At a glance
Stephen Fawcett – 692 – 1st
Matt Potticary – 616 – 2nd
Janna Collier – 550 – 1st
Fiona Walsh – 309 – 1st
Not available until december
Some members of SUAC were invited to take part in a friendly extra competition, the Southampton Archery Club’s Club Championships, after having taken part in their clout. While the round would only be an Albion, various amounts in time taken off shooting meant that SUAC have been recently out of practice, so they approached with some trepidation except for the fact that they were only there as guests and shooting for fun. Fiona Walsh hadn’t even remembered she would be shooting until during the week. A slight mix up with the entry meant that at one point SUAC weren’t even down to be shooting at all (Fiona might argue that this would have been for the better), but this was resolved. It did mean however that as the only barebow, Fiona would be in longbow land away from everyone else.
The day started inauspiciously for Stephen Fawcett as despite being ready and on time, he still managed to miss the bus that didn’t come when he thought it would as he read off the wrong part of the timetable. Instead he had to go back and get his bike and tell the others to start walking without him as he could always catch up. Unfortunately, then while cycling his phone fell out of his pocket and split the case apart, which caused a further delay as he had to call upon his arrow detecting skills to find the various sections of phone scattered on the road. Fortunately the phone is again in one piece and he was able to catch up. For a while, the group did walk together, but eventually Matt Potticary got tired of walking slowly behind the ladies and the men started walking a short distance in front of them, just as in the clout.
Stephen had come in full waterproofs from the start, anticipating the dreadful weather forecast. This did mean that he got rather warm while it was dry from all the quick cycling while to catch up, and he was seen by the rest of SUAC to be literally steaming in the cool air while he was setting up his bow. The rest of SUAC had come fairly well prepared themselves, but nothing could have been prepared for what followed. The bright skies from the start of the shoot quickly turned black, and the few drops of rain that were starting to fall when going up to score almost instantly became a torrential downpour when the archers returned to the shooting line. The next end still went ahead, in possibly the worst conditions that Stephen has ever shot in for a single end. Short of having thunder and lightning, the rain was so heavy that it was virtually impossible to aim properly at the 80 yard target, and in Matt’s case properly grip the bow either. The end was pretty much a write-off but still counted, while everyone ran for cover rather than going to score immediately. Once the downpour subsided and everyone gave their best impression of looking like a drowned rat, the end scores were counted, with the six-arrow totals for SUAC ranging between 1 and 10. There was an animated debate between the organisers and the judges over whether the end should have gone ahead. Stephen’s bike was turned into a drying rack for all of SUAC’s coats and sodden hoodies.
The shoot continued, with Matt deciding that his form had gone to pieces and Fiona not exactly enjoying herself either, though she found that she had started to find her range a bit more. Janna Collier was having difficulty in trying to aim at the longest distance due to the limited poundage of her bow, though she was grateful for the flag on the top of the target to give her something higher up the boss to be able to sight on! At this stage, it was looking like the earliest point of a competition ever in which most of the team would rather go home. But the team persevered; possibly because Stephen would probably never let one of his team retire! (n.b. Legitimate reasons for retiring will always be considered.) The customary good luck text was provided by David Williams, once the evidence of the downpour had been put online, although rather embarrassingly Stephen forgot to turn his phone on silent, because he hadn’t thought that a) his phone was still working, or b) there would be a customary good luck text.
At lunch, Matt was just ahead of Janna, while Stephen had somewhat made up for the rain-affected 80 yards by doing rather well at 60 yards. The lunch break was extended while another downpour took place, before there would be clear skies for the 50 yards section of the Albion. When asked how long we would be able to wait in the pavilion, the organiser correctly answered “Until the bar runs dry.” The temperature had dropped, but Matt found 50 yards more to his taste as he was able to pepper the red and gold rings, beating Stephen in one end. In another end, Stephen managed to shoot an arrow off of his button, which caused the arrow to happily balloon off to just underneath the top frame of the boss, but this still meant a miss at the shortest distance – he managed to score more at 60 yards than at 50 yards. Most of the fun was had by talking to the compound archer from France on Stephen’s target who didn’t miss a single 9 at either 60 or 50 yards, and making jokes to each other that would clearly boost Anglo-Gallic relations.
While the scores were being added up, there was a bonus competition for all those who wanted to take part – a mixed gender one arrow shoot-off at 50 yards. The general rules would be that there would be four archers on a boss stepping up one at a time to shoot one arrow in each round, and the lowest scoring archer on each boss would be eliminated at the end of the round. The archers would then be reshuffled into new groups of four for the next round (despite Stephen attempting to discreetly shuffle away from people he knew were good), so there was no seeding. Stephen was the only SUAC member who fancied chancing his arm at this event as the others decided they’d had enough of shooting for the day.
Due to the number of participants, there were five archers per boss in the first round, and Stephen peaked too early by hitting the spider with his very first arrow. Unfortunately this was not necessary as someone else missed the boss completely. Somehow, Stephen managed to maintain better form than he did at the end of the Albion and started to advance deep into the competition, knocking out a number of more illustrious names along the way. There was a tense moment in Round 3 as his 7 was just about good enough to stay in the competition, but he soon found the gold again in Round 4. He finally came unstuck in Round 5, as with only six people left in the competition, all three on a boss would be shooting on the line at the same time. A slight hesitation at full draw meant that the arrow only dropped into the 5, and Stephen was eliminated. It was a bit disappointing, since by this point the competition seemed imminently winnable. He had a good run though, coming 1st (out of 5), 1st (4), 3rd (4), 1st (4), 3rd (3). At least he received consolatory hugs from Janna and Matt as the SUAC Fan Club, and a nominal hug from Fiona, who hadn’t really been paying attention to the most of the proceedings.
The raffle had a good selection of prizes, but with it being £1 per ticket rather than a strip, SUAC’s single ticket strategy didn’t win anything. The numbers drawn included those either side of Matt’s number 18 and Stephen’s nnnnn-nineteen (a Paul Hardcastle reference that nobody else from SUAC got). Janna proclaimed under her breath that raffles are ‘not very good’ (we paraphrase for a family audience), but soon changed her perspective when Stephen told her that meant she wouldn’t want any of his chocolates if he managed to win them.
The results ceremony was curious for the fact that all of the Southampton results would be announced at a club presentation at Christmas, so there are no classified results until December. The visitor results were announced though, and there was a lot of good news for SUAC. In the ladies, Fiona won her barebow category with a score of 309 and Janna won her recurve category with a score of 550, the first time she has won a target competition. In the gents recurve, Stephen won for the first time ever in any archery competition with a score of 692 (WOOP), and Matt came second with 616. As of yet, it is not exactly known how much opposition there was in the visitor categories, but for now there was definitely also someone who came third in the gents recurve and a win is a win, especially if you’ve had to shoot through the deluge that happened.
The day ended just in time for the rain to start again as the team walked home, and for everyone to collapse in a tired heap afterwards! At least shooting nine dozen arrows for the first time in weeks is good practice for the upcoming Hampshire Championships…