Irish Olympic target shooting

Centra Duplex

I got one of these (direct from MEC, but you can get them from Intershoot.co.uk now) a while ago to try out.

Centra Duplex parts unpacked...

Looked great, but had a few problems – for a start, my rearsight got a little complicated:

All we need now is a kitchen sink...

Okay, so some of that got stripped off, but even after that, it was still a bit… busy:

Centra Duplex in match configuration

Now, I have a fairly pronounced cant on the rifle, so that introduced another problem – the duplex is only anchored at the top and I don’t know if it’s my one alone or the design, but when you cant it, the iris doesn’t hang vertically, it moves slightly to one side and makes a mess of your sight picture, so you’re fiddling with its adjustment a fair bit to try to get everything aligned. And speaking of which, the sight picture itself gets a bit more complicated as well:

Centra Duplex Sight Picture

The problem is that the gap between the rear iris ring on the outside and the middle ring of the duplex is just as critical as the centering of the foresight ring in the rear iris, and unless the duplex is perfectly centered in the rear iris – and locked solidly in place – then you get a sight picture like the one above, and if you’re mid-match and fixating on the target, you don’t notice the small drift offcenter of the duplex in the rear iris.

Now I know these can work; I saw one or two being used to good effect in Intershoot and in RIAC by the Dutch team (it’s hard to see but look at the rearsight of Peter, second from the left in the photo):


But for me, the Duplex is now sitting in the pile of Bits I Bought Because They Were A Good Idea At The Time But They Haven’t Worked Out So Far But Maybe With A Bit Of Work They Will Later On…

Some suggestions for the ISSF

The new post-London rule changes from ISSF are out, and some of them aren’t great at all. But there’s still time to change things before November, and in the hope that someone somewhere might read this to the right person at some point, I thought I’d put up a few suggestions for ISSF to achieve their stated goal:

All Olympic sports today must become more dynamic, attract more fans, engage the public with more drama and provide great shows for youth, spectators, television and the media.

As I’ve said many times before in many places, the problem with being a spectator of ISSF shooting is not that it’s boring; it’s that you can’t see it.

Look at football (any kind of football) and you see people spread out over a large physical area and a visible ball being passed around as the visually distinct teams try to move it to a visually identifiable goal. You can see the game happen, as it happens.

In shooting the game is too small to see with the naked eye from the stands, and unless you know what you’re looking for, it’s not visible to the naked eye from even a few feet away. The average punter won’t notice Debevec’s position being any different from Emmon’s in kneeling; won’t notice the signs that Piasecki is having a good day or a bad; won’t be able to tell who’s really handling the pressure in a finals. That is the challange you have to overcome. Do that, and you’ll get interested fans and drama and great shows. Changing the number of belt loops won’t change that.

Look at the London Olympics, specifically the Mens Air Rifle Finals. The gold medal came down to the last shot, and the audience went wild watching that last shot.

Why did they go wild? Was it the tension caused by several hundred people watching one man standing there on the line taking the final shot of the match, everyone knowing he would win or lose the gold medal depending on whether his score was higher or lower than a 9.7? Was it seeing that shot land and knowing instantly that he’d won it? Was it the commentator taking the entire audience to that point by walking them through the progression of the finals and winding them up for that final shot?

Or was it down to the blinders being smaller? The belt loops fewer? The buttplate being restricted from turning on an axis parallel to the boreline of the rifle? The shooter walking in a normal fashion? The dress code being adhered to? I don’t think so.

So with that in mind, here are my suggestions for how to meet that challange and achive the goal ISSF has set itself:

  • Make it mandatory for World Cup level events and above to have wireless Noptel/Scatt/Rika electronic trainer setups attached to barrels for finals and presented on screens above the shooter. Show the spectators the shooter’s approach to the target, their settling, their hold and their wobble and their triggering. We’ve tried that before in a Eurosport shooting match some years ago and it was magnificent – and more to the point, we know it can be done and how…
  • Make it a contractual obligation with Suis Ascor, Megalink and any other ISSF-approved electronic target manufacturer to produce software that lets you share scores live on the web (and by software, I mean software that works well, is robust and easy to use, not the poke-your-own-eyes-out-with-a-butternut-squash nightmare they currently have). Every shot, as it’s fired, should be up on the web, whether on a custom website or on Facebook or Twitter or all three. It isn’t rocket science, it’s a fairly simple task, using standard well-understood tools (I say this as an engineer who’s done this for a while).
  • Hire the commentator from the London Games to be the official ISSF commentator on the ISSF youtube channel and for all ISSF major events in the future.
  • Make it mandatory to use Twitter and Facebook duing ISSF major events and to up the amount of interaction we see. One single press release with an image from an event was a good step forward, ten years ago; today it’s just not cutting it, and the demographic ISSF want to capture is used to far more. More than half the shooters from the international circuit are on Facebook, and lots are on Twitter as well. If you can access both from a mobile phone, and you have professionally paid PROs at these events, then you can tweet/facebook from them too.
  • Drop this idea of resetting scores to zero for finals. If you have to do this duelling model for finals – and you don’t, London proved that – you can do it without doing the resetting of scores. Archery’s been doing that for twenty years now. And beware – if you show a wildly different style of shooting to the public in the finals than they’d encounter when they try the sport themselves, you’ll be sabotaging yourself…

 

New ISSF Rules for 2013-2016

The new, much-anticipated, rule changes for post-London are now out (or at least, a summary of them) and are the subject of much discussion around the web at the moment.

New ISSF RULES 2012

Lots of changes to times for matches, to kit, and a scarily inexact comment about banning Vibration Reduction Systems from all rifles and pistols, without a clear definition of what those would be.

Not comforting reading and while most of the changes are things we could live with, and a few are changes that will make events more efficient and which aren’t bad ideas in and of themselves; I still think the thinking behind these changes is failing to acknowledge one very fundamental principle. All of these changes are being justified by wanting to make the sport more exciting and accessible to the general public. But none of these changes are things the general public will ever see or notice. Belt loops, shoe shapes, times during qualifications – nobody ever sees those unless they’re eager to see them, and if they’re eager to see them, then they’re not the demographic the ISSF is looking to attract, they’re the demographic we already have.

Look at London, and ask yourself – why were the crowd going wild for the last shot of the Mens Air Rifle Finals?

Was it the tension caused by several hundred people watching one man standing there on the line taking the final shot of the match, everyone knowing he would win or lose the gold medal depending on whether his score was higher or lower than a 9.7? Was it seeing that shot land and knowing instantly that he’d won it? Was it the commentator taking the entire audience to that point by walking them through the progression of the finals and winding them up for that final shot?

Or was it down to the blinders being smaller? The belt loops fewer? The buttplate being restricted from turning on an axis parallel to the boreline of the rifle? The shooter walking in a normal fashion? The dress code being adhered to?

I don’t think it was any of the latter, do you?

If you want to bring in a spectator who knows nothing of the sport and get them excited, you have to show the spectator what you’re doing. Look at football (any kind of football) and you see people spread out over a large physical area and a visible ball being passed around as the visually distinct teams try to move it to a visually identifiable goal. You can see the game happen as it happens.

In shooting the game is too small to see with the naked eye from the stands, and unless you know what you’re looking for, it’s not visible to the naked eye from even a few feet away. The average punter won’t notice Debevec’s position being any different from Emmon’s in kneeling; won’t notice the signs that Piasecki is having a good day or a bad; won’t be able to tell who’s really handling the pressure in a finals. Unless you show them, with big screens showing electronic target results, cameras showing the shooters close-up, commentators explaining the state of play for neophytes, even things like strapping noptels or the like to the rifles.

You want to attract people to our sport? Do that. Don’t write rules that nobody understands and that seem to ban every firearm made since the late 80s!

 

This smells of change for change’s sake, and change made without sufficient analysis or data. And that’s bad news for our sport.

Back on the range…

Time to dip the toes back in the water, so I went to shoot pistol at the UCD range today (only 8km away, not bad…)

Lots of old faces showing up again, some because the range is finally open again after a great upgrade to the lighting, and some because they were watching the Olympics and want back in (and welcome!) 🙂

The shooting itself was okay, I mean, I’m no great pistol shooter but I can enjoy it – I still haven’t hit my goal (four years on!) of shooting a full match with the Izzy without dumping a shot into the white, but I’ll keep plinking. Some of the others were just pounding away on the ten ring though, and with everything from Izzys to the new Walther LP400, which was nice to see. Me, I didn’t get my head back into the game until the final string, and by that time the arm muscles had given up and gone home 😀 But it was nice finding the mental still point again.

Now, to figure out how to get back to regular training. There’s probably a Rika in my future…

Some photos:

Lighting upgrade to the UCD range

New lights – 4.5kW of high frequency florescents. Makes an *enormous* difference to the shooting – it’s like a whole new range!

John giving an example of what the Izzy can do

Jim back on the line after years away

 

Caroline back for the first shoot since Intershoot

 

Liz coming back and taking second in the ladies' 40-shot...

 

Joe drilling out the ten ring

 

Firing line, detail 1

 

Firing line, detail 2

 

Aisling setting a new PB and new club record (387)

 

 

 

Playmobil finals hall

So obviously, when you have a kid, they need toys. And naturally, no good parent gives their kids toys untested, right?

5202 Playmobil Target Shooter

5202 Playmobil Target Shooter

:mrgreen:

Besides, this beats toy soldiers any day. (And more seriously for a moment, it’s nice to see the sport get this kind of exposure with kids). So, let’s see, need eight for a finals hall…

Over the shoulder

 

From the target line...

 

Firing line (yes, it's to scale!)

 

Note the to-scale firing line :D

 

But is this rifle or pistol we're shooting here?

 

The new finals hall :)

 

Leaving aside the giggles for a moment (if you can), our sport gets very little good publicity. Even this week, in the middle of one of the most outstanding Olympic Games in a long while (in terms of performance standards), despite the good image being protrayed, we had medal winning Olympic shooters having to tell the press that our sport isn’t connected to gun violence. The fencers weren’t asked about edged weapon violence despite a similar event happening at the same time in Bejing; boxers aren’t asked to justify their sport in the light of drunken idiots beating each other up outside the pub at closing time; dressage riders aren’t asked about stray ponies being mistreated in inner city Dublin. But shooters get vilified all the time, precisely because we aren’t a familiar, known quantity. The Olympics do a huge amount to help with this, but they’re out of the news cycle for four years at a time. So silly toys like this one, which show what our sport looks like so that we’re a familiar image from a person’s childhood; that’s not a silly end result. It’s wonderful.

Frankly, if you like shooting, I think you should go search for a few of these and buy them now, to give out as birthday and xmas presents later. It’s not like they’ll break the bank, they worked out at about a fiver each on ebay…

Say hello everyone.

 

Baby Dennehy, born today around 1400h, weight 8lb on the nose, Mom and Baby all fine and resting  while shellshocked

Baby Dennehy

Baby Dennehy

Old plan, New plan

With biscuit showing up on the scene, my mid-to-long-term plan needed some adjustment. The plan was:

  • Reach 570 during the summer training session, either in UCD at the June 10 match or at a match afterwards (dependant on weight loss rate and delivery date for the new jacket)
  • Hit Tier 3 selection score (573) to qualify for RIAC and Intershoot during the opening matches of the domestic season (October/November)
  • Shoot in RIAC (December in Luxembourg)
  • Hit Tier 2 selection score (577) to qualify for the European championships (either in RIAC or in domestic matches)
  • Shoot in Intershoot (February 2-4 in the Hague)
  • Shoot in the European Championships (February 14-20 in Finland)
  • Hit Tier 1 selection score (583) to qualify for the World Cup series of matches (either in Intershoot or in domestic matches)
  • Shoot in the ISSF World Cup (April 17-29 in London)
  • Shoot in the ISSF World Cup (May 13-20 in Milan)
  • Shoot in the ISSF World Cup (May 20-27 in Munich)

This worked reasonably well; I was hitting 570 in training around mid-June; shot a 574 in UCD just before Intershoot, shot in RIAC and Intershoot, but never got the weight down low enough to get the new shooting suit and I think (and Matt agrees) that that slowed progression a fair amount on the score front. But the actual technique wasn’t suffering too badly; and I thought Intershoot went pretty well. The Europeans, the World Cups are all off the table this year because biscuit was due in mid-March (in a few days actually) and I didn’t really want to leave home and there was too much to do beforehand. So I thought about the next year or two, talked it over with Matt, went through a draft or two and this is my new mid-to-long-term training plan. It’s liable to change as training and competition progresses, though I’ll try to blog major changes and evaluations as they happen 🙂

  • Get physical fitness under control by Autumn (meaning weight down to the 220-240lb region and general aerobic fitness and flexibilty improved upon)
  • Drop out of rifle shooting (or even all shooting) for a 3-6 month period after Biscuit is born (because 4am feedings and competitive target shooting at the international level don’t mix too well)
  • Buy New Equipment (new jacket, new trousers, new boots, new rifle – but wait until after the new ISSF rules are announced)
  • Resume training and competing in rifle matches domestically; get back up past the MQS level (by October/November)
  • Shoot in RIAC 2012 (December in Luxembourg)
  • Hit Tier 2 selection score (577) to qualify for the 2013 European championships (either in RIAC or in domestic matches)
  • Shoot in Intershoot 2013 (January 31-February 2 in the Hague)
  • Shoot in the 2013 European 10m Airgun Championships (February 25-March 3 in Denmark)
  • Hit Tier 1 selection score (583) to qualify for the World Cup series of matches (either in Intershoot or in domestic matches)
  • Shoot in an ISSF World Cup (2013 dates not yet released by ISSF)

The last match…

…for a while at least. With biscuit’s due date rapidly incoming, rifle training is shut down for now, and shooting pistol in the UCD Open is the last match I’ll be in for a while, and it’s purely as a plinking match for me, a bit of fun. So I grabbed the Izzy case and wandered over to UCD, said hi to folks and set up on the firing point, and take my first sighter shot:

Sighter shot

You know what? Feck that, that’ll do 😀 Went straight into the match after that (hey, it’s for fun, right? 😀 )

The rest of the match went quite well, I still haven’t achieved my goal of shooting a full match with no shots in the white, but it was closer this time and I broke 500 so that was a good match scorewise. I forced myself to put down the pistol for 30 seconds between each shot for the first 40 shots; then took a longish break and then came back and shot the last 20 shots non-stop quite quickly; I think the results show the whole shoot-a-string-and-then-take-a-break approach beats the pause-between-each-shot approach.

UCD Air Open II

UCD Air Rifle Open II

And it’s a nice strong finish to go out on, at least for a few months 🙂

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…

10point9 is Stephen Fry proof thanks to caching by WP Super Cache

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