At a glance
Sara Rubio, Senior Ladies Recurve, 544 (5th, qualifies for H2H)
Abbie Hall, Senior Ladies Recurve, 493 (10th)
Ziheng Guo, Senior Gents Compound, 559 (11th)
Nick Wilson, Senior Gents Recurve, 520 (30th, qualifies for H2H)
Stuart MacFarquhar, Senior Gents Recurve, 517 (35th)
Justé Valyté, Senior Ladies Recurve, 479 (38th)
Kathryn Holyland, Senior Ladies Recurve, 450 (53rd)
Rachael Smith, Senior Ladies Recurve, 445 (54th)
Women’s Non-compound team, Sara, Juste, Kathryn 1473 (7th)
Compound team, Ziheng, Abbie, 1048 (7th)
Nick 0-6 Jack Masefield (3rd seed, Derby) in the first round.
Sara 6-5 Elizabeth Elmer (28th seed, Nottingham)
Sara 6-5 Caitlin McCarthy (12th seed, Birmingham)
Sara 4-6 Rebekah Tipping (4th seed, Birmingham) in the quarter-finals
In what may well be a first for SUAC, everyone arrived on time to leave for the first ever Indoor BUCS finals. Yes, that’s right, everyone was on time. In fact, we were not only on time, but early – even Nick. We left 15 minutes earlier than we had been initially planning to, and after the usual brief discussion on murder we were well under way. David and Sam had left some time earlier, as they were needed to assist in the setup of the hall on Friday night. Sara and Kathryn drove up separately along with Sara’s parents, and Justé made her own travel arrangements, the remainder of the team took the minibus, with Frodo and Matt Story as drivers. We also provided assistance to Vicky Burden from the University of Chichester , as she was the only representative of her university going to the event.
On the advice of David and Sam, we diverted our route to avoid the M3, as they had left 90 minutes before us and were only 20 miles up the road. Instead, on the advice of Google Maps we headed towards Salisbury by way of Sparsholt. This proved to be an unfortunate decision, as everyone else who had told their satnav to avoid the M3 has also been directed along a series of winding, frequently single-track roads, the tightest of which was Woodman Lane. Progress along Woodman Lane was… cosy, to say the least, and not infrequently hindered by other road users insisting that moving forwards was the primary objective, and forged ahead while preventing the people blocking their own path from moving out of the way.
Accompanied by the soundtrack to Moana, we gradually inched our way towards Bristol, taking time for a brief conversation with a local man with a dog and a lawnmower, who had become confused by his quiet village becoming a major through route, and to be shouted at by some young wastrel in a Mercedes, who apparently felt that even with our left wheels were in a ditch we were “taking up too much of the [REDACTED] road!” Some amount of conversation was dedicated to the various alternative terms that could be used to describe the scallywag.
As the road once again became single-track, clatters of branches against the side of the minibus frequently announced our road position as we attempted to manoeuvre past our fellow motorists, and while speaking to David to check on their own exceptionally slow progress, Rachael commented “We may have scratched the side of the minibus, but at least we haven’t hit anyone yet.” [A note to any SUSU representatives reading this, the bus is fine.] This observation was almost remedied for us, as upon approaching a blind right hand bend at the bottom of a hill a car swung round at excessive speeds in the middle of the road.
Entertainment during the delays was found as, inspired by the song “If I Were The Ocean”, several alternative suggestions were presented as to what one might desire if one were a large body of water. These included “I would always be warm so that people would want to be inside me”, “I’d be fresh so that divers require less weight to go down in/on me” and “I’d be delicious so that everyone would want me inside them.”
As (presumably) the Google servers registered the excessive traffic build up along Woodman Lane and began directing traffic elsewhere, the road freed up to a certain extent, and we shortly found ourselves on the A34 and properly began to cover ground. A stop for food at Tot Hill Services was accompanied by a rapid shift in music, as the Moana soundtrack came to a close and was replaced by Of Mice And Men. While nothing like as entertaining as the visit to Lymm services earlier in the month some entertainment was derived as we emerged from McDonalds to resume our journey. We walked past a couple of cars as a man emerged and said “Hello darling,” presumably to the woman in the car he had parked next to. Nick elected to respond to this with a cheery “Hello,” which earned a response of “I wasn’t talking to you people.” Much laughter ensued, but unfortunately for the reputation of SUAC this was while we were still well within earshot. At least we can rest easy knowing that the tale will almost inevitably be retold from the other perspective at some point or other…
Back on the road, a loud buzzing hum emerged from the minibus, the origins of which came rapidly into question. It was explained to those less car-savvy that until recently, so-called “motor-vehicles” were powered by a hamster in a ball, which was then connected directly to the axle. Although this aspect was not raised at the time, it can be assumed that the function of the accelerator pedal is to alter the amount of food suspended in front of the hamster to motivate it to run faster or slower. However, recent cars have switched drive systems to be powered by a swarm of angry bees, due to the more controlled operating capability of the hive-mind behaviour that bees exhibit. Accompanied by loud music, and powered by our organic engine, the miles positively flew by, and as we neared Brizzle (Bristol) Frodo heralded our approach with a switch to the work of Hans Zimmer. This was not before Abbie had introduced him to a cover to Call Me Maybe by Upon This Dawning. Frodo was far from pleased by the growling screams emerging from the speakers, much to the amusement of those of us in the front few seats.
As we approached our destination, Frodo repeatedly made group wake-up calls despite the insistence that everyone was already awake, and “despite everyone’s best efforts” we arrived at Gordano services at 7:13. We quickly checked in, and within ten minutes of possessions being placed in rooms Stuart had locked himself and Nick out of theirs, having to be let back in by the hotel staff. After Kathryn, Sara and her parents arrived, the most important matter of the day was raised – where we were to go for dinner. Quick searches online turned up several local establishments, including The Giggling Squid and a Brewers Fayre. We decided against the Giggling Squid since food after such a journey is not a laughing matter, and decided to go to the Kings Arms, and Rachael called ahead to reserve a table for 12. Some confusion over the exact name of the pub prompted Matt to observe that “You start with the Kings Arms and then, if you’re lucky, you move on to the Kings Head.” We chose not to delve into the details of how he knows this.
Upon arrival at the Kings Arms, we piled into the pub (although Kathryn did wander round the side of the building in search of the door which was in fact directly in front of us). The sight of a number of dogs lounging around was generally considered a good thing, and we made our way through to the table. The specials board was viewed by means of a handed-round phone with a photograph, and orders were placed and drinks acquired. After the long drive earlier in the day we switched drivers to allow Matt to relax with a pint in the pub, and we looked on in shock as Ziheng reached out and poured salt into his soda. To the knowledge of the author, no satisfactory explanation for this was presented.
The food arrived, and was good all round – The Kings Arms is certainly a place to remember for future visits to Brizzle. Stuart had been in contact with his friends in Exeter for some time, and at this point established that not only were they planning on driving up to Brizzle on the morning of the shoot, but they had apparently not taken potential traffic issues into account with regards to timing. This caused him no small amount of concern, as Exeter was presenting a particularly strong gent’s recurve team that year, and his residual loyalties to his alma mater were kicking in. Not enough to prevent the plotting of mascot theft, of course, but more on that later. Dinner otherwise proceeded without incident, although questions were raised about Frodo’s drinking habits when he referred to the small metal bucket that his peas arrived in as a “shot glass.” Comments about pea shots were also made as he “drank” them.
Much fun and games were had upon leaving the Kings Arms, as we piled back into a tightly parked minibus, but the combined efforts of Frodo driving and Matt watching and directing ensured that a lost-count-of-how-many-point turn was achieved with a minimum of horrible scraping noises against the trees and foliage on either side of the road. Returning to the hotel, we returned to our rooms, and mostly gathered in Nick and Stuart’s for an evening of board games. As the procession headed upstairs, we passed a man on the landing who commented “I hope you’re not all sharing one room.” [Editor’s note – he may have said hope you are, I didn’t hear properly.]
While Rachael and Abbie sat on one bed to get some work done, and Ziheng and Abbie’s personal mascot Fluffehcow observed gameplay, the rest of us sat down to play Avalon, an Arthurian legend themed game of deception, hidden identities and calling all your friends evil liars. It’s almost as good as Monopoly in that regard.
A part of the game revolves around the assigning of quests, and suggestions for these included:
- The capture of Napier’s Toothless mascot
- Clearing the M3
- Returning from BUCS with more mascots than we arrived with
- Getting everyone on the bus by 8:10 the following morning
- Reintroducing dragons to Narnia
As is the point of the game, much distrust is spread amongst the players, especially Frodo and Nick. After two games, Good and Evil had won a single game each, and we all retired for the night.
In the morning, breakfast was had, and we gathered at the minibus in time for the gents to arrive and register for 8:30. Being the bright and cheery morning person that he is [sarcasm], Stuart was slightly late, but we arrived in time nonetheless. A little while afterwards, once the first seeding round was almost underway, Sara and Kathryn joined us at the venue, as did Tom who had come up as another member of the support team. Bow setup and inspection followed, and before long we were on the line to begin the WA18m seeding round. Due to the early start, few people had the energy for shenanigans, and so the gents seeding passed largely without incident. Stuart manage to shoot two arrows onto the same face several ends in, dropping an 8 to a 7 and securing his first (and fortunately only) miss of the round. By the end, it was in fairly mutual agreement that we didn’t mind the end of the round having arrived. When the final results came in, Nick had reclaimed the title of King Recurve Reprobate that he had lost to Stuart at Varsity, scoring 520 to Stuart’s 517. The cut-off for entry into the final-32 head-to-head round was at 519, and had Stuart not lost two points from judges calls on line-cutters he would have made the cut on golds. Meanwhile in the compound section, Ziheng’s recent injury had clearly taken its toll, as he finished 11th, sadly not making the final-8 cut-off in his category.
As the ladies round began, Tom drove Stuart, Nick and Ziheng out in search of food. Nick used his phone to find a route, and (like nearly everything in Nick’s possession) it immediately proved its quality by concluding that we were in Wales, and therefore wanted directions to the Sainsbury’s in Abergavenny. Fortunately this was noticed less than a mile down the road, and we stumbled across a Tesco express. Lunch was bought, and we returned to the venue by a spaghetti-like route through backroads.
After distributing food and checking in on the proceedings, Tom and Stuart began to lurk in the hopes of adding to SUAC’s already impressive mascot collection – a habit which became something of a cygnet-ure move by the end of the day. London’s Fenton Foxington had been returned to them earlier in the day by Sara in exchange for a Jäger grip that didn’t wobble, and was now firmly buckled to the belt of Richard Yim. He was therefore discounted as a viable target, and their gaze moved outside of the SEAL league when Swansea’s Swan was spotted almost entirely unguarded. After some deliberation on potential abduction techniques (including a lasso made from stringers being lowered from the balcony above), it was decided that the appointed guardian was sufficiently distracted by his phone, and Stuart merely drifted past, lifted the mascot with a feather-light touch, and then swanned off with the prize hidden below his jacket. The swan was then placed on the dashboard of the SUSU minibus and Stuart returned to the prowl. As mascot after mascot was deemed inaccessible, several of the Exeter archers returned from the pub, and with the assistance of their incoming competitions officer Ben Weeks the mascot Harry Otter was lifted from their bags and placed alongside the swan. Sadly, the guardians of the mascot were outraged by this otterocity and Stuart was accosted on his return in an attempt to gain the car keys. He managed to escape enough to return the keys to Frodo, but lost his bag of Milky Buttons in the process. Some sacrifices must be made in war.
As the ladies seeding round ended, full results could be announced, and after a couple of one-arrow shoot-offs to determine placings, the head-to-head rounds began. Sara had made the head to heads with a massive score putting her 5th, but none of the other women’s recurves were able to join her. Similarly, Abbie was unable to make the top 8 for her division and also didn’t make the head to heads. Tom and Rachael left early, and SUAC congregated behind their final two competing members. Nick, having placed 30th, found himself against 3rd seed Jack Masefield, and was promptly put out of the running in straight sets. Sara, meanwhile, was given a run for her money by the 28th seed Elizabeth Elmer of Nottingham. The round went to a one-arrow shoot-off after reaching a 5-5 tie, and Sara went through to the last 16. Upon seeing this, Frodo was unable to contain himself, and cried out “Come ON!” directly in front of the teammates of Elizabeth. He presumably forgot he was at BUCS and not BUTC…
Sara continued into the last 16, facing 12th seed Caitlin McCarthy of Birmingham. She once again dragged the match out as long as possible, going into a second shoot-off. Frodo’s anxiety began to reach near-dangerous levels, and the fact that when she also won this she went up against 4th seed Rebekah Tipping (Birmingham) in the quarter finals didn’t help. Matters only escalated, and Frodo’s head nearly gave out, when both of the first two ends of the quarter-final ended in ties, giving a point apiece. His sigh of relief at Sara winning the third end to go 4-2 ahead was swiftly cut off when Rebekah equalised, and his dreams of a BUCS medal were crushed entirely when she took the next round as well, ending Sara’s streak with a 6-4 defeat. To lose so closely to a member of Team GB is no source of shame, however, and congratulations go out to all who competed.
During the quarter-finals, members of Swansea finally located those responsible for their mascot’s disappearance, and at Frodo’s insistence it was returned to them, but not after the idea of an international trip was brought up. Similarly, Exeter’s mascot was returned to them, since they are members of SWWU rather than SEAL, and so the first chance to return the mascot in person would be BUCS outdoors. We had not managed to re-acquire Fenton, and so we were forced to admit defeat and leave with fewer mascots than we had arrived with. However, UPAC (Portsmouth) had already left, and so returning their flag to them was off the cards. Clearly SUAC want it more than they do.
The return journey was, like on the Varsity trip, entirely uneventful, and apart from a stop for food at Tot Hill again there were no delays. We delivered Vicky to Central Station so that she could return home, and then after dropping off several others we returned the minibus to the University, somewhat exhausted after the event.
Congratulations to all who shot, and we look forward to BUCS outdoors.
Many thanks to guest editor Stuart MacFarquhar for this match report, as David spent the entire weekend sorting out BUCS stuff!