I should have known, really. The first shot should have given it away:

The 10.7 of doom

See, the problem is, that looks great. First shot after struggling into the lycra and the canvas and the position, and it goes right through the middle. Perfect. Only, you weren’t warmed up. Which means, that wasn’t representative of how your shooting’s going (not unless you spent a good ten to fifteen minutes dry-firing, which I hadn’t). Over the next few minutes, your spine, back and legs are going to settle and relax and your NPA will shift, so a 10.7 at the start means nothing, but makes you complacent and worried about not shooting a high ten on the next shot. It mucks with your mental game.
Sure enough, the next ten shots had three honking great fliers in them. I spent the guts of an hour trying to get rid of them, but nothing seemed to work. About the best results I had were these:
Sway and flier
A reasonable-ish group. There’s a fair bit of sway in the hold, but given the state of the jacket, that’s not horrible. The jacket’s definitively no longer fit for purpose at this point, and it’s not really just me getting a bigger tummy – it’s tight across the ribcage when I breathe in, the shoulders when I move my arms and it’s generally too small by a few centimetres in all the wrong spots for target shooting (joints and such). But I don’t want to get a new one now, not while I try to lose weight; getting a custom-made jacket is expensive and awkward enough without having to do it all over again in four to six months because it no longer fits thanks to weight loss. So for now, I put up with it and make do. All the buttons were moved again last night (just before the group above), but it’s still only barely passable at this point. I’m getting the padding beneath the buttplate and the grip beneath the elbow, but absolutely no stabilisation of my lower spine and I’m starting to get back pain as a result, which is a concern.
Matt brought along some lead sheeting tonight, which gets strapped into the stock I’ve borrowed from Geoff, and that’s my home balance practice rig now, along with the Dynair cushions that just arrived from physioneeds.ie :
Dynair cushion
I used these in Kuortane in ’07 and ’09. You stand on them in full kit, one foot per cushion, and do holding exercises; they amplify any balance problems quite a lot, making it easier to work on your balance (by making it harder to balance, if that makes any sense 😀 ). So these will mostly live at home for dry-firing with my new fake rifle, with occasional trips to the range for live-firing exercises. Hopefully they’ll help somewhat.

Suit up!

A quick check today with all the kit on again to evaluate performance after the last few days of training. Showed up to find that Laura’d been training before me:

Not bad, not bad...

Yeah, yeah, yeah 😀

Anyway, into the underarmour (was this stuff specially designed to make me look ridiculous?) and then into the suit, which is still not fitting properly at all; but it’s becoming obvious that that’s not just a belly problem, it’s too tight across the chest and in other dimensions. I got it back in 2001 when I was 25; it’s nearly a decade old, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised it’s not fit for purpose anymore. Once the gymwork takes effect and the weight abates a bit, it’s time for a new suit I think.

But for now, it was into the existing suit, warm up a bit and then put a few rounds downrange. I had to undo the bottom two buttons and the top button to stop the suit fighting me out of position, but it seemed to work:

Ten shots, two fliers to the left

It’s not bad, except for the two fliers to the left (the sights were off to the right here, but I was watching the group size, not the score). But as Matt watched me shoot, he could see I was still using muscle to hold on the target (hence the fliers). I just couldn’t tell through the jacket. I spent the next while working on that, without much success (the sights are adjusted correctly here):

Working on balance...

At this point, I gave up. Too tired, too much effort to fight the jacket, and too little results, so I called it a day and I’ll come at it again another day.

Sink, sink, sink…

So back on the range training without kit again. The thinner poloneck I was wearing over the underarmour top is proving worse than useless – instead of stopping my supporting elbow from sliding, it’s just helping it slide even more. Settling into a position is nearly impossible, as the slipping causes you to hold on target rather than rest on target, with awful results:

Thin poloneck top

At this point I almost quit and went home, but I thought I might as well try with the rather thick jumper I’d been wearing at work, and it was a good thing that I did – it proved far superior. For this training, I need some padding at the right shoulder to keep the rifle off my pulse, and some grip at the left elbow to stop sliding. There’s no support at all, so you can’t hold position for long or take too many shots lest injury surely follow; but it also means I’m not fighting the jacket when sorting out my natural point of aim, and that’s useful training as well. And the results aren’t bad, considering this is in hiking boots, jeans and a woolly jumper:

Woolly jumper

By the end, I was getting the routine right and I could feel it in the shots; it didn’t hold for long, but the target would stop moving, even if only for a heartbeat or three. The key is getting into position and just letting your back relax and moving your hips to balance. Sink, sink, sink and stabilise, ignoring the pain in your back afterwards and swearing you’re going to do more back exercises in the gym the next morning 😀 In full kit, this would be a lot more comfortable and the hold would be a lot tighter.

Some more regular balance work is needed though; so I’ve borrowed an old stock from Geoff to use as a prop. I’ll find some lead weights to get it to the right kind of weight and then it’s just a case of standing there for a few minutes each day, listening to my feet…

Oh, and I shot a card of air pistol too, just for fun (and because the stickers for the UCESSA postal arrived today and I’ve two rounds to shoot in November 😀 )

Training without kit

So my current training is centering around training without shooting jacket or trousers or boots, in order to focus on the natural point of aim and ensuring no muscle is holding the rifle on target. So this evening was ten shots sans kit:

10 shots, no kit

and then ten more with just the jacket:

10 shots with jacket only...

That’s a group with some fliers. Not horrible, but needs work. Time to start doing balance training daily…

Also, we’ve improved the mounting of the Megalinks:

New megalink mounts

New megalink mounts

New megalink mounts

Though we might have to modify them slightly for when we go to clean the lead out of the traps 😀


Whoops 😀

First day’s training on the new Megalink targets

All set up and ready to go...

So today was the first chance I got to do any real training on the Megalinks. It wasn’t the best day’s shooting – my gym time was stepped up a bit this morning and I was shattered – but it wasn’t too horrible. Shooting in just the jacket and street clothes is really highlighting my problems with sway and settling, which is good in the long term, but a right royal kick in the gut in the short term. Plus, I’m going to have to start working on core strength before I mangle my back again.

All set up and ready to go...

Setup was easy, though I can’t say it was any faster than with paper targets. You notice the noise from the Megalinks after every shot as they wind on the paper roll. You would miss it in UCD over the fan noise; not sure how loud it is in Rathdrum; but in WTSC it’s very, very noticable, even distracting.

As I said, big problems with sway at the start (as well as trying to dial in the sights). By the end, an hour in, I’d gotten something of a handle on things, but I was still getting twitches and serious fliers as a result of them:

Last string

So I stopped there as I didn’t think I was getting very far. I need to start doing some balance work every day, that’s all there is to it really. Where the heck I find the time for that, I don’t know.

Since the last day when we set everything up, the second Megalink target has been changed over from air pistol to air rifle, as I thought it would be:

Megalink #2 reset to 10m Air Rifle shooting

And someone’s already had the first inevitable whoopsie with the targets 😀


Meh, it’s armor plate, that’s what it’s there for. I bet it was still mortifying though!

WTSC gets Megalink targets!

So we’ve not mentioned anything about this, but for the last few weeks, WTSC has been sourcing two new Megalink electronic targets for the range, to help train for competitions on ranges which use them, as well as to allow us to do some forms of training that are a bit more difficult at the moment.

They were shipped from Norway earlier this month and arrived in Dublin early this week, and as soon as customs duties and VAT were paid, we took delivery of them (on Wednesday) and last night saw myself, Matt and Geoff working away setting them up. You don’t see too many photos of the setup process, so I took photos all the way through from unpacking to the final setup:

The Megalinks installed (for now)

Continue reading “WTSC gets Megalink targets!”


Okay, so going back to the gym for the first time in several years wasn’t going to be fun, but I wasn’t quite expecting to find it so difficult to walk after the elliptical trainer! Still, got to the range and got back into the jacket (staying with the whole train-without-shooting-trousers idea) and started to train. And immediately noticed the difference with the hold wobble now quite pronounced and settling taking a lot longer. I think my shooting will be getting worse before it gets better.

First shot was off a bit, but still okay:

30.9.10 Target 1

But every shot after that just got harder and harder. Matt turned up and we noticed that my cheekpiece was set too low, which was causing me to drop my head down and then lift it up slightly to get a sight picture; not enough for me to notice but enough to be spotted. This is why coaches are so useful. What would have been a pain to figure out, becomes obvious and easy to address. Raise cheekpiece, problem goes away.

30.9.10 Target 2

30.9.10 Target 3

I said that problem went away, not that every problem went away 😀

Still, for a day when I was having trouble walking and was just getting back into the gym, getting daylight through a stack of cards isn’t too bad:

30.9.10 Target stack