BUTC was held in the south for the first time ever this year, in Southampton. This meant that most of SUAC were involved with running the event in some way, including the competitors. However, it was difficult to get involved on the day while preparing to compete without getting shouted at, so Stephen Fawcett decided to pass on the registration desk duties to Janna Collier, tell her what she needed to do, and have faith that everything would be fine. Despite the amount of time it takes for him to set up his bow, this left a lot of free time to kill before the start of the competition, so he did his usual thing of chatting to the other teams. The doors opened and things looked like they were running efficiently enough without needing to intervene. There was a brief moment of concern when Dominic Collis and Matt Potticary were the last to arrive, particularly as they were each on a different Southampton team. Dom then decided to explore and check the vantage from the balcony rather than hang around at ground level.
The pre-competition ceremony took place, with Declan Ashworth making reference to Loughborough being the last team out of the bar the night before, though there seemed to be the conspicuous absence of the Birmingham Mars Bar sacrifice, as is the tradition at national student competitions. Birmingham did as ever bring their hordes of travelling fans though, which is almost just as traditional. Birmingham A would be shooting the Bray I seeding round on the same boss as Southampton B, consisting of Stephen, Dom and Nata Chavanich. Southampton A were further along the shooting line, with the team of Matt, Andrew Howe and John Bowes.
The bad weather meant that Imperial A and B and Queen Mary were delayed on the train, while Cambridge B didn’t even make it as far as London. Coincidentally, Cambridge B and Queen Mary were scheduled to be on the same boss to the left of Southampton B, so Matt Wellman had the difficult job of writing a series of ‘M’s for the majority of the round.
Southampton B started the Bray well, almost surprisingly so. They had arranged themselves in a Nat sandwich formation, with Dom on the right as he is left handed, and Stephen on the left as there was a previous shoot with Nat the other side of Stephen that didn’t go so well due to the angle of Stephen’s field quiver. The live results were being posted at the end of every dozen, and there was delight and confusion as Southampton B were ahead of Southampton A, and in the top 10. Even the commentators were surprised by this.
In between ends the commentators would announce the teams to the crowd, with Birmingham getting the loudest cheer and Southampton getting a slightly less loud cheer, despite Stephen throwing in his traditional ‘woop’ when he was read out. Most teams also filled in the questionnaire, with Sherman from London’s entry drawing the attention of the commentators. He wrote that his hidden talent is getting drunk, while his favourite drink was milk. As the commentators suggested, what sort of milk is he drinking?
Southampton B briefly fell out of the top 10 as the top teams were all tightly spaced; the commentators pointing out that the natural order of things had returned. Queen Mary and Imperial’s teams finally arrived to shoot a few ends and get a seeding. The irony is that their transport difficulties happened because they were close enough to travel on the day for the first time.
Stephen had a bit of a weak finish to the Bray but Southampton B still finished in 10th, with Nat being the top scorer from SUAC and the second best female archer overall, while the A team, with Matt not feeling happy with his shoulder and Andrew having been out of action for a few days due to his own shoulder, made it to 14th; 9 points behind the B team. This meant that both Southampton teams would be in the same half of the draw this year, but they wouldn’t be due to meet until the semi finals.
During the lunch break, Stephen made use of his archery knowledge to correct a couple of unfortunate spelling mistakes in archers’ names, while for once someone came over to him to talk about archery. Given that Southampton B’s first round opponents would be East Anglia, when Tom van Baalen came over Stephen was expecting some sort of trash talking, but no, he merely wanted to discuss if East Anglia could join SEAL next year, as Stephen runs that league.
Both Southampton teams would be in the bottom half of the hit and miss draw, so they watched the demonstration round, with Southampton Alumni being represented by Chris Skipper, Lizzie Richley and Jess Mead, while the UKSAA team featured Erik Rowbotham and the organisers using a rather familiar orange bow. The top half of the knockout round featured the intriguing Oxford v Cambridge and Nottingham v Trent rivalry matches, as well as the consequence of a competitive Imperial A squad having to play one of the top seeds in Edinburgh.
In the Southampton matches, Stephen used his past experience of BUTC to assert that as a higher seed, 8 hits out of 24 should be enough to get past the first round. Stephen and Dom both wanted to shoot the bottom pair of targets, but as Dom was shooting better at the end of the Bray Stephen decided to let him pick his target – Stephen had previous experience of the top targets from previous years anyway. Stephen took up his favourite quick shooting opening archer role and his first arrow sailed into the top left yellow disc, the aluminium arrow bouncing out, much to the cheer of the Southampton helpers and the (entirely impartial) Southampton-based judges. With the hits fairly evenly divided between the three B team members, Southampton got their 8 hits to comfortably beat East Anglia 8-3.
The A team found themselves behind after the first pass despite scoring 3 against London B’s novices, currently top of the SEAL novice league. Southampton maintained the pressure though while London couldn’t keep up, the final score an impressive 13-3, the top score in the first round. There was time for one tie-break, as Birmingham B’s novices faced off against their BUTTS rivals, the 7th seed Warwick B, containing rather more senior archers. One of Warwick’s team said before the competition that if he lost to the novices, he would quit archery. Well, the 26th seeds, one of whom with a wooden bow, subsequently went on to pull off the shock of the round.
There was no rest and no more sighters as the remaining 16 teams set off for the second round. Having organised the draw, Stephen led his team to the correct box before anyone else knew where they were meant to be going. Birmingham B’s victory benefited Southampton B by removing a higher seed for them to face, though in theory everyone was happy to have reached the main goal of getting past the first round. This presented an opportunity for the B team to reach uncharted territory and get to the quarter finals for the first time. However, both teams got off to an inauspicious start, being the only match to remain 0-0 after the first pass. After several arrows only just missed their targets, Southampton B scraped through 6-2, much to their relief. Perry Fung as official photographer made sure to get a stylish B team photo in between ends while they were busy trying to compete.
Meanwhile, the B Team looked over at what was a very close match for the A team against Warwick A, and despite having been 2 points up for the whole match, in the final round a line cutter gave Warwick an 11-10 win. The A team went out despite scoring more than the B team; such is the way of BUTC. Southampton weren’t the only team to suffer this fate, Nottingham’s B team edged out a lacklustre Edinburgh while their A team, scoring the same number of hits, went out.
Matt was thrust into a live interview for the radio while the quarter finals began. Ominously, Southampton B’s 6 was the lowest winning score of the previous round while second seeds Derby A posted a perfect 6 hits on the way to a leading 17 against Napier, who were happy to get through the first round after eight years of trying. Standing next to the noise of Birmingham, the team at least had the support of most of SEAL as London A were the only other SEAL team left. They lost to Oxford at the quarter final stage last year, and they would do so again this year. Meanwhile, the pressure was starting to get to Derby, as they were unable to completely shake off Southampton B. Derby were fortunate in that in one end they scored five linecutters. When asked to confirm the score, Stephen was left dumbfounded by what he saw, before agreeing that there were definitely five hits. In fact, Dom was using the time available to perfection and the SUAC archers closed the gap to one going into the final pass, but by this point Stephen was tiring badly, and one of his arrows dropped so low it almost scored a hit on the target below (which would have still been perfectly legitimate). It was academic anyway as Derby posted another 6 hits to win 15-10, but it was a very respectable performance for the host B team to have gotten that far.
The final four was an all BUTTS affair with Oxford A, defending champions and top seed, blasting out Loughborough A 18-15 to get a new BUTC record for the highest aggregate match, the previous record being held by an infamous Southampton-Warwick match where SUAC won with all the line cutters in the final pass. Derby, having never reached that far before, struggled in the semis to lose 15-11 to Warwick A.
The medal matches featured walk on music for the teams, and Loughborough didn’t walk out to their nominated tune of Galvanize by The Chemical Brothers, instead with the hilariously bad LSU version of Naughty Boy’s La La La. The medal matches were of a lower quality than the semis, as Loughborough were way off in their first two passes. They did then get the perfect six hit pass to tie things at 8-8 but Derby held on to win 12-9. The medal matches also feature the use of team agents to do the scoring and helpers to retrieve the arrows, though as they hide behind Danage at the business end this left Sam Killgallon fearing for his life from a potential stray rebounding arrow from one of the discs. The final was closely fought as neither Oxford nor Warwick could get more than a point lead over each other, and the final pass ended 2-2 for Oxford to retain their title 12-11, the first team to do so since Edinburgh in 2008.
Hosting the competition required the entire club to pull together, and a number of other clubs and individuals have subsequently been in contact to say how well run the day was. The most important thing, however, was that the competitors had fun and the B team did better than the A team, maintaining a tradition that usually belongs to Imperial.