Archers searching for winter home

ARCHERS in Bognor Regis fear they could be left without a winter venue.

The town’s archery club has spent the past four months shooting at its temporary venue in Chichester after its previous home in Bognor was unavailable.

But there is no certainty the current arrangement for shooting between October and March will continue in 2014/15.

Club secretary Brenda New said: “We are at the school until April but there is no certainty we can go back there next winter.

“If we can’t find anywhere to shoot indoors then we will have to do it outdoors.

“But that is not very pleasant in the winter and it will have to be cancelled if it’s raining hard.”

The current winter set-up also means practising from 5.45pm on Wednesdays – awkward for members who work compared to the previous Sunday morning sessions.

The club has existed for more than 25 years. It has grown in numbers since the London 2012 Olympics to become about 60 strong. Members’ ages range from nine into their 80s.

The past six winters have seen them meet at the Arena Sports Centre, off Westloats Lane, from 8.30am-11.30am.

The centre perfectly fitted their needs for a 30-35m long indoor facility in their home town.

They arrived 30 minutes early to set up their equipment and left by the end of their slot.

Mrs New said: “We always kept to the rules but, all of a sudden, the centre said they didn’t want us anymore.

“They said they wanted the space for children’s parties but it’s a sports centre which is supposed to be for sports.”

Club member Brian Baker said Arena’s website and brochure reflected the push for children’s parties.

“As our meetings were held on a Sunday morning, I find it difficult to believe that there would be many parties held at that time,” he said.

Simon Burton, Arena’s manager, said: “The Arena Sports Centre offers fantastic and extremely popular facilities for Bognor residents and the surrounding areas.

“Due to increased community use, it has not been possible to offer the Bognor Regis Archery Club the hours that they requested on a Sunday morning during the winter period.

“We will continue to monitor usage and availability moving forward and will, of course, contact the archery club if times become available that meet their requirements.”

Summer sees the club meeting outdoors at Felpham Community College on Sunday mornings. Sessions which are cancelled because of bad weather can be easily re-arranged for the lighter evenings or Saturdays.