A good day’s training

This evening was a good range session, which I wasn’t expecting. Last time out, I found my shooting suit no longer fitted properly, because in the past six months I’ve gained too much weight; so this evening I moved two buttons on the suit by about a half-inch for one and a quarter-inch for the other, and didn’t bother with the trousers, I just shot in my street trousers and boots. The jacket fit was still noticeably tight, but at least it didn’t feel utterly off when I was in position, and so I did about a quarter hour or so of balance and position checks with the new cheekpiece and sights setup.


After all that, I did some dry firing and then switched to live fire. First shot went well…

28.9.10 Target 1

At that point Matt arrived and we did some coaching for a while, working on my position without the support (and the interference) of the shooting trousers. They do stabilise things a bit, but they can stabilise them in the wrong place, leading to the bad habit of subconciously hauling the rifle that tiny bit over onto the target and holding it there; and that never works because inevitably your hold ends up with a lot of wobble and sway, and the position isn’t stable during the shot, it flicks off to one side or another. Maybe not a lot, but enough to produce eights in competition without any apparent cause, which is something I’ve had a problem with in the past. The results were encouraging (five-shot groups each):

28.9.10 Target 2

28.9.10 Target 3

The high flier on that last target were called before I even heard the pellet hit the back of the catcher; getting sloppy as I was getting tired. The flier to the right though was down to shooting before I’d properly settled while in a slightly more upright position (I’m trying to not let the small of my back collapse while shooting). Stacking all the targets, I can still see daylight:

28.9.10 Targets stacked

I think this means that training without the trousers has to be worked into my regular training. It also means that I’ll have to adjust the shooting suit carefully to prevent it pushing me out of position instead of supporting me in position (the thing is suppose to prevent long-term chronic injuries from an offset assymetrical loading on the spinal column – ie. holding a heavy rifle in an awkward position – it’s not meant to be used as a fancy bipod).

Off the range, I signed up with the gym out in the National Aquatic Centre, and have an induction/evaluation with their gym instructor tomorrow morning, so with some effort, I’m hoping I can get the weight issue managed. If so,  a new shooting suit is probably on the cards for next year as the current one, fit aside, is just too floppy to be of any enormous use anymore, at least in competitive air rifle shooting.

Cheekpiece Build, Phase One…

So on the second day in Kuortane, I made some drastic changes to my cheekpiece, but noted that they only got me about 95% of the way to where I needed to be. The old design of cheekpiece just couldn’t adjust far enough to the left of the boreline to where I needed it. So, over the last few weeks, I sourced some wood (knife handle blanks made of african blackwood off ebay) and started to figure out how to use it as my new cheekpiece.


My first attempt was to take two of the m5 sleeves from the old cheekpiece and drill mounting holes for them in the new cheekpiece; that didn’t work so well as I didn’t have the right size bit and blackwood doesn’t exactly give a lot of leeway, the stuff is like polycarbonate, it’s so finegrained.

Next idea was to use T-nuts in place of the sleeves:

Attempt 1

Attempt 1

Attempt 1

So it’s attached, it’s not exactly tidy as the T-nuts aren’t flush with the underneath of the cheekpiece, but who cares?

…and then I dropped my head into position behind the sights and the T-nuts pop right out.

Failure 1

Oh well. Idea #2; put the T-nuts on top of the cheekpiece and hold it together with longer bolts (thanks Matt!):

Attempt 2

Attempt 2

Even less tidy, but it was usable and I got a few shots off. I did have to redo the height of the raiser blocks to compensate for the new sights, but that and a few clicks to the right and I was back on target with only three adjustments:

Back on target...

However, by the next session, I’d gotten the drill bit I needed, so I redrilled the holes in the cheekpiece, refitted the sleeves and remounted the cheekpiece:

Third time's the charm!

Third time's the charm!

Third time's the charm!

Nice. Tidier than the earlier tries, solid and stable, nice edge on the cheekpiece, and it comes far enough over to me to be a solution to the problems in Kuortane. However, I’m pausing the build for now at this point and just shooting; as well as hitting the gym a bit – turns out, weddings tend to add enough pounds to make a comfortable shooting suit into a straitjacket 😀

But at least, for now, FrankenRifle Lives!


New Sights!

The Parcel Arrives!

I should probably explain that when we got engaged 18 months ago, herself got a nice diamond ring, and I got new sights for my air rifle; it’s just taken a while to get them all sorted out! But after a few emails with Intershoot.co.uk and some fast shipping, this was waiting for me in the office mail room this afternoon 🙂

A few minutes with a sharp knife later, and here’s what was inside:

The sights unpacked!

So why new sights? Well, my original smallbore rifle sights went missing (which is a kick in the teeth at a few hundred euros for the set), and I was already having trouble with my air rifle sights in that I couldn’t look over the top of the sights to pre-aim during the shot routine. So the plan became simple – move the air rifle sights to the smallbore rifle and get new sights that I could look over for the air rifle. The choice came down in the end to only a few sets – the Centra 10-50:

Centra 10-50 rearsight

the Centra spy:

Centra Spy rearsight

or the MEC free sight:

MEC Free Sight

In the end, after looking at all three (and sighting through the MEC and the Spy – thanks Jozef, by the way), I chose the MEC. The 10-50’s crossbar would block the line of sight I wanted, the windage adjustment knob on the Spy would do the same thing . The MEC seemed perfect.

MEC Free Sight case

The MEC comes in it’s own handly little plastic briefcase type affair (suitably branded by Intershoot 😀 ). It’s a handy little thing, though I think I’ll be recutting the foam in the rifle’s Peli case to store it there instead, long-term.

Inside the MEC Free case

The foam in the case is just a bit too deformable for my paranoia after my original snappy disaster, I guess. Likewise for the new iris and foresight.

Centra Tiny Iris

The Centra Tiny iris was a bit of a no-brainer. No point buying a small rearsight and then sticking a giant iris behind it, and the one thing I learnt from the large complicated iris I had for the old smallbore sights was that you don’t use most of what’s in them and the more stuff that’s there, the less room you have when getting your head, your shooting frames, the iris and the sights all into position. Smaller’s better in this case. And the Tiny even has a color filter, so there’s nothing lost in terms of functionality.

Centra Duo Glass foresight

Centra Duo Glass Foresight

The Centra Duo Glass foresight was a similarly easy choice. I’m sick of carrying a box of foresight elements and having to swap stuff in and out to change foresight size (which you have to do depending on range and lighting in air rifle). I was once advised that it was just another group of settings to have to remember, but to be honest, I have to worry about the foresight settings anyway, so I might as well make it easy on myself when changing them. This is the M22 model with the 3.8<->5.8 range of size adjustment (I’ve never shot lower than 3.8 standing, and I don’t think you should – for prone, yeah, you can take it down to 3.2 on a wierd day, but when standing, I only rarely go down to 4.0, and usually I’ll train at 5.0 and compete at 4.4-4.6 depending on lighting). M22 is a step up in foresight size – I’ve been shooting on an M18 model for a few years now, but I saw the M22 on a few rifles and thought it gave me a better sight picture. Time will tell, but that’s the only real gamble with this choice.

So what about the MEC rearsight itself?

MEC Free sight from rear quarter

MEC Free rearsight, shooter's eye view

MEC Free sight, front quarter

It’s small. Tiny in fact. That’s the first thing you notice. The second thing you notice when you pick it up is how light it is compared to other rearsights, and it’s only then that you realise just how solid it is. This is all-metal construction. No plastic, nothing flimsy here. It has the feel of a very, very solid piece of precision engineering. I was slightly disappointed that it doesn’t cant at the obvious place, but I can live with that.

It’s not as shiny as it looks. The final finish in most places isn’t grimy or anything, but it definitely looks unpolished. I don’t think that’s a bad thing – the Anschutz Precise stock is very highly polished and to be honest, I’m not sure it adds anything. It might even be a problem – last thing you need close to your eyes when you’re trying to aim in bright light is a shiny reflective surface.

It’s also a few steps up in terms of precision – with a standard 80cm sight base, MEC say you’ll get 18 clicks to take you from a 10.0 at 9 0’clock to a 10.0 at 3 o’clock. That’s pretty darn impressive. My old sights manage about 10-12 clicks for that, and the old ones on the 600 series Feinwerkbaus in DURC can only stretch to maybe 4-6 for that. It’s probably overkill, but it’s still quite impressive.

The Tiny iris fits beautifully, you really can tell it’s designed to fit:

MEC Free foresight and Centra Tiny iris, front quarter

MEC Free foresight and Centra Tiny iris, shooter's eye view

It is a very nice sight picture, you have to admit. I wonder if the alignment of the Tiny’s color filter selection wheel will be of any significance? If so, it can be moved slightly I think, so I could tweak it; but first let’s see what happens.

Speaking of sight pictures, the view through the Centra Duo Glass:

Centra Duo Glass foresight, shooter's eye view

Very nice.

Overall then, some very, very nice pieces of kit, and as soon as my cheekpiece rebuild is complete (and more on that later), I’m look forward to breaking them in on the range 🙂

So it just remains to say to Herself Indoors, thank you very much my love, they’re wonderful!

Centra Duo Glass foresight, MEC Free rearsight and Centra Tiny iris

Slow improvement

Two 30-shot matches shot since the last post, with a few good patches the second time where things went right because of me, rather than while I was there to watch, if you follow me. The score was higher too – 254/300 the second time vs 249/300 the time before, but there’s more information in the groups than in the score. Comparing the composite of the six cards shot the last time:

9.9.10 composite target

with the composite of the six shot this time:

14.09.10 composite target

It looks like the grouping is starting to tighten a little across the horizontal axis, but hasn’t yet started to do so in the vertical axis. Oh well. Good enough to be getting on with and entering the UCESSA air pistol postal this winter…

Raw cards after the break

Continue reading “Slow improvement”

Meeting Invitation to members of the NASRPC

Spreading the word because this is precisely the sort of thing that gives you hope for the future of the administration of the shooting sports in Ireland:

Meeting Invitation to members of the NASRPC

The end of the first year under the new firearms licensing system has passed and so it may be a good time to look at what has been achieved and what remains to be done.

Throughout the past period I have striven to foster dialogue and co-operation between the main stakeholders in the shooting sports. There have been some notable successes in this regard of which we can be justifiably proud and will stand for a long time as reminders of what can be achieved by working openly and honestly together.

To those who were open minded and far sighted enough to lay aside perceived petty differences in pursuit of furthering our respective sports I express my deep appreciation and gratitude. No other strategy except mutual support will bring us the excellence and respect for our sport that we all should aspire to.

Unfortunately, not everyone apparently feels the same and while differences of opinion in the path to take are acceptable, the countless instances of ongoing misinformation and rumours that circulate throughout the shooting community serve only those who would seek to divide and plant dissention and ill feeling. The motivation of such people is a mystery to me.

One of the most disheartening, damaging and recurring aspects of these stories and tall tales is that even when disproven satisfactorily around a committee table, even when proof is offered and accepted as to their invalidity, quite often the message never circulates through the wider community and the falsehoods and misunderstandings continue to breed mistrust.

Quite often this is not anyone’s fault, volunteer committees give of their time freely and often at great personal expense in terms of both time and money. Often, having satisfied themselves that there is no substance to a particular rumour the matter rests there, apparently dealt with while in the wider shooting community all that continues to circulate is the original misinformation.

As responsible adults we have a duty to seek the truth so that we can move forward fully aware of the lessons of the past and with a clear view of the road ahead.

With this in mind and in a further effort to address the fears and concerns and indeed any and all tall tales that may be about, I am inviting all NASRPC members to contact their NASRPC Secretary Michael Tope, by email or letter and to express their concerns on any matter to him in writing.

I will leave it to Michael to collate and list each item and then to forward them to me.

I will hold a meeting for all those who have expressed their concerns in this manner on any matter, any rumour they have heard, any supposed fact that causes them unease, any case in which they think they have been treated unfairly by their shooting representatives, even any story they have heard of any ‘Deal’ that has been done to disadvantage them.

I am offering to hear them all, to answer them all and to once and for all end the cancer of mistrust that eats away at our will to work together.

I am placing this notice of invitation on the NRAI website, the MNSCI website, the SSAI website the shooting forum of boards.ie and I am requesting that the committee of the NASRPC place it on their website also. I am sure they will welcome this opportunity for clarity too.

We can only move forward and grow if we work from the basis of truth and reality. Tall tales and horror stories are for children.

Below is a list of the various websites mentioned above.


I urge any NASRPC member with any concerns as to how they are represented by the shooting organisations to take this opportunity to have their issues or any they have heard of, aired and dealt with.

I repeat that in the spirit of transparency all communication should be in writing or by email to the Secretary of your own organisation NASRPC, Michael Tope… In case some new rumour grows that I have personally selected the queries to answer.

A meeting will be held in the near future and all who submitted concerns will have them addressed on the day.

Yours in Sport,

Joe Costello
(SSAI – Chairman, NRAI – Vice Chairman)