Club in Crisis
Articles Blog

Club in Crisis

August 13, 2019

Hello everyone, this is NUSensei. Those of you who have been following this
channel may be aware of a crisis that I’m currently facing. I’ve mentioned a few times that my own archery
club has been suspended and faces a strong possibility of being closed down. The past few months have been incredibly stressful
as we’ve been trying to utilise our limited resources to fight for our survival. Now that we’ve done most of the groundwork,
mostly of a bureaucratic nature, it’s time to be open and transparent about what is happening. This is not intended to be a rallying cry
or a call to arms. This is a record of what has transpired so
that those who have faced or may face similar circumstances will be better prepared than
we were. Many viewers ask which club I’m based at,
and to be honest, this is a question I normally avoid answering. While the work I do and the information I
make available online would certainly be good marketing for the club, I work independently
and I’d rather keep it that way. I am privileged to be able to use the club
facilities for my purposes, but at the same time I think it is a good thing to keep these
things largely separate – just as there can be mutual benefits, there can also be
mutual detriments, and any issue or fault that I have with my channel is something I
would rather accept as my own and not put onto a volunteer group that has nothing to
do with my channel. Nonetheless, I don’t make my club affiliation
a secret, and I have at times worn my club uniform in a few videos. My club is the Southern Cross Archery Club. We’re based in Melbourne. The Club began in around 1947, originally
along the Maribyrnong River, where it was a popular destination. It is one of the oldest clubs in the state
and was a major part of the history of archery in Victoria. Things changed in 2001 when development of
the surrounding property made the venue unsuitable for archery. The Club was relocated to its current location
in Pennell Reserve, Braybrook in 2001. With limited facilities and support, the Club
experienced a large drop in membership by 2010. I joined the Club in 2011, and have been its
president since 2013. This is where the story starts. The Club operates on grounds owned by Maribyrnong
City Council. As with all local councils, the organisation
is a complex bureaucracy with a decision-making executive body and numerous teams and departments. Most of the work done by the Council is handled
internally and beyond the knowledge of the people on the ground like us, so for the sake
of simplicity, I will refer to all the actions and processes under a single “Council”
entity and not specific groups or individuals. To make the location suitable for archery,
Maribyrnong City Council installed a wooden fence to act as a safety backstop. The Club then erected permanent standing targets
on the field, and in this arrangement the field met the Archery Australia Safety Guidelines,
namely that the field ideally should have a safety barrier or have an overshoot distance
of at least 50 metres. The Club met both of these guidelines, and
ran without incident for the next 12 years. In March 2013, the fence collapsed. This was reported to the Council, but the
fence was not replaced, partly on the basis that since the field exceeded the minimum
safety guidelines from Archery Australia, the solid backstop fence was not needed. We, of course, know that additional precautions
were needed to ensure that arrows do not skip off the ground and out of the field. Our concerns about the fence were conveyed
to the Council over the next four years in face-to-face meetings and at least a dozen
emails and reports. In August 2016, we recorded our first witnessed
incident of an arrow being shot from our field and through the chain fence. This was immediately reported to the Council. In this time, the Council had put up shade
cloth over the wire fence despite the objections of the Club, and this unsatisfactory solution
in turn failed when the shade cloth became detached within months. This was reported in November 2016, and no
further action was taken. By the beginning of 2017, new housing was
completed at the end of the range. As was anticipated, the issues from the lack
of fencing arose. At the time, the Club was in the process of
removing the standing targets and replacing them with rolling targets that could be secured
safely. In February, an arrow was reported to be found
in the driveway of the new residence. This arrow was not from the Club, but was
a significant factor in following internal assessments and evaluation. The final trigger was a critical incident
in April in which a club member accidentally released a shot, which presumably ricocheted
off a mound or post and became embedded in the wall. While no significant damage was done, this
was horrifying to all involved, and the Club immediately pushed for urgent action to be
taken. The Council met with the Club and agreed with
the necessity of the backstop fence, and the Club voluntarily entered a period of suspension
on the understanding that this work would be completed. The Club maintained permission to run the
10m Come ‘n’ Try session to continue some operations while members could seek alternative
activities and venues. The suspension was not lifted and no progress
was communicated to us. Instead, we were informed of a total outdoor
shooting ban with no explanation provided. No further communication was received until
mid-June, when we were first informed of an independent risk assessment being done. The Club was not contacted for this assessment,
and the report was completed at the end of June. The Council met with the Club to discuss the
report in mid-July. The report declared that the field was unsuitable
for archery and provided a number of recommendations. I will make it clear, in no uncertain terms,
that the report was outright incorrect in a baffling number of areas and reflected a
very low level of professionalism. The faults were tremendous and, should this
be allowed to remain on the record, poses a threat to all current and future archery
clubs. In response to the 5000 word risk assessment,
I wrote, on behalf of the Club, a 15,000 word response. I will go through this in detail in another
video. In addition to this, we also completed an
interim plan to re-open short-distance outdoor operations. With the help of Archery Victoria, we consulted
our plan with the Council and cleared several significant areas of concern, and we were
finally able to use our outdoor range again in September, nearly five months after the
initial suspension, albeit with a 40 metre maximum distance. The Club then submitted its official response
to the Council. As of this video, discussions with the Council
continues, with a meeting planned in the coming week. Up to this point, I’ve been very calm in
delivering the factual and verifiable timeline of events. From here on, the opinions are my own and
not necessarily that of the club. This is the single worst thing that could
happen to any archery club. The last five months have been absolutely
miserable. I don’t know about you, but when I signed
up for archery, I didn’t expect to be up at 4 in the morning typing up a thesis to
respond to a report that is so wrong, it’s almost criminal. Just imagine getting a phone call that tells
you that the club is shut down until further notice, end of discussion. And then you have to relay that information
to dozens of confused and angry club members, cancel all events and wave away all new community
participants with no explanation. For five months, our doors have been closed
and the field has been empty, and we’ve been waiting, agonisingly, watching our members
disappear. We have kids who have been turning up, eager
to become members and buy their first bow, and every time we have to say “Sorry kiddo,
not today”. It’s disheartening. At a time where the Club should be growing
and expanding and getting even more people to enjoy the sport, we’ve been hit hard
with the suspension, and we have suffered emotionally and financially. We’ve seen the sport depicted as “unusual”
and “dangerous” with extremely high risks, all of which are completely baffling to anyone
who has worked with an archery club. In what is supposed to be our 70th year as
a club, we’re fighting not just for our survival, but for awareness and respect for
the sport. We’re not a giant organisation with limitless
resources. We’re a grassroots club, the only archery
club in our area, with around 30 regular members and run entirely by volunteers. The efforts of certain Council staff may have
brought the Club back from the brink of extinction, but the Club was placed in this situation
by prior inaction, and that is what makes me upset – that the triggers were predictable
and preventable. I could rant on about how angry and upset
I have been for the past five months, every night thinking that it is the end of my club
and the end of my archery career, but I want to keep this short and to the point. I want to be fair to the people involved and
the work they have done, but also represent the pain and anguish that we have been through. There are two major sticking points here. The first is that this is a fairly typical
example of working with a bureaucracy. Everyone at every level thinks they know best,
and information is seldom shared and communicated to other departments, or to the people below. If the people responsible for handling this
case are barely getting the right information and direction from the top, then it isn’t
hard to imagine that our club, our members and our community are getting even less information. Naturally, this lack of communication will
cause a lot of confusion and friction. The reality on the ground is that we don’t
know who we’re dealing with. We don’t know who’s laying out the risk
factors and concerns and who we have to appease, because they’re not the ones who are communicating
with us. It’s a convoluted process, and we have a
right to be upset at this process. Secondly, the lack of proper consultation
has been a continual source of frustration. It’s no secret that the Council is unfamiliar
with archery as a sport. However, until recently, consultation with
the Club has been nearly non-existent. If the Club is not reliable or credible enough,
then we have our state and national archery associations – in this case Archery Victoria
and Archery Australia. I’ve been criticised for not involving AV
or AA sooner. After all, they are the people in the best
position to evaluate safety and provide the resources and materials. In my defence, I did not realise at the time
that this would escalate into a five-month suspension. The last thing I was aware of at the time
of the suspension was that the fence was going to be put up. Once the total outdoor suspension was on,
I immediately opened the opportunity for the Council to sit down and have a conference
with the Club, AV and AA along with parent and community representatives. Instead, the assessment was done by an assessor
with no knowledge of the sport while the expertise and experience were on standby. In the Council’s defence, the last few meetings
over the past month have been made with more active effort to involve the Club and AV. However, on our end it’s been nothing but
damage control and playing a waiting game. Every minute of my archery time for the past
five months has been dedicated to protecting the Club and doing everything that is necessary
to prove that archery is a valid sport and one that can be safely run. At this point I would like to acknowledge
and thank everyone who has been involved in the case, particularly Archery Victoria and
Archery Australia; councillors and staff members of Maribyrnong City Council who have been
liaising with us and supporting our case; and fellow archers from Victoria and around
the world who have been monitoring the situation. I believe that this is a landmark case that,
should it be successful, can provide a template for other clubs to follow. If it fails, then we should all be worried. I will keep you all updated in the decisions
that will happen in the near future. Right after this, I will be uploading an in-depth
analysis of the risk assessment report and our response. This is NUSensei, and I hope to see you around
next time.

Only registered users can comment.

  1. Hope everything goes okay. I can hear the anger and sadness in your voice near the end of the video. I'm incredibly sorry for what's going on and again, I hope everything goes right in your favour. Praying from Western Australia 👍🏻

  2. I wish the best for you and your club. It would be a shame to shutdown a 70 year old archery club. DONT STOP FIGHTING FOR WHAT YOU LOVE ! 👍🏻

  3. Is it possible to approach a for profit company….like a Home Depot or like hardware store in Australia…and ask for donation of a wooden fence? Don't forget to ask for paint as well. Paint will seal the wood and nails from weathering and decay.

  4. Good luck with the club NuSensei. Your followers are here to support you in any way possible. Don't give up hope. Looking forward to your next video.

  5. Good luck! My family and I just started shooting archery and love it. It is a wonderful sport. I wish you the best and have been watching your videos.

  6. wow some council, they are the ones who have to protect the people as well as the club. in the club's defence you have pleaded and informed the council thousands of times to put a solid backstop, which is the most you could do as it wasn't your land and it was the council that failed to live up to their expectations and protect the people. disgusting.
    PS. good luck Nu sensei. all your fans support you and will never stop

  7. I find your videos very useful and instructive. Because of your insights my understanding of this sport has excelled over the short time that I have found your channel, good luck with your fight.

  8. I’m sorry to hear that, this is really typical, first you have a shooting range, than a developer builds around houses, knowing the range is there and suddenly people start to complain about risk (in case of bows) and noise (in case of guns) but that the officials approved building close to a range, that people had no problem buing houses around the range suddenly bothers no one. Its not the first time I see this happening, wish you all the best, and hope your club will soon train again

  9. I admit that I don't know exactly what to do, but I suggest adding a 2500 word summary of your response; short enough to be readable, long enough to be detailed.

  10. nothing worse than old, out of touch shmucks trying to make peoples lives difficult

  11. Fantastic video; thanks for the update, and good luck in these challenges. I imagine it is very stressfull, but your club and our sport are thankfull!

  12. David, it sounds to me as though you've been a real stalwart for your club and you've fought like a fricking tiger! I'm devastated to hear of the catastrophic clusterfuck (sorry but there's no real alternative to describe it) that your local authority has made of its review process. It is typical of the sort of bureaucratic incompetence that you so often find in local council authorities. I sincerely hope that you guys manage to find a way through this. Your National Archery Association (and Archery Associations across the WORLD) need to get involved in supporting their clubs – it's where the sport begins and ends. No clubs = NO SPORT = no need for a national association!

  13. I feel your pain. You are most likely fighting with a developer who has deep pockets and wants to build homes on that beautiful piece of land. The archery ranges here are located in flood plains where no one can build.

  14. It's a damn shame that politics once again intervenes to ruin a perfectly benign and wholesome sport as archery. Too many rules and regulations saps the fun out of everything. Certainly all efforts should be made to make a sport or other activity as safe as possible and violations should be taken seriously. But to not even have a dialogue about safety or other issues, to me, smells of ulterior motive, or at the very least a complete lack of interest on the part of beurocracy. These people are put into office to look out for our interests, not ignore or irradicate them.
    I hope all works out in your and your club's favor NU. It would be a real shame for you to lose the sport you love and a You Tuber we love viewing.
    Hang tough and fight the good fight, NU Sensei!


    A K.O.O.K. from Florida, USA

  15. at lest you have 40 meters fore now but I hope your club can take new shooters and be back to its good old self as soon as possible ,best of luck with the club! 🙂

  16. take your story to the media because if the city wont fix the issue and they are preventing you from fixing the barrier issues then they must have the pressured brought to them by the media because any more now days that's the only way to get pressure on them to make them fix their stuff and show up out of no where at one of there public meetings and bring this issue up along with the history aspect as well because the moment they realize they may permanently lose a piece of history and lose a source of income since once you threaten there pocket books that's when they take action.

  17. I dont know about council regulations, but suggest to them about building a 'two stage' fence barrier. The existing fence, and one immediately behind the target area. They would give a higher 'catching' rate…

  18. Start looking for a new field, because i guarantee these bastards want you off the land so they can sell it. you won't win against them, there's a lot of money involved.

  19. NUSensi, I am sorry to hear about this terrible disaster with the Archery Club. It is a bad case of bureaucratic incompetence alright. The council alone however need help in dealing with the issue as well. I think Archery Australia need to get involved and I hope they will provide you with some assistance in getting the club a new backstop wall. What we need is to see some support from a sponsor to provide a resource to keep the club going.

    This may seem a bit off topic here but I think the lack of support and investment for the club lies in the way archery is run. As a political and civil activist I have been able to apply my knowledge of community and business to improve archery. You may have heard of a petition to make archery a core sport in the Commonwealth Games? Well I set up the petition and along the journey of campaigning I have found that archery needs to learn the skills of enterprise and activism in order to succeed. Try and approach this situation as a social enterprise by declaring your value to the local community and start advertising for fundraising outside of the archery community. Offer a DIY store a free try out day for it's employees to give you a backstop structure and get them to bring their families along.

  20. This smells fishy in the way corrupt government smells. It feels too much like they are purposefully ignoring your issues until either something terrible happens or your club dies on its own by losing members one by one and then they can open the land for construction, a story as old as time itself probably. I really hope you get the emotional and financial support from your club members and those around you who share or support your passion for the sport.

  21. That's insane, I hope you come out ok. I have no clue how things are set up there but is there anywhere outside the city where you could set up. Where you don't have to deal with councils or politicians. Just asking.

  22. Either the council is controlled by the politicians and want to sell your land without asking or the council is just extremely busy.

  23. Have you considered netting? It is expensive, but can be put up quickly and taken down when the range is not in use. Set up properly there is no easier way to have an effective 10' tall backstop.

  24. Sounds to me like ur being railroaded!! Can the council sell this property for a housing project!?!?! Can't you hire a lawyer??

  25. Wow. As a citizen of the United States, I find this insanely mind boggling. I belong to a club that has a 500 meter rifle range, 100 meter rifle range, shotgun range, pistol range, and archery range. There are strong safety rules in place. One violation gets you banned for life. I know that the USA has a reputation about guns overseas. However, we look to Australia and the Port Arthur tragedy as a warning sign that what happened in Australia can happen to us too. That is, sports that are perfectly safe in practice can be outlawed regardless of sane or scientific reasoning. This is the first video I've seen in what looks like a series of videos on the subject. I really do hope you prevail.

  26. That chain-link (or "cyclone" fence at5:39 to 5:59 will deflect an arrow as seen at 4:59 to5:11. The end of the field must have something solid and high to prevent this; AND, 'sky-pullers' MUST be warned of that error.

    I can't believe the Municipality, AA and AV allowed that chain-link fence. Nice places to place an outdoor archery range are becoming few and far between. You ( the club) may need to buy the land and put up the proper fence (after approval, of course).
    I hope you don't have to resort to lands like we have around El Paso, Texas. I can't risk going off the lanes from the shooting line to the targets; EXTREME Thorn bushes and trees. A 2 inch long, huge thorn went up between my toes (off-range) after an arrow was deflected off a target holder. Needless to say, I don't shoot there anymore.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *