Worthing has a long association with the sport of archery. As long ago as 1860 Worthing Archery Society, occasionally also referred to as Worthing Archery Club, was shooting at Steyne Gardens just off the seafront. During Victorian times archery was a popular sport as it was practiced by many British monarchs and was considered a graceful exercise that taught dexterity. Archery was also one of the few sports in which women could compete alongside men, indeed archery was one of the first organised competitive sports for women. The details of the club that shot in Worthing during the 1800's has sadly been lost to history but what we do know is that the club in its present form was founded in 1949.
Records of the first club committee unfortunately do not exist but in 1959 the officers were:
President: Alderman Osland Chairman: John Hackman Secretary: Mrs Stella Hackman Committee Members:Mr Tommy Dymock Mrs Elizabeth Dymock Mr John Harrison Mrs Peggy Harrison.
Alderman Osland was the Mayor of Worthing, and when he died his daughter Gabrielle took over the position of President, and the club enjoyed many winter days shooting clouts in the field near their farm. The Club’s official home in those days was Worthing Football Club and all members were automatically members of the football club. This enabled them to use the ground for practice, matches and tournaments, and the hall for other events. The club was small at that time with around 20 members taking part in club events and tournaments. One innovative adventure was a league to compete against overseas archers which proved to be very successful; Worthing used to shoot against two Australian Clubs - Bunbury and Benara. Two of our members visited Benara, which is near Perth, and presented them with a silver plate. Also one of the Club’s members won the Bunbury postal league and still has the award.
Tommy and Elizabeth Dymock also set about forming the Sussex County Albion League in the 1950’s, designed purely to allow archers of all levels to meet others on a friendly basis, at their various grounds. This was another successful venture for the club, with the result that it is now implemented throughout the county and is still in existence. Now run by Sussex County it has developed into five leagues with cups to be won. It is interesting to note that despite equipment greatly improving over the years, and higher scores - archers still find it a struggle to achieve the final accolade of Grand Master Bowman - this is the reason that the classification of Bowman was introduced, so even the very best have something to strive for.
As the club grew through the 60's and 70's bigger and better grounds were needed, so we left Worthing Football Club for a small piece of land in Worthing woods. The new club ground must have played its part in inspiring the members to achieve greater success and meant the committee could explore the option of developing field archery. Gary Kinghorn, Tony Zottola and Mark Caine went all over the country attending field archery ranges and learning all they could about the sport. Gary Kinghorn then moved from target to field archery and soon excelled at this and was selected to shoot for Great Britain on several occasions, becoming World Champion. Our annual field shoot has now become a very successful tournament; we were selected to host the All British Field Championships in 1999 and have since hosted the All English, and regularly host the Sussex County Field Championships.
In more recent years the committee has focused on developing the club, facilities and membership and we now boast a membership of around 100 archers of all ages and abilities from complete beginners to elite archers who have competed in the Olympic Games. We are now one of the few clubs in the country to offer outdoor, target and field archery 7 days a week with an indoor facility for the winter. Most clubs in Sussex only offer shooting on 1 or 2 days a week and very few offer both target and field archery. We also have a Junior Club coached by Doreen Cannon, again with members from complete beginners up to County Champions. We also have an active program in place for regular investment in the club providing not only regular maintenance but also new equipment and now offer a bow loan service to beginners who join our club after completing one of our beginners courses.