HISTORY OF THE VALLEY BOWMEN OF HUDDERSFIELD
The Valley Bowmen of Huddersfield were founded in 1963 as a breakaway from the Huddersfield Archers. The founding members were seven in number including Ricky Farrar (whose idea it was) his wife Karla and Hazel Charlesworth. The first shooting venue was at the police rugby club at Armitage Bridge, Lockwood. It was there for a couple of years until it moved to a field next to the Sands House pub at Crosland Moor. A wooden pavilion was set up and the club stayed in Crosland Moor until the club members moved in 1971 to a field on Knowle Lane between Honley and Meltham – taking the wooden pavilion with them.
The field on Knowle Lane was provided rent free by one of the members who lived nearby. The pavilion was re-erected and a back breaking period ensued with the preparation of the field for shooting and the planting of trees. In 1991 the field was put up for sale and the club bought it with a combination of membership funds and a grant from Kirklees Local Authority. The land is held in trust for the club and can only be used for archery. If the club ends the field must go to another archery club or the national governing body of the sport.
In the early years of the club Karla Farrar and Hazel Charlesworth were on the Yorkshire Team a tradition continued by Christine Horsefall who also shot for England. In more recent times we have had the privilege of having Dr David Williams (former GB junior squad member; recurve) and Stephen Dixon (former GB squad member; compound) shoot as members of the club.
The Valley Bowmen of Huddersfield maintain many traditions including the gonfalon (hand stitched and embroidered by the founder Karla Farrar) displayed proudly at all competitions at which the club is represented. Indeed, when the club starting sending teams out into the world again this was greeted with some astonishment as the use of the gonfalon had given up the ghost. However, as it is enshrined in our constitution, we shall continue. A gonfalon is a coat of arms carried about on a stick usually by our club President who has the honour at present of carrying out this sacred task.
About 10 years ago the original wooden pavilion was severely vandalised and had to be replaced by a steel storage container. The trees planted by the founders around the perimeter of the field have matured and lying in the shadows of the Pennines, close to the Peak District National Park, this is now one of the most beautiful places in Yorkshire and provides an inspiring place to shoot.
The archers shoot longbow, recurve and compound bows with the odd enthusiast shooting Mongolian and American Indian bows. There is a social side with barbecues and competitions at the club as well as trips away to local competitions. The Valley Bowmen also provide have-a-go sessions for local groups and host Scout activities as well as demonstrating archery in the areas High Schools. There are now over 120 members of the Valley Bowmen of Huddersfield.
The club has seen an expansion in recent years and in 2012 used a substantial grant from Sport England – Inspired Facilities to install anti-vandal steel changing rooms, kitchen and toilets with electricity and mains water in the newly dedicated “Farrar Pavilion”. This was followed in 2021 by a further grant from Sport England, as part of the “Return to Sport” initiative following the Covid-19 pandemic, which enabled the club to erect a permanent indoor shooting range thus providing members with all year round shooting.
As the Valley Bowmen are about to celebrated their 60th anniversary of their founding they are confident that whatever the future brings the club will continue to bring exercise and comradeship to its members and a taste of the sport of archery in all its forms to visiting archers and the public alike.
The Valley Bowmen of Huddersfield were founded in 1963 and are a community amateur sports club (CASC) affiliated to the Grand National Archery Society t/a ArcheryGB (the sports governing body in the UK).