MEC Silence

I’ve had the same earplugs now for quite a while – basic E.A.R. ones:

E.A.R. plugsThey did the job well, but they have a disadvantage in that they block all noise equally, and that meant taking one out when being coached, and sometimes shooting without putting it back in (naughty, and leads to hearing loss). So during the last kit purchase from Intershoot, I splurged a bit (because decade-old earplugs are probably a bit hygienically unwise anyway) and bought a set of MEC Silence earplugs:

MEC Silence

The little black bit you can see in the middle of the earplug is the fancy bit that drives up the price. MEC describe it as a membrane that closes when hit by loud sounds, but which stays open for low sounds, like speech. You can have the little eyes in the end of it like there, or use a plain shoelace for the same job:

MEC Silence

But personally, I took out the string because it kept catching around my neck while shooting and annoying me. Having used them now on the UCD range and the WTSC range, I’m happy with them – they certainly work as advertised, I can talk to Matt during coaching without removing them and they still block or deaden the sound of the air rifle, even with my ear up near the muzzle end (no, not in front of it :D). They’re a bit expensive compared to the E.A.R. ones (they’re about €31 or so), but they’ll last for a few years and the convenience is worth it to me. So in case anyone was wondering if they’re a gimmick or if they work, yes, they do what MEC says they do 😀

I’m now just wondering if letting you hear what’s being said on the range more clearly is a competitive disadvantage (the RO commands are always loud enough to hear, but the chatter in the background from spectators would now be loud enough to hear as well…). More on this after the nationals I think…

Squared feet and unsquared cheekpiece

So after Sunday’s match, tonight’s training was a bit quieter than normal 😀
First things first, had to chop off that bit of the cheekpiece that was constantly catching my nostril when I dropped my head onto the cheekpiece. The cheekpiece is made of blackwood, so it wasn’t really a job for a saw, so out came the dremel and after a few minutes cutting and then a little bit of polishing, I had a nicely unsquared corner:

Unsquared Corner

And the dremel meant that the cut was nice and clean and still sharp:

Unsquared corner

Unsquared corner

Lovely wood, that african blackwood, fabulously tight train, but a pain in the posterior to work with without the right tools.

Once the cheekpiece was sorted, it was on to dry-firing, just to test it out and to practice the shot routine (the cheekpiece is now far more comfortable while still being sharp enough to leave a mark on your face two days after a match). After about ten minutes of this, Matt arrived, and watched for another few minutes, and then after talking about how the weekend went, he make a pretty substantial change to the position:

New foot position

It’s quite different from what went before:

Old foot position
Which, as you can see, had the right foot turned out and back behind the position of the left foot – and what you can’t see is that the left foot was developing a habit of turning out as well during shooting. The new position felt very wierd – the inner position feels enormously different with muscle tensions in different places, but it did lead to an improvement in the stance and there were moments of stillness from it. Matt thinks it’ll need tweaking yet, to take pressure of the right foot (the outer half of which went numb during shooting), but it’ll do for now until the jacket is replaced.

I think the main hassle I have now though isn’t really technical – the position works well to shoot a ten; it’s duplicating the position that’s the problem, and that’s something I have to solve through time on the range, dry-firing over and over again. Last night was two hours on the range without a shot fired. I think there will be more days like that in the next while, until I learn the shot routine enough to trust it again (say, 200-300 times to get started with).


Utter disaster.

Scorecard, UCD Open II 27/3/11
Scorecard, UCD Open II 27/3/11

Seeing this on your screen after weeks of effort is not a comforting sight, in case you were wondering….

UCD Open II screen
UCD Open II screen

So what went wrong? I’m not entirely sure. My mental focus was not the best on the day. I didn’t get 20-odd minutes to stand there in kit with rifle off to one side to warm up, but I don’t think that would have made a huge difference. The position felt loose, though I was able to get into it reasonably well. The shot routine was far too slow and I wound up dropping chunks of it in the last two strings. The left elbow placement was constantly fiddly and felt like it was adding to motion during the shot routine (which adds to the sway) rather than taking it away. And the quality of the hold was not the best at all, but that’s been the case all the time of late because of the jacket – this time it felt worse, but only slightly so. Not 30-points-off-my-average worse by any means.

Looking at it another way, I’ve learnt that my core strength is like a little girl’s, my mental training needs beefing up, I’ve found the dross cluttering up my shot routine, and I’ve shown I *can* get off ten decent shots in six minutes (that last string) without significant disasters, even if the hold’s a bit loose. So that’s not a horrible silver lining, even if the match itself was classed as “character building”.

Spoke with Matt afterwards and we went through what worked and what didn’t; and we have the guts of a plan to go after what didn’t, though he’s warned that until the weight goes down and the new jacket gets here, some things just aren’t going to get any better. So there may be more character building in the future 🙁 Which sucks, because the Nationals are in a fortnight.


Peashooters: UCD Open II

Peas And Potatoes

The Peashooters list from the UCD Open is up:

Sean Baldwin DFST
Terry Wearen DFST
Aisling Miller DURC
Emily Wallace DURC
Frank Lavery DURC
Kate Wilhelm DURC
Michael Cullinan DURC
Siobhan Scarlett DURC
Cillian O’Sullivan UCDRC
Donal Bourke UCDRC
John Lancaster UCDRC
Tian Carey UCDRC
Mark Dennehy WTSC
Paul O’Boyle WTSC

John (from UCD) and I were talking about this idea and we thought we should also have an air pistol version – garden peas aren’t really at the same level of difficulty for pistols, so we took the score you had to hit to hit a pea, figured where than landed on an air pistol target and walked through the vegetable bin to see what qualified, and guess what, small new potatoes do

So here’s the Spudgun list :

Tom O’Brien MPAI
John O’Brien RRPC

Congratulations all 😀

A more solid nights training

A decent amount of sleep, food before training, and time for the new shot routine to start settling down, and everything seems to be coming together better. There is still looseness in here, don’t get me wrong – and that jacket is earning a lot of hatred at the moment – but the good moments are starting to outweigh the bad and the good moments are so very, very good 🙂

The placement of the left elbow is still a bit odd here. There’s a fair amount of re-jigging to get it right and that’s all done by feel, there’s not much in the way of a visual reference point apart from where the rifle ends up pointing. which is a bit indirect really. But the more I do it, the more I get used to the right feeling and how to get to it, the better it gets. And the results are excellent when it’s right:

Training group

It’s when it goes wrong that it’s odd. That seven came out of nowhere. Matt and I both thought the shot was perfect… right up to the trigger break. There was nothing he could see or that I could feel that explained it, but when the trigger broke, the foresight dipped, just once, and then came back up to hold steady on the target. Very odd. Didn’t happen again for the entire night.

We stuck to dry-firing after those few shots though, just to work on the routine itself. I have a bit of dremel work to do on the cheekpiece as a result (that, or I need to lose a nostril 😀 ) – when I drop my head from the pre-aim, the nostril catches on the forward corner of the cheekpiece, which is no fun at all. Trimming off that corner might help, but the cheekpiece is african blackwood so it needs the dremel to do this cleanly. We also tried shooting with braces rather than a belt for a while – the lumbar support feels better, but I’m not used to it enough to use it in the match in UCD this weekend.

Overall then, a good night, and even an attaboy from Matt, which brings my total for those up to about six. In ten years. Which is encouraging. 🙂

ISSF makes it into Youtube’s Top Three

From the ISSF website:

Shooting Sport TV Channel made it to YouTube’s top-3
The ISSF Channel turned out to be the third most viewed YouTube Partner’s Sport Channel of Germany, last week, during the fist stage of the 2011 ISSF World Cup Series held in Concepcion, Chile.

More than 12.000 views within a week, and thousand of spectator watching shotgun shooting finals & highlights every day, pushed the ISSF TV Channel up to the top-3 of the most viewed Partner’s Sport Channel of YouTube in Germany, last week (7-13 March).

Since January, the International Shooting Sport Federation shares TV footage of its main competitions on YouTube, in the frame of the “YouTube Sports Hub” launched by SportAccord.

The ISSF YouTube Channel,, already offers a library of 145 videos, covering the main ISSF Championships of the 2010 season, and the full coverage of the first 2011 ISSF World Cup Stage in Concepcion, Chile.

Since the channel became operative, three months ago, it was visited by almost 40 thousand viewers, and more than 295 thousand of videos were played, making of the ISSF channel one of the most viewed sport channels on YouTube.

And that’s just the beginning. The best shooting sport’s footage of the 2011 ISSF World Cup Series and of the 2011 ISSF Shotgun World Championship will be broadcasted on YouTube as well, in the months to come. Highlights, interviews and full-length finals will be available for the shooting sport fans to comment, rate and share.

New videos will be uploaded next week, as the ISSF Combined World Cup Stage in Sydney, Australia, will start, on the 21st of March.


Sweet. Nice to see the kind of impact modern media can have like this – this is the sort of thing that gets the sport noticed by advertisers, and advertisers drive TV coverage, and TV coverage drives public opinion, and public opinion drives laws. So it’s good news for everyone in the long run, ISSF or not. And it’s a great direction for ISSF to go in, because it opens up our sport to everyone – at the Olympics, NBC says what goes to air and what doesn’t, and even with all the camera crews there, we might not ever get to see the footage. With youtube, you just upload the whole thing and let folks go see their sport.

And the numbers they’ve gone in proves a long-known point: Shooting, in terms of how many active participants there are in it, is one of the world’s largest and most successful sports, bar none.


Tired and wobbling, but still training…

Was exhausted on Friday and generally at a low ebb. Didn’t get to eat properly before training either. And it showed. Wobbling all over the place, huge amounts of body sway.

Training 18.03.11 Group 1
Training 18.03.11 Group1
Training 18.03.11 Group 2
Training 18.03.11 Group 2
Training 18.03.11 Group 3
Training 18.03.11 Group 3

So I did my best to ignore where the shots were landing and focus instead on learning the new shot routine and on small points regarding the inner position, weight distribution and so forth. It wasn’t a wholly wasted day, but definitely not a high point.

Here’s the new shot routine, roughly (with huge amounts of body sway 🙁 ):

MEC Puck

While I was down training on Tuesday, I noticed that someone had a new piece of kit – the MEC puck. Been meaning to take a peek at one of these for a while now, and having now done so, I’m jealous 😀 It is a very nice bit of kit.

MEC Puck

MEC Puck

It’s a very simple idea – it’s a milled aluminium pellet tin. Which sounds odd since you get a free tin with every 500 pellets, but this has the nice feature that the bottom is rounded like a small wok, so grabbing just one pellet is made much easier. It also has a nice sealing ring to stop the lid flying off, and the body will sit into the upturned lid to keep things tidy.

MEC Puck

MEC Puck

It’s a very nice, very simple, very straightforward and very well-executed little idea. More like that would be a Good Thing!

Tweaking towards the middle…

My plan for Tuesday’s training wasn’t exactly detailed – it was to come down and shoot to practice the new shot routine. I also wanted to shoot without the shooting frames after the eye test on Saturday to see if I could do without them. Initial warmup was a bit all over the place though, it felt off and the results said it was off:

Initial warm-up

Matt was down to help myself and the Cunninghams train that evening though, and made some tweaks to the position once I’d warmed up. Taking away the frames lost me a reference point (and a mount for my blinders), but it did make it possible to get a more natural-feeling head position on the cheekpiece. We moved in the buttplate a bit to let the right elbow drop down slightly, but that didn’t get rid of the slight wobble in the position. So Matt did some major buttplate changes to get more contact between my arm and the upper half of the buttplate:

New Buttplate Setup
New Buttplate Setup
New Buttplate setup
New Buttplate setup

We’ve also moved my feet around a bit to get my hips more in line with the target, and brought the rifle more in towards my left shoulder. All in all, it feels a lot more stable, and more like it was just a tweak of the position than major surgery (though the buttplate is a bit extreme – the rulebook had to come out to make sure it was still legal). The results weren’t bad either, but they did include the single most annoying flier I have ever shot in my entire life so far:

The most annoying flier of my life...
The most annoying flier of my life...

I have four range days left to the next match, the UCD Open, so the training plan is to just repeat what we fine-tuned today, get used to the new shot routine, and just shoot. Hopefully there’s enough range time to not embarress myself with the score at the Open!

New position from right side
New position from right side
New position from left side
New position from left side
New position from behind
New position from behind

Eye test time!

I’ve not had an eye test in quite a while – nearly a decade in fact. So on Saturday I went along to Specsavers in Santry to get an eyetest to check how the (slight) prescription on my right eye is doing (nothing like having a target shooter for an optician when it’s time to check your eyes 😀 ). Happily, the results are good – both eyes are healthy, the left eye is still perfect, and the right eye still only has a very small prescription (-0.75) for astigmatism (and apparently I have 6/5 vision* without correction, so yay me and all that).


Retinal images
Nice, healthy retinas!


The interesting bit is that with the pinhole effect from the rearsight, my optician thinks that I may not need the shooting lens. So the next fortnight is going to see some experimentation to see whether I can get by without them. There would be some serious advantages – not having to carry extra kit, not hitting the frames off the rearsight, and so on. The only downsides I can think of (beyond having to get used to another change) is the blinders – having a set frame to attach the blinders to which you can just take off and put on quickly is fairly handy (as I’m finding out shooting pistol) but then again, even just taking off the glass from the frames could be an improvement…

(Incidentally, in case you haven’t had your eyes tested in the last two years and you’re a shooter, you should be getting them tested. I’d recommend specsavers in Santry and to explicitly say that you’re looking for a target shooting lens – they’ll know who to point you to).

Continue reading “Eye test time!”