New pellets

I’d been running shy on pellets over the last while; RIAC was shot using RWS R10 pistol pellets on the principle that sub-par pellets are better than no pellets at all, but the groups weren’t spectacularly brilliant and I wanted to have better pellets for Intershoot, especially after one UCD match that saw eight 9.9s…

We’d been looking to do some pellet batch testing in WTSC for a while but hadn’t gotten it sorted out yet, so proper batch testing would have to wait as there wasn’t enough time to get that sorted. I knew that Intershoot had some Qiang Yuan pellets in stock from talking with them about batch testing, and I’d had a chance to shoot a box of them before so I knew they were pretty decent so I asked Intershoot to send me down two boxes of all the head sizes of the QY pellets they had (which at the time was just the two, 4.49 and 4.50) and I clamped the rifle into our patented Really Awful Bench Clamp, shot a few shots to warm up and then ran through ten shot groups of the RWS R10 light pellets, the QY 4.49s and the QY 4.50s.

The patented WTSC Really Awful Bench Clamp


Personally, I strongly suspected that there’d be a small difference, but nothing major. I was in for a bit of a surprise…


RWS R10 light
RWS R10 light


Qiang Yang 4.49
Qiang Yang 4.49


Qiang Yang 4.50
Qiang Yang 4.50


Feck me. I was not expecting the group size from the 4.49 QY pellets. Thank you very much, those will do nicely. Yes, at £35(€42)/1000 they’re pretty bloody expensive for airgun pellets. But on the other hand, the trip to Intershoot is the guts of a grand anyway.  €16.50 for pellets that might save me from a 9.9 or two didn’t seem like a bad investment to me (I’d still have to pay out €12 for a tin of R10s anyway if I didn’t get the QYs). And given that Intershoot saw 28 10.0 and 10.1 shots (which you could argue were saved from 9.9-hood by decent pellets), that works out at €0.41 per ten. Seems fair to me  😀

QY do pellets in tins like everyone else btw, unlike the 200-pellet trays that I bought:

Qiang Yuan 200-pellet trays

And RWS do their R10s in the 200-pellet trays too. So whether the QY pellets are better for FrankenRifle because they’re just better than R10s or just because they were in trays and the R10s are in tins, or – and this seems more likely really – just because the 4.49 head size suits FrankenRifle better than the R10’s 4.50 head size, is an open question and at some stage, we’re going to have to do proper batch testing with a proper bench rest. But until then — and after we’ve done it as well — I’ll be taking my own advice and forgetting about it completely. Time on the range training beats time on the range batch testing every single time…

What I do…

Got to love internet memes 😀



BTW, there are blog entries about RIAC and Intershoot on the way – it’s just hard to find time to blog when training, competing, moving house, in a crunch time at work and when Herself Indoors is eight months pregnant. But I’ve got my notes and I’m getting through them…

Intershoot 2012 Notes for next time

A collection of notes for the next time, taken as I went through the week. If someone else is going next year, this might be useful.

  • Never. Ever. Fly KLM.
  • Pay the rifle baggage charges for both legs of the trip in Dublin, get and check the receipt there.  If KLM try to charge you for excess baggage, the receipt is your defence.
  • A netbook is an excellent idea
  • Wifi in the campsite is dire at best, and costs about €20 for the full week.
  • Bring a kitchen knife and a potholder. The chalet’s self-catering, but you don’t get a decent knife.
  • Camera’s useful.
  • A small pair of binoculars or a monocular would be useful.
  • Coldgear underarmour kit is needed if the temperature is below zero!
  • Sunglasses were vital after the snow fell.
  • Bring some dishwasher tablets (5-10).
  • A water bottle (the ones with the carbon filters, Bobbles) are a good idea.
  • The small messenger bag worked very well indeed.
  • Bring food for the first night and first breakfast; you won’t get to the shops until after that.
  • Earbud headphones would be useful off the range, but the over-ear headphones are better on-range.
  • Ensure everyone on the team has each others phone numbers *before* meeting at the airport.
  • Have cables to transfer files between all cameras and computers.
  • Do remember deodorant – the washbags sold after security sometimes don’t!
  • Slippers are not silly at all.
  • Remember swimming trunks for sauna use.
  • Transcribes startlist details (esp. firing point number) to shooting diary the night before the match.
  • Small, loud noisemakers for cheering tens during a final are a team requirement!
  • Need local area maps, offline language dictionary, restaurant locations, bus routes, etc.
  • Bring spare boot laces. Not just for shooting boots, for walking boots too.
  • Bring a spare pair of T-shirt, socks, shorts, over the amount thought to be needed.
  • Bring respectable-looking clothes for the team dinner at the end of the competition.
  • Bring yak-trax (not the spikes) if the temperature is going below zero to avoid ice/snow accidents.
  • Cut your damn hair before the trip you hippie!

Intershoot 2012 Day Three

A more relaxed wakeup this morning – still freezing cold, but don’t have to get up quite so early as yesterday. Breakfast, then head off around noon to get to the range. Plan is simple:

  • 1230: Arrive at range, warm up
  • 1255: Assemble kit
  • 1315: Wall-watching
  • 1330: Setup on line
  • 1335: Prep time
  • 1345: START!
  • Stretch first! Back will be sore!
  • Watch the sight picture!

I’m shattered though. It’s like the last day of Intershoot all over again. My aiming feels good, and the triggering feels smooth, but my legs just aren’t cooperating to give me a solid platform or a decent hold. My feet feel like I’m standing in a small pool of sweat in my boots, they feel like there’s no padding and they’re being pushed through the socks (the socks were an experiment all this week, I traded in my normal base layer socks for a pair of underarmour compression socks to try to counter the numbness I was getting in my feet around the 40-60 shot range in a match:

Under armor recharge socks

And no, this wasn’t Rob Bryden’s idea 😀

Funny moment on QI

The experiment’s worked quite well at preventing numbness – I didn’t have a single problem with numb feet at any time, but they don’t give enough padding for the sole of the foot, so I might need to wear the base layer socks under the compression socks too. However, that won’t help the knees 😀 My knee was gone again by the end of the match – sore, unable to bend without pain, feeling like I’d pulled a hamstring.

I go through 23 shots with some difficulty (95 then 92 because of drift) but shot 24 was a seven, and mentally I gave up, I put down the rifle and walked away for a few minutes to get my head together. I came to the conclusion at that stage that the match was pretty much a lost cause in terms of a high score; and then I thought why not use the remainder of the match to test something – yesterday’s performance met the performance goals for the trip, and the match was pretty much shot, so why not at least learn something?

So I got back to the line and into position, and proceeded to try to shoot as fast as I could. Same shot routine as before, but take the shot as soon as it presents itself; no holding for any more than one to two seconds at most. The results were quite interesting.

Old Anschutz and New Anschutz :D

Shooting in Intershoot, last day

Intershoot Day 3

There was a whanger of a flier in string four, but aside from that, the standard of shooting was higher over the next few strings. Looking especially at the decimal scores, slow shooting resulted in 99.5, 96.7; shooting fast gave 99.7, 98.8 and 99.6 despite my being more physically drained than the first two strings. It’s nothing that Matt and Geoff haven’t been telling me for a looooong time, but it’s so counter-intuitive that I never really could trust myself to do it; I was hoping that doing it here would give me sufficient confidence to do it in competition more often 😀

After the match, I got my name stitched on my Ireland team jacket (they had a chap there doing embroidery for Intershoot T-shirts and the like), and looked over the new Walther LG400 rifle (I’ve been worried for a while now that if any part of my rifle broke at a match, there’d be no way to get spare parts; Matt thinks I might change over rifles during my time away from the circuit). There aren’t many rifles I’d like; the LG400 is one of them:

Walther LG400


We then got something to eat, watched and cheered on Ray in the finals, then packed our kit, hauled it back to the chalet, got changed and went out for a final team dinner in the local diner (lovely steak). After that, we walked back, packed away most of our kit for the morning and got some sleep. The next morning we had an early wakeup to take a team photo and bid farewell to Peter as he headed off; then we finished packing, cleaned down the chalet and hauled back to the airport by minivan.

Check-in at the KLM desk in Schipol took the guts of two hours to do. KL-bloody-M. And they tried to charge me excess baggage of €180 for the rifle instead of the €40 sports baggage charge – I pointed out that our tickets were booked via Aer Lingus and had the assistant call a colleague who sorted it out. It got to the point where the other airport staff were getting a bit narky with the girl on the checkin desk. Eventually we got through, got through security, and headed to the gate. And then Paul and I and Kealan took a few minutes to raid the duty-free for some gifts for home (married men can’t come home without gifts 😀 ). We barely made it back to gate in time! After that, the remainder of the trip back was incident-free and normal, we said our goodbyes in the airport and that was the end of the trip.

Overall the total is two new Irish records, five shooters hit the MQS scores (and the sixth missed it by a point and set an Irish record in the process), three competition personal bests, two international debuts, and a team medal. That was a good trip 🙂



PS. We got some nice coverage on and the Evening Herald and there’s also an NTSA writeup.

Intershoot 2012 Day Two

Up at a reasonable 0700 or so this morning. Sweet brass monkey eunuchs but it’s cold. Somewhere between -8C and -10C. Peter’s diesel estate wouldn’t start first time yesterday for the first time since he’s had it because of the temperature, and today it’s colder. And I don’t like the look of that fairly large cloudbank we can see off in the eastern sky either. We do *not* want hail today thanks.

Down for breakfast (Rolled oats, water, milk and five minutes on the hob for excellent porridge! Breakfast of champions! Three minutes more than for that microwaved gunk, but it’s more than worth it!), and a cup of coffee, we pack the few things we’re carrying with us — my netbook and shooting diary (got it printed up as a book and it turned out nicely, we must see if we can sell a few of them to raise money for WTSC‘s new range fund), fruit and water for all of us, and Paul’s rifle and stand — and we head off for the range. It’s a brisk mile of a walk, interrupted only to scare the wits out of the chaparone for the Welsh junior squad by trying to be helpful and offer directions to the range without realising that they might have odd notions about strange Irish chaps wearing low-pulled caps, sunglasses against the glare and wind, and wearing neck gaiters over faces (did I mention it was cold?) 😀

Hey, it was *cold*, okay?
Oh well, it was character-building for them 😀

Anyway, on to the range, and we got out our kit and got our heads into the game. Aisling was still shooting, having had the ungodly-hour start this morning, so we watched her for a while, but she seemed to be coping well so we left Kealan to keep watch and went to get ready. The plan from the diary was again, quite simple:

  • 0815 Leave for range
  • 0830 Arrive at range, warm up
  • 0900 Assemble kit
  • 0920 Wall-watching
  • 0930 Kit on line, ready to go
  • 0935 Prep time
  • 0945 START!
  • Watch inner position and feet.

The sight picture was the lesson learnt from yesterday; I figured if I could watch it for this match as my main focus, I’d do reasonably well. My head was in the game, at least for most of the match; though I confess I did check the score near the end. Stupid, stupid, stupid…

Starters went off well, my zero looked okay and I spent a dozen or so shots just getting into the rythym and watching the sight picture. The backdrop was different today, we were back up on the firing points we’d trained on on the first day, so that was familiar. We were also smack in the middle of the webcam’s field of vision but alas, nobody thought to snag a photo of us 😀


Some folk commented about the shortened sleeves of the jacket here btw (it’s hard not to notice them) – the truth is that the only problem was that I didn’t cut enough off the right arm. I should have taken another two inches off of it. The arm doesn’t give you any support in standing – all it gives you there is a shoulder pad to put the rifle’s buttplate on. The rest of the arm is only there for those who shoot three positions – the sleeve’s needed for prone and useful for kneeling. Honestly, I might well just hack off the arm on the new Kustermann jacket too. But if you do hack it off, do so well above the elbow – otherwise when you bend you arm to reach the pistol grip, you may hit the material of the jacket above the elbow with your forearm, bowing it outwards and creating unnecessary wrinkles which can muck up your buttplate positioning. The left arm does need the sleeve, for the arm-side contact point, but that one got cut too, just because the arm was too long – it was down to my thumbs 😀

The sight picture worked really well – I’d mount the rifle as normal, watch the target while settling (looking over the rearsight, which is very easy with the MEC Free rearsight), check the foresight against the background to be sure it’s in roughly the right place and isn’t swinging about all over the place, then lowered my head down to the cheekpiece. But while lowering my head, I’d look through the rearsight for a final pre-aiming view, at which point the foresight tunnel would appear to be just touching the top of the inside of the rearsight. That let me check my horizontal centering, and then lower my head gently while fully exhaling to the cheekpiece to center vertically. Triggering followed naturally on from there.

The final pre-aim and head-drop

Of course, that didn’t settle down until the middle of the first string, so there were two wild eights in there (well centered, just high because the cheek pressure on the cheekpiece was wrong)… but there was only one more in the next 55 shots, which was far, far better than the last few international matches. The series scores weren’t the highest I’ve ever shot, but they were consistent: 94, 95, 97, a slip down to 93 thanks to that third eight, then two consistent 96s to finish. And of course, I did check the score in the last string. Stupid, stupid, stupid…

Still, turned out well enough – a new International PB of 571 and my first international MQS 🙂 In fact, it’s a new competition PB overall – I’ve shot 574 at home in UCD in front of the NTSA before coming out to Intershoot, but not during an official match.

Intershoot Day 2I was rather happy with that, in fact, and went off to decompress (my feet felt awful, like someone had put them in a vice and tried to squash them flat) and get some food (I was starving by the end), log into facebook and skype home and find a cup of coffee.  Which is why, when they called out the team medals and I realised we were in contention, I had to sprint down from the spectators gallery. But I wasn’t caught as off-guard as Ray was, because he’d just finished shooting in his second finals of the week (Ray made the finals on all three days) and was just changing out of his shooting kit into his tracksuit when they called us up for third place (that’s why Ray is in his socks in the photos 🙂 ).










Oh yeah, third place, did I mention that? International medal for Ireland. You know, just another thursday…


Climbing onto the podium


Wooot! My first international medal! :)
Wooot! My first international medal! 🙂

That’s what the Americans so endearingly refer to as a shit-eating grin, and it took several hours to get it off my face 😀


Third place, Mens Air Rifle Teams

Right now, some Irish readers who aren’t shooters are probably wondering why a third place medal is a big deal. Here’s why. The team medals went, in order to:

  1. The Netherlands shooting team
    • turned up in their own bus (as in, they owned it, custom painted, the works);
    • had several coaches (famous ones like Dick Boschmann, who’ve written all the textbooks on shooting – open up the first few pages of Ways of the Rifle, the widest-selling ISSF textbook of all time and you’ll find their coaches right there), managers, gofers and so on;
    • are all fully-funded, full-time shooters and have been for a few years aimed at London 2012, and all started years before we can have a licence in Ireland;
  2. England shooting team
    • fully funded full-time shooters who started years before we can have a licence in Ireland;
    • had the largest team contingent there with coaches and managers and staff;
  3. Us
    • there on holidays from work, training in our free time, paying for everything out of our own pockets;
    • one overworked sod as staff doing all the paperwork, management and dogsbody duties;
    • our coach back here on the other end of a phone line;
    • doing all our own cooking, shopping, and all the sundry stuff the others had taken care of for them (and that’s rather a lot – do you know how much 7 adults working 12-hour days in subzero temperatures at a rifle match can eat, and still lose weight?);

And despite all that whinging, we were only 20 points behind the English team, and only 32 behind the Netherlands team (out of 1800 points) and when you look to the PBs of our team we could have pulled up 16 points right there just by equalling our best. Add to that the point that my kit was ten years old and way past its best-before date and the point that my rifle hasn’t been serviced in the past ten years (the lads on the circuit will have theirs serviced at a minimum once a year, and more normally at every major international match by the manufacturers (who go to the matches to do so) and that’s another few points from the kit alone. So when you take the kit element out of it, our scores were right up there in contention for the gold medal.

Now don’t get me wrong – the lads on the other teams are lovely chaps, all of us are friends and they’d be the first to offer to help if anything went wrong in a match and vice versa (it’s not unheard of for competing nations to loan each other everything and anything on the line (yes, rifles included), and we usually stay in the same places and eat together) and I’m actually rather proud to get to compete with them and when Huckle shot that 598 we were all thrilled for him because he’s worked so hard for it.

It’s just that looking at those scores, there’s a part of me that wonders at how,  in only our free time outside of our full-time jobs, we’re close enough to full-time fully-funded Olympic teams that the gap could be closed with just money, and not that much money at that. And that part of me is desperately proud of what us little Irish shooters can manage to do.

But hey, that’s just me.


Anyway, we figured that we’d pack up the kit and head back to the chalet, maybe get a nap in the afternoon after lunch. So we walked out the door to find that that cloudbank in the eastern sky that morning had shown up after all:



Feck. Three inches or so of snow inside of four hours. This does not bode well…

Headed back...

Pooh and Piglet on a big adventure! :D


…but in the meantime it’s all pretty! 😀 (If fecking cold when all you’re wearing is underarmour and a light tracksuit designed for warmer climes!)

So back to the chalet, stopping along the way to photograph a very arty frozen beach (it was so cold, the wind was catching the spray from the waves and by the time it hit us, it had frozen into ice)…

Frozen beach

Frozen beach

Frozen beach

Frozen beach, The Hague

…and also in the campsite shop to do another round of shopping, picking up more chicken for dinner tonight, some herbs and spices (exotic things like pepper!), some hamburgers and baps for a lunchtime treat and a packet of chocolate biscuits because feck it, medal 😀

After lunch (burger-flipping!), we watched Caroline maintain her score from yesterday, Peter shooting well, and I got started on dinner (chicken marinated in ginger, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and white wine, cooked in barbecue sauce with tomatoes and mushrooms and other veg, served with egg-fried rice made from the first day’s rice pilaf leftovers – which won me the title of chef de partie, which roughly translates to wheresmebloodydinner 😀 ). After dinner, it was sauna time, and since it’s not every day in Ireland that you have both a sauna and a foot of snow on the ground…

Natural plunge pool!

Sauna, snowbank, sauna, snowbank, sauna, shower, bed. Perfect.


Oh, and, did I mention?




PS. We heard later (we only ran into the lads once during the entire trip because we were always on different shifts in the range) that the Northern Irish Pistol Team also won a bronze medal in their event — well done lads! Ain’t it a grand view from the podium? 😀 )

Intershoot 2012 Day One

Slept on a bit this morning, didn’t get out of bed until 1000h. We’re not shooting until 1545, no point getting in the way of the folks who have earlier schedules. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. It had nothing to do with the -8C temperatures at all, nope. Poor Caroline and Kealan walked to the range for an 0800 detail this morning and with the wind chill, it was down to -17C for them. Unreal.

After breakfast, I figure we’re going to have lunch in the chalet, and then on to the range for around 1430h or so. So I make a batch of chicken risotto, and we hoover that down. Aisling heads off for the range for her match and we get ourselves into our mental game and head off an hour or so after her. The plan’s simple enough:

  • 1430: Arrive at range
  • 1510: Assemble kit
  • 1525: Wall-watching
  • 1535: Preparation time
  • 1545: START!

Preparation is a bit complicated by a severe lack of space. This is your preparation area, in which you must assemble your kit and don your shooting suit (we showed up wearing the underarmour stuff under our tracksuits):

Prep area

It might look crowded, but that’s an illusion – there’s really far less space than there appears to be! You have the area of floor your kitbag occupies, the area your rifle case occupies, and you try to claim enough room to stand in and that’s it. And apparently this is better than last year. Yikes.

Anyway, I assemble the rifle, prep the kit, and do some wallwatching, then head to the line. I’m right down at the other end of the range from where we were training and the backdrop’s totally different with a big red door in the middle of the field, but that’s okay, and I sort out my position and shoot some decent sighters. But my head’s not really in the game – I’m just not keyed up enough, and things aren’t quite coming together right.


Shooting during day one


Shooting during day one


Intershoot Day 1

The wobbly settled down during the first string though, and it started coming together (slowly), but then something very weird happened in string four – every shot going into a tight-ish group off to the left. I thought it was position or sight picture, but nothing seemed to throw it, and eventually I got desperate and wound the sights… and that fixed it. Odd. And it cost me a few points too. But apart from the weirdness and my head not being in the game, the rifle and ammo felt fine, and there wasn’t anything horrible going wrong. I talked to Matt on the phone about it, got my head straight and figured to go back to the chalet, get some food (thanks for doing the cooking Caroline!) and some rest and do it all again tomorrow.

And the sauna helps a lot with the aches and pains 😀

In the meantime, Ray shot a 590! New Irish record, and the first time anyone from Ireland’s ever shot that high, domestically or internationally. Booya!

Intershoot 2012

Intershoot Logo

Intershoot’s sort of a special match from the Irish point of view. It’s traditionally been where most Irish shooters who go to the international circuit in airgun shooting make their debut appearance. It’s run by the same team (by and large) that runs RIAC, but it’s a bit bigger than RIAC and the scores are usually that bit higher and the competition that bit fiercer. It’s usually seen here as the first step above the level of going abroad to compete in a national championships match overseas (which is usually done as part of a club team rather than the Irish team). It’s close enough that the logistics aren’t absurdly hard, but far away enough and with enough of the bigger names on the circuit shooting there, for it to have that feel of an international competition. It’s usually used as a warm-up match for a season by a lot of the bigger names on the circuit in Europe for similar reasons. So when I got the okay to go as part of the Irish Squad going to Intershoot, it was a bit of a deal for me.

But some preliminary work had to be done – that jacket, for a start, had to go. But spending a grand on a new Kustermann custom-made suit wasn’t going to be happening, because I knew I wouldn’t be shooting after Intershoot (Biscuit being born in March means the plan needs tweaking – more on that in a later post; and why get a custom-made suit before (a) losing weight and (b) seeing the post-2012 ISSF rules on clothing?). So I called the other Intershoot :D, and they bent over backwards to help, sending down several of the basic off-the-rails Gehmann 40x series of jackets, letting me choose one and then post the rest back after testing. Brilliant. I wound up going with a Gehmann 404 jacket which fit fairly well on the torso (it might have been a centimeter too long, but only barely), but whose arms were like stovepipes and which were in dire need of tailoring. I’m not a tailor so I just cut them off 😀 Well, half-off anyway, and used a sewing awl to crimp in the excess on the left arm. Ugly, messy job, but it tidied it up enough to be usable, so that was fine by me. Backside hauled from fire by Ryan and Sam yet again.

I also needed better pellets, but that’s another blog post (it’s too good a tale not to tell on its own).

Training continued; logistics arrangements were made; flights were booked; and the departure day eventually rolled around. I said goodbye to Herself Indoors, now quite heavily pregnant but planning to spend most of the time I was away with her family, just in case; and I headed for the airport. Traffic delayed me by a few minutes, but nothing too serious; got on the bus from long-term parking and was just getting off it when I got a text that the others were headed through security. No worries, I’ve gone through security solo a few times, all the paperwork’s in order, I’ll be at most five minutes behind them, it’ll be grand. Hang on, what do you mean, my flight’s leaving from Terminal 2? Feck, they’ve only moved Aer Lingus since the last time I was here. Sod. Off we go to Terminal 2, on foot. Given that Terminal 2 had a former DURC captain overseeing its handover, you’d have thought there’d be a fast way to move rifle cases and kit around in it, but noooooooo…. 😀

Anyway, aside from that whoopsie, all went quite well. Loads of time after security to grab coffee and a croissant and let the team all gather up, to buy the various things you can’t take through security that you’ll need for a 5-day stint at a match (like toothpaste, foot powder, shower gel and so on), and we headed for the plane when the gate opened. Uneventful flight, no problems with bags on the far end (Schipol is fine as a terminal point in a trip with firearms; not so much if you’re just passing through though), customs were polite and efficient and wished us well, and on we went. We got a minivan (through a bit of arm-chancing 😀 ) out to the camping site where we’d be staying (rent a chalet for seven for a week, and it costs each person the same for the week as it would have for one night in the official hotel; plus, the chalet’s within walking distance from the range and is more comfortable). We arrived well after dark, got lost, got unlost, met up with Peter who was driving there directly from the UK, and stashed the gear and settled in with a cup of tea and divvied up the rooms. We then walked over to the local diner/restaurant place to get something to eat, not having any food stocks in yet. They did a nice steak, fantastic chips, nowhere near enough calories in the meal (just like RIAC), and had no english menus at all so we all struggled for 20 minutes trying to translate what the items on the menu were… except for Aisling, who didn’t understand why we hadn’t all noticed the twelve foot tall illuminated english menu on a sign outside the door  🙄 . Well, feck it, it was freezing cold and we were tired 😀 The meal went well and we headed back through the -4C breezy evening. The weather was supposed to be cold, but it felt colder than had been predicted, so we settled back into the chalet with a hot cup of tea and turned in for the night.

The following day was going to be equipment control, training and registration, but EC wasn’t until 1600h that day. So a really cold wake-up (it’s now -6C, wasn’t supposed to be this cold for a few days!), breakfast (microwave porridge is the devil’s tadpole-spawn, sorry guys, never going to happen), and then we split up, some going to the campsite shop and on a general recce of the area, and some (myself included) going to the official hotel to handle registration and on to the local Lidl or Aldi to stock up on supplies for the coming days. Registration was relatively trouble-free, and while Kealan took care of that, myself and Peter were free to live the high life of an international target shooter…

The good life...

For those wondering, this high life consists of free hotel wifi, the wrong coffee (ask for an espresso macchiato, get a latte macchiato which is the polar opposite of a proper macchiato – instead of an espresso stained with a bare teaspoon of milk to cut the bitterness, you get milk stained with a bare teaspoon of espresso to… well, I don’t know what it’s meant to do, but it wasn’t doing very much for me). Anyway. Checked the internet weather forecasts, and aw crap, the cold snap’s gotten colder than the forecasters predicted. We hit -6C this morning, and it’s due to fall to -10C to -12C for the next few days. Yay. Good thing I have my finland snow coat; not so good is that now we’ll really be burning calories just to stay warm.

After this, to Aldi, where we tried finding everything on the list of things you need to cook for seven adults for five days in a sports event. Which is a lot. A metric buttload, in fact. Coffee filters and grounds, rice, pasta, chicken stock cubes, eggs, porridge oats, bacon lardons (ie. small strips of cut-up rashers), garlic, tomato pasatta (because we couldn’t find canned tomatoes), fruit (bananas, apples, oranges, etc), olive oil, sausages, italian herb mix, salt, butter, bread, cereal, 3kg of beef mince and 24 or so chicken breasts; and that was just the stuff we were able to find, we were still left with a list just as long of stuff we couldn’t find and we had to do two runs to the campsite shop during the five days for things like white wine (down boy, it goes in the bolognaise, nobody was drinking in the house :D), toilet paper, kitchen roll, cous cous, rubbish bags, frozen peas, frozen veg mix, risotto rice and yet more chicken (and hamburgers and a small pack of chocolate biscuits for one lunchtime treat for the rifle team 😀 ).

It was after we got back to the chalet and I tried cooking lunch that I found we had no chef’s knife of any description.

Look, if you don’t cook, or just don’t have a decent knife, let me clue you in. That’s a Big Deal. A Major Problem, in fact. The chef’s knife is the one indispensible tool in the kitchen, without it, you’re not cooking anything, you’re microwaving ready meals at best. When you have seven athletes at a big event? You need a chef’s knife. It’s the very first thing on my list of Notes for Next Time – bring a damn knife. Five days, we spent cooking, myself and Caroline, and the only sharp usable knife we had was this:

Gerber Ripstop 2

That’s a Gerber Ripstop 2. It’s my Gerber Ripstop 2. Why do I have it? Because it’s the perfect size (the blade is about one-and-a-half inches long) to open parcels, cut tie-wraps in a data center when doing recabling, and that sort of very small quick job. And really, it’s not the perfect size for anything else, it’s a pocket knife. You ever try to cook a meal just using your pocket knife? Let me tell you, it’s sub-optimal 😀


We get back to the chalet, I cook up some pasta and bolognaise sauce (yes, there’s milk in it, that’s how it’s made 😀 ) which we all hoover down; we load the rifles and kit into Peter’s car and he drives them to the range for us, and we walk over to the range for EC and official training, and to get our first look at where we’ll be shooting.

First look at the range

Waiting for the rifles and kit to arrive

Firing point

If you look closely there, you can see a small white webcam up on the back wall, just above the backboards between firing points 52 and 53; that was one of the ones broadcasting to the web during matches. Same electronic targets as used in RIAC in December (well, it’s the same people running things 😀 ), but the thing that we noted here and really noticed while shooting, was that the targets felt low. Several inches lower than we were used to in fact. There was apparently more prep area this year than last year, but it still looked incredibly crowded to us newbies. Around this time, Peter arrived up with the rifles and kit and we helped unload them, and got down to doing some training, reasoning that we’d wait until the initial EC rush ended before going over.

Official Training

Training went okay, some buttplate adjustment was needed to get on the target at all, and after the first ten shots (a 90 because I was dialing in the sights for a new batch of pellets in a new head size), the groups felt okay, I was seeing 96s going in so I was comfortable enough. I put about 20 shots down after settling in, then broke and went to do EC, planning on coming back and doing ten or so more after EC, assuming all was okay. EC was easy enough, only the rifle was checked and that I knew was well within the limits on all the measurements. Queueing for our accreditation cards, however, took forever…

The queue for accreditation

I suppose I’m just being bitter about the queue, I know they were having technical difficulties. It’s just that after the guts of an hour for queueing, this is what I got as a result:

Dodgy ID #72

Now I’m a realistic sort of person most of the time, I’m under few illusions about ID photos, but would it kill the entire universe if once, just once, I didn’t look like the unabomber in an official ID photo? Seriously?


Paul and I during official training

Back to the line, back into my kit, and ten or so more rounds downrange. All felt grand, so I stepped away from the line, packed kit into kitbags and we locked all our stuff away in the designated area and wandered back to the chalet to eat and get some sleep before tomorrow’s match. I’m cooking, so I do my rice pilaf for carbs and chicken poached in a tomato sauce for protein, which goes down fairly well, with only the one small mishap:

Oh for feck's sake...

I seared my finger on the metal handle of one of the two pots of chicken while cooking dinner.  My trigger finger. Right on the point where it touches the trigger when shooting. The night before an international match.