Let’s Get Physical
Albert Reed (1846-1920), owner of Aylesford Paper Mills, in Kent, was a man who believed in fostering a happy working environment for his employees. More than a century ago, Mr Reed established an in-house sports and social club for his workers and their families. As his business grew into one of the largest paper-making plants in Europe, the social club thrived – especially on the target-shooting side.
When the Aylesford site closed, in the 1990s, Reeds Target Shooting Club was left without a home.
Twenty years after the closure of Aylesford Paper Mills, Reeds Target Shooting Club is still homeless, renting space from other clubs and keeping membership tight through regular competitions and practice sessions, as well as social events and an active website.
“We’re as big and active as we’ve ever been,” says John Lucas, club secretary (and the club’s sole remaining former Reeds employee). “We still shoot at Bisley once a month; in fact, we do as much shooting as we can. But it’s not the same as having your own place.”
Despite the club’s nomadic existence, there’s a healthy membership of around 100 – and a waiting list, too.
Every shooting club has a legal obligation to place each new member on three months’ probation before full membership is granted. During this time, an assessment of their suitability can be made. Without their own facilities, however, it isn’t so easy for the members of Reeds to make these assessments.
“And we’re old-fashioned,” says John. “We don’t feel that three months is long enough to get to know new members. At Reeds, the probationary period is six months.”
Moving On Up
For many years, now, this tenacious club has been working towards establishing a new home. Well-attended competitions and social events have raised thousands of pounds so far, and the target is at last coming into sight. Planning permission is now underway for a new indoor range and clubhouse.
It’s not plain sailing though.
“A noise assessment has been requested,” explains John. “We’ve engaged a noise consultant to carry out the assessment, but it’s slowed the process down, and is swallowing up more funds.”
As things stand, the foundations to Reeds’ new home are due to be laid in the spring of 2020. Once building is underway, the club will have access to further fund sources associated with its changed status.
“Once the club is built,” John tells me, “we’ll be able to provide more coaching. There’ll be opportunities for shooters to reach high standards and to compete at international level.”
Reeds has an ethos of diversity and accessibility.
“We plan to broaden our membership. At the moment, about 10 percent of our members are children. We’d like to encourage more youngsters into the club. Our new premises will be equipped with facilities for wheelchair users. Disabled shooters will be welcomed and encouraged. Shooting is such an inclusive sport. We want to make the most of the possibilities.”
Fun, Fun, Fun!
The Reeds Target Shooting Club annual Christmas dinner and raffle is one of the mainstay events in the club’s fundraising programme. This year, the Reeds Christmas dinner was on Saturday 7 December, and, as always, the evening was a lot of fun. The raffle raised over £300.
Pellpax’s donation to the raffle was a Norica Dream Hunter air rifle in .22 calibre. The Dream Hunter is a powerful spring-powered rifle with under-lever action and ambidextrous stock. This fantastic prize was won by Bob Peacock.
Events like this will continue to be held until the ribbon is cut at the official opening of the new Reeds clubhouse and shooting range. Nobody knows exactly when that will be, but if the foundations are laid in the spring of next year, the long-awaited goal is certainly within sight. As John says, there’s still a lot of hard work ahead.
“We need to raise another £20,000, or even £30,000. There’s a long way to go.”
Images courtesy of Reeds Target Shooting Club