Penrith City Archers win National Titles

Emily Griffiths in action at Coast Archers. Photo courtesy of Luca and Misi Kecskes.

PENRITH City Archers, which is based adjacent to the Colonial Golf Course in Werrington, is celebrating two national title winners, with 14-year old Emily Griffiths (Wilberforce) and 68-year old Kevin Girard (Katoomba) winning their respective age groups.

Emily was in action at the Coast Archers range on the NSW Central Coast on the weekend of the 16th-17th October, taking out the Archery Australia National Target Championships national title in her age group with a compound bow.

Despite first taking up the sport as an 11-year old, COVID and the ongoing flood situation in NSW has meant heavily restricted time on a range, resulting in just 12 months actual shooting practice in the past 3 years.

The family home was flooded in recent storm events, so for the past seven months Emily and her family have lived in a caravan. With each subsequent flood, the archery course has also been closed for up to 3 weeks at a time and with the ongoing rain, she was unable to practice for considerable periods of time.

In spite of those hardships, Emily’s success at the national championships did not come as a surprise to her family, supporters or club members, as she also took 3rd place in the National Indoor Target championships in July.

Emily is coached by Roy Fratini, began her education at Wilberforce PS and is now in Year 7 at the Centre of Excellence in Agriculture (COE), at the Hawkesbury University Campus.

68-year old Kevin Girard is at the other end of the age spectrum, claiming gold and silver medals in the 60+ Longbow events at the Archery Australia National Target Championships.

Kevin found himself in a bizarre situation at the national championships, after helping a fellow competitor with some tips on technique.

That competitor rose to the occasion and pipped out Kevin for Gold in the short course event, before Kevin rallied to the challenge and strode away with Gold in the Fita / AA Fifty Metre 1440 event.

A late starter at the age of 50, Kevin is on a disability support pension but competes against able-bodied archers without variations.

“Not only can you begin later in life, you can begin and maintain your activity and participation through ill health,” said Kevin.

Those athletes with more severe health / physical limitations can compete nationally and internationally.

Kevin Girard receiving his Gold medal.  Photo supplied.

Shooting with Longbows is a less-popular discipline but is gradually gaining devotees.

Kevin makes his own bows, arrows, quivers and belts and after developing a keen interest in medieval sports, is now making chain mail as well and participating in medieval tournaments.

In 1964, Jim Cotter, later a Master Archer, a member of the Fairfield Club, was instrumental in founding the Penrith Archery Club, which is affiliated with both Archery NSW and Archery Australia.

On 20th August of that year, eight other interested people met with Jim in the Penrith School of Arts and decided to form the Penrith City Archers. Office-bearers were elected and nomination and annual subscription fees were set.

These toxophilites, as archery participants are technically called, became the core of the Penrith City Archers Club, which has continued for almost 60 years.

The foundation president was John Inall and the first home ground was located in the south-east comer of Jamison Park, Penrith.

However, concerns about the safety of other park users – who refused to stay outside the boundary ropes set up to keep them away from the shooting area – caused the club to move to a new venue.

In fact, the Penrith City Archers spent the first twenty-five years of its existence moving from venue to venue – seventeen in all – as it sought to obtain a permanent home ground. During that time the club constantly relied upon the goodwill of landowners for safe areas to shoot in the open.

The club also enjoyed an indoor shooting range at the disused Colyton Jam Factory, a venue that was used by several groups at that time. Unfortunately, repeated vandal attacks rendered the factory unsafe and, after several accidents, it was eventually closed to all users.

Despite all these setbacks, the club managed to keep afloat, albeit without outside funding and in 1986, obtained the present site in Werrington.

‘Try Archery’ days are held on Saturdays and 5-week beginner classes are also available.