The weekend of BUCS Nationals saw Edinburgh University Rifle Club (EURC) travelling south alongside many of their fellow Edinburgh sports clubs to compete against the best athletes from across the British universities and colleges.
Having had a triumphant season so far, EURC had high hopes of achieving the BUCS podium finish that had so far eluded the club. These hopes were only reinforced by the club’s stellar performance in the BUCS qualifying leagues where the A team had finished first in Division 1, comfortably beating nearest challengers Exeter and Newcastle.
Perhaps unsurprisingly then, the team of Bryony Fraser-Burn, Christopher Gray, James Gutteridge, Richard Sobolewski, Rory MacLeod and Nikki Sammels entered as one of the favourites to lift the trophy.
BUCS Rifle is contested over four rounds with six shooters competing for each team, meaning that the top score possible in each round is 600 points. As might be expected, given the circumstances, the first few rounds were a little shaky for EURC and this resulted in a poor second round score of 561/600. However, a strong first round score had left EURC some breathing room, and at the halfway stage Edinburgh were tied for first place with Scottish rivals Glasgow.
Once again, the third round tested EURC nerves, and the team score of 569/600 did little to calm those nerves. However, club captain Chris Gray’s score of 99/100 kept EURC in touch with their opponents and mistakes from shooters from the top four teams meant that Edinburgh were still well in contention for a podium finish.
The fourth and final round, however, proved decisive. With scores incredibly tight, EURC pulled out a fantastic final round score of 582/600 – the highest scoring round by any team by some margin – to clinch first place. Spectacularly, Bryony, James, Richard, Rory and Nikki all shot their highest individual score of the competition in the high pressure final round proving that pressure is not always a bad thing.
Having secured first place and the BUCS Short Range rifle trophy, EURC could look forward to the individual competitions on Sunday. With four of the six team members competing – a record number in recent times – hopes were high for yet more success, and these hopes were not to be in vain.
In the Ladies’ individual competition, Nikki Sammels took third place closely followed by Bryony Fraser-Burn in fourth, a mere one point behind. In the open individuals, Chris, Nikki, Bryony and Richard took eighth, ninth, 12th and 13th place respectively, a fantastic achievement for a club that had only a single representative in the individual finals last year.
Overall, it was both a massively successful and historic weekend for Edinburgh University Rifle Club. This is the first Scottish win of the BUCS Short Range Rifle team trophy since its inception and hopefully sets a precedent for EURC to go on to claim more silverware in the BUCS Long Range and BUCS Fullbore competitions later in the season.
Meanwhile, attention now turns to the SSS Indoor and Outdoor Championships taking place later this month.