Slowly coming back…

Back in the range again on Sunday in WTSC. Still seeing a lot of wobble in the hold, but that was settling down by the end of the (rather short) session. Mostly shooting on blank targets (edelmann targets without scoring rings) to watch how the groups developed, but shot a 20-shot match at the end. Score wasn’t horrible, but I’m not back on form just yet. Another few weeks I think. I should be back up to speed by the time the WTSC Open rolls around at the end of this month.

Also did some range officering for new juniors at the end of the training session as well. It’s always nice to see new people looking at the sport and getting interested in it, especially when they have a full lifetime in the sport ahead of them if they want to take it up.

Prizegiving!

The competitors in the Repubic of Ireland's first open ISSF pistol match in 32 years
Some of the competitors in the Republic’s first ever All-Ireland Open ISSF air pistol match

So Wilkinstown’s been a tad remiss in giving out prizes for various reasons (mainly to do with not having enough people to organise events as everyone’s been thrown full-tilt into training in recent times), and in order to fix that, we had a prize-giving event on Friday. Not a bad evening at all, huge numbers of people turned up from all over the country, from Waterford to N.Ireland, shooters and their families and friends. We had some local dignitaries from the Meath Local Sports Partnership and the Irish Pony Club to give out prizes, and food and drink and general craic and making with the merry.

Not a bad evening at all, and I think we’re going to do things this way from now on – it’s just too good an idea not to. The details are still being worked out of course, but one idea is to give out certificates on the day in competition and to award the engraved medals and trophies at the annual social event/prizegiving ceremony, where lots more people can make it to the event. The problem normally is, who wants to spend the entire day in a rather cold and utilitarian basement in UCD or in similarly less-than-comfy ranges round the country, in the hope of getting a medal? And how hard is it to get dignitaries, media or even just families to these events on the day in remote locations? In fact, we’re seeing an increasing trend of people not even staying for Finals, let alone medal presentations. It’s nice to give out prizes on the day, and maybe small spot prizes and the like will still go out, but I think the idea of taking the time to do things right and with a bit more polish has a lot of merit in it; after all, if you seriously train for a match and win, you’d prefer it if the organisers took a bit more time to applaud your efforts, right? And besides, what shooter doesn’t want to get a bit of applause now and then from their families and friends? And what club couldn’t do with more coverage in the local papers?

WTSC winners in the WAA Postal match
WTSC winners in the WAA Postal match

Not every day's a good day…

Back on the range on Sunday in WTSC. Bleh. Didn’t even bother to score the match, it was so bad. This new mirrored rearsight is taking some getting used to, but for the most part the problem was just that my hold was awful. Still though, first match shot since Bisley and I finished in 1hr14m so I haven’t lost the speed in the rythym from Bisley. The hold will come back with training, and rather quickly.

Bit of a presentation this weekend for the prizes for a few competitions in Wilkinstown, that should be fun.

And training during the week at lunchtime if this stupid cold gives up, and back to WTSC for range time on Sunday. Also thinking about starting back into .22 again, it’s been ages since I got onto the smallbore range.

Ah, publication…

Printing press icon It’s nice to be published, even if only in the letters page. This doesn’t have much to do with training in general, but what the hell 🙂

It did get a bit mangled by editing, which is something I’ve often wondered about – if you write a letter and it’s good enough to publish, surely it should be left as is? Anyway…

From today’s Irish Independent Letters Page:

Fears of the licensed firearms holder
Reading Monday’s article by Paul Melia on firearms on the black market worried me greatly.

I speak as one of an estimated 180,000 licensed firearms holders in this state who have legitimate reasons for holding firearms (mine are held for the purposes of Olympic target shooting); who have never broken any law, and whom are judged by the state to be safe to hold these firearms.

I and those like me who shoot regularly, are deeply concerned over the rise in the criminal abuse of firearms.

We too have children and wives and families and loved ones who could be the next innocent bystanders to be shot.

We applaud the successful prosecution of these criminals who put us all at risk. We are responsible people who use firearms safely in the course of our daily lives for reasons from Olympic target shooting (our Olympic clay pigeon shooting team is one of the best in the world, with gold medals from events around the world including the world championships and an eighth place finish in the Athens Olympics) to hunting and general agricultural use.

Hunters in this country spend more of their own time and money than any state body on the on-the-ground practicalities of conservation in the wild.

Perhaps because of the familiarity we have with firearms we worry at the manner in which the details of gun crime are reported.

Paul Melia’s article reported on the prices of firearms on the black market, but the figures he reported were in conflict with reality, in some cases far too low to be believed, in others far too high.

Your reporting was inaccurate. And for those of us who are legitimate firearms owners, this trend is very worrying.

It worries us because not only do we have a long history of being the subject of hastily drafted legislation, drawn up by people who lacked technical knowledge of what they were drafting laws to control, but also because we know that such legislation does nothing for public safety. We, the legitimate firearms owners, are the only citizens who wind up obeying such legislation.

Criminals ignore it, as they ignore the more serious penalties that go with murder and manslaughter in this country.

If they will risk life in prison for murder, why would three years in jail for possession of an illegal firearm deter these criminals?
MARK DENNEHY,
GREYSTONES,
CO. WICKLOW

And the original letter submitted, with the later-omitted bits in blue and moved lines in green. It’s not hugely mangled, and in one or two places reads faster; but I’m sad they cut the last paragraph, and some of the cut bits had some good points, I thought 🙁 Oh well.

The necessity for accurate reporting on Firearms
Dear Sir,
Reading Monday’s article by Paul Melia on firearms on the black market worried me greatly. I speak as one of an estimated 180,000 licenced firearms holders in this state who have legitimate reasons for holding firearms (mine are held for the purposes of Olympic target shooting); who have never broken any law, and whom are judged by the state to be safe to hold these firearms. I and those like me who shoot regularly, are deeply concerned over the rise in the criminal abuse of firearms by criminal elements. We too have children and wives and families and loved ones who could be reported on by your paper or another as being the next innocent bystanders to be shot, and every last one of us sleeps easier in our beds when criminals who engage in gun crime are arrested by the Gardai and jailed. We applaud the successful prosecution of these criminals who put us all at risk. We are responsible people who use firearms safely in the course of our daily lives for reasons from Olympic target shooting (where, do not forget, our Olympic clay pigeon shooting team is one of the best in the world, with gold medals from events around the world including the world championships and an 8th-place finish in the Athens Olympics) to hunting (where hunters in this country spend more of their own time and money than any state body on the on-the-ground practicalities of conservation in the wild) to general agricultural use (where the use of a shotgun on predators around meat animals is a necessary fact of life to allow us the luxury of buying our meat over a counter instead of having to hunt for it ourselves).

But, perhaps because of the familiarity we have with firearms which we gain in the same way that a driver will gain familiarity with cars or a pilot with aircraft, we feel worry at the manner in which the details of gun crime are reported. Paul Melia’s article reported on the prices of firearms on the black market, but the figures he reported were in conflict with reality, in some cases far too low to be believed, in others far too high. This is not meant to be a comment on “rip-off Ireland”, but to point out that on basic facts your reporting was inaccurate. This is not the first time we have seen this, nor is it by any means the most worrying instance, and for those of us who are legitimate firearms owners, this trend is very worrying. It worries us because not only do we have a long history of being the subject of hastily drafted legislation, drawn up by people who lacked technical knowledge of what they were drafting laws to control; but also because we know from this same history that such legislation does nothing for public safety (which means our safety as well), because we, the legitimate firearms owners, are the only citizens who wind up obeying such legislation. Criminals ignore it, as they ignore the more serious penalties that go with murder and manslaughter in this country. If they will risk life in prison for murder, why would three years in jail for possession of an illegal firearm deter these criminals?

So I ask of you sir, in the coming days, when your paper reports on firearms crime and the government’s plans to protect us from it, PLEASE ensure your facts are correct and your reporters are familiar with how the legislation will affect all of us. Otherwise, we will believe we are safe when we are not; that we have sensible, well-considered legislation when we do not; and that we are protected by a well-resourced and highly trained police force, when we do not.

Yours Sincerely,

PS. Dear editor, for reasons of personal security I ask that you do not disclose my street address. Listing my town and county is perfectly acceptable, however.

The return to the line

Came back to the range for the first time since Bisley last night out in WTSC. More to check if all was still working than anything else. Took a few shots to settle in, mind, but it’s still there 🙂

Also wanted to try this new piece of kit as picked up in Bisley:
Centra eyepiece mirror

It’s a neat idea, and I first saw it used in smallbore prone shooting by Martin Parnell from the Isle of Man up in Comber for the Comber Open a few years ago, and I’ve wanted to try one ever since. The principle is simple; if your eye alignment isn’t right, you’ll see your eyeball out of place in the mirror. If it is, then you shouldn’t see anything but the target. Thing is, it doesn’t quite work that way for me right now and I don’t know if it’s my rifle setup or not. Right now, if I get a good sight picture, the peephole of the rearsight is clearly visible in the middle of the reflection of my iris in the mirror, with the pupil above it; if I move my eye so that I can’t see the pupil and the peephole is centered where the pupil would be, then the foresight is very low in the rearsight in the sight picture. It’s a confusing little problem!

Nevertheless, planning on using the mirror for the UCD match, so we’ll see how that goes.

ISSF Class B Judges' Licence

Hooray for me! Just got word that I’ve been granted my ISSF Class B Judges’ licence from the GBTSF course I did last year. That makes me the first in Ireland to qualify for it (in the Republic at least). And just beat Liam Crawford in for it as well, as I was on the first course (last January) to be run after the new ISSF rules came out after the Athens Games.

So, judge at a few international competitions, apply for the Class A licence, judge at a few more and then apply to be an Olympic Judge for the London Games 🙂