Interview with Tim Mundon - June 2002

Age 26 (now 27)
Born Birmingham, resides Edinburgh.
University of Central Lancashire (Preston) 1993-1994 then
Cardiff Institute 1994-1996 HND Electronic Engineering
Cardiff University 1996-1999 BEng in Electronic Engineering
University of Edinburgh 2001 to present PhD in Electrical/Electronic Engineering

How many years have you been a student and how many an archer

I've been a student since 1993, but I took three or four years out to work, I think that's right.

What did you do?

I worked in IT.

You moved to Edinburgh in 2000

Yes, just before the end of the year.

And you became an official non-student member of Edinburgh Uni AC, before you started your PhD [also at Edinburgh]. How were you received by the club members?

I knew quite a lot of people before I came up. It was basically because of the facilities and because I got on very well with a lot of people in the club that I came up to Edinburgh. When I came up, it was quite simple, I stopped with Ian [Richardson] for a few weeks. We got a flat down on the Pleasance which made things [getting to Edinburgh Uni Sports Centre] easy. The club members made me feel welcome.

This season, as well as hosting BUSA Indoors, Edinburgh also hosted SUSF Outdoors. How did you enjoy that competition?

I thought it was excellent, without doubt. It wasn't a great deal of work for me as, Claudine [Jennings] put all the ground work in to start with. When it actually came down to it everything ran smoothly, there wasn't that much to do - just organising picking up the bosses, organising scoresheets and then doing it. We had a great team to actually do it - it was pretty successful at the end of the day.

You shot 950, which is a new Edinburgh Uni and SUSF record and yet you opened with a dozen of 98. Did that act as an inspiration to you?

Well we all shoot bad ends, you just need to make up for them with good ones. I didnt really feel that my perfomance was totally up to scratch though.

You came second at BUSA Indoors by 1 point. How important is BUSA Outdoors to you?

To me personally?


To be politically correct, it's very important within university circles, however not as important as BUSA Indoors. That's the tournament that provides the most competition and, in my opinion is more indicative of a universities performance. BUSA Outdoors is important in the sense that it establishes outdoor tournamnents within university archery.

And for Edinburgh [Uni AC]

With regards to the university club it's incredibly important becaues the transition from indoors to outdoors is sometimes very difficult to complete successfully. To be successful outdoors can establish a good club. Unfortunatly we don't have that many people going [to BUSA Outdoors] this year and we didn't do particularly well indoors this season so we need make sure we perform at our best outdoors at the very least.

How do you react to the suggestion that at a competition, your worst enemy is yourself?

I would say being as no-one out there is generally malicious, that's probably true. There are a lot of things you can cause yourself problems with. Setting incorrect goals, under or over confidence and over-confidence are huge issues in archery. The fact is and it's been said many times that archery is 90% mental and 10% physical. That's been proven many times. If you've got the mental ability you can easily perform well.

Do you think the Albion is a suitable round for compounds?

No. I think a FITA would be a far more sensible suggestion.

And for the recurves?

That's going to be a problem. At the ability level within university archery, it's probably a fair round, however it would be impractical to have a different round for compounds and recurves. So somewhere between the two may be practical I don't know what though. It's slightly impractical to shoot an imperial round, especially as any international tournaments [FISU, WSG] within University circles are metric. However we are, as I said before, coming from the indoor season to the outdoor season, so maybe it is a friendlier test.

There's a large proportion of novices too.

Absolutely, that's a very good point. If you're going to consider novices as well in the equation then yes, definitely, I think it's probably a fair round for them. But then again for the higher end of the scale is there a more suitable round? I don't know. For compounds though, certainly an imperial round I don't think is particularly fair.

Away back in 1996 at BUSA Indoors you finished 2nd Gent Recurve with 579. When did you start shooting recurve and what persuaded you to change to compound.

I started shooting recurve when I was about 6. I shot exclusively field archery basically because of my father and then I went to win the European IFAA Championships in 1990 as a junior. I also won the British [field] Championships a number of times as a junior before then. In 1990, I decided to change to compound. I imagine this is going to confuse your figures here.

Yes it is.

What happened is when I first went to university, when I was at Cardiff Institute, I heard about university archery, which I hadn't known anything about before. So I went to the Sports Union and I said can I shoot this? I shoot compound, and they went you can't shoot compound at BUSA. So I went OK, so what do I have to shoot? You have to shoot recurve. OK then I'll shoot recurve. So I gave myself probably about three weeks, I borrowed one of my father's recurves, I shot three fingers to the side of my face, had a stabiliser, no draw click, and I had no idea what score to expect and what anyone else had done. I went to the first session at Sheffield, and I wanted 580 because I didn't know what to expect, I'd shot a few rounds and I thought 580 sounds a fair figure and then I think it was Matt Gray [of Loughborough] that was shooting in the same session shot something like 588.

All the details spot on. That's still a BUSA record.

I just thought oh. I'm not very good at this, this is awful. I instantly assumed as there was another session to come that I'd lost and I wasn't even going to get a place. I didn't even know what place I came until four years ago when I read in the BUSA archives that I'd come 2nd! So maybe I'm not so bad with a recurve after all.

You experimented with shooting recurve again during the last indoor season.

Yes. That was a mistake.

You had a shoulder injury of course. How did you enjoy shooting recurve?

I think [shooting] recurve is very good for shooting compound. It certainly helps build up muscles. Unfortunately I made the mistake of not being prepared and using a little bit too high a draw weight to start with, going from compound to recurve. As such, I pulled my shoulder muscle because of shooting recurve. I should have been more careful, If I'd done it more gradually, it wouldn't have been a problem. I do intend to shoot recurve, at the very least as a training aid, over the indoor season. All I have to do is be able to afford a riser.

Recently you were elected as captain of Edinburgh Uni AC. What made you decide to run for that?

The time I spent at the club before [joining], I felt that the club wasn't really making any progress. We had a few disasters in the [SUSF] League matches and we didn't seem to be together as a team. There seemed to be a big hole in the social side of things as well. I felt that what the club wanted was a strong captain that can, basically, push things forward. Maybe an opinionated captain, I'm certainly very opinionated, that can say something and then other people can shout at him, but at least get things done, making decisions. I'm not knocking Dave [Sewell, EUAC captain 2001/02] of course, I think he did a fantastic job as captain under last year's circumstances. Now though, I think the corect way to go forward is to have a clear plan, that everyone is agreed upon and then implement it as practically and as quickly as possible.

There's no point electing a captain unless you trust them sufficiently.

Exactly. I just think it's far better, to use the committee and select members of the committee in order to make decisions on behalf of the club in order to get things done. The problem with us, is it being a student club there is unfortunately always apathy and it becomes very difficult to get information back and get things done because people just don't want to do it. Also I've been in archery over 26 years and I've got a rough idea of how I think things should be run and a good idea of how things have been run in the past. I certainly think I'll use that experience, I will use that experience in order to get the club [Edin Uni AC] to be successful.

The AGM itself was quite heated and the vote was very close

I was out of the room for that bit.

13 votes to 12 with 1 abstention. Does that give you a strong mandate to make these decisions?

With this decision, I think, there were a lot of poeple that made their decision up on personal preference of the individual rather than of the particular things that they were going to do. I think myself or Claudine [Jennings] would have made a good captain. I think our policies, if you like, the statements that we made in our speeches, were very similar. As such, I think being as they were similar, at the end of the day, I think yes it does give me a mandate to make decisions as a captain. At the end of the day it's going to be roughly the same decisions.

You and Andrew Phillips co-ordinated running for captain and vice-captain. I don't think that's been done before. How did it come about?

That's not strictly true.

Oh. That was my impression. What is true then?

Andrew [Phillips] had already thought about runnng for vice-captain and I had thought about running for captain independently. It just so happens that we ended up getting elected.

Was there a meeting of minds?

Yeah. I think we get on very well together - we're good friends anyway. I think maybe once we both decided we were going to run for the posts, yes we worked together. We're very lucky we both got elected, I think as captain and vice-captain certainly have to work very closely together.

It can be an important relationship.

I think it will certainly benefit the club that we are very good friends and we do work together very well.

What are your aims for this year and how do you plan to achieve them?

Well. I'd like to get a stronger recurve team. I'd like to bring up the intermediate archers to be better and be a more realistic part of the squad that can contribute towards better scores and performances - I know that's more related to the team. Within the club I want to establish a more solid social side. That's absolutely critical. I want to make sure that there are events and everyone comes to them, everybody has a good time, everyone's friends. I want to remove any divisions from inside the club. However, I think that's going to be very difficult, if not impossible because these things always happen. Always people have their own circles.

That's the social side, what about the archery, in particular what will your attitude toward novice training be?

One of my main goals this year is that I want to try to make sure that people stay in archery and that nobody gets scared away. At the start of the [academic] year I want to concentrate on the novices and I really want to make sure that we do encourage novices in and not scare them away by a very cliquey club, which we have been known to be over the years. I want to try and make it much more accessible. Basically we want people to stay in archery after they leave the university club. I think that's ultimately the goal of any archery club is to get people into archery and stay in archery. We would like to remove pressure [from] the novices by not saying things like, "You must shoot 540 as novice, 500 as a novice". This is bad. Everybody knows this is bad, yet we always do it. Don't get me wrong in the past, I've been a perpetrator of it. You instantly put the impression in people's minds "I have to shoot this". I think that's really bad and I think we need to get rid of it.

In the next academic year, up to three highly experienced archers may be joining Edinburgh Uni, Lorna Provan, Martin Russell and Alistair Whittingham. How do you propose integrating experienced archers into the coaching structure of the club?

Well I think Lorna Provan is going to Heriot-Watt, I'm not sure. What we've done is created a squad and team system and adjusted it slightly so that it's now updated on a more regular basis, so that we make sure we have the right people on the squad. However, I'm not saying we're going to throw anybody off squad. the problem is that when you have new members coming along that are reasonably experienced, the people on the team that are on squad become a little bit worried that they're going to be thrown off and they're not going to get the facilities for coaching. We would like to do it such that, as soon as experienced archers come in, they have to want to be part of the coaching team and hence show themselves to be part of the club beforethey can take advantage of this. Obviously we want the team to be the best archers it can be so we will make the squad the best archers that we have, but we don't want to put people out by putting people onto this squad that aren't going to make the effort. This is going to be slightly awkward. Alistair Whittingham has already said that he may not be able to be part of this squad (as an archer) because he'll be far too busy with his course, which is a shame. However, he's formally offered his services as a coach. We've already agreed that we are going to concentrate more on a recurve squad rather than a compound squad. We'll certainly try to field a compound team without question, but as far as BUSA goes the recurve team is the most competitive Effectively its down to all the archers to show they're committed and that they want to be part of the team.

This season is Edinburgh's 40th anniversary and in all that time, I think you're the first captain to be a postgraduate student. What's your PhD about?

My PhD, is roughly in Electrical Engineering. It's optimising a control system for an off-shore wave power device.

How do you feel you'll be able to manage the time consuming role of captain, shooting to the highest possible level and the considerable demands of the second year of a PhD?

If I'm going to do all that it'll be really difficult. Practically, I'm not going to be able to do all of that. I know that, that's what I said to start with. There's three things you said there, there's studying, being captain and shooting to the highest standard. Shooting to the highest standard is ultimately the one I'm willing to sacrifice. I'm willing to not put the same amount effort into into my archery that I have been this year. Obviously my priority is to my PhD. However, it's fortunate that my hours can be very flexible, so that, as long I put the time in, in order to get my work done, I can shuffle hours arond and put whatever extra time I need to, where I need to, to be captain. I appreciate something's got to give, I can't do all what you suggest and from September, the indoor season I'm pretty much going to scratch. I'm not saying I won't go to competitions, but I won't put the same amount of practice in between.

Does that mean you'll be trying to put in a little quality practice rather than any volume [of arrows]?

Yeah. That's probably it. I don't want to not shoot, but I won't be putting in volumes of shooting.

I'd like to turn to [this year's] BUSA Outdoors. We discussed the suitability of compounds shooting Albions earlier. At BUSA Indoors this year there were 207 recurves and 16 compounds. Edinburgh were the only university able to field a compound team [of 3]. Is that a bit disappointing?

As a compound archer, yes it is a bit disappointing, I have to say. Then again a large number of people within university archery, start archery at university. I think it's good that people start with recurve and make a decision at some point later to go compound [or not]. In that respect it's not disappointing at all. I think it's good that people are getting into archery. The fact that they're not shooting compound is not a problem, maybe they'll shoot compound at a later stage.

Where do you stand on the BUSA Champs novice medals debate?

I think it's a disgrace that BUSA don't recognise novices. I think the quicker we can push that through the better. I don't know exactly what their position is at this time but I know they're not doing them. I don't know whether they are going to but if they don't, they are neglecting a very important part of university archery.

This very morning [UKSAA - first for news] you received a letter confirming that you are in the British team chosen to go to the World University Archery Championships in Thailand this summer. Are you pleased about that?

Of course. It's always an absolute honour to represent your country and certainly the World University Championships is always a good event. I have been to two previously, this is my third. It's going to be a difficult tournament, there are always very good archers there. Surprisingly although we just spoke about the number of university recurve archers in the UK far outstrips the number of compound university archers, the actual numbers at the World University Championships are far more even. Countries such as Holland have only sent compound archers before. The competition is always tough mainly from the Far East and USA, although France... actually scrub that, the competition's really tough from everywhere.

That's an interesting point. At some points last year there were 4 British compound gents in the world's top 10 but only 1 British gent recurve in the world's top 100. As someone with aspirations perhaps beyond the BUSA and FISU Champs why do you think that should be?

Do you mean why do we have such a strong background of compounds? Maybe the British are really talented compound archers! I think it's not so much that the recurves aren't really good, although that might be an issue. It's far more that recurve archery has a far more solid base around the world and a lot more really good archers around the world. Because compound is a fairly new and up-and-coming discipline, relatively, there are not as many good archers. On a UK scale, I don't know. Maybe there is a very old fashioned attitude in British archery attitude that doesn't help in creating top class recurve archers. A lot of the compound archers are younger people.

A more open minded approach?

Definitely far more open minded and they're able to just shoot for the sake of shooting rather than anything else more peripheral or, say, bureaucratic.

The full team is, I should say, Tim Mundon (Edinburgh) compound, James Bingham (Sheffield) recurve, Richard Wilkins (Loughborough) compound. David Spinner (Queen Mary's London) compound is the non travelling reserve. The team manager is John Sullivan and head coach is Ken Bearman. What do you think of the make up of that team?

Well it certainly wasn't what we expected. Everybody expected 3 compounds, because and then they could compete as a team, however obviously John and Ken have selected this team for reason. One thing I don't know is whether we could compete as a team anyway - I think it's unlikely.

Including James Bingham?

Yes. It's unlikely but it might be possible - strange things happen at these university events. Certainly in the individual events, there's the feasibility of two or three medals, one in gents recurve, one, maybe two in gents copmound. Whether it maximises the chances of [getting the most] medals is questionable, unless we can shoot as a team.

Compound archery isn't currently a discipline at the Olympics and archery doesn't feature at all at the Commonwealth Games despite things like crown green bowls - what do you think about that.

Nothing we can do about it. A while ago, FITA renamed the recurve or freestyle to olympic style. Do you see? It was one of the ploys they used to keep compounds out of the Olympics.

Are FITA trying to keep compounds out of the Olympics?

The problem is this. There are only a set number of places for competitiors to do archery at the Olympics. There are only 128 places for archers full stop. that means 64 gents recurve, 64 ladies recurve. Top 32 in each case go through to the elimination [after qualifying] and then they get whittled down. If you were to include compound you would have 32 gents recurve, 32 gents compound etc., and this would not be representative.

Not representative enough?

Yes. It wouldn't be good enough to have everyone from around the world. That's the reason they're not allowing it, it's nothing personal. It's just that the numbers are unfeasible so ultimately they need to make the decision between all compound, all recurve or the competition format would have to change.

At the Commonwealth games, just out of interest you may be qualified to shoot for England, Scotland and Wales. Who would you shoot for.

No comment.

You have finished with the highest score at the Scottish Champs, but not been able to receive the title.

Yes. A bit stupid really. Apparantly I have got to live in Scotland for x number of years to be able to win the Scottish Championships even though I am affiliated to a club in Scotland and I live in Scotland but I think I can get Scottish records.

That is slightly crazy. It's you're [27th] birthday coming up on Monday.

Everyone has to buy me a very large present.

How are you going to be celebrating?

We're all going out on Sunday night so everyone better come. Although it'll probably have already happened by the time you get this on the net. [It has - oh well - UKSAA - first for news] We're going out on Sunday, we're going to watch the football in the morning.

England versus Sweden.

Yes of course. England are going to win 17-0, I think [or perhaps draw 1-1], so we'll be drinking all day and then again on my birthday.

Thanks very much, Tim.

Thank you.