CUSBC romped to victory in a number of categoriesjames nicholls

After a hugely successful BUCS Nationals contest up in Sheffield for Light Blues across the sporting spectrum between February 14th and 16th, we catch up with the victorious teams and get the low down on their success. Here, we hear from Cambridge University Small Bore Club (CUSBC) member James Nicholls.

Tell us about yourself and your involvement in the Smallbore Club.

I joined CUSBC (Cambridge University Smallbore Club) this year as a fresher, having shot for 5 years at school as well as part of the GB U17 and GB U18 Rifle Teams, so I knew it was something I always wanted to get involved in at university level. However, my prior experience is far from typical! The majority of our shooters (including over half of our BUCS team) had never picked up a rifle before coming to Cambridge and have learnt the basic marksmanship principles of aiming, positioning and trigger release through CUSBC’s comprehensive training program.

Despite having shot before, I’ve found the club provides an incredibly helpful and supportive environment to help develop my shooting, with members and alumni who have shot for England and Scotland always ready to give advice and make you feel welcome no matter what your skill level. With Varsity matches over the next two weekends, I’m currently training three times a week and shooting about 50 rounds on average per training session.

How did you first get into shooting?

I was never particularly good at rugby or football, but still wanted to take up a sport where I could compete at a high level in a team environment (albeit one with not too much physical exertion). After trying a taster session at school, I got a feel for shooting and rapidly got more involved in the sport, largely thanks to the enthusiasm and motivation provided by our head coach. After leaving as captain of the school team, I feel shooting has helped to shape me as a leader as well as an athlete, skills I’ve carried on using at university.

What makes CUSBC so special?

As one of Cambridge’s most successful sports teams, having won BUCS for the last 4 years and Varsity for the last 10, CUSBC’s strength comes partly from the depth in our team. As a result of our large membership (we run 5 training sessions a week), we have a wide pool of talent upon which to draw, apparent from the fact that we have been the only university for the last two years to have two teams qualify for Nationals. Despite a few much-loved team members set to leave at the end of this year, the future of Cantabrigian shooting dominance looks bright.

More importantly, CUSBC’s team spirit is second to none, bonded over many weekly socials in the Hawks Club and the weeks of training and competition we spend together in the summer months.

How did you compete at the Nationals?

Cambridge was the only university with two teams to qualify for the Nationals, meaning I was competing as part of a 6-person B team consisting of myself, James Rennie, Máté Ponya, Renzhi Zhou, Alex Harrison and Will Ross. Shooting alongside us was our A team comprised of team captain Max Jones, Katherine Fleck, Alice Good, Fergus Flanagan, Maddie Emms and Cecilia Catuogno-Cal. Additionally, Fergus, Cecilia and Cathy Li qualified for the individual competition in the men’s, women’s and novice categories respectively, meaning Cambridge was well-represented in every match over the weekend.

How is the Small Bore contest organised at the Nationals?

Each competition (team, men’s, women’s and novice) consisted of each person shooting four ‘cards’ over the course of the day, with each card consisting of 10 paper targets shot from a distance of 25m using a .22 smallbore rifle. The highest possible score per target is 10 points, meaning the maximum each person could score per competition was 400 points. An additional complication came in the form of a 10 minute time limit during which all sighters and scoring shots had to be fired.


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How did CUSBC do?!

Extremely well! CUSBC swept the board over the weekend, with our A team winning the team competition by a clear margin of 16 points over second place. The B team also placed 5th , beating the Oxf*rd A team by 4 points, thereby standing us in good stead for the Varsity Match (01/03). However, Cambridge’s success did not end on the Saturday, with strong performances from Fergus Flanagan and Cathy Li securing first place in the individual men’s and novice competitions respectively, while Cecilia Catuogno-Cal placed 5th in the women’s final. For Cathy, this was an especially impressive achievement, having never shot before coming to Cambridge.

Despite the torrential rain and 3 hour drive back, we left Sheffield satisfied that we had represented Cambridge to the best of our ability.

How did you celebrate your medal glory?

After Fergus, Cecilia and Cathy had arrived back in Cambridge, the team made its way to the Hawks Club where merriment was made, large amounts of Tomohawk consumed and a team trip to Sunday Life attempted. We also have our annual dinner at the end of this term, where both alumni and current members will celebrate the team’s success over the year.

Full results are available here.

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