The Auckland Archery Club was established in the 1860s, in grounds adjacent to Grafton Road and Stanley Street that eventually became part of the Auckland Domain. They were active from the early 1860’s and shot near the Auckland Bowling Club for many years.
Archery at the time was dominated by ladies, and was extremely popular. For several years, G. McBrides offered free bows and arrows with every dress sold; and on the 15th of April 1872 the Daily Southern Cross attributed the poor attendance at Miss Stothard’s lecture on Botany to poor weather and archery practice.
By the mid-1870s, there was increasing competition for use of public land by sporting organisations, and archery (with some justification) was viewed as too dangerous to be a part of regular, mixed sporting activities. In 1874 Auckland Archery lost the use of the grounds at Government House . Difficulties in finding space for archery continued for a couple of decades, while archery itself gradually fell out of fashion. The original Auckland Archery club was finally dissolved in 1888.
The current Auckland Archery Club in Cornwall Park owes its creation to two men: Sir John Logan Campbell, (who was an archer in his youth and much enjoyed the sport) and Sid Mitchener, who started the club in 1944, after a resurgence of archery in New Zealand.
The New Zealand Archery Association (now Archery New Zealand) had been established only a year earlier in 1943, and the sport had been widely adopted by armed forces who were practicing marksmanship and did not want to waste ammunition.
Sid Mitchener had taken up archery during his war years. He organised a lease for the Club at One Tree Hill, and built the clubhouse. Initially just a shed in a field, he organised the first clubhouse to be built in 1946.
The original targets used were packed straw wheels that had to be carried in and out of the clubhouse each time a shoot was set up. They were extremely heavy and it often took two or three people to move them.
An addition was built in the 1960s to allow members to shoot a full indoor FITA of 20 yards (18 metres today). The clubhouse was wired and watered in the 1950’s, led by Merlin Stewart, the secretary of the club at the time, and it has been host to many club and national competitions, community events, corporate shoots and club entertainment over the years.
Today’s Auckland Archery Club focusses mainly on target archery, but members also shoot ‘field’ and ‘clout’ events at club and national competitions. Field archers shoot at different targets and distances around a circuit, while clout archers fire arrows into the air, aiming at a target on the ground about 150m away.
Bows in the 1940s were little changed from the medieval design, made entirely of wood (as were the arrows). Huge advances in technology over the past 60 years have seen one-piece wooden bows change to composite wood and then to aircraft-grade forged aluminium risers and layered foam and fibreglass limbs. A new class of archery was introduced in the 1980s with the introduction of the more powerful compound bows (with cam wheels at the end of the limbs).
The modern Auckland Archery Club has been one of the largest clubs in New Zealand since its inception, and throughout the years we’ve had many national and international champions.
Auckland Archery Club is extremely proud of our heritage and our achievements over the years and hope that there will be many more to come.