Bingham Leisure Centre was built alongside Toot Hill School in 1969, one of the first Joint Use facilities in the UK. Amongst the wide range of sports available archery was catered for in the Small Hall or Red Gym and early on was used for indoor shooting by Sherwood Archers.
In 1981 an approach was made by Fred Stapley, the Centre Manager, to mount an Able bodied/Disabled shoot to mark the “Year of the Disabled”. It will not surprise those who know the club well to learn that this approach was made to Jim Johnson over a pint in one of Bingham’s public houses ~ plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. This idea fell on fertile ground with Sherwood Archers providing the equipment for the shoot. So successful was it that Fred expressed a wish that it should become an annual event..
In 1982 a further conversation between Jim and Fred ~ we’ll not speculate here as to where this took place ~ led to Fred suggesting that a club be formed based at the Leisure Centre. In July that year an inaugural meeting of interested parties took place and Bingham Leisure Centre Archery Club was formed with Jim, David Jones and Peter Noble the founder members. Fred helped the club acquire equipment and the first of many Beginners courses took place.
Our early links with the town and the school
Since 1982 the club has grown to be a well thought of group by both the town and the Leisure Centre. One initial objective was to encourage archery in the school (Toot Hill) and town and it is fair to say this has been a success. Our link with Toot Hill continues with both the weekly school club and regular “lessons” and sessions in activities week being organised and supported by club members ~ a steady flow of juniors into the club from Toot Hill being beneficial to both parties.
Links farther afield
The club has also been very active within the Nottinghamshire and East Midlands Archery Societies and at National Level. Our current Chairman, Les Smeeton, was Performance Director for GNAS prior to the Sydney Olympics and closely involved with the English Archery Federation in the run up to the 2010 Commonwealth games in Delhi at which the English Archers were very successful.
Over the years Bingham has developed and supported a number of archers to shoot at the highest level:
Lindsay Smeeton was reserve for the Sydney Olympics in 2000, having previously shoot for England and Great Britain.
Louise Jones (daughter of a founder member), Brian Thornton and Tony Moore shot for England as did Madeleine Lane, as a junior.
Innumerable members have shot for the county at both senior and junior level. In 2013 Ian Christopher, Mick Coward, Adrianne Goodwin, John Hunton and Catherine Angus (junior) were selected for the county and several other team members started their archery life at Bingham.
Catherine Angus one of our juniors is currently (2013) working on Archery GB’s Talent Development Programme and with the Regional and county squads ~ during the year she achieved Junior Master Bowman status as well as coming third in the National Metric IV championships and was part of the EMAS gold medal winning team, at the National championships.
The original Able-Bodied/Disabled shoot changed over time to become Bingham’s Open Western and Club Championships and it continues to the present day, one of two regular competitions the club hosts. The other being our Open Spring Western, which for many years was a two-way longbow shoot, only opening out to other disciplines over the last few years.
The club has had considerable success at National Level winning the national Indoor team trophy on several occasions ~ in fact when the old trophy had no room for any more names we were allowed to retain it in perpetuity as not only did we win it that year but also our name was on it more than any other club. We have yet to win the new trophy but keep hoping we will have a squad capable of doing so in the future.
A community driven club
In 2012 we were designated a Community Specialist Club, one of the first to be given this status. This recognised our work in taking archery out into the community and giving people an opportunity to experience a sport they might not otherwise have thought about. We run have-a-go sessions several times a year as well as running sessions for beavers, cubs, scouts, brownies, guides, Round Table, Church groups, disabled groups and many more. This work has been aided over the last twelve months by generous grants from both Sport England and the Nottinghamshire Legacy Fund. This accreditation was reconfirmed in 2016 when we were also recognised as a Specialist Young Peoples Club.
At present we have five Nationally Accredited coaches who, supported by experienced archers, aim to support the development of our existing archers as well as introduce people to the sport for the first time through regular beginners courses.