ON TARGET: Local Club nurtures more British and Irish champions

JUST CHAMPION. Club members Ben McQuillan (left), British Barebow Champion and Stewart MacFayden, All-Ireland Olympic Freestyle Champion.INBM3-14 004SC.
JUST CHAMPION. Club members Ben McQuillan (left), British Barebow Champion and Stewart MacFayden, All-Ireland Olympic Freestyle Champion.INBM3-14 004SC.

When Ballymoney man Chris MacFadyen set up the Causeway Company of Archers back in 2004 little did he know that he would nurture so many champions.

The club based on the outskirts of Ballymoney welcomes archers from the age of seven right up to 70!

As the most successful Club in Northern Ireland, over half of the club’s members are part of the Northern Ireland national team.

Chris decided to set up the local Club after trying out the sport thanks to a beginners course.

“At the start the Club attracted a large interest from juniors and men mostly from the Coleraine area, “ explained Chris, who was also the Senior Coach on the Northern Ireland Archery Academy, a development academy for aspiring young Archers.

“Those members settled into the sport very quickly, and many won National Titles in their first year of shooting, “ explained Chris.

“For the next few years we continued to dominate in all the junior age categories each year.

“After our third year in operation we decided that the ladies were under represented in the Club, so we ran a couple of female beginners courses and most of those who took part went on to join the Club on completion of their course.

“It was obvious from the early years that the attraction to the sport was the fact that this was a sport for the whole family.

“Our club is made up of multiple families participating together, whether it is just for fun or as a healthy bit of friendly competition,” joked Chris.

Almost ten years on and the club can now boast All Ireland, British, Masters and Junior champions!

Coleraine Inst pupil Ben McQuillan (16) has just been named British Barebow Champion.

The Aghadowey teenager is another of the Club’s success stories, after only being in the sport for around a year.

Ben is also Northern Ireland and Schools champ.

Ballymoney teenager, Stewart-Lee MacFadyen has been shooting since he was just seven.

He’s All Ireland Olympic Freestyle Champion, Northern Ireland Champion, Northern Ireland Schools Freestyle Champion and the current N.Ireland record holder. The teenager is ranked fourth in the UK and is part of the Great Britain archery development squad.

The Club have also sampled success at masters level thanks to Christine O’Kane, Jan Taylor, Elaine Kane, Paul O’Hara.

At youth level Christine, Jan and Laura McGahey are All Ireland Ladies Team Champions at under 15 level, whilst Laura also holds the Northern Ireland Girls Freestyle and Schools titles.

Commenting on the success, Chris added: “As we approach our tenth anniversary, I am really proud that Causeway Archers are now the most successful Olympic Style Archery Club in the country.

“In 2011 we established the disabled section with help from SportNI, and it very quickly became an integral part of the Club.

“We now have disabled archers shooting alongside the able-bodied archers.

“Thanks to the hard work and effort of our members we now have five fully qualified coaches and four Club coaching assistants.”

Causeway Archers have two permanent shooting venues - one in Ballymoney and one in Cushendall.

In Ballymoney members have the option of shooting up to four days a week with a selection of Club Archers shooting every day. Members meet every Sunday between 2 to and 5 and Monday, Tuesday and Wednesdays from 7 to 9pm.

Anyone interested in enrolling on February’s Beginners Course should email archerygbchris@gmail.com or phone 07904065250 for more details.