UP-AND-COMING doesn’t quite do teenage Cirencester-based archer Ella Gibson justice.
Within three months of taking up the sport at an after-school club she was picked for the county squad and in the three months since she has become county and regional champion, before narrowly missing out on the U16 British Indoor title in barebow at the National Agricultural & Exhibition Centre at Stoneleigh Park in Warwickshire.
The 15-year-old was beaten only by the year-younger but vastly more experienced Rachel Lucas.
Ella and Rachel are members of one of the most successful archery clubs in the country, Deer Park Archers, now based in Shurdington – and not to be confused with Ella’s school Deer Park in Cirencester.
Roger Crang, club development officer and driving force behind the multi-award-winning success story at Deer Park Archers, is in no doubt about Ella’s potential.
“To come from nothing to the county team in three months was exceptional,” he said. “To get within 10 points of a girl who already holds every record in the book was amazing.
“Ella works incredibly hard and is an absolute perfectionist – she can be incredibly hard on herself.
“But she and Rachel will drive each other on. They are far and away the best female juniors in the country at barebow.
“Next year Ella will move up to U18s and she will win the British title I’m sure, although that will not challenge her much.”
Barebow is something of a poor relation in archery to the Olympic disciplines of recurve and compound and Crang thinks that Ella will broaden her experience by trying another archery discipline. “We are encouraging Ella into field archery (woodland targets at different heights and distances rather than the fixed elements of indoor target archery) and she has the potential to represent GB in the next two years,” he said.
“She has the talent and the character to make the switch and she is keen on the idea.
“She will then be able to gain experience at national and international events before perhaps trying the Olympic disciplines later in her career."
Fortunately, Deer Park have all but completed a newly laid out field archery test at their Shurdington base. And the next investment at this thoroughly go-ahead club is overhead video analysis in their 90-foot shooting range which should be up and running by the end of March.
“Video analysis will really move us on a big amount,” said Crang.
So any thought that Crang’s Deer Park club will not maintain their dominance of junior archery in the county and beyond would appear to be wide of the target. They recently won 16 of the 22 titles at stake at the Gloucestershire County Junior Championships.
Yet he admits his club is more famous in far flung points of the globe than domestically.
“Someone drew my attention to the Archery Forum Australasia where they held up our club as the model for what can be achieved,” said Roger proudly.
If Ella needs any inspiration about what she can achieve in the sport, she needs to look no further than Deer Park team-mate Lucy Mason who, at the age of 15, won the British senior title at Stoneleigh Park recently after some remarkable shooting.
Lucy was one of only two juniors (along with fellow Deer Park team-mate James Howse) to come through the seniors’ Back To Back qualification process.
James, who won bronze with Lucy at the World Junior Pairs in 2015, went out in the knockout stages of the senior competition by a single point the following day.
Lucy, in contrast, came through each round from the last 32 to win the National compound championship from a strong international field of archers.
“She didn’t just beat her rivals she obliterated everyone she came up against,” said Crang.
“She twice equalled the world record (146/150) in the competition and the following weekend she beat the world record with a score of 147 at a competition which unfortunately did not carry world record status.”
Lucy, who has her own sports psychologist and fitness coach, is so focussed on becoming the world’s best that she is completely overhauling her technique over the next two months to reach even greater heights.
Another Deer Park member who has benefited from the input of a sports psychologist is Holly Clifford who recently represented England in the Home Nations Cup where she won an individual silver.
“Holly went through a stage where for almost a year she had a mental block and could not release the arrow,” said Crang.
“We call it target panic and it is the biggest reason why people drop archery.
“Like alcoholism it is first a matter of recognising that you have a problem.
“But the sports psychologist put Holly right and she is now shooting incredible scores again.”
Deer Park Archers can be found just off the Shurdington Road, opposite the Endsleigh Insurance buildings. For more details email firstname.lastname@example.org.