Archery prodigy breaking club records less than a year into the sport

An archery prodigy is breaking club records despite only starting the sport a year ago.

The future is bright for Dagenham youngster Mia Phillips, who has impressed those at the Bowmen of Ardleigh during her brief time with the Hornchurch club.

Mia - a pupil at the Jo Richardson Community School - was introduced to archery by her grandad Chris Phillips, himself a member of the club since October 2018.

Having just turned 12 last month, at age 11 Mia set a club record of 489 (from a possible 600) for the under-12 age group, which is to be confirmed for the county award at the same level.

Sunday, December 6 marked the pair’s first time shooting since the second lockdown, with Mia saying she was “so happy to be back”.

Despite the obvious talent, what really shines through is how much the 12-year-old loves archery. She said: “I really enjoy it, especially beating my grandad!”

Though Chris is normally slightly out in front, Sunday’s shoot saw Mia come out on top and win The Spoon, a silver spoon awarded to the best shooter on the day.

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A competitive Mia declared early on: “I want that spoon!”

To stand a chance, she had to hit as many arrows as possible into the high-scoring gold and red sections.

Anything outside of that and Mia wasn’t satisfied, remarking with a chuckle that hitting blue or black is “unacceptable”.

Chris shot a 486, yet Mia’s effort of 462 (with a handicap) saw her triumph on the day to secure the coveted spoon.

Though keen to nurture this obvious talent, the club’s top priority will always be enjoyment.

Should Mia continue to progress as expected, particularly towards competing nationally, a supportive circle will become essential.

Dedicated grandad Chris said: “I will do this with Mia for as long as she wants - whatever she needs I’m there.”

The Bowmen of Ardleigh has been in existence since 1953, providing shooting members to both the Essex County and national squads over the years.

Its name derives from the club’s original shooting ground at Ardleigh House in Hornchurch.

The club prides itself in fostering a welcoming and supportive environment, and it’s hoped that Mia’s story will encourage more youngsters to get involved in archery.

It currently shoots at Bretons Manor in Rainham Road, with its membership of between 40 and 50 ranging from 9 to 95-years-old.

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