped. And we have received a grant of £1,000 from the Olympics Legacy Fund, overseen by Notts County Council.

“We have also won community status with the Archery GB organisation, so we plan to grow interest in the sport in the local schools. We are really chuffed.”

The grant is a slice of the £1 million legacy fund that is being distributed to sports clubs across the county.

It is described by Lord Sebastian Coe, who was chairman of the organising committee for the Games as “a wonderful, trailblazing example of a local Olympics legacy”.

Eight archery clubs have shared an award of £25,000 to reflect the fact that the sport is growing faster in the home county of Robin Hood than anywhere else in the Midlands.

Says Chris Joyce, chairman of the Nottinghamshire Archery Society: “Since the Olympic Games, interest in archery has surged, with clubs struggling to cope with the inquiries, and many beginners’ courses filling up overnight.”

Team GB’s archers failed to win a single medal at the London Games, resulting in a cut in funding from UK Sport.

But fortunes could soon be on the up if the response in Hucknall is anything to go by.

“We have used the grant to buy 22 new sets of equipment so that we can run several courses at Rolls-Royce for beginners and for the local schools,” says Jackson, whose two sons, Ryan (16) and Rhys (14) are junior members of the Bowmen.

“We will be starting an after-school archery club at Holgate Comprehensive School in April and I have also been in talks with the Boys Brigade. Lots of things are happening at the moment.”

In recent times, the Bowmen have also welcomed financial support from Ashfield District Council, Hucknall Round Table and the good-causes-fund of Coun Mick Murphy (Con), one of Hucknall’s county councillors.

The club benefited too from a boom in interest, particularly from youngsters, when it staged a ‘Have A Go’ evening for beginners last spring, which it plans to repeat before the new outdoor season begins in May.

“When we held the session, we had five junior members,” recalls Jackson. “Now we have 24, ranging from the ages of nine to 17.

“We even put together a junior team for league competitions, in which Liam Wright (12), Paddy Honey (16) and my sons all did well.

“Liam came first in his age group in the discipline of recurve archery for the whole county, which was a great boost for the club.”

The Rolls-Royce Bowmen currently have 38 senior members, including disabled man Sam McAree, who occasionally has to shoot from a wheelchair.

Many archers have represented Great Britain, including Bernie Dicks, plus Steve Bowley and his sons, Neil and Craig. Both Dicks and William Pottschulte are also members of the county archery team.

The Bowmen club was founded in 1956 as the archery section of the Rolls-Royce Social Club.

Originally, it was open only to Rolls employees. But now it welcomes anyone, with members shooting a range of recurve bows, compounds and longbows from distances ranging from 20 yards to 100 yards.

The club also hosts national and county competitions, while internal summer sessions are staged at Rolls every Wednesday and Friday evening between April and September.

“Archery is a very rewarding sport to get involved with,” says Jackson. “It teaches discipline, structure, posture and good muscle-tone.”