Went to our second smallbore shoot this weekend. My plan was to shoot on the Saturday and then range officer for the Sunday. The best laid plans, however…
The Saturday was dire for wind. Very strong, very blustery, and because of the range topography, very random. I’ve been reading The Wind Book of late and one of the pieces of advice in it was to watch the range for a detail, so that’s what I did. I thought I was seeing a pattern of wind in that there was a lot of bluster and then a one-to-four-second pause, at which point the wind took off again. So I thought I’d shoot in those gaps.
For the first detail, that worked reasonably well but it was a lot of hard work and took some nerve to run that late – in a 25-minute detail, we finished up at 24:30 or so. And then half-way through the second detail, the wind pattern changed. Now we had a turbulent zone for the first two-thirds of the 50m, and then a laminar flow zone for the last third. So a new plan was needed – so I started to wait until the first two flags died down and then aimed off based on the third flag. It took a bit of work, but the results weren’t too bad. I finished up in first place, ahead of Richard Stapleton, which I was happy enough with even though the scores were low – 558 for me, 552 for him. In fairness, Richard’s just finished working the greens for the Irish Open in the local golf course, so he was pretty tired even before we started shooting, but I think we both learnt a fair bit about wind from this match.
However, I’m not convinced that this is the best way to train. It’s decidedly testing, and very good as a challange, but I think we need a flatter range – the berms at the sides of the FRC range create a small vortex effect in the range itself. The problem is that I only know of one range in the Republic that has a suitable range – and that’s the Midlands and they’re too far away for regular training. We may just have to build our own range in the long term.
I also got to take a peep through Don’s new Gehmann 518 rearsight. This is a new design from them, and is their take on how to do the panoramic rearsight (the others being the British “battle sight” affair and the new MEC rearsight which is just made as small as possible). The 518 is technically quite smart, even though it looks unbeliveably boxy. But the view is spectacular:
Get your eye closer and it’s even better:
It’s not perfect – that very small gap between the rear iris ring and the foresight tunnel isn’t a good thing – but it’s not bad at all. You focus on the aiming and you can watch the flags from the corner of your eye. It’s like looking at the center of a photo and taking in the rest through peripheral vision. Since you watch wind flags for movement, and your peripheral vision is more optimised at a neurological level for detecting movement, this works out quite well. It would be a bit of effort to train your eye, but no more so than training your left eye to watch flags while your right eye aims! Of course, there’s a catch – that 518 is damned expensive. Several hundred euro expensive. *sigh* So I guess it’s on the wish list behind the two new buttplates, the two new cheekpieces, the new raiser blocks, the new Pelican case for the rifles, the new shooting jacket and trousers and the batch tested ammunition and the new spotting scope and the new 3P scope stand and the new shooting mat and the new shooting bag and the hundred other new gadgets on my “when I win the Lotto” list 🙂
The second day was due to be a continuation of the first, but the wind conditions were quite different; so different in fact that it was decided that the two days would count as seperate matches. The wind wasn’t as strong as before, but it was still just as squirrelly. We had a Northern Irish shooter show up for the competition, the first we’ve seen down here for too long, and he took a medal to boot. First place, however, went to Tony Cogan of DRC, with 579, beating Leslie Fagan’s 576 on literally the last five shots (the two had been neck-and-neck throughout the match). Robert Clarke took third place with 573, not too shabby for his first time on the FRC range. The better facilities for smallbore enjoyed by our Northern friends are definintely paying off for them, as shown by the scores that are being put in across the boards up there. Shooters like Leslie are still able to beat them in competition, but that’s not strength in depth, that’s just one committeed and talented shooter. Smallbore down here needs a bit of shaking up methinks – if the only people winning medals down here are retired from competition (Tony retired from international competition some years ago), we’re not even in the game for 50m.
Anyway, the match went relatively smoothly. Better than the first match, and some changes were made that improved things from that match. However, there’s still more to do and more we have to learn, so we’re asking anyone that took part in the match to complain to us about anything that went wrong or could be improved. Unless you tell us what isn’t right, we may not know to fix it!