The big rebuild

Okay, so Geoff called a few days ago to say the adjustable raiser blocks were in, and I went out last night to Wilkinstown for the big rebuild. Traffic was awful, so it was late when I got there at 2030 (after leaving sandyford at 1750!!!).

Took the rifle down and took off the extra set of fixed raiser blocks I’d borrowed from DURC before the Nationals, and replaced them with the new adjustable raiser blocks, cranked up to put the ISSF maximum of 60mm between the centre of the foresight and the bore line of the barrel.

Adjustable Raiser Blocks

And now began the big rebuild in earnest 😀

Firstly, raise that cheekpiece to get the eye behind the rearsight iris again. Now, keeping the butt in its low position on the shoulder, mount the rifle (stop sniggering at the back) and find a new hand position that will let the natural point of aim get back to somewhere in the vicinity of the target. This took a while and I’m still wavering over it. There’s a nearly infinite range of choices here. The most popular seems to be the fist, but that gets my rifle pointing at the ceiling with this new position, so some form of open hand shape seems best.

Tried this first of all. It does work, but puts some strain on the wrist. After a few years of Aikido, my wrists are a bit more supple than normal, but even so, a 60-shot match like this wouldn’t be trivial!

Tried this shape as well, but it’s too much strain on the ball of the thumb and without the hard plastic glove in that photo, it’d destroy your hands in the long term. Plus, it wasn’t stable.

This, despite appearances, was remarkably stable for me. Not the best over the long-term perhaps though. I’ll have to do some training but it seems to be a serious contender. The only other stable and maintainable position seems to have been a modification of that first position with the weight of the rifle on the balls of the fingers, but until I’ve shot for a few hours in each shape, I won’t know for sure.

So now the rifle is sitting lower in my shoulder, and my head is more upright, but we’re still not done. Geoff moved the buttplate out from the seam of my jacket to the top of the arm (in the hollow above the bicep, so it’s sitting on the tendon there which minimises pulse). Feet and hips also got shuffled about, and the end result is a far tighter position, with the shoulder-boreline angle now much more acute than before. This necessitated the glasses being adjusted, but that’s small potatoes.

Overall, the position now feels lower, more stable, and yet more comfortable than before. Of course, I’ll need a month or two of dryfiring and shooting under pressure to actually get a decent idea of it, but it looks good for now. Back again on Monday to do some fine-tuning and further livefiring practise.

New Car

New Car
New Car 2

It’s kindof had the fun taken out of it with Paddy passing on the day I picked it up from the dealership, but there’s still a little muted “yay!” for the new car. I like Citroens in general, they’re usually fairly solid beneath the trim and almost always are quirky and interesting, often in subtle ways. This one seems like a worthy replacement for the Citroen ZX I started in (or as DURC christened it in its later, less-well-maintained years, the Citroen Valdez), and it’s certainly a more interesting car than the Golf. Plus, most importantly, the rifles fit in the boot without any wiggling or whatever 🙂

Drove it out to Wilkinstown last night for training (more later on that) and after 2 hours and 40 minutes in traffic that should only have lasted an hour, I can say it’s quite comfortable for long rides as well. Speed limiter to avoid breaking the speed limit and getting points; cruise control for those long N3/M50/N11 trips to Wilkinstown; 38mpg or thereabouts (may need to trade up to a hybrid like the Prius, in a few years when they start asking for loan applications for petrol, but for now 38mpg is acceptable); comfy and more airbags than wheels. ‘Twill do.

Paddy Ashe

Paddy Ashe and friends at the WTSC Airgun Open, 2005
(L to R) Tim Scannel, Matt Fox, Paddy Ashe, Geoff Cooney, Ewan Oughton at the WTSC Airgun Open, April 2005

Paddy Ashe (in the centre of the photo) was an old friend of my fathers, from years before I was born. So when I found his name on the list of signatures of the people who set up the NTSA, it was a bit of a surprise at the size of the world. So I started sending copies of the newsletter down to him, and found he was still interested in shooting, he’d just drifted away from the sport over the years. When the pistols came back, his interest rose enough that he decided to get back to the line, and he and an old friend of his, Tim Scannel, drove clear across the country (not a small thing at his age) and shot in the WTSC Airgun Open, the first open air pistol match in Ireland since 1972. And he placed third overall, which wasn’t bad going at all.

Paddy made friends with pretty much everyone he met in WTSC and joined the club, beating Daniel by a few miles for the title of most-far-flung-WTSC-member; and we were talking about going to Bisley for the airgun match, though he was thinking he couldn’t go because of family committments, but he was looking forward to the next open match in October out in Wilkinstown.

Paddy died yesterday at two in the afternoon. He wasn’t the youngest of men, but it was still a sudden shock to us up here. He’s one of those in the sport who gave more than they took, and who was encouraging to all who spoke to him, even on the line where so many shooters are so focussed as to be very abrupt and curt if you speak to them; but never Paddy, who was one of life’s gentlemen in that regard. We’ve all lost a little bit today of what the shooting community was all about.

British Airgun Open 2006

And so I (and a fair few others) have my goal for the next five months or so. The match is from Febuary 16 to 19, and Wilkinstown is already putting a team together as they usually do. Accomodation and flights are booked and almost paid for, and Geoff’s getting in a set of variable raiser blocks this week for me so that Matt and I can try to rebuild my position to give a more upright stance while dropping the shoulder contact point lower down my shoulder where the rifle is more stable. The new ISSF rules on the maximum distance from the boreline to the centre of the sights doesn’t look like much on paper – only a 2cm increase from 40 to 60mm – but the effects are disproportionate in that it allows you to get a much more comfortable position if you’re not a total shortarse 😀

My current average is around the 560 level – I was shooting 569, 567 in the Welsh postal match prior to changing the rifle configuration, and then I added two fixed raiser blocks and brought the sights up by a centimetre or so, and the score fell back to 555ish. It’s come back to 560 for the Nationals, but that’s after a 200 mile round trip drive and a smallbore match the previous day, so for a single match, properly rested, add four or five points on; but then there’s the question of how you cope with the mental game as well.

At any rate, more training will be needed than I’m getting at the moment. However, my transport arrangements are about to get much more flexible – more on that in a future post perhaps. Plus, with the enforced travel into DURC to help with coaching and range officering, I’ll have even less excuse not to train. It helps when the lady nags you to train as well 😀

Anyway, the first step in all of this is to get out to Wilkinstown in the next week or so once the raiser blocks get in, and spend a few hours on the range with Matt breaking it all down and rebuilding it all, then photographing the position from all four sides (and more if possible), and using those photos to train with at home for dryfiring for the next few weeks to get used to the new position. I suspect that most people who don’t actually shoot would be surprised by the amount of time we spend not shooting in order to be able to shoot better afterwards 😀 I distinctly remember explaining to a friend once about dry-firing and getting a very odd look and the question “So you’re standing there pretending to shoot then?”

Kerry v. Tyrone

Even target shooters watch other sports y’know 😀

Anyway, not a great match. Kerry and Tyrone are equally matched teams, with very different styles of play, and that holds the promise of some truly magnificent games; but yesterday’s most certainly wasn’t one of them. Ten minutes in and Cooper’s down with a poke to the eye, not just off the ball, but in the other half of the field. There’s pushing and shoving back from the other Kerry lads in response to that. Later, we watch Galvin pick up a punch to the face from the Tyrone captain (who’s meant to be setting the standard for his team) right in front of the ref and caught on camera. And by this point, Kerry’s being just as bad back. What kind of example is that supposed to set for the kids in GAA teams all round the country? Other than “get a dig in when you think you can get away with it and get their guys off the field”? Ice hockey might have that kind of idea, but last I checked, football wasn’t meant to be a combat sport, if it was, we’d just give all the players hurleys and let them beat the living shite out of one another…

And another thing, ref, the game is 70 minutes long and there was 4 minutes of stoppage time; therefore the game ends at 74 minutes, not 73! A minute can be a lifetime on that pitch, especially when Kerry are a goal behind and have possession right in front of the Tyrone goal!

Back again…

After a rather long hiatus during which the politics of the administration of the sport took over from the actual sport itself, it’s time to get back to shooting; and so I’m hoping to get this blog back on it’s feet again (and hopefully not spammed beyond recognition as the old one was, with thousands of comments coming in from companies selling things that had as much use as chocolate frying pans). The original idea was to show some of the new shooters in DURC what competitive training looked like at the next step up from recreational shooting, so they’d get an idea of what it was like before committing to training for a goal. Hopefully, it might prove interesting enough to others as well.