Deer Park Archers is a family orientated ‘not for profit’ club that was originally set up in 1995 to run have-a-go archery sessions for Guides and Brownies at the Gloucestershire Guide Activity Centre.
A group of 10 adults participated in an Archery Leaders Course to enable them to teach at the Guide Centre. Friends of Deer Park purchased all the original equipment. Children of the original archery leaders also started archery and our Club was formed to allow these juniors to compete in local competitions.
The original summer venue was the small site opposite the Guide Centre, the first winter venue for seniors was the Green Dragon Pub and the juniors shot in our Club Secretary’s garage!
In 1999, Mark, one of our original juniors (then aged 11) became our first archer selected to represent the County. Steph became the second and the following year, Steph, Amy and Sam gained the honour of Deer Park Archers Juniors winning the top Junior Club in the Region (Gloucestershire, Somerset, Dorset and Wiltshire, Devon and Cornwall).
Increasing demand meant we had outgrown our initial sites so we needed new venues. In 2001, our winter venue become Birdlip Village Hall and our summer venue became Bubbs Hill. Two years later, we added Balcarras School Sports Centre, starting a long lasting partnership.
Andrea became our first senior archer to shoot for the County in 2001 and Steph (Aged just 13 and shooting recurve) became the first junior Deer Park Archer to represent the County Senior Team in 2002.
The Club membership remained around 25 but then 2004-2006 each saw an increase of around 20 archers with membership reaching just over 80. To meet the additional demand, we created a 12 acre Field Archery Course just 1 mile away from Bubbs Hill. This was thanks to a local farmer Mr Matt Hobbs, who not only allowed us to use the land (now called High Cross) but also purchased 24 foam bosses and an ample supply of target faces.
This was also a very important time for the club as a number of its Archery Leaders decided to take the Level 1 Coaching Course, until that point the club had no coaches! Within six years, the club would have 29 coaches aged 16 to 65 from L1 to L3. This focus on coaching shaped the club and it’s approach to the sport.
The club saw significant development in 2007 in the way the club was managed, the role of the coaches, its relationships with Archery GB, Community Sports Partnership & local schools which saw membership numbers continue to grow. It’s success on the field also began to improve and we saw the formation of our Field Archery Club (High Cross Field Archers) who broke away from us the following year. We decided to set up a new field course around Bubbs Hill and Cowley Wood.
By 2009, Di, Andrea, Amy, Steph, Rob, Nick, Laurance and Roger had all represented the Senior County Team with Mark, Steph, Steven, Amy, Sam, Chris, Rob, John, Alex, Beckie, Jessica and Callum having represented the Junior County Team.
In subsequent years, the emergence of Xperience Archery, the Archery GB Ontarget Programme, our relationship with Active Gloucestershire, our work in schools and the community and the club’s focus on the way the club is managed have taken us to great success both on and off the field of play! Since then, the club has developed in many directions to expand the reach of archery within schools and communities, ages and abilities.
In 2011, we became a ‘ClubMark’ accredited Club and the Sport & Recreation Alliance “National Sports Club of the Year!”
We were awarded the 2012 Sport & Recreation Alliance Award for ‘Volunteer Management.’ We also achieved both the ‘Young People’ & ‘Performance’ Club Specialisms, and we are currently one of only 2 Archery Clubs in the UK to have achieved all 3 of the Specialisms! We also became the Gloucestershire Media Awards Senior Sports Club of the Year.
We were awarded Archery GB “Club of the Year” Award 2013, won the Archery GB Inter-Club Championships, were finalists in the Gloucestershire “Young Club of the Year” and were awarded funding to develop Inclusion Archery in Gloucestershire! The was development further forming an Inclusion Section and a Bambi’s Section (5-7 year olds) and embarked on numerous training programmes to support these new members. We also became a CASC (Community Amateur Sports Club).
Our membership had reached 200 by 2013 and our practice sessions became so popular that we had to take a number of decisions to accommodate the extra load and to ensure we maintained the high standards we continue to keep. We introduce a booking system for some of our indoor venues and split the sessions to double the capacity. We were also able to establish a new evening venue at GL1 where we also support a session organised by the Recreation Centre. These changes were so successful that we were able to increase participation levels and accommodate more regular practice sessions!
We formed Deer Park Archers Limited in September 2014 enabling the purchase of our own ground with plans to develop the facilities to support outdoor shooting (target and field) and indoor shooting (during winter months). Early October saw the arrival of our first 40ft Container to our new outdoor ground and over the following months thanks to the club members, the installation of fencing and landscaping activities as a step to preparing our ground for use in April 2015.
We had 4 finalists in the Gloucestershire Media Awards for “Young Sports Personality,” “Coach of the Year,” “Disability Sports Performer of the Year” and “Junior Team of the Year” and we were awarded the Archery GB ‘Innovation Award’.
Before we could use the ground, we needed to install a car park. Gloucestershire County Council awarded us a grant in exchange for running open community have a go sessions throughout the summer. We were also helped by Elliott’s Sand & Gravel.
By April 2015, we were ready to start using the ground...
…and later that year we had our official opening.
We became an Environmental Body and received a grant from the Gloucestershire Environmental Trust to install drainage across our playing surface.
We were again awarded recognition by a ‘Special Commendation’ from the Sport & Recreation Alliance for our work developing the club and work in the community. We also were recognised by Archery GB who awarded us Ontarget Awards for Partnership, Innovation and Young Volunteer. We were again finalists in the Gloucestershire Sports Media Awards as Community Club of the Year and Disabled Athlete of the Year.
In September, we were awarded a £70,000 grant from the Sport England Inspired Facilities Fund to build a 90ft Covered Shooting Area and install water and electric and a temporary toilet block and sewage system. Work was completed in time for the 2016 outdoor season.
We were awarded the Archery GB Club of the Year for the second time for the 2015/16 year. We were also awarded further grants by Sport England to help us to improve facilities and increase participation (targets which we exceeded by some margin).
In 2016, we also ran our first record status event at our new ground and hosted County competitions. We also ran our first World Record Status Tournament at an indoor venue! We also performed at the highest level to meet 2 Sport England/Cabinet Office Audits.
We received the Archery GB Performance Club of the Year Award 2017 (for the 2016 year) which was the only Ontarget Award we had not won! We achieved ClubMark re-accreditation again! We received 2 grants to help with our coach development from Active Gloucestershire and Archery GB, increasing our coaching capacity to 34 and our membership exceeded 230 for the first time!
We also used our new Compact tractor for the first time which was 50% funded by Tewkesbury Borough Council and the improvement in our playing surface has been fantastic. We also ran 2 outdoor World Record Status events for the first time!
In 2018, we received a £100K grant from the Gloucestershire Environmental Trust, which combined with our wonderful fundraising efforts, further grants from the Summerfield Trust and the Worshipful Company of Fletchers and a superbly constructed business plan we were able to fund a 21m x 10m Modular Construction Clubhouse/Training Centre!
We received a special award from Archery GB for our outstanding contribution to the Ontarget Programme, consistently exceeding all the criteria targeting Club Development! We also expanded our field course activity, including organising the County Field Championships, and continued to develop the course. We consolidated our winter mini-field league to run fortnightly!
We were awarded a grant from the Barnwood Trust to install Social Terracing and together with our own fundraising efforts and great support from Elliotts Sand and Gravel completed that project later in 2019.
During 2019, we also did extensive work on the field course, built a play area for adapted kit thanks to Tescos, planted a tree for every club member, installed a boule and social area and launched our Short Mat Bowls Section.
Much of the work required was carried out by our newly formed group of ‘men-in-sheds‘!
Thanks to a generous donation by a member, we also built a new Tournament Control Centre! We also installed a security system and kitted out our ‘men-in-sheds’ shed!
Finally, we achieved ClubMark Re-Accreditation and in 2020, we again received a special award from Archery GB for our outstanding contribution to the Ontarget Programme, consistently exceeding all the criteria targeting Club Development!
These awards and many others during recent years reflect the ethos of the club and the areas we particularly focus on. If it is worth doing then it is worth doing well! Being at the top and pushing new boundaries & innovations is not easy and one important characteristic of the club is that we are always willing to share our experiences with other clubs and there are many case studies available to share our experiences!