History

Ditchling Archery Club was formed in 1973 by a group of people who wanted to start an archery club in the area. A public meeting was called and from the attendance at that, it was apparent that there was sufficient interest to form a club. The venue chosen was Whitemans Green, Cuckfield and the club was initially called Ye Cuckfield Bowmen. The ‘Ye’ part was, thank goodness, dropped some years ago.

The problem with shooting at Whitemans Green was that it was a public park and when the local Council heard that there was an archery club shooting there they quickly stepped in and suggested an alternative, safer venue of St Wilfrids School, Haywards Heath. The club shot there for some years and the quality of the archery improved to such an extent that three members of the club shot for the Sussex team. However, the club was severely restricted for storage space and so a move was made in mid-1977 back to Cuckfield to the Youth Club ground in London Lane.

Here the club continued to grow and was soon over 30 members. Unfortunately, the Youth Club was closed in 1979 and the club was forced to move yet again. Enquiries were made at the village of Ansty, but just prior to deciding to move there the chance arose to move to the Sydney West Sports Centre in Burgess Hill. Being in the centre of the town this was the much better option so the club moved to there instead.

From 1979 to 1984 the club prospered, with the membership reaching 40 by 1982. But the Sydney West Centre itself was struggling and in late 1984 sold out to Mid Sussex District Council to clear their debts. Of course, once the Council took over, the rent for the use of the facilities started to rise at such a rate that it became obvious that the club could no longer afford to stay at that venue.

Enquiries were made locally, during which we learned that there was a medieval archery field at Ditchling.

We approached the Parish Council who said that the medieval field had a pathway down one side of it but we would be welcome to shoot on the rugby field. A large precast concrete garage was obtained as a storage shed, and erected in one corner of the field, and the club moved into its present home in April 1987.

Since the move to Ditchling the club has continued to grow with membership peaking at 67 a few years ago. We have the usual mixture of recurve, compound and longbow archers but perhaps the club’s greatest achievement was winning Division I of the Sussex Albion League in 1993.