Since 1992 The Arundown Club has been based at The Angmering School.
Before that our outdoor shooting field had been at The Littlehampton Sports Club’s Field at St Flora’s Road, Littlehampton, and from 1989 our indoor shooting range in the winter months was at the new Angmering School. But severe shortage of capital meant the Littlehampton Sports Club needed to sell part of the field to raise money for improvement of the Football and Cricket facilities, and as some disruptive changes were about to happen we decided to move all activities to Angmering.
Much of the following short history was written for a book marking the 1997 Centenary of the Littlehampton Sports Field…
When the Arundown Archery Club was founded in 1954, many Archers were still using wooden bows and wood arrows with feather fletchings, and the sport was pretty much unchanged from a century earlier (the principal gentleman’s National Record was set in 1856 by Horace Ford, and stood until 1943, when some of the original Arundown club members had already started shooting). Soon things began to change radically, as aluminium arrows, tubular steel bows, and then laminated composite bows came into use.
The club flourished during the 1960s and 70s under the leadership of Phil and Margery Burbridge, who relentlessly insisted on impeccable etiquette and correct green costume, and if any holder of a club trophy dared to appear on the field without their medal attached, they would be barred from shooting!
From 1962 the club held an annual Hereford Round tournament on the end of April, at first at the Arundel Castle Cricket Ground, but following a flood and cancellation the event was moved to St Flora’s Road where it was a popular spectacle for the town and the other sports clubs – although some felt the popularity had something to do with the bar licence extension that was always arranged.
The event survived for over thirty years, and in its time was one of the main Southern Counties events, although, as equipment improved, fewer and fewer gentlemen were interested in shooting at the 80 yard (70 metre) distance. At its peak as many as fifty targets would be set up, with up to three hundred contestants. The tournament had National Record Status, and records were broken at the Sportsfield – notably by the legendary Graham ‘Doc’ Wotton, better known as the British Olympic Association Medical Advisor. Another Arundown ‘regular’ was Pauline Edwards, the outstanding British Lady Archer of all time, a competitor in more Olympics than any other Briton, and now living in Sussex and still shooting (but is now Pauline Swift).
During the reign of the Burbridges the club produced some outstanding archers, and even managed to win the National Indoor League. One of the club members, Herb Smith, also put the Sportsfield in the record books when he took the World ‘send-and-return’ Boomerang Record at St Flora’s Road, using a ‘start-of-the-art’ boomerang of his own design, which he then donated to the Sportsclub as a memento – it was framed and hung up in the bar.
The Club continued to host the Hereford which attracted fewer and fewer entrants, so in an attempt to improve the dwindling finances the Club hosted three Word Record Status FITA Star Events on the 50 acre-Sportsfield of the Littlehampton School, which we had been using from time to time for long-distance Clout Archery and occasionally for Flight Archery, and these shoots took the club back to the glory days of the Hereford in terms of numbers of entrants. But after three years some members felt the effort was too great, and the shoot transferred to County Oak in Brighton, but the enterprise did restore a healthy surplus in the bank account.
After the Club moved to Angmering it was finally recognised, in 1993, that the Hereford-Round Tournament was in terminal decline, but that there was a shortage of medium-sized Indoor Events. Since then we have held at first one, and then two, Indoor Tournaments every year, which have grown and grown in popularity so that in recent years the events have been full to capacity.