Rayleigh Town Archery Club is on the crest of a wave following a string of successes.

The club finished second at the Southern Counties championship, while helping Essex to victory in the county section.

And it is spreading its wings to get more young people involved in the sport through coaching initiatives.

Rayleigh Town, which is based at Runwell Sports & Social Club and Thundersley’s Deanes School, had a large contingent shooting at Runwell in the championships.

They were pipped by Chelmsford Tudor Rose, but their efforts helped Essex finish top of the 14 counties competing.

The club has been coaching youngsters at Deanes and in neighbouring schools in Castle Point for a number of years.

Now it is also working with pupils in Southend and Basildon districts as well “The aim provide a player pathway for children in schools so that as they go through school and leave school they still have a sport,” said Rayleigh Town’s John Willson.

“We have been very active in that for the past ten years and have been supported by our governing body.

“The funding has been withdrawn now but there are still opportunities open for us to continue, but on a smaller volume.

“We have now developed Rayleigh Town Archery Club so than more than a third of members are women or girls. The government guidelines are something like 10 per cent.”

The club has been working with Deanes Sports College and is going into junior schools and giving archery to Year 5 pupils, and that culminated in an archery festival at Holy Family school in Benfleet this summer.

When pupils go from Year 6 into secondary schools, they can get more established in the sport, get their own bows and potentially join Rayleigh Town AC.

“In the last year, we have had 25 children come into the club from that pathway and 11 of them have been girls,” added Willson.

“We cannot do all this without the support of the coaches at Rayleigh Town. They give up time to come into Deanes and are very devoted.

“But it is worth it because we have structure in place for archers to work through Deanes up to the national squad, and we have had four people come through to national squad training.

“The work we do started in Castle Point but has now spread to Southend and Basildon too.”

Rayleigh Town AC was originally based at Runwell and still has facilities there.

Club chiefs are working with a local businessman to lay on water and electricity so the club can have its own clubhouse.

The club has several disabled archers and plans are in place to extend the facilities at Runwell to better cater for the disabled, for example toilet and parking.

Willson’s experience with Rayleigh Town has resulted in him becoming chairman of the Archery GB national junior committee.

“It’s about having the knowledge of developing junior clubs and I’m helping out throughout the county now,” Willson said.

Among the initiatives that have been introduced is a badge scheme based on the colours of a target, whereby archers receive differed coloured badges after achieving certain scores.

It is also tied into the national curriculum as part of the GCSE sports module. Children have to do three sports and may pick archery as one of them.

The GCSE syllabus is also linked into the Duke of Edinburgh awards scheme. If a student gets a qualification in archery it is the same level as the bronze award.

Students get a silver award for undertaking work as a coach or competition judge, with a gold award going to those who teach two children who are doing their bronze award.

Looking to the future, Rayleigh Town has also volunteered to help at the London Olympics in 2012, which will be held at Lord’s Cricket Ground.

The British team is ranked second in the world behind South Korea and will feature three male and three female archers.