The annual outdoor friendly match against St Dunstans actually took place outdoors this year as we had some good weather for the first time in three years, but possibly for the last time against St Dunstans in their present incarnation before they have to change their name to Blind Veterans. James Strudwick was driving his first competition for SUAC, but fortunately there wasn’t as much drama as in recent team outings and the team arrived relatively on time.
The Clickers team were somewhat limited in number this year, but Graham and Dan managed to arrive in time to start an end later than everyone else. SUAC managed to take 10 people, which meant that there were extra people on some targets. The target list was ordered by how soon people put their names down to take part – despite organising the entries Stephen Fawcett wasn’t on Target 1 since Fiona Walsh was so keen that she had put her name down before he had even announced the competition.
As ever, it was a handicap shoot, with this year’s round being a Junior Western; four dozen arrows each at 40 and 30 yards at the deceptively generous 122 cm faces. It only took Stephen Fawcett one attempt to explain the handicap system to the squad, though different people understood the mechanism in their own different ways. As long as they understood it in some way, that was all that mattered… It was Stephen’s target that was always the slowest, due to his target having the slowest blind archer. At one point, everyone started to walk up to collect their arrows before he had the chance to shoot his! Graham, on Stephen’s target shooting longbow, made a passing comment about recurves taking forever to shoot!
The catering schedule meant that lunch occurred during before the change of distance. There was a generous selection of food, though bizarrely it was the corned beef sandwich that wasn’t getting much love from SUAC; this stance from everyone else was fine by Stephen. It also prompted a debate over which was the superior tinned meat – Spam or corned beef. Fiona contrived to drop a bottle of juice inches from the ground as she tried to put it down, adding to her tally of drops.
The shorter distance proved a challenge for the barebow and longbow archers, who couldn’t see a good reference point to aim with. This prompted a joke from one of the blind archers who pointed out that they couldn’t see at all. Fiona took advantage of Graham being around to get an insight into buying a barebow riser. She would also like it in orange if possible, which would be an excellent choice of colour.
Shooting was going well for most of the team, though Declan Ashworth had some sort of equipment failure. It seemed like one of his nocks wasn’t fitting his string properly, giving the effect (and certainly the sound) of dry firing the bow. Unfortunately, Declan was running short of spare arrows, so while he was on course for most of the day and he completed the round, his final score was off from his handicap target. Although individual scores are normalised to 1440, the easiest way to look at them is to look at the day’s scores and see if it was above or below the target score.
Dominic Collis 750 (+63)
Jason Hammett 740 (+53)
Andrew Howe 838 (+37)
Fiona Walsh 630 (+23)
Simon King 806 (+22)
Scarlett Theron Rush 628 (+21)
Stephen Fawcett 794 (+17, woop)
Liam McDonnell 617 (-5)
James Strudwick 696 (-40)
Declan Ashworth 716 (-46)
The top four scores (Dominic, Jason, Andrew, Fiona) formed the team, and being a total of +176 for a handicap team score of 5936 looked promising, but it wasn’t enough as the St Dunstans team won with a score of 5970. However, Clickers edged St Dunstans in their separate match, with a total team score of 5986.
We were plied with even more pie and cake by the hosts, while someone had obtained a football. Although there had been no diplomatic incidents up to this point, Dom decided to channel his inner Rickie Lambert and show the world was he was made of. Unfortunately, this meant being a whisker away from taking out a little kid’s head with a full-on punt and blasting the ball almost off the site. We had finished early and had the minibus until late, and because the weather was nice, the team took the opportunity for a pre-emptive beach trip the week before the beach social. The original plan was to drive towards Brighton, but once we worked out that we were a few hundred metres away from the beach already, we did a loop of the roundabout outside St Dunstans and returned to the grounds to walk there ourselves, in possibly the shortest SUAC minibus ride ever.
The beach was surprisingly full of stones, well surprising only in the sense of if you had never been to the Sussex coast before and didn’t know what to expect. This presented an opportunity for skimming stones, and some of us managed a few skips. Stephen, being rubbish at skimming stones and suffering from cricket withdrawal symptoms, decided to see how far he could throw a stone into the sea instead, though in the words of Scarlett, it became a ‘masculinity contest’ as other people started joining in to see how far they could throw. Whatever. Meanwhile, people started using the stones to write insults to each other on the beach, which sounds pretty standard for SUAC. James abdicated the role of driving home, instead leaving it to Jason. Fortunately there was no opportunity for Stephen to get the team lost this time! Instead, the minibus was pre-occupied with playing Risk, Stephen winning the first game and Dom winning the second game. Memorably, Andrew got annoyed at how the dice probabilities meant that it was possible for him to be losing despite having favourable odds, and everyone decided to throw other alliances out of the window and attempt to team up on Dom, just because, well, it’s Dom.