The thing about breakthroughs is that you have to be able to repeat them consistently or they’re just flukes. So for the next few training sessions, the goal is to duplicate last Friday’s performance, even to fine-tune it. So along I went on tuesday with a single object in mind – replicate Friday
(Actually, it wasn’t that bad at all, just a few targets on the table and twenty feet of tape under the targets. Wish you’d put my fancy ear defenders away though guys 😀 )
So straight in, and first things first, record the new cheekpiece and buttplate position settings. Sometimes a cameraphone is exactly the right tool to have along 🙂
This done, straight into the kit, straight into position, and of course, straight into hassles. The new hand position is easily repeatable, once I’d remembered what the feeling at the base of the thunar muscle was like. But the elbow position just managed to elude me once more. Not by much – it felt like it was very, very close – but I would spend far too long setting up for the hold.
Had to change foot position as well, in order to bring my zero position round onto the target again (it had moved to the top right of the armour plate on the target:
And of course, with the foot position altered, other changes started creeping in. I did manage to keep most of it under control, but the groups tell the story directly – when everything was under control, the position is very solid and stable; but if I let the elbow go off even by a little, or let the hips swing up too far, everything goes off to one side or the other:
After some discussion with Geoff, I have a plan to try to combat this – thursday will see a slightly wider stance to try to combat the hip rise and make the elbow positioning more consistent. And the (now repaired after its near-fatal accident) camera will be going out on the new arm to get some better photos – trying to photograph your position for diagnosis with a hand-held cameraphone is worse than silly 😀
So at the WTSC open a weekend or two ago, Ray and I got to talking about training as a group, and last friday, himself and myself and Paul O’Boyle all tried showing up to train together on the WTSC range along with Matt Fox. The timing didn’t quite work out and so we had two groups training (me and Ray and then me and Paul and Matt) instead of one session, but it wasn’t the worst attempt to start something ever. Hopefully, it’ll grow to something really effective in time.
More immediately, I managed – with Matt’s help – to finally (a) sort out a problem with my head position I didn’t realise I had, and (b) figure out how to repeatably set up the hand position Geoff and I worked on the week before.
The head position was one of those things where you really needed someone watching you shoot closely to spot. Even now, looking back at the video from the last few months, I can’t see it – there’s just not enough resolution on the screen to spot it. The problem was that during my shot routine at the very end, my head rotates forward onto the cheekpiece:
When that works (as it was there), the head comes down to the cheekpiece and stays there. You should be looking straight through the rearsight at that point, every single time. But I wasn’t – I was coming down to the cheekpiece and then subconciously lifting off the cheekpiece by a millimetre or two and that was enough to throw the whole thing off. Matt had me raise the cheekpiece by half a squidge (it’s a technical term) and then my head position got very solid, the sight picture noticeably improved and the whole position just seemed to ‘click’ into place. It was a truly excellent feeling 😀
As to the hand position, it was quite vertical as you can see above, and I had a reference point for my thumb that let me repeat it – however, Geoff noticed that the rifle would start to come over onto my thumb muscle excessively, so we altered the hand position, and the rifle felt far more stable; but I hadn’t the reference points that let me repeat it easily until Friday.
First, run the left index finger back across the right edge of the rifle foreend until the first joint catches on the edge:
Then draw the hand back in towards me until the left edge of the rifle foreend meets the beginning of the thenar muscle (ie. the big muscle at the base of your thumb, in your palm; the foreend edge will lie along what palm-readers call the life-line). Then slide the whole hand back, maintaining the sense of contact at both points until the white seam of the top grip patch on the palm of the glove lines up with the rifle’s CoG mark:
Now curl the other fingers of the hand and the fingerpads should contact the top of the stock, but not the action or barrel of the rifle:
And now, after the lift, the elbow should drop into place on the hip – and if it needs to be re-dropped, the rifle stays snugly in the gap between thenar and hypothenar, cushioned by a carpal ligament and utterly stable. Most excellent.
So now, the focus on training switches from technical experiment to working on core stability and balance. At least with the position; one of the other fun things from Friday night was that Ray and myself tested my rifle setup for accuracy. The test is simple enough – take a kneeling roll and use it as a support for the foreend and while seated, shoot ten shots from the shoulder with your rifle, taking as much time as needed. If you can exceed 105 with 10 shots (scored decimally), then there’s no problem at all. With my normal RWS R10 4.50mm pellets, we shot just under 103, and the group was a bit side-to-side loose.
The group was significantly tighter and more even – the R50s spread out side-to-side (but held vertically) while the Qlang Yuan pellets kept a nice regular, tight group. I’m not quite convinced I need to batch test yet, but I’m about half-way to believing it’d be a good idea. I have asked Geoff to try to get in a few tins from RWS in a range of sizes from 4.48 to 4.52 so I can test for size at least, if not batch. I’d rather stick with the RWS because they’re easier to source (not to mention that buying individually packaged trays of pellets like the QY pellets above is just a wee bit much even for me 😀 ). If they don’t group though, there’s QY, H&N and JSB pellets to choose from now, so something will fit my rifle well enough 😀
And I’ve also sorted out getting my eyes retested (well, eye – it’s just for the shooting lens that I’m testing) shortly – it’s darn handy when the optometrist is also a shooter. The results of that should be interesting, it’s been nearly a decade since I was last tested.
All in all, a really highly productive training session!
So today was the first chance I got to do any real training on the Megalinks. It wasn’t the best day’s shooting – my gym time was stepped up a bit this morning and I was shattered – but it wasn’t too horrible. Shooting in just the jacket and street clothes is really highlighting my problems with sway and settling, which is good in the long term, but a right royal kick in the gut in the short term. Plus, I’m going to have to start working on core strength before I mangle my back again.
Setup was easy, though I can’t say it was any faster than with paper targets. You notice the noise from the Megalinks after every shot as they wind on the paper roll. You would miss it in UCD over the fan noise; not sure how loud it is in Rathdrum; but in WTSC it’s very, very noticable, even distracting.
As I said, big problems with sway at the start (as well as trying to dial in the sights). By the end, an hour in, I’d gotten something of a handle on things, but I was still getting twitches and serious fliers as a result of them:
So I stopped there as I didn’t think I was getting very far. I need to start doing some balance work every day, that’s all there is to it really. Where the heck I find the time for that, I don’t know.
Since the last day when we set everything up, the second Megalink target has been changed over from air pistol to air rifle, as I thought it would be:
And someone’s already had the first inevitable whoopsie with the targets 😀
Meh, it’s armor plate, that’s what it’s there for. I bet it was still mortifying though!