Deer Park Archers continue to mop up awards

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: The Deer Park Archers team which collected a Sport and Recreation Alliance award. Roger Crang is second from the right The Deer Park Archers team which collected a Sport and Recreation Alliance award. Roger Crang is second from the right

ROGER CRANG might be forgiven for resting on his bow in 2013 after the spectacular success that he and his club, Deer Park Archers, enjoyed in the last 12 months.

Firstly he was honoured to carry the Olympic Torch through the streets of Chippenham.

Next he was chosen as BBC West’s Unsung Hero of 2012, just missing out on the overall national prize when he and the other 11 regional winners went along to the final at the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year show.

And then his club was awarded the Sport and Recreation Alliance Best Club Volunteer Management Award at St James’s Palace where he collected the award from the Earl of Wessex.

If that were not enough, Archery GB, through their ontarget club development programme, nominated Deer Park Archers as the country’s first Performance Club.

Roger’s club has come a long way since being set up at Cowley near Birdlip 16 years ago and as the club’s senior coach and club development officer told the Standard, he is hoping 2013 will be another year of success and innovation.

“There were so many highlights in 2012 and I was tremendously chuffed about them all,” said Crang, whose unbounded enthusiasm for archery makes him a wonderful evangelist for the sport.

“The pick of the highlights came at St James’s Palace because I was lucky enough to sit alongside my boyhood hero, Sir Bobby Charlton,” said Crang.

“He is so down to earth and by the end of the evening I felt like I was his best mate.

“He said he would be delighted to come to a club evening and we will try to work something out, but he is a very busy man who gives so generously of his time. I am hoping there might be a 50-50 chance.”

While delighted to carry the Olympic Torch, Roger was disappointed his run could not have been closer to home.

“I did get to go to the party at Cheltenham Racecourse afterwards, though,” he said.

The SPOTY awards in Manchester were another extra special occasion.

“I took along my daughter Steph, who shot for GB and also coaches at the club, and we were so well looked after,” said Roger.

“It was great to meet so many other people who had followed a similar journey in building up clubs.”

2012 saw Roger and his team of coaches spread the word about archery to both secondary schools – among them Cirencester Kingshill – and primary schools, where they hold lunchtime and after-school sessions, working with kids as young as six.

Hundreds of schoolchildren are enjoying their first taste of the sport through these sessions and the demand has been overwhelming.

“When we offered it at Balcarras School, the queues were so long you would have thought we were auditioning for the X-Factor,” he said.

One of Roger’s projects for 2013 is to set up an independent section in the club for archers with disabilities and he was due to team up with paralympic coaches at Lilleshall over the weekend until the snow put paid to the get-together.

“We have appointed one of our members, Dave Sandles, who was invalided out of the Army when paralysed from the chest down, as our ‘Disability Advisor’,” said Roger.

“Archery is marvellous for a range of disabilities be they physical, visual impairment, even autism and cerebral palsy, because it teaches a process.”

Crang, 64, is particularly enthused about how new technology is improving his lot.

“The iPad has revolutionised our coaching in the sport,” he said.

“Previously if you wanted to use high-speed photography you needed software costing £250. Now all you need to do is download a £2.50 app and you have the means of filming a lesson, breaking it down in slow motion, adding comments and emailing everything to the subject’s home,” said Crang.

“With the help of Allsorts, the Gloucestershire-based organisation which supports children with additional needs, we are about to start some free ‘have-a-go’ sessions for the disabled at the end of January.

“I am confident we can get some funding from Sport England which would keep that para-coaching free for at least the first 12 months.”

At the other end of the scale, Crang has four juniors within the club who have been selected to join national programmes.

“Archery funding has risen from £800,000 to £2.4m in the 2013-2017 cycle and we have some very talented youngsters coming through,” said the senior coach.

“Tom Howse (17) and Lisa Hadley (16) have been called up to the World Class Development Programme in a group of about 20 nationwide and are serious candidates for the Rio Olympics.

“And in Archery GB’s national ‘compound’ squad, which is not an Olympic discipline, we have Lucy Mason and Becky Hutchings, while James Howse was unlucky not to be included as well.”

All this and Deer Park Archers are looking for a new home, having outgrown their Cowley base.

“We are now formally looking for our own ground and we have identified one or two possible places already,” said Roger.

“Again Sport England would help us with funding thanks to our achievements and we are about to advertise that we are looking for a place.

“We have archers from places like Tewkesbury, Tetbury, Stroud, Cheltenham and Fairford so we are keen to stay within a ten-mile radius of our current home at Cowley. So if anyone knows of a suitable site, would they please get in touch via rscrang@aol.com.

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