League History

Last updated at 1:53 p.m. on the 11th April 2019

The B.U.T.T.S. League was first formed in 1995 by a group of archers at the University of Birmingham, who wished to organise some of the local university archery clubs into a competitive league. With a league this old, it is natural that it has a deep and rich history. This web page will give an overview of this history, from 1995 to the present day.

In the Beginning

The origins of the League date back to 1995, and a group of Birmingham University Archers, who decided to organize some of the local university archery clubs into a League. The plan was not only expand on the quantity of competitive archery available to university archers, but also create a fun and inviting league that would welcome archers of any standard.

The competitive aim was the B.U.T.T.S. Challenge Trophy, and it was contested then in a more traditional format: each University hosted a leg inviting all other members of the league, and the results collated into a league table, with each clubs lowest score from the year being discounted. Quite simply, the #1 team at the end of the year walks away with the trophy.

And in an effort to include new archers, who may not be able to compete at the high level attained by some members of a League, a Novice Division was included. The B.U.T.T.S. Novice Challenge Trophy was contested the same as the B.U.T.T.S. Challenge Trophy, with the only proviso that any archers for the team could not have been shooting before the start of that academic year. This way, any novices would feel included, and within weeks of picking up a bow would be able to represent their university.

The chosen round of the League is the Portsmouth; a round consisting of 5 dozen arrows at 20 yards. Each leg caters at least for a novice and experienced team from each University within the league. And as well as the team trophies at the end of the year, medals are handed out to individuals at each leg. 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place medals are awarded to the following categories:

  • Gent's Recurve
  • Ladies Recurve
  • Novice Gent's Recurve
  • Novice Ladies Recurve
  • Barebow
  • Novice Barebow
  • Compound
  • Longbow

Birmingham's Traditions

Two words that have become synonymous with both the BUTTS League, and specifically Birmingham University's Archery Club. Mars Bar. In preparation for the days shooting, the Birmingham Captain rallies his troops before the shoot, and together, in the middle of the hall, they make a sacrifice to the Great Toucan God by stabbing a Mars Bar with one of the Captain's arrows. Then, traditionally, the Mars Bar is awarded to the archer of the opposite gender to the team captain who shoots closest to 222 that day.

The Birmingham Student Union has since forced the former BUTTS Team to rebrand. In doing so, the legendary Toucan was forcefully replaced as Birmingham's club mascot, and many feared for the continuation of this time honoured ceremony. But resourceful as always the Birmingham Archery Team adapted, and the ceremony is still with us, although now modernized to fit in with the new ethos of the club.

As such, whenever the Birmingham Archery Team take up their bows, be it at a BUTTS Challenge Leg, BUTC or even BUSA (later BUCS), look for the tell-tale signs of their sacrifice to the Archery Gods.

The Offer from BUSA (BUCS)

As of early 2007, the League decided to adopt the BUSA League proposal dependent on a few final conditions having been ironed out. Unfortunately an agreement could not be reached by the start of the 2007/08 season and as such the BUTTS League remained independent. However, they did alter the system under which the league was contested, and allowed the entry of Derby to the league this season, preparing for a possibly easing in of a BUSA System in future years if the conditions of joining can be agreed upon.

Below is the initial proposal from BUSA in the words of the (then) BUTTS Organiser, Alex Stuart, as he understood them from initial contact.


During the Summer of 2006, BUSA Representatives contacted the B.U.T.T.S. Organiser and presented an offer of a BUSA League System. The idea is to create a Midlands BUSA League, involving all the current members of B.U.T.T.S. Members would be rewarded with BUSA points for winning the league, and would gain all benefits that come with being associated to BUSA (such as the fact that some Students Union cover the cost of travel to all BUSA Events).

BUSA said that the running of the league would still be up to its members, so a form of the B.U.T.T.S. Organiser would still be needed as they themselves had no desire to take on the organisational aspect. However, as a BUSA League, we would be unable to prevent any University Archery Club within the midlands from joining. As such, the League would most likely increase in size instantly due to interest that has already been expressed from Universities such as Derby, Aston, De Montfort and Nottingham Trent.

This would not be as much of a problem as it first seems, as BUSA have also request that the SUS System of running a league be adopted in the Midlands League if it were to go ahead (The System is to have separate matches, involving only 3 or 4 Teams, so that not all Universities have to be present, and as such, each Team would end up going to around 4 or 5 matches a year). They want all possible BUSA Leagues to run under the same system. 10 Teams using the SUS system would be far more manageable than under the current B.U.T.T.S. System of having every University present at every leg.

The proposal has come under mixed response. The Benefits are large, as association with BUSA allows the League to expand competitively, as well as give benefits to individual clubs. However, there are criticisms of the SUS system. Mainly that is a system focused entirely on the Team Recurve events. It is debatable as to whether Compound and Individual Recurve are worth competition for if the best in the league are not there to compete. This is a particular problem for Compounds, where not all Universities currently in the league have Compound archers, so there may in fact be no competition at all in some legs.

The other main criticism of the BUSA proposal is that BUSA Points (still unspecified for the quantity) would only be awarded for experienced competitions. Much like the big BUSA events each year, Novices would be recognised in medals only, not in BUSA Points. For B.U.T.T.S., as a league that prides itself on some of the superb novices it has produced, as well as some of the heated competition in the novice category over recent years, it is a worry that this fact may push clubs more towards focusing on their Experienced Archers, and as such lessen the achievements of a winning novice team.

The final point is that many believe it would be against the traditions of B.U.T.T.S. to transform the league into a more competitive based system. Not only would it diminish novice, compound, and single Recurve events, but that was not the reason B.U.T.T.S. was created in the first place. It was originally created as a friendly way for archers to have some form of competition. It has been used throughout the years to build links between the clubs, and often focus has been as much on enjoyment and socials after competitions as it has been on the competition itself. With a shift to a system where only a couple of Universities travel to a leg, many worry that the friendly feel of B.U.T.T.S. will be lost and replaced with one that is far more set on competitiveness.

As has been listed there are many benefits, and possible disadvantages of converting to a BUSA System. Each current B.U.T.T.S. League Member Captain has been contacted and asked to get their club to make a decision on their view point, making clear both the advantages and possible problems. A decision must be made fairly early in 2007 if the change is to be implemented for the academic year 2007/08, so as of the moment, the entire proposal is under consideration.


The Creation of Division 2

After both Derby and Nottingham Trent joining the fold in 2007 and 2010 respectively, a number of newer student archery clubs came into existence in the run up to the 2015/16 season. League organiser Adam Peers reached out to the universities of Leicester, Lincoln, Northampton, and Leicester De Montfort to form a "Division 2" of the B.U.T.T.S. League.

This 2nd division of the league was created with the intent to grow the clubs in talent and organisational capacity to the point where they could one day be merged into the league. Since its creation, Coventry University has also joined division 2. Division 2 now host their own regular legs and take part at all league championships.