The King’s Lynn Field Archers, or KLFA for short, originated with the King’s Lynn Bowmen Archery Club. The Bowmen were, and indeed still are, a Target Archery club run under the rules of what was the Grand National Archery Society, or Archery GB as it is now called. The targets used in Target Archery are the familiar roundels fixed to straw bosses set on wooden stands invariably placed on neatly mown grassy swards. The targets are set at known distances with several dozen arrows shot at them simultaneously by groups of archers standing on the shooting line. After every six arrows, the shooting stops and the arrows are scored and retrieved. At the end of the round the scores are totalled up and the winners declared.
A few of the club’s members decided to try their hand at a different type of archery where the targets represent animals which are being hunted, where the distances from archer to target are usually unknown, and where the whole exercise takes place in a natural environment of woodland and scrub. This, as explained more fully in another article on this website, is Field Archery, administered by the National Field Archery Society (NFAS).
After some trial and error, a suitable venue for Field Archery was found in an abandoned carrstone quarry, which the landowner had no particular use for and was happy for it to be used by those members of the Bowmen who were prepared to clamber around its slopes and battle with the brambles in pursuit of their sport. It is believed that the annual donation of a bottle of whisky was considered an adequate recompense for the use of the land in those days!
A few years down the line and it became clear to all that there were now two virtually separate clubs operating under the name of the King’s Lynn Bowmen. The inevitable eventually happened and the King’s Lynn Field Archers became a club in its own right.
While membership of the NFAS is an individual matter, the new club had to register itself and its shooting ground with the NFAS for insurance purposes. A fledgling Committee consisting of Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer was formed to run the club on behalf of the members and a Constitution was drawn up.
The newly-formed KLFA had only a handful of members at that time and needed to attract new recruits so a great deal of hard work was then put in to publicising the club and seeking grants for much-needed equipment, particularly targets and somewhere to safely store them.
The Club Today.
This hard work has been most successful and the club now has over sixty members. It also has sufficient equipment to be able to coach groups of newcomers to the sport and to host Open Shoots, where archers from other Field Archery clubs can compete for medals and glory, or at least enjoy a freshly-cooked beef-burger or two!
The club moved to a new quarry site in July 2016, comprising a mix of woodland, scrub, open ground and lake. We are extremely grateful to have found this ideal site for our shooting grounds, particularly with the variety of terrain it offers with which to challenge both club members and visitors to our open shoots!
The preparations for shooting at Target Archery are relatively simple. Target stands and bosses have to be trundled into position and pegged down and the shooting lines laid out. At the end of the day everything is dismantled and put away. The only other major requirement is to have the grass mown at regular intervals.
Field Archery presents a rather more complex picture. In order to be able to shoot in the quarry considerably more physical work has to be done. Paths need to be cut through the undergrowth to allow archers to move from one target to the next around the course, and steps cut into the steeper banks where necessary. The places for targets to be positioned have to be decided on and the pegs from which the archers shoot have to be placed in suitable positions. The locations of targets and pegs need to be changed regularly to provide new challenges to the archers shooting the course.
The job of the course-layer is to make the shooting of the whole course not only attainable by novice archers but also challenging to the more accomplished – not an easy task. The job is complicated further by the need to consider not just the various range of experience of archers but also the variety of physical ability and different types of bows used.
KLFA are exceedingly lucky to have so many members who are willing to give up their free time to do all this work, as well as all the other jobs which have to be done for any club to function, such as the myriad tasks performed by the members of the club’s Committee. The Committee now consists of Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer, Membership Secretary, Quartermaster and two Members “without portfolio”. We also have two Course Officers who are responsible for laying out the course, two Safety Officers to check that the course can be shot safely, two Equipment / Maintenance Officers who supervise the path and step construction, as well as putting up shelves and repairing sheds.
Visitors to the club, particularly at Open Shoots, are often heard to remark on how friendly and helpful the members of KLFA are. It goes without saying that we are delighted to have such a reputation.
Any club is only viable if it has a strong membership. While some of our members have been with us from the very beginning, and some appear to be determined to be with us until the end, others come and go. We are always happy to welcome new members, whatever their previous experience of archery, with novices and even experienced archers being catered for by our two NFAS-registered Coaches.