Reeds Target Shooting Club was established more than 100 years ago as part of an in-house sports and social club at Aylesford Paper Mills, which was owned by the philanthropic newsprint tycoon, Albert Reed. Aylesford Paper Mills grew into one of the largest paper-making plants in Europe, and its sports and social club thrived. In the 1990s, however, Reeds International (as the company had become) pulled out of paper manufacture and sold the Aylesford site, leaving Reeds Target Shooting Club without a home.
John Lucas, the current club secretary, and former Reeds employee, describes the Reeds community as “nomads”.
“We’ve been renting space from two other local clubs,” he told me. “But it’s not the same as having your own place.”
Reeds has always had a good feel to it, initiated all those years ago by Albert Reed, who believed in fostering a happy working environment for his employees and their families. Remarkably, the homeless club has around 100 members, aged between 10 and 80. There’s also a long waiting list.
Why the waiting list?
“By law,” John explained, “each new member must receive a certain amount of instruction. But we can’t provide this instruction to an unlimited number of people, because we don’t have the available facilities.”
But all this is about to change. After years of fundraising, Reeds have entered into an agreement with a sports and social club to build an indoor shooting range on their land. There’s still some way to go before this project can be fully funded, and the members of Reeds Target Shooting Club are working as hard as ever to achieve their goal; in the last two months, £2,300 has been raised for the new range and clubhouse.
At the annual club Christmas dinner, in December, hundreds of raffle tickets were sold, and many generously donated prizes were won. It was the club’s newest recruit, Ben (pictured with Chairman, Andy Reason), who walked away with the star prize – a Pellpax Dragon Kit, donated by Pellpax for the occasion. The rifle, designed with anti-shock resistance and ventilated butt pad, comes with a 3-9×40 scope, pellets, gun bag, and a selection of targets.
So, what happens now?
“Our next steps are to design the facilities and firm up on the building costs before we submit a planning application. At this point, we’ll have a better idea of how much more funding we’ll need. We can then plan ways of getting it.”
After years of hard work and perseverance, the members of Reeds Target Shooting Club are at last in sight of their goal. We wish them well, and look forward to visiting the new club headquarters.
And Ben … enjoy the Pellpax Dragon Kit!
You can find more details of Reed Target Shooting Club at their Official Website.