Newcastle City Archers was founded in late 1962 by some members of the the now defunct Lake Macquarie Archery Club which then shot at a ground in Belmont. There were limitations to the ground at Belmont so some members living in Newcastle, decided to form a new club and find a ground somewhere in Newcastle, preferably in the city where it would be more noticeable.
National Park Street
Settling on the athletic ground in National Park Street, the club was allowed to build a shed under one of the grandstands in which to store its equipment. At tournaments in those days, each club had a banner and so one was designed for the club. The design, together with the club colours of black and white was registered with the Archery Society of NSW. That design remains to this day as our club badge. At this time the club had many excellent archers, and Newcastle became a real force in championship class archery.
After a few years, being in a more prominent position, graduallymembership grew. Unfortunately, as the club’s membership grew so did that of the Athletics Association, and so the search for a new ground began again.
A New Start and then Disaster
Land at Edgeworth, beside what is nowthe home gund of the Edgeworth Eagles soccer ground was decided upon. It was a good long field fenced off from the football club. Additionally, land at Minmi, that now known as the suburb of Fletcher was owned by the family of one of the members and the club was allowed to build a field course and a clout field.
A clubhouse was built, about twenty feet square with a concrete base and walls of cement blocks it. All of the club’s equipment was moved in but unfortunately this was 1974 and just a few days after moving in, the storm, which beached the coal carrier "Cygna" in Sotckton Bight, demolished the clubhouse! Sadly, members were so demoralised by this event that Newcastle City Archers virtually disbanded.
One member, Peter Smith, continued to shoot, with Northern Archers at Thornleigh in northern Sydney, which was the closest club at the time. A few months later Toronto YMCA commenced Indoor Archery under the tutelage of John Hills who asked Peter to join him. They also shot outdoor on grounds at the rear of Westlakes Caravan Park.
However, the YMCA folded and so in 1976 John and Peter formed Westlakes Archery Club continuing to shoot at the rear of the caravan park. The majority of the Westlakes members were from Newcastle and in about 1980 Peter, his son and son-in-law, felt it was time to resurrect the Newcastle Club.
Once again a ground had to be found. Brian Wilson, the then Secretary of Newcastle Pistol Club, suggested they have a look at some ground that the Pistol Club was not using. This was the other end of the quarry from where the Pistol Club was sited.
A great deal of work had to be done on the ground, as it was all overgrown and covered in rubble. However, it would be able to shoot a distance of 90metres. Money from the old club had been deposited with the Archery Society of NSW and this was returned, allowing a bulldozer to be hired. This ground remains the home of NCA to this day.
The Pistol Club were more than happy for the club to be there as it made it possible for them to get grants to improve their own facilities. Later they gave NCA the use of the Air Pistol Range to use for shooting Indoor and to also store equipment. This was ideal as for many years NCA was a very competitive club and virtually every weekend members would be shooting away at Tournaments, using the field basically for training. Many members also had membership of Westlakes and Boolaroo Bowmen. This enabled them to shoot Target, Field and ABA. The majority of NCA members also became Associate members of the Pistol Club.
In October 1981 the archery clubs of Northern New South Wales, Newcastle, Police Boys, Westlakes, Wyong, Gosford, Kempsey, Taree, Tamworth, Armidale, Avon Valley, Ballina and Casino, held a Northern NSW Archery Expo. Held at the Newcastle Police-Citizens Club in Broadmeadow it was opened by the then Lord Mayor, Alderman Joy Cummings.
The Expo began with a lecture on sports medicine and aspects of fitness by Newcastle Orthopaedic surgeon Dr. John Sage. Also included was a coaching clinic and film and slide session. Whilst at the Expo representatives of all the clubs decided to form the Northern Archery Council which would help to promote the sport and to get the country clubs closer together. The Council ran for several years but as many of the clubs gradually folded it eventually was disbanded.
A couple of years later Newcastle City Archers held a Double Fita Shoot on behalf of the Archery Society of NSW. Newcastle City Council allowed us to use a part of District Park roping off the area to be used and provided signage. Twenty targets, which had been brought up from Sydney; were used, with four archers on each. Unfortunately, once again the weather was against the club all weekend and helpers rushed backwards and forwards keeping up a supply of hot soup to the competitors. However, the shoot was very successful.
Vic Bobrowski (below) was a champion compound shooter both indoor and outdoor. He was a member of the NSW team in 1985 when he won the Australian Field Championships held in Victoria.
There were also several excellent Juniors. Outstanding amongst them was a disabled archer, David Higgins. David is a paraplegic, he started archery at about age eleven and two years later he became the first paraplegic in Australia to qualify for a national championship in archery against the able bodied. David also competed in Field with his father helping him around the course. In 1984 David was the youngest member of Australia’s Paralympics Games Team travelling to Stoke Mandeville in England, winning a Team Silver. David is currently the club coach.
In 1997 Louise Sweeney won two State U/14 titles and four National U/14 titles.
Like all clubs and all sports our membership has fluctuated over the years but it has been good to see the many families of members, the Sweeneys, the Briens and the Smiths to name but a few. In more recent years there have been several father and sons like the Richardsons, Lewis’s and Jordans. Moving into the 1990’s our membership started to decline but still we were able to host the 1998 Junior State Target Championships. With twenty-five junior archers competing this was a great success.
In 1999 the club, in conjunction with Westlakes and Boolaroo Bowmen, applied to host the 2001 Masters Games, unfortunately our application was refused.
Further loss of members in 2000 caused the club to consider disaffiliating from ASNSW and affiliating with ABA. After many discussions it was decided to remain with ASNSW in the hope that membership would increase. In 2002, with the various changes in liability and insurance it was decided to incorporate the club, this was done updating the club’s name to Newcastle City Archers Incorporated. The club reached a low point of havng only 6 members. Though slow initially, the path has been upwards ever since.
Due to an article in the February, 2003 ‘ Newcastle Star’ featuring a very talented junior archer, Mathew Richardson, there was a sudden increase of enquiries regarding the club and archery in general and membership was on the rise again. Also featured was Joanie Wade who had recently set an Australian Record for ladies compound barebow. At this time the Pistol Club advised that we could no longer have the use of the air pistol range and knowing that we needed storage for our equipment it was decided to look for another ground. Mount Hutton Pony Club ground was seen as a possibility but after checking it out, it was decided against. Newcastle Pistol Club was approached re putting a container on the field, their having no problems, a container was purchased. Also in 2003 the Committee decided to do away with weekly shoot fees and introduced an Annual Membership Fee.
The Club Expands
In the early 2000's the club had much success in competition with Kurt Lewis being ranked number one in the State when aged thirteen. Thoraiya Bousaleh, a past President was selected for the Ladies State Recurve Team, winning Gold in the 2006 National Championships. The year 2007 saw Newcastle City Archers take over the licence of the ground from the Pistol Club and improvements have been started to be made.
2012 saw a record three members of the club, Scott Buscombe (3rd from left), Mark Brothers and Pam Brothers (8th and 9th from left) selected in the 8 person NSW Compound Archery Team for the National Championships at Tuggeranong. The NSW Compound team won the Australian Team Championship.
In recent years there has been a resurgence of interest in the sport as archery has become a much watched Olympic Games event and has figured in a number of popular movies including "The Hunger Games" and the Avengers franchise. Social media has allowed the club to spread its message further and more efectively than in the past. As membership slowly grew so did the ability for the club to obtain grants to improve the range, facilites, equipment and its accessibility.
Membership of the club has continued to grow and the future for the club looks very healthy with constant enquiries regarding the sport. The club recently reached a milestone of retaining 70 mermbers for a full calendar year and the demand for beginners classes shows no sign of diminishing.
A Unique Site
The location of the club in a quarry is unique, and the location is suited for archery as wind is often minimised (though there are quirks generated by "eddies" inside the quarry) and there is no possibility of unwanted visitors getting behind the targets and in the line of fire without being noticed. It is also a relatively secure home for the club as it is too small an area with too small an access and parking for a football field or netball court. Also being next to gun and rifle clubs makes it less attractive to other sporting organisations. Its zoning prevents residential and commercial development.
The quarry dates from the 1800's and stone from this quarry was used to construct the Stockton Breakwater on Newcastle Harbour. Three photographs below show the quarry in operation on 20 January 1900 - when Australia was 19 days old.
(above photographs from the Ralph Snowball Collection of the University of Newcastle)
(reproduced from Newcastle City Library Hunter Photo Bank Accession Number 001 001062 Ralph Snowball (1849-1925))
The locomotives in the photograph reached the quarry from a branch line from the Great Northern Railway connecting somewhere not too far from the western end of the still present rail cutting under Maud Street Waratah as can be seen in the left top corner of the 1910 map shown below.
(above map from the collection of the University of Newcastle)
With the amount of ironmongery in the photos, much of it left behind, it is little wonder it is a challenge to find lost arrows in the field with a metal detector.