Interview with Dave Spinner and Chris Burnett - May 2005

This interview is a little bit different to the normal ones. Dave Spinner and Chris Burnett were co-commentators at BUTC 2005, so, perhaps unwisely, I gave them some topics to discuss and let them get on with it. Not for the faint hearted. Let them introduce themselves.

David Spinner, ex-Warwick, compound shooter, shot in 3 World Uni Champs and have a couple of medals to show for it. Now living in London, working as a Patent Attorney. Helped out at a number of BUSA indoors/outdoors over the last 4 years as a founding member of ACME.

Christopher “ChrisB” (see what I did there?) Burnett, ex Edinburgh and ULU, recurve. Chris shot to prominence in 2000/2001 by finishing 3rd novice gent at BUSA and SUSF (well, he would have done if SUSF had a novice gent category), breaking 500 both times, and jointly holding the indoor and outdoor novice team records. With people who were significantly better. Chris hasn’t shot for ages, because he has now started to play football with his firm’s team. They aren’t very good, and Chris is no Ronaldinho (though he has lobbed seaman), but the cardiovascular training has helped curb his beer-gut. Chris is also working as a Patent Attorney and lives in Colchester, Essex “the oldest recorded town in Britain”. His office is opposite a methadone clinic.

  • BUTC 2005

    DS: well Chris is never going to live that one down following his “minor” gaffe at the end when he announced the wrong uni as the winner. Priceless. He could be the next Murray Walker. I must admit, some of his comments had me in stitches! Top competition and well run though, with some great shooting. Was also brilliant to see Werner Beiter there (and to get respect from him for acting as an interpreter). I look forward to that association continuing. The only down point was that I didn’t come away with one of the hit/miss disks as a memento. Chris and I are, however, waiting for Richard White to get in contact for an almost exclusive interview as I’ve noticed him singing our praises on the Sagittarius message board. Perhaps Chris and I should give up our jobs and become professional commentators (not much difference to now - working in law we bulls*it for a living anyway – hope my boss doesn’t read this).

    CB: Cheers Dave. Perhaps my gaffe at the end was far more memorable than yours at the beginning. Anyone remember a dismembered Nazi accent screeching out of the PA at the start of the tournament “Let the shooting begin”? What a way to welcome our Teutonic sponsor!

    The tournament was exceptionally well run, with Chris Goodman and Tim Mundon taking most of the credit, and ACME and Nottingham Uni also putting in a terrific effort. The Beiter hit/miss targets were a stroke of genius, because then I didn’t have to rely on my shaky grasp of mental arithmetic. It must be said though that even for me, talking for eight hours non-stop is quite a challenge, especially when the “action” involves arrows either hitting or missing. There are only so many times you can say “smackdown” or “yowzer”. I don’t know if this applies to Dave, but in the days following the event I would suddenly think of something “hilarious” that I should have said. Fancy sitting there, in my chair, watching four hirsute men from Birmingham university STABBING A GODDAM MARS BAR and not turning it into something low-down and degraded. I should hang up my microphone!

    DS: I was prepared for that one thankfully. I should have warned you in advance Chris. Hope the sessions with the shrink are working.

    CB: Yes, I’ve found out that the shrink is using my inadequacies as an excuse to make his own sad life bearable. Typical.

  • BUTC in general?

    DS: They’re great, and people would look odd without them. Seriously though, I think it is a great tournament, not only due to the commentators, [CB: surely you mean “in spite of”?] but also because it gives people a real experience of what it’s like to shoot in pressure situations such as the World Uni Champs. OK, a lot of experienced archers shoot in national tournaments anyway, but this gives other unis with less experience who don’t want to venture out into the big wide world a chance to experience that within a uni atmosphere. Odd as it may seem, in the 3 champs I’ve been to, two of them had crazy commentators going at it hammer and tongs, though Chris and I do go one step further. [CB What, pray, is one step further than “hammer and tongs”. Marriage?] If you can put up with us, the competitors should be able to put up with anything. The head to head format does not necessarily mean that those unis with traditionally strong teams will always win (as demonstrated over the last 3 years), and adds a little extra random chance which makes it more exciting.

    CB: I seem to remember BUTC grew partly out of a discussion on the Cambridge board, because people wanted a tournament that would attract the top uni archers, who didn’t always bother going to BUSA. There was talk of FITA 18’s and round robins, but in the end the Mundster [Tim Mundon] decided on a team H2H. I’ve been to all three now, twice as commentator and once as a team manager, and the tournament has really gone from strength to strength. I could really see the enthusiasm in people’s faces, and people were genuinely having a good time watching the H2H’s. Now, I expect that BUTC will be up there with BUSA as a key date on the student calendar, regardless of whether or not BUSA or the individual universities acknowledge it. The fact is that going into the tournament, and even after the ranking round, nobody knew who was going to win which is always going to be more exciting than thinking “another BUSA, another Edinburgh win then”. Maybe the unpredictability, and the thought that every team is in with a chance acts as an inspiration to improve and set higher standards?

  • Proposed round change to BUSA?

    DS: Hmm, this one pops up every year. I’ve shot in and been involved in organising around 12, so I know the flaws and plus points of the current system pretty well. Having shot for the British unis a few times too, I know the difference between us and other countries at the “elite” level. The Albion/Windsor is great as it is a chance to cater for everyone, but in theory it doesn’t stretch the better archers. I can’t remember anyone getting maximum scores on it or there being major problems with ties. [For the period 1996-2004, there have been no ties for recurve medal positions team or individual]. Most serious archers would go to external competitions anyway to get experience of shooting against the big boys.

    I enjoy the social aspect of BUSA, but I’d prefer to see some kind of novice champs shot over distances that novices can achieve and an experienced champs shot over challenging distances. Perhaps these would be separate, perhaps they should be at the same time to encourage the social aspect.

    I know that there was talk of getting the ladies to shoot an Albion as well, though this was vetoed at the last minute I hear. That is a shame in my personal opinion. What would be wrong with the gents shooting a St George (100, 80, 60 yds), ladies doing an Albion (80, 60, 50) and novices doing an Albion or Windsor? That would mean a 9 dozen round as before thus eliminating the need to start earlier or run later while still challenging everyone and not causing undue problems in the team category (I’m willing to put money on the team with the most competent women winning at BUSA this year given the current rounds).

    So why not ease everyone in gently [CB: err sorry Dave, can we stick to talking about archery?], that seems more sensible than a sudden jump to a FITA. Get people used to shooting the longer distances by shooting the rounds given above and then a couple of years down the line, change to metric 12doz rounds, FITAs for experienced and Metrics for the novices

    CB: That’s all very well, but what about the novices who would normally make the senior team? People need to be shooting the same round – just chuck them in at the deep end! And bring back national service and the cane while you’re at it. I’d love to run the country; you can impose all of these strict rules on other people that would kill you if you had to follow them yourself…

    DS: Oh, and I don’t know if this has already been done, but canvas opinion officially through BUSA or by e-mailing. Jeez, that went on longer than intended.

    CB: Way to volunteer for some extra work Spinnman! Yeah, this is a tricky one. One of the things about uni archery is that it is inclusive, and a Windsor and an Albion still separates the best individuals if not necessarily the best team (that said, Edinburgh’s women last year would have beaten anyone). However, the recent discussion on Cambridge highlighted the point that if the boundaries are pushed, people will improve to meet them, and I think this is true. I shot a FITA as a novice, and could barely hit 90m – I scored something like 600 overall! The only annoyance was having to get my arrows from the grass every end – I enjoyed the shoot enormously. Perhaps if BUSA outdoors was shot a bit later in the year so the novices have longer to acclimatise? I appreciate that it might get in the way of exams; BUSA is not long after the Easter break, and unless the student stays at uni and practices (if this is indeed possible) it is not easy.

    Thing is though, if you have a good technique, and a reasonable poundage (it really doesn’t have to be that high – I’ve hit 70m with 20lbs!) 90/70m is not a problem, once you have a bit of experience shooting in wind. If you aim right, and shoot properly you will hit the target! I honestly believe the problem people have with shooting a FITA is psychological. 90m is very daunting at first, but once you've shot it for a day, it’s no dice at all. Unless you’re crap like me, and in which case you weren’t going to win regardless of the distance. Therefore, I say shoot a FITA, which if we start early in the morning, hurry the hell up and ban all-carbon arrows should be feasible. Failing that, a two day FITA with 70m team and individual H2H’s would rule supreme!

  • BUSA Outdoor 2005

    DS: I may be there - I can’t remember whether ACME has been asked for help or not (note to you cheeky people out there that you should ask for our help if you want it before you submit a bid!). Assuming ACME help is required, I expect I’ll be running the field again and encouraging people to look for their own lost arrows. Just to be predictable, I’d expect Eddyburg to run away with it again due to their high number of women, though I think Imperial will be chasing close behind. I would not be surprised if the winning teams are comprised entirely of women. Individual, who knows? I know Jo Lymboussis won’t win unless she buys some raffle tickets this year. ;-)

    Right, when is that case of vodka due to arrive?

    CB: Yep, they seem like good bets. Failing that I think Naomi [Folkard (Birmingham)] will win the ladies, assuming there isn’t something better on offer [DS: interesting turn of phrase there Chris!], and Birmingham will win overall (sorry, I just don’t want to wake up and find that my Mars Bar’s been stabbed). YES! I’ve been waiting sooooooo long for that one! I may even grace the event with my presence, if my help is required. Or I may just come for the social.

    The reason uni archery is going from strength to strength stems from the hard work and dedication of many individuals within the clubs, and also from the sad fact that many supposedly adult people fail to hack it in the real world, and can’t escape. I’ll leave it there, before I get black-balled in my attempt to join ACME!

    DS: Hmmm, didn’t know you’d made an attempt. Must get my black ball out.

    CB: I rather thought you’d ask. I’ve got bad hair and everything! Maybe it’s the promise of your black balls that might get Jo to purchase a raffle ticket? The prize of me naked led to several refunds.

  • A tour of the regions: SEAL

    DS: Well I’m glad that Imperial laid the smackdown this year in SEAL. They should have won last year, but a number of their senior team couldn’t be bothered to turn up for the matches. Also good to see their novices take the title.

    Chris B: Good call, although Veronica [Bray]’s new-fangled bit-on-the-side ULU could be in with a shout. [DS: wouldn’t know, I’ve never met her bit on the side.]


    DS: It’s also good to see my old uni leading the BUTTS league. I’m glad to see them back at the top and beating Cambridge. They deserve to win as they have more normal people.

    CB: Warwick should be red-hot after their BUTC win – or was it Exeter? – they all look the same to be honest. Perhaps exciting team colours should be promoted at BUTC/BUSA? You know, “pyjama archery”. Anything to help slightly tipsy and myopic commentators do their job. I’d like to see Nottingham establish themselves as a force; maybe then Chris Goodman will wash his own clothes and take the washing up out of the bath.

    DS: That just sounds nasty on the washing up front. Where did they shower? As for the pyjama party idea - OK to a certain extent, but having seen the York and Cambridge efforts in the first one, I’m not sure we want to promote it too hard.

  • SUSF

    DS: Edinburgh again. As usual. But will this change with their coach disappearing off to wherever to do his PhD?

    CB: Aye, my old Edinburgh babies will yet again prove that there is nothing wrong with having a “thrash-thy-arse” mentality. They’re still the team to beat, with terrific depth.

    DS: I’ve heard that about Edinburgh girls.


    DS: York - who do they have at York? I can’t remember. Shows that The Shirt [Tom Duncan] can’t be much good though, as they won their league without him and his new uni [Heriot-Watt] failed to win their league.

    CB: You bitch! There are several good teams here – York, Bradford, Lancaster and Durham. Could be quite close.

  • SWWU

    DS: Hmm, I’d prefer to see Bath win, but I’m biased. Maybe the leagues show something about the coaching structure at the particular unis? In all the leagues, the same uni is leading or has won in both categories. You can see which unis are getting it right!

    CB: If they can get their big hitters out, it's Exeter all the way. Are they the ones with the Jolly green giant? Or was that Warwick? Anyone would think I didn’t have a clue what I was talking about. The regional leagues are really taking off now, and they offer great opportunities for getting experience, and more importantly having a laugh afterwards. Do you think outdoor leagues would work Dave? One thing I noticed back in the day in Edinburgh – this may well have changed, or be different at other clubs - is that outdoors shooting is rarely structured, and that could explain why many novices are scared to shoot long distances.

  • And the 10 million dollar question - will Spinnman and ChrisB be joining forces for BUTC 2006?

    DS: Hmm, depends if I can escape from work. Of course we’ll be there, but I don’t want to have to bring my own vodka next time. And I want an entourage. And my own trailer. And no doubt Chris would like his own personal fluffer (to go with the 70s tie). If the organisers would like us to appear again, then I’m willing to do it. I assume Chris won’t have started on his solo career by then. I’m sure he will make an exception though if you are shooting Stewart.

    CB: Yes, Mr. Barclay will be shooting at this one [I hope so], so I’ll prepare some insults months in advance. [Great.] I’d love to come, assuming I’m invited. This time I won’t set myself up for a fall by asking questions on the competitors form such as “who do you fancy the most?” Dave thumped me 6-1 on that score. Admittedly, most of them were from men, but even so...

    Chris, Dave, thank you very much indeed.