Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Archery club turns 50

J-E News Editor
This weekend the Pleasant Valley Archery Club near Providence will celebrate half a century of family oriented fun with a pair of archery shoots. On Saturday league shooting action will get underway at 9:00 a.m., and on Sunday the club will hold it’s 50th Anniversary Shoot, along with a meal.

Unlike many clubs and organizations, the Pleasant Valley Archery Club isn’t about the money. In fact, secretary David Cartwright pointed out, an entire family can join for only $25 per household. 
“We are a family oriented club,” said Cartwright. “We are all about family and getting together.”
Officially the club opened it’s doors in 1964, but you can actually trace it’s history back as far as 1953. That was the year that Providence resident Darrell Hill picked up a bow and started shooting.
“As far as I knew, Marshall Stevens and I were the only people in Providence that were shooting archery at the time,” Hill said. He and Stevens became members of an archery club in Madisonville.
After about ten years of driving to and from Madisonville to shoot, Hill and Stevens decided that they needed somewhere closer to home, so they got together and rented the second floor of what was then the American Legion building (most recently Sister’s) in uptown Providence.
“They weren’t using it, so we cleaned it out and put some straw up there,” Hill recalled. “People started seeing us shooting up there and started asking questions. Before you knew it we had thirty people who were interested in what we were doing.”
Hill said that group eventually decided to organize their own club. They heard about a piece of property for sale near Pleasant Valley and called a meeting at the home of Jess and Clara Montgomery. Although he couldn’t recall everyone who showed up for that meeting, Hill specifically recalled the Montgomerys, Kenneth and Emma Lamb, Lacy Pugh and Rick Haslam being among the crowd.
“Jess Montgomery bought the property and put it in the archery club’s name,” Hill said. “Money comes in slowly to archery clubs, but eventually we got him paid back.”
In the early years the club was just a wooded property filled with field archery targets.
“There was no drinking or cursing allowed,” said Hill. “It was a place you could bring your wife or kids and not be embarrassed. We had at least 25 families with children that shot.”
The club got involved with “the 10 City League”, which was a group of cities that all had archery clubs. Each club took turns hosting competitive shoots. According to Hill, membership swelled to nearly 125 people.
“Then, like so many other sports, people got bored,” Hill said.
Membership for the club has, in fact, gone through a series of ups and downs through the years. According to David Cartwright just a couple of years ago they were down to only 18 people. But with some hard work, and also thanks to the growing popularity of archery in area schools, that number has grown to around 80.
Several years after the archery club opened, a coal company was strip mining the adjacent property and inadvertently dug a strip pit onto their land. In exchange for the coal that was mined, the company funded the construction of the clubhouse that still stands today.
A few years later another coal company was going to re-strip nearby property and needed to build a haul road. For usage of the club’s land that company funded the construction of the club’s indoor archery range.
These days the Providence Elementary archery team uses the club to practice, and Hill couldn’t be happier.
“Archery in schools is one of the finest programs they’ve ever come up with,” he said. “They’ve found that it causes better attendance, better discipline and grades go up.”
All current and former members of the Pleasant Valley Archery Club are invited to attend the 50th Anniversary celebration on Sunday, May 18, 2014. Registration will start around 9:00 a.m. with a meal around noon.