More training…

The UCD Open is coming up on Thursday, so this Tuesday on the range was spent both shooting the UCESSA postal round and doing some basic rifle work making sure I could replicate what happened last Thursday. Mostly it worked, the mechanics were all sound and the rifle settled the same way. The actual aiming was off quite a lot – my head wasn’t fully in the game:

23.11.10

Nonetheless, the basics are sound.

Getting my head in the game is the important thing for Thursday now.

UCESSA 10m Air Pistol Postal 2010

I entered this year’s UCESSA air pistol postal earlier this year because I knew I probably wouldn’t get to shoot too many shoulder-to-shoulder air pistol matches for a while. The first two rounds are due in this month, so last night I shot the first round before rifle training:

UCESSA Round 1 Card 1

UCESSA Round 1 Card 2

UCESSA Round 1 Card 3

UCESSA Round 1 Card 4

UCESSA Round 1 Card 5

UCESSA Round 1 Card 6

So that’s 87 + 84 + 80 = 251/300. Not too horrible, and about where I’ve been in the past.

Of course, you have to have some way to spot cheating, so for this match, you stick stickers on the back of the cards before shooting (mind you, the glue’s not so good, so several of mine – 4/6 – were shot off and had to be stuck back on afterwards πŸ™ ):

UCESSA Round 1 Card 1 (Back)

More on this match as it goes on…

Phase change

Last nights training was… hard to explain.

There’s this moment you often get when learning a new physical skill, whether it be learning to ride a bicycle, learning to drive a car, or learning to correctly take high ukemi from kotegaeshi:

In each case, there’s a kind of phase change that takes place between the time where you learn the basic components of what you’re trying to do and have only a rough idea of how it should go at best; and the time after you first do it properly. The before and the afterwards are utterly unalike in every respect,Β  everything works differently afterwards than before and there’s a seemingly impenetrable, unsurmountable barrier in between the two which is very hard to communicate across – after the change, questions from before seem utterly silly and wrong (phrases like “you’re making it too hard for yourself” come to mind quickly); whilst before the change, answers from after sound like the most stereotypical zen quotes delivered with a cartoon-like cadence. There’s a near-complete lack of shared mental context between the two sides.

And as hard as communicating across that gap is, it’s even harder to actually cross it. Sometimes it takes lots of effort; sometimes – as with kotegaeshi – it takes a conscious letting go of the idea that you can’t possibly do it, and just doing it (and if that sounds easy to you, you’ve never done it!).

Turns out, shooting is a lot like that sometimes. Last night was initially very fustrating. 7s and 8s abounded – even the dude could not abide. And then, after about thirty rounds or so, I just gave up. Walked away from the line. Drank some isotonics and took a breather. And I don’t know why, but rather than just draw a line under it and pack my kit and go home, I went back to the line and just fell into a mental state and a rythym that I’ve only ever hit a few times in the last few years. It’s a bit hard to describe, it’s like a cross between a deep zazen state of mushin and a state of mind best described by the phrase “stop faffing about and get on with it ye gobshite”. No expectation of results, just getting on with the task in hand. No pomp and circumstance about the rifle lift or mount, just my basic average position, no extremes, just what I’ve done ten thousand times before. And not so much taking my time with the shot, as being unhurried while not wasting time on the superfluous. And I shot one of the tightest, most centered groups I’ve ever shot. Deep tens to outer tens (and okay, a 9.9 as well). But it was the best shooting I’ve done in months, easily better than anything I did in Kuortane, and it all felt natural, all very “what’s all the fuss about?”. My coaches, Matt and Geoff, have been saying for years, forget the details, just aim and shoot. And that’s what it felt like.

There were definitely notes taken afterwards, true; like the timing of breathing and head drop and how I was doing the aiming, and the conscious relaxing of the left arm from wrist to shoulder during the pre-aim; but none of it was anything Matt and Geoff hadn’t been telling me to do for years, and it was all small technical details that framed the change rather than described it. None of the details caused the change; it’s just that last night for some wierd reason I don’t understand yet, in an instant, it all just started to work perfectly, like someone threw a switch in my brain and suddenly I knew how to shoot.

Here’s hoping it’s not a phase change you can go reverse! πŸ˜€

DURC 10m Open 2010

So the plan was to ο»Ώο»Ώfinish work at 1800h, get home by 1830h, eat, change into underarmour and tracksuit, head for UCD by 1900h, get there by 1930h and spend at least 20 minutes wall-watching, be on the line in full kit and good to go by the start of prep time. It didn’t quite work out that way, I deferred leaving until 1940h and got to UCD by 2010h. Still plenty of time, still did my wall watching, wasn’t rushed and somehow still manged to be dressing during prep time. D’oh.

Changing into the shooting suit...

Still, I did get a good five minutes of settling into the position during prep, so that was an improvement on the usual mad rush I get buried by.

Herself Indoors also turned up to watch and take photos, which was nice πŸ™‚

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The position felt constructed in the first third of the match; by which I mean that it felt like it has in training – set up the position, hold and wait for the rifle to come down and take the shot. It wasn’t horrible, but it didn’t feel remarkable really, just putting training into practice on another range. But… there were eights. Bleuch.

String 1

I’m not even sure of why there were eights. Though, apart from them (to play the traditional “what if I’d shot better” game beloved of shooters πŸ™„ ), the group was nice enough.

I hit problems in the middle of the match more than anywhere else; the position lost its definitive ‘clunk’ when dropping the rifle into position and I found I was having to watch my sight picture far more than normal. Most of the nines in the middle 20 shots were down to sight alignment, not sway or wobble, oddly enough. I dropped the foresight from 4.4mm to 4.3mm and dialed down the rearsight diopter to 1.1mm; this seemed to help a lot.

In Position...
Then the last 20 shots came up, and by now I was concerned over time pressure and was shooting faster; and something just clicked and the rifle started to lock into the position. Buttplate, pistol grip, glove hand, raise rifle, swing elbow, drop into –thunk– place, cant into the face, roll head forward, drop eyes to look at bear, raise eyes to check NPA and aim, pause, hold, shoot, follow-through, and up and reload and do it over again. It felt wonderful. No sway as such, all the muscles had relaxed, everything was just flowing along. Brilliant.

Firing point setup

Firing point setup

Screen and bear it...

Yes, I said bear πŸ˜€ Meet the mascot, which also plays the role of giving a visual focal point when looking away to check NPA…

Now as to the results, I was hoping to break 540. I comfortably left that behind:

Final group and score

DURC 10m Open 2010 Mark Dennehy

564 is 5 points below my PB; and there are five 8s in that score. So it was potentially my PB. Not bad for a first match back…

Detail 2 scores

The first match for the new cheekpiece left an impression as well:

Cheekpiece impression after the match

Postscript: Came in second when all the scores were in, Ray posted an excellent 580 for a convincing trouncing, but 2nd place on the first match back is still fine by me!


Scores up from shooting.boards.ie:

Air Rifle 60 Shot

Rank Shooter Club Total Inner 10s
1 Ray Kane DFST 94 95 99 100 96 96 580 (34*)
2 Mark Dennehy WTSC 94 93 93 95 93 96 564 (21*)
3 Paul O’Boyle WTSC 90 93 91 90 95 93 552 (20*)
4 Terry Wearen DFST 91 93 94 91 89 91 549 (8*)
5 Tian Carey UCDRC 87 91 95 85 94 94 546 (20*)
6 John Lancaster UCDRC 88 94 92 89 91 92 546 (18*)
7 Diyu Wu DURC 85 93 88 91 91 90 538 (15*)
8 Lorcan O’Carrol DURC 89 87 89 94 86 90 535 (11*)
9 Siobhan Scarlett DURC 82 82 85 89 91 86 515 (7*)
10 Micahel Cullinan DURC 79 88 76 82 84 89 498 (7*)
11 Hossein Habibi UCDRC 79 77 87 87 80 79 489 (9*)
12 Frank Lavery DURC 85 87 76 77 82 82 489 (8*)
13 Tim Hynes DURC 77 80 77 80 84 80 478 (5*)
14 Ian Beatty Orr DURC 80 76 80 77 75 82 470 (6*)
15 Logan Hasenbeck DURC 77 77 74 70 83 83 464 (3*)
16 Tayyaub Mansoor UCDRC 86 73 77 81 82 64 463 (5*)
17 Claire Leyden UCDRC 75 70 75 83 84 76 463 (2*)
18 Evan Boyd UCDRC 79 81 75 70 78 76 459 (5*)
19 Tony Donnelly UCDRC 72 78 68 75 77 78 448 (2*)
20 Donal Bourke UCDRC 74 80 75 75 71 72 447 (1*)
21 Aoife O’Reilly DURC 79 73 77 78 70 64 441 (0*)
22 Julian Ewers Peters DURC 76 69 79 68 70 77 439 (2*)
23 Roohallah Ebrahimi UCDRC 76 72 73 72 68 66 427 (5*)
24 Ivan De Wergifosse DURC 71 76 70 51 72 81 421 (1*)
25 Paul Gibbons UCDRC 73 64 70 59 69 74 409 (3*)
26 Emily Wallace DURC 69 78 56 58 76 70 407 (3*)
27 Sasheendran Gopalakrishnakone DURC 62 73 63 72 68 63 401 (3*)
28 Maria Tracey UCDRC 73 71 58 60 72 56 390 (2*)
29 John Taaffe UCDRC 64 68 63 62 65 58 380 (1*)
30 Claudio Sansone DURC 49 73 42 64 68 77 373 (0*)
31 Sean O’Callaghan DURC 60 65 70 58 49 68 370 (1*)
32 Diarmuid O’Maolalai DURC 59 59 56 48 47 65 334 (1*)
33 Paul Malone UCDRC 55 65 53 49 34 65 321 (1*)

Air Rifle 40 Shot

Rank Shooter Club Total Inner 10s
1 Caitriona Murphy DURC 86 77 83 92 338 (7*)
2 Yuecong Wang UCDRC 85 87 88 77 337 (5*)
3 Yanxuedan Zhang UCDRC 81 84 70 62 297 (2*)
4 Sheila Curley UCDRC 51 52 49 53 205 (0*)

Air Pistol 60 Shot

Rank Shooter Club Total Inner 10s
1 Lindsey Weedon MPAI 86 79 92 89 89 87 522 (5*)
2 Caroline O’Brien RRPC 89 86 82 89 84 88 518 (4*)
3 Eanna Bailey MPAI 82 78 83 90 88 86 507 (5*)
4 John Lancaster β„— UCDRC 81 83 85 82 87 85 503 (1*)
5 John O’Brien RRPC 83 88 79 85 82 80 497 (4*)
6 Luke McMullan UCDRC 78 83 84 76 84 79 484 (4*)
7 Philip Conway UCDRC 73 83 79 73 72 65 445 (2*)
8 Martha Naughton UCDRC 58 65 59 63 67 75 387 (1*)
9 Aisling Miller β„— DURC 58 51 51 65 71 62 358 (1*)

Class A 40 Series

Rank Shooter Club Total Inner 10s
1 Ray Kane DFST 94 95 99 100 388 (25*)
2 Mark Dennehy WTSC 94 93 93 95 375 (11*)
3 Paul O’Boyle WTSC 90 93 91 90 364 (14*)

Class B 40 Series

Rank Shooter Club Total Inner 10s
1 Terry Wearen DFST 91 93 94 91 369 (7*)
2 John Lancaster UCDRC 88 94 92 89 363 (11*)
3 Lorcan O’Carrol DURC 89 87 89 94 359 (10*)
4 Tian Carey UCDRC 87 91 95 85 358 (13*)
5 Diyu Wu DURC 85 93 88 91 357 (9*)

Class C 40 Series

Rank Shooter Club Total Inner 10s
1 Caitriona Murphy DURC 86 77 83 92 338 (7*)
2 Micahel Cullinan DURC 79 88 76 82 325 (5*)
3 Aoife O’Reilly DURC 79 73 77 78 307 (0*)

Class D 40 Series

Rank Shooter Club Total Inner 10s
1 Siobhan Scarlett DURC 82 82 85 89 338 (6*)
2 Yuecong Wang UCDRC 85 87 88 77 337 (5*)
3 Hossein Habibi UCDRC 79 77 87 87 330 (7*)
4 Frank Lavery DURC 85 87 76 77 325 (5*)
5 Tayyaub Mansoor UCDRC 86 73 77 81 317 (4*)
6 Tim Hynes DURC 77 80 77 80 314 (4*)
7 Ian Beatty Orr DURC 80 76 80 77 313 (3*)
8 Evan Boyd UCDRC 79 81 75 70 305 (3*)
9 Donal Bourke UCDRC 74 80 75 75 304 (1*)
10 Claire Leyden UCDRC 75 70 75 83 303 (0*)
11 Logan Hasenbeck DURC 77 77 74 70 298 (1*)
12 Yanxuedan Zhang UCDRC 81 84 70 62 297 (2*)
13 Roohallah Ebrahimi UCDRC 76 72 73 72 293 (4*)
14 Tony Donnelly UCDRC 72 78 68 75 293 (2*)
15 Julian Ewers Peters DURC 76 69 79 68 292 (1*)
16 Sasheendran Gopalakrishnakone DURC 62 73 63 72 270 (1*)
17 Ivan De Wergifosse DURC 71 76 70 51 268 (0*)
18 Paul Gibbons UCDRC 73 64 70 59 266 (2*)
19 Maria Tracey UCDRC 73 71 58 60 262 (2*)
20 Emily Wallace DURC 69 78 56 58 261 (2*)
21 John Taaffe UCDRC 64 68 63 62 257 (1*)
22 Sean O’Callaghan DURC 60 65 70 58 253 (1*)
23 Claudio Sansone DURC 49 73 42 64 228 (0*)
24 Paul Malone UCDRC 55 65 53 49 222 (1*)
25 Diarmuid O’Maolalai DURC 59 59 56 48 222 (1*)
26 Sheila Curley UCDRC 51 52 49 53 205 (0*)

Fun Final

Rank Shooter Club Total
1 Ray Kane DFST 9.5 10.2 10.5 9.2 10.6 10.4 10.5 10.3 9.8 10.5 101.5
2 Tian Carey UCDRC 10.2 10.0 9.9 9.6 9.4 10.5 10.6 8.9 7.5 9.0 95.6
3 Michael Cullinan DURC 9.9 9.9 9.5 9.6 9.3 10.7 9.6 9.1 10.0 7.9 95.5
4 Frank Lavery DURC 5.4 9.9 9.3 7.5 10.2 8.9 9.2 9.3 4.4 9.3 83.4
5 Tim Hynes DURC 9.1 9.1 7.2 8.9 8.5 8.1 8.4 8.3 6.1 7.3 81.0
6 Donal Bourke UCDRC 2.9 8.3 8.3 8.6 8.6 7.2 8.2 8.3 9.4 9.4 79.2
7 Ivan De Wergifosse DURC 5.3 9.0 6.4 4.9 9.9 10.0 2.8 9.5 3.2 9.0 70.0
8 Julian Ewers-Peters DURC 3.6 5.9 8.5 1.3 7.3 4.1 8.1 5.2 6.4 5.0 55.4

Balance bags and progress

Right, so first of all, a small note. I dislike winter training in WTSC without the heating πŸ˜€

Brrrrrrr...

Mental note: must buy oil for the range’s central heating. Also, must reset range clock, it’s still on BST.

Today was the last training before the DURC Air Open so I thought I’d just put lead downrange and do some final tweaks, and afterwards do a few minutes live-firing off of these puppies:

Togu balance bags

Togu balance bags

You might remember these from an earlier mention from Kuortane. The idea’s simple: stand on them and shoot.

Balance bag with foot for scale

They’re also easy to find in Ireland. And they worked very well, though you have to remember to keep your toes overhanging the edge of the cushion so that when you’re in position your weight is centered on the cushion – otherwise, balance isn’t hard, it’s actually impossible.

As to the tweaking, it went fairly well:

And who said coaching is all hard labour and no laughs?

The results weren’t too bad either:

Training 09/11/10

Training 09/11/10

Training 09/11/10

(though you can see a bit of confusion with the sights there at the end. I really do need to benchrest that rifle and get some hard data on how many clicks per ring those sights give me with my sight base length, but there’s no time before the DURC Open, so I’ll do it next week in WTSC. Oh, and that last 8.7 was shot standing on the balance bags, so the other shots give an idea of my current best horizontal hold – the vertical hold is okay too, but when you’re mucking with your elevation setting on your sights, it’s hard to measure vertical hold πŸ˜‰Β )

As to the DURC Open, what do I expect? Well, given how the rifle feels right now, I’m guessing I’ll start well, but given that I’m still coming off the tail end of a cold and that I have to shoot late on the 2030h detail, I’m guessing I’ll have some stamina problems. I’m hoping to break 540. The plan is to finish work around 1800h, get home for 1830h and eat something and change into the underarmour and tracksuit, head off around 1900h, get there by 1930h and spend at least 20 minutes warming up by wall-watching and be on the line in full kit and good to go by the start of prep time so I actually have my prep time for prep rather than the usual mad rushing about. I’ll post here after the match when I have the scores. Wish me luck…

Baikal IZH-61 Air Rifle

So before training yesterday, there was a bit of experimentation. For a while now we’ve been looking at cheaper ways to get started in ISSF shooting, and we’ve found that the lowest cost of entry is for air pistol with either an IZH-46M or a Tau7 pistol, for about €300 all in. Which isn’t bad, and since both are russian in origin, we’ve been looking at other russian rifles to find a cheap way into other ISSF disciplines. In smallbore, the IZH CM-2 is well-known already as a good basic beginner’s rifle:

Baikal/IZH CM-2 Rifle

and its price is competitive with other possible options like the Vickers Jubilee I looked at in an earlier post.

Today though, we had access to an IZH-61 air rifle to test, and it’s in air rifle that we’ve had the least success in finding a reliable, readily available, basic beginners entry-model firearm (for those outside of Ireland, yes, airguns are classed as firearms here. Yes, we know, that’s daft, but we have to work with it. Stop showing off πŸ˜› Β ).

So here’s the IZH-61 for those not familiar with it:

IZH-61 Air Rifle

IZH-61 Air Rifle

The stock is mostly black plastic, but it’s sturdy enough. The buttplate is adjustable for length via the small screw you can see underneath the cheekpiece, and the trigger is adjustable for location and weight and travel, though the trigger itself… is not the crispest, smoothest thing on the block. But that’s okay; we’re looking for cheap and basic here, and so long as it’s not so bad as to actively hinder a beginner, we can tolerate imperfections, even gross ones.Β 

IZH-61 Air Rifle

As you can see, it’s a hand-cranked side-lever affair, and you can just see the release catch inside the handle:

IZH-61 Air Rifle release catch

It has a standard globe foresight, but doesn’t come with a diopter, having instead a leaf-type adjustable rearsight. This is easily removed and replaced with a standard diopter rearsight however; the rail is the Anschutz 11mm standard affair. Hence this very incongruous photo of a €100 air rifle wearing a €500 rearsight:

IZH-61 Air Rifle and MEC Free rearsight

IZH-61 Air Rifle with MEC Free rearsight

IZH-61 Air Rifle with MEC Free rearsight

One oddity is that the IZH-61 is a five-shot repeating air rifle (there is a single shot version, the IZH-60, but we didn’t have it to hand; it’s identical except for the magazine arrangement). There is a simple plastic magazine to hold the pellets:

IZH-61 Air Rifle magazine

Once the pellets are loaded in, the magazine is inserted into the rifle:

IZH-61 Air Rifle magazine

And then pushed home:

IZH-61 Air Rifle magazine loaded

Now, every time the side handle is cranked to compress the spring piston the magazine is advanced to the left a notch; and when the side handle is then returned to its rest position, the bolt probe pushes a new pellet forward and seats it in the barrel:

You can observe the bolt probe (the silver bit) cycling back and forward under the rearsight there:

IZH-61 Air Rifle bolt probe

Okay, so that’s a quick walk-around of the rifle. So far, seems promising. Good foresight, easy to fit a rearsight, it’s very light so good for juniors, it’s basicly adjustable, it’d pass the ISSF equipment rules at a pinch, and it’s quite inexpensive (this one is on the secondhand market for €100 at the moment). So all that’s left is the key requirement of accuracy, so I tried five rounds from the shoulder:

Not the best group (they’re all high because I didn’t adjust the rearsight); and it has the traditional spring piston habit of trying to give you a dose of scope eye, though not as badly as the FWB300 series used to. I did fire another five from a sandbag just to be sure it wasn’t me:

IZH-61 Air Rifle test card

Sadly just not that great. As you can see, it’s not even guaranteed to hold the aiming mark for a rifle target. If someone was just starting out, it might suit, but it wouldn’t be a great idea after that point. For plinking at knock-down targets yes; but for paper targets in competition, not so much. However, I should point out that others with brand new IZH-61’s have reported groups that were as small as 10mm edge-to-edge after picking out suitable air pellets. 10mm is about the absolute maximum group size you could accept for a beginner; a proper match rifle will have an edge-edge group size of no more than 5mm. So perhaps with a new IZH-60, without any inaccuracies from the magazine system, and with some pellet selection, we could have a candidate here for a €100 entry point to ISSF air rifle. Investigations to continue…


Hack and slash!

Okay, so apart from the obvious tummy size issues, the jacket has been causing me all manner of hassle with tension in the left shoulder when mounting the rifle:

I’ve been trying various things to fix it, from modifying my position slightly to moving my buttplate in somewhat, to moving the buttons on the jacket across the top of the chest, but nothing was working. Then I was watching the long footage of the World Cup Final competition for Men’s Air Rifle and I noticed that both Camprani and Sokolov (the overall winner) had taken knives to their jackets:

Sokolov (Munich World Cup Finals 2010)

Sokolov's jacket shoulder

Now I generally don’t like the idea of cargo cult shooting (I can think of one Irish shooter who aped Peter Sidi’s mannerisms to a T, right down to pseudo-random discards of pellets, and it didn’t get him past a competition ceiling of around 580 which isn’t even competitive in much of europe). But when you have a problem, have tried other alternatives and you notice someone doing something that analysis says might help, well, why not?

Besides, the jacket’s almost a decade old and frankly, it’s not doing it’s job so if a cut or two can help, then hand me the knife.

First cut...

That’s the first cut. Small, and then back on with the jacket again to see if it helped any. And it did; but the tension was still there, just reduced. So what the hell, off with the jacket, out with the knife, and it’s psycho time again…

Second cut...

And this time it felt far freeer in the shoulder (well, there’s virtually no shoulder left, so no shock there πŸ˜€ There’s still a strip across the top and the patch where the shoulder top grip patch is, so it won’t fall apart, but there’s almost no tension being transferred from the back panel to the outside of the sleeve anymore. So I shot a quick ten-shot series to check it:

Not too shabby a group, with just one flier:

Ten shots, one flier

Sights are still a bit out though.

After that evening, I came down with whatever manflu bug is going around, so no training (or anything else for that matter) on Thursday or Friday, but hopefully back to training on Tuesday and the DURC air rifle open on Thursday in UCDRC. Which will be the first match back since the wedding hiatus, so the outcome should be interesting either way!