A History of Droitwich Archery Society
The early years
The Droitwich Archery Society was formed when the old Worcester Company of Archers, then based at the YMCA ground at Henwick Road in Worcester, finally ceased to function. The last four years of this club’s life saw it sited at three different venues, resulting in the membership becoming disgruntled and losing interest. When it ceased to function in 1967 one of its members, Ken Barry, decided to seek advice from the then Secretary of the West Midlands Archery Society (Mrs Cath Pritchard) on the feasibility of setting up an archery club in Droitwich, if a suitable venue could be found.
W.M.A.S. gave its blessing and Ken began advertising in the Droitwich area for potential members. At the same time he set out to find a suitable ground: it transpired that a Mrs Price, principal of Glenhyng School at the rear of Dodderhill Church in Droitwich, had some pupils who were involved in archery (as a school activity), and agreed to D.A.S. using the school grounds.
By this time several potential archers had made contact, so the Society’s first chairman, Terry McDonough, was elected. He and Ken agreed terms with Mrs Price, resulting in the formation of Droitwich Archery Society (D.A.S.) Odd bits of timber, stramit board, string and tape were utilised to create targets, stands etc. and at the beginning of 1968, further membership was acquired through the first beginners course. In June the first tournament was mounted, the W.M.A.S. Novices. A good report from the judges led to a surge of enthusiasm and the eventual mounting of the Worcestershire County Championships.
An "Archery Darts" social event above The Old Cock Inn in 1968.
George Pugh (centre) is still a member of the club to this day.
The growing membership was encouraged to take part in tournaments away from the Club, and soon various members were displaying medals on belts and quivers. Glenhyng School proved to be the ideal venue, with a full 150 x 100 yds shooting ground, a screen of poplar trees as a background and easy access to the A38. However, after some five years of halcyon archery, news came that Mrs Price intended to construct tennis courts across the sports field: this virtually put paid to the Club’s activities at this location.
At this stage the Club Coach, John Bowcott, approached the newly formed St. Peter’s Field Sports Association that was being developed in Droitwich. The object of this venture was to set up a sports governing body to incorporate five activities, namely cricket, tennis, archery, rugby and hockey. D.A.S. took possession of a disused timber garage, moved in their equipment and started shooting. However, the site was crossed by a Public Right of Way, so that a constant watch had to be maintained for people walking across the shooting area. In addition, despite John’s efforts to integrate archery into the Sports Association, it soon became apparent that the Cricket Club was most unhappy with the situation, and they made it as difficult as possible for D.A.S. to operate effectively. Such was the level of their antagonism that, once again, a change of venue was needed. The club did in fact return to Glenhyng School for a short period but, by that stage, the ground had been sold for development. To cap it all, Mrs Price retired and the School then reverted to its former title of Dodderhill School by which it is still known today.
At about this time a long-standing member of the Club, Ron Douglas, learnt through a work colleague that the newly formed Worcester Rugby Club would not be adverse to an approach from D.A.S. for the use of an area at their ground.
Bob Cummings was duly approached and, in 1977, the Club moved to Six Ways. Initially the shooting field was a rather ‘pot-holey’ piece of land, and then a plot alongside the hedge next to the Worcester to Birmingham canal.
Associate membership of the W.R.F.C. was agreed for all D.A.S members, and a temporary hut acquired. The hut was soon replaced and this venue proved ideal over the next twenty years, apart from the fact that no less than eight break-ins resulted in a great deal of equipment being lost and no small amount of damage being done by the unwelcome visitors. The insurance company who covered the equipment soon became disillusioned and, after the sixth episode they declined to cover any further loss. The result was the purchase of a steel container.
With the coming of professional Rugby W.R.F.C. was very successful, gaining promotion in both of the first two seasons. They became very ambitious and, with D.A.S. help, successfully applied for a Lottery grant for ‘The Provision of Facilities for Minority Sports’, which funded some new facilities. Unfortunately once these facilities were complete it was made clear that D.A.S. were no longer welcome at Six Ways.
A large tournament (70+ targets) at Six Ways
Battenhall - the quiet years
In 1996 discussions were started with Worcester College of Higher Education (now known as University College – UCW) for the hire of their sports field off Battenhall Road: the club moved here in time for the 1997 season. Equipment was stored in a brick building whilst planning permission for the siting of the container was sought and granted. However the ground lacked facilities of any sort and, in any case, 2004 the club were informed that planning permission for the container was not being renewed.
Droitwich Archery moves to Droitwich
The club was on the move again, this time to the Stoke Prior Sports & Country Club. The move was completed in time for the start of the season, and the first Summer Tournament for many years was shot that June. However, by 2006 the club was on the move again.
The management at Stoke Prior were expanding their operation, and this was squeezing the time available for archery, so the club entered into negations with DRFC (Droitwich Rugby Club), a venue that had been considered before, but rejected as impractical. This time however DRFC offered a different part of the ground that is ideal for Archery. So, despite a large increase in cost, the club elected to move there for the 2007 season.
With the club now sited in Droitwich, and with such excellent facilities, it was planned that the club should host additional tournaments, maybe even harking back to the glory days of the ‘70s! The move proved immensely popular, and the club doubled in size over the next two years. In order to accommodate this expansion a huge amount of development was undertaken between 2007 & 2009. Six coaches were trained & qualified, and the number of storage containers increased to three.
The club now shoots on their own exclusive shooting ground, just outside Hanbury. We run four sessions of club shooting per week during the summer months. Indoor winter shooting now takes place at Droitwich High School, where we shoot twice a week during the winter.
Club membership has fluctuated over the years from almost fifty to a low of some twenty-five. At present it now stands at over seventy adults and a dozen juniors, and is steadily increasing as a result of beginners’ courses held on a regular basis. Funds are normally raised through membership fees and the staging of tournaments. Whilst based at Six Ways, D.A.S. hosted one of the biggest and most popular ‘record status’ outdoor shoots of the season, with over seventy targets and two days continuous shooting. This ceased when the W.R.F.C. withdrew their permission. With the move to Droitwich, tournaments have restarted, albeit on a more modest scale.
The club is one of nine within the County of Worcestershire. It has acquired a reputation for being highly competitive, providing several archers who represent the County at Inter-county Tournaments and members of the Regional Squad. Many also shoot in National Leagues during the winter and county competitions during the summer. A good proportion of the membership shoot regularly in tournaments throughout the region, with better than average success. Apart from the competitive side, there are regular club practice shoots and events, laid on to raise money for local and national charities. The social aspect is not ignored with meetings and competitions such as skittles and darts being staged with other clubs, pubs etc. in the area.
The annual Christmas shoot
The "CSI Droitwich" container painting crew