Ooooo… new wireless SCATT sensor…

For home training, or for training on the range, it’s close to impossible to replace something like a SCATT (or RIKA or Noptel) trainer. However, the sensor you have to sling under your rifle or pistol is a bit of a pain – it’s fiddly to put on, fiddly to take off, fiddly to adjust, and the wire drags no matter how careful you are with it, so it can put you off.

So this looks like a very neat piece of useful kit :

SCATT WS-1
The big frame on the left is the normal end frame, most of the systems use one of these, no big deal. The sensor on the other hand, is a nice little change:

Scatt WS-1 sensor

 

Wireless. Excellent. 🙂 You could potentially mount this thing permanently to your rifle and that way it’d be the same setup for training and for competition, and you might even be able to rig up a more sturdy permanent mount too.

The only drawback seems to be the €1300-or-so price tag. Ouch…

Practice match

So the plan for this evening was to shoot a practice 60-shot match. With the UCD Open coming up on the 17th, I thought practice matches for the next few sessions would be a good idea. So I got to the range about 1830h and got kit prepped and ready, and started my prep time at 1900h. And straight into sweating and feeling like I was in a straitjacket and having issues with flexibility of the jacket and so on. Not a great start. It wasn’t helped by the sighters – that first shot was well out in to the white and gave me something to look at for the rest of the match:

Sighters
Sighters

The reason the sights were so far out was a purely mechanical one that I spotted on Friday and which Paul confirmed – if you’re putting on the MEC rearsight and just slide it on the rail and tighten the clamp, it clamps like so:

MEC Free rearsight clamped without pressure
MEC Free rearsight clamped without pressure

The weight of the rearsight is all behind the clamp, and you can see it’s making it lean back a little. Tightening the clamp won’t bring it down onto the rail at the nose of the sights, and you can’t consistently replicate the angle it finally comes to with the rail if you just tighten the clamp. So you’d be sighting in every time you put on the rearsight. Friday saw me zeroed in with the rearsight at an angle like this. Today, instead, I did what I’d planned to, and applied pressure at the nose of the rearsight to hold it down to the rail, and then clamped it in place:

MEC Free rearsight clamped with pressure on the nose
MEC Free rearsight clamped with pressure on the nose

The difference may not look like much, but it’s there and visible and rather critical – that much of a change takes you from an inner ten to an outer two, right out in the white of the card. It took seventy-odd clicks to get back to the inner ten…

Once the sighters were done, I was now looking at being behind on my time plan (which is 10 min for sighters, 90 seconds per match shot, and 5 mins in reserve), and of course, that’s stress, and I’m still watching to fine-tune sights. I didn’t handle the mental game well for the first string as a result and it was awful:

String 1
String 1

Too high, and too much wobble. By this point, I’m still sweating and fighting the jacket; but the thing about a horrible start is that your mind decides that the match is now lost (which, to be fair, it is) so it might as well relax – exactly the thing you’ve been trying to get it to do for the last ten shots…

String 2
String 2

And immediately things start to improve. Yes, it’s not perfect or even average yet, but it’s getting better. Odd fliers out to the right hand side though. So I put the head down and get on with the shooting, figuring that I want to walk away as it’s so bad, but I need the physical acclimatisation if nothing else…

String 3
String 3
String 3 closeup
String 3 closeup

And feck. That’s really quite good. Dammit. Sights are a bit low and left, and I have one flier at six o’clock, but that’s a nice group apart from that (and by this time, I’m actually back in the flow with a solid-feeling platform in my position and my temperature and breathing are back to normal). So I tweak the sights a bit and go back to it…

String 4
String 4
String 4 closeup
String 4 closeup

Mother-loving son of a ….

That wouldhave been my first tun in air rifle.

Gah. Okay, head back down, on with it, time’s pressing now…

String 5
String 5
String 5 closeup
String 5 closeup

Oh sweet suffering cats. I know the last shot was a complete flier, but why am I drifting to the right here? Some sort of sight picture problem perhaps. On with it, time’s ticking…

String 6
String 6
String 6 closeup
String 6 closeup

And feck. Finished two minutes after the time limit, so shots 9 and 10 of that string wouldn’t count – not that that last shot did me any favours – though I knew the moment it broke that it was bad; the trigger just broke before I was ready for it. No idea where the other flier came from though.

Still. 560 with an 88 (and a 98 with an 8) is not bad. The scores histogram shows 32×10, 18×9, 9×8 and 1×7; compared to the last good match I had (the DURC Open back in November before all the new changes), that’s pretty okay (that one was 29×10, 26×9, 5×8). Tidy up the start and watch the sights adjustments, and that would be a pretty decent score. And that’s after a long day in the office too.

A few more practice matches needed, but Sunday is looking good so far…

Buttons and lessons

A pretty good evening’s training tonight. Got to the range around half seven and after the normal breathing exercises (look, if you drive for an hour in Irish traffic to get to the range, some deep breathing is pretty mandatory to get rid of the terror or urge to kill, depending on which end of the traffic you were on), some dry-firing for an hour or so, working on focussing on the process instead of the result. And of course, some chat over the latest toys in the Centra/MEC catalog with the others 😀

Friday nights are turning into the club training night again, with Matt, myself, Paul and Ashling now training regularly there, which is nice to see again.

Adjusted the jacket a bit as well – I’ve not been bothering with the fourth and fifth buttons on the jacket as when I started back late last year, they wouldn’t close properly. 30lb lost since then, so I’ve shot with the fourth closed, but I noticed that while the belly’s not the problem anymore, the shape of the jacket is still all wrong, and it was fighting the position and my breathing; moved the button about an inch with Matt’s help and suddenly it’s gone from fighting me to working with me. Excellent. More dry-firing..

And then after the dry-firing, some live-firing, and I noticed the sights were off, deep in the 8-ring, which was odd as yesterday they were fine. I adjusted them, and shot a ten-shot string for score:

Ten-shot string for score

Not perfect, the sights were a few clicks out at the start (about six in total – the Free is about 9-10 clicks per ring), but after I recovered that, the rest were fairly on target. If I’d shot the string with the sights on, it’d have been a 99. Not bad for a crummy jacket…

Of course, never a night without finding a new problem – while taking the rifle apart, I noticed that the Free rearsight, even though it was clamped to the rail securely, was not flat on the rail – it was tipped ever so slightly backwards (I think it’s because it won’t sit flat on a surface due to its design, and the clamp doesn’t drag it down and forward as you tighten it). Which, if it’s not tipping a consistent amount – and I don’t see how it could be – would explain why I keep having to adjust my sights on the same range without changing the rifle setup in between days.

Oh well. From now on, when assembling the rifle, press down on the front of the MEC rearsight, then tighten the clamp. Kinda wish that was in the thing’s manual…

Refocussing

A straightforward enough day’s training, with a few dry-firing shots to warm up and then about 30 shots live. Matt turned away the screen for the last 15-20 shots, showing that I’ve left my focus slip from process to result:

Last six training shots
Last six training shots

That last shot was knocked out by a rather untimely pain in the left leg (hooray for nerve damage 🙁 ). The rest of the group wasn’t too bad; so if I don’t let the focus slip, the results aren’t so bad. So the training focus is pretty obvious 🙂

 

Mind you, Paul’s groups are currently better! 😀

Paul's last ten-shot string
Paul's last ten-shot string

Trigger work

After last Friday’s thoughts on trigger weight, today was the put-it-into-practice day. Reduced the trigger weight down to the 20-40g range (no gauge to measure exactly I’m afraid). Then adjusted six other things to get the same length of pull on both stages and weight on the first stage of the trigger that I had before and to ensure the sear engagement was correct – the match 54 trigger Anschutz uses is definitely excellent, but adjusting it isn’t really a tweak-one-screw-and-you’re-done sort of job…

 

Match 54 Trigger
Match 54 Trigger diagram

 

Match 54 Trigger
Match 54 Trigger Photo

 

Once that was done, it was a lot of dry-firing to get used to the new trigger weight. It’s a pretty large change since the triggering is such a major thing in target shooting, but it was going reasonably well after a half-hour or so. But the ten-shot series shot at the end wasn’t so great, something else crept in (Matt thinks there was a problem in my sight picture, I think I might just have been tired – it had been a rather longish day at work before coming out to WTSC).

 

Ten-shot string composite
Ten-shot string composite

 

 

Either way, we get to do this again on Thursday and Friday, just dry-firing and visualising and dry-firing and firing the occasional live shot just to check on things. Change one major thing, shoot a hundred shots to see if it’s worth shooting the next nine hundred to properly test it…

Practice, practice, practice…

Some (well, it should be most, but I’m not there yet) days aren’t about experimenting and changing stuff, but just practicing what we’ve changed. Today was one of those days. Just dry-firing and visualising, and more dry-firing. At the end of the night, fired one live shot to check all was well.

Test shot, end of the night
Test shot, end of the night

Seemed okay to me.

We did find though, while comparing triggers on the Steyr LG100 and my Anschutz 2002CA that my trigger was set very heavy compared to the others – somewhere around the 80-100g level or so. Next time, that has to get dialled down – a lighter trigger would mean a smoother release and less of the pulling off to one side we’ve been seeing in the RIKA.

DIY barrel weight plus proper mental game equals tens!

Yesterday was a shorter training run than tuesdays, only about an hour or so spent shooting on the line, but there were non-shooting activities to get through as well, with cleaning the rifle with my new cleaning kit (more on that in another post) and adding a weight at the muzzle end of the barrel.

The weight proved awkward – we didn’t have any of the over-barrel weights I was hoping to use and my anschutz-specific barrel weight (the only one I have to hand) is on a shelf over the workbench in DURC which is awkward when you’re in WTSC 😀 I scoured around looking for unused weights but didn’t find anything that would fit, and then I found some leftover lead from when we were making up the weights for my home training setup (which is a wooden stock weighed with lead to let me do balance work at home). A bit of rolling and a lot of electrical tape later and viola, a standard WTSC bodge job homemade barrel weight 🙂

DIY barrel weight

Some of the more observant readers may have noticed that this homemade contraption is hanging a little low and that the air cylinder appears to be closer to the barrel than the edge of the weight… and they’d be correct. On dissassembling the rifle after training, I found that the weight prevented removal of the cylinder, and as you can see, it’s taped in place. So out with the penknife, cut away all the tape, then rework the weight so that it’s thinner underneath and all the weight’s up above the barrel:

 

DIY barrel weight, Mk2
DIY barrel weight, Mk2
DIY barrel weight, Mk2
DIY barrel weight, Mk2

 

The air cylinder can now be inserted and removed at will, and as soon as the match on Sunday’s over, I’ll get something a little less… homemade sorted out.

The idea behind doing this in the first place was simple enough – a little weight out at the far end of the barrel will add to the barrel’s inertia and make it easier to reduce side-to-side wobble in the hold. Allegedly. In theory. I have to say that I think there was an improvement, but it’ll take more RIKA time tonight to tell for sure and to quantify it. I’ll have to shoot on better shooting days than last night (when my position and hold didn’t feel as solid as they have on other days) in order to confirm it.

However, last night did have some good results. I was working on the hold initially, but Matt changed focus a few shots in after noticing that when I was settling towards the pre-aim, the RIKA showed me hovering off to the top right of the target, and then moving in during the preaim; and then as I was dropping my head to the cheekpiece, moving out to the right again. After a while of looking at it, I noticed that during my preaim, I’m lining up a spot on the rearsight and the center of the foresight ring with a plumbline down from the bull; but because of the shape of my face, when I drop my cheek to the cheekpiece, it pushes the rifle out the right slightly. The fix seemed simple; now, instead of the foresight ring being on the plumbline, I use the gap between the foresight ring and the right-hand-side cant bar in the foresight tunnel:

 

Plumbline movement against foresight during pre-aim
Plumbline movement against foresight during pre-aim

 

With that change made, the preaim is a little finickier, but the aim gets much better. The results show this:

Training series 1

The two nines were fliers shot before the changes to the preaim, as the RIKA shows:

 

RIKA time-v-score chart
RIKA time-v-score chart

 

Again, ignore the score values as the RIKA calibration was a tad off:

RIKA point of impact captures

And here are the traces, looking at the hold:

And looking at the approach:

Long gap there between shots #3 and #4 as we changed the pre-aim routine (and started the RIKA saving the last 30 seconds before the shot instead of the last 10). And then there’s the really good bit of the evening, between shots #8 and #9. There’s a hole in my mental game where I catch sight of a string of tens and think “just one more…” and then promptly stuff it up and shoot an eight. We’ve been working on that too – it’s why the shot routine has morphed into a series of changes and checks, along the lines of “Do step 1; check step 1; only go on to step 2 if step 1 passes the check” and so on. Tonight it worked for the first time – it was hairy and difficult and nearly didn’t several times, but eventually I was able to rely on the checklist approach to get me through the shot and put in a decent execution (and was rewarded with a 10.0). That is the part of the evening I’m really chuffed with.

So tonight, we’re going to test the new routine a bit more, and also shoot on the RIKA with a few different foresight sizes – that group above was shot with a 3.8 foresight (which is a wee bit small for those who don’t shoot much air rifle, it’s as low as my foresight can adjust to, and normally you just use that for training and shoot a match on a higher setting). We need to shoot some shots on the RIKA at 3.8, 4.0, 4.2 and 4.4 to get an idea of what the effect on the hold will be. Given that you normally set the foresight according to the range lighting, it’s worth knowing what the different sizes will do to the hold; though I’m reasonably sure that the change in lighting might also be a factor in the hold…

Endurance, a new blinder, and trigger changes

Last night was originally going to be for endurance training. The idea was simple enough – dryfire to get set into position, then fire a hundred shots (basicly  just empty the shakerbox of pellets). Do this on a tuesday and there’s time to recover before the match this sunday.

In the end though, it didn’t quite work out that way. There was still a test of endurance (I think I was in position for an hour and 45 minutes before taking a quick break to stretch, and in total I was on the line shooting for a little over two hours), and today everything hurts, as you’d expect, but Matt noticed that I was still having issues with the trigger, and so we tried addressing that instead.

RIKA capture of shot with poor triggering

As you can see, the triggering (the blue line) dives right out of the hold area and the shot lands away from where we were holding the rifle. Not good.

The original trigger setup was right back in towards the pistol grip – to the point where I had to dremel out a cutout on the pistol grip to allow the trigger to be pulled at all:

 

Original trigger setting
Original trigger setting
Dremelled cutout on pistol grip for trigger
Dremelled cutout on pistol grip for trigger

 

Matt now moved that trigger far forward, and altered the angle it was set at. After some experimentation and a lot of shooting, this is the new trigger setup:

 

New trigger setup
New trigger setup
New trigger setup
New trigger setup

 

And yes, that trigger angle is deeply unorthodox. However, because of the cant I hold the rifle at and the natural angle my hand is at and the angle my index finger is at to the hand when it’s curled, that setup works to give a solid contact point for the finger and a clean trigger release.

Shots are getting hinky there at the very end, but otherwise, not a bad result for two hours of work. Next time will be dry-firing and then more dry-firing and more hold-with-periheperal-vision training.

 

Also, a new blinder type got tested:

 

New blinder
New blinder

 

 

Shooter's eye view through the new blinder
Shooter's eye view through the new blinder

It works quite well, and it’s a definite improvement on the earlier blinders, but its not quite perfect yet. Need to get some sort of adhesive tape that allows a lot of light through, but not much in the way of an image. Still, that’ll do for the match on sunday if I don’t make a better one before then…

 

A good solid evening’s training

Friday was a pretty good day’s training, but that peak performance level felt just out of reach, thanks to various things going sideways.

Early start, got to the range around ten to seven or so, meeting up with Paul at the door of the range. Usual startup – the yoga mat is really helping with the warmup and while going from the cobra to the downward facing dog postures looks daft, it’s really efficient at getting the muscles that you use in position all warmed up. It’s also spectacularly efficient in making you look daft and alarming everyone with the noises it creates…

Cobra pose to Downward facing dog pose
Don't worry, that cracking and popping noise is just your shoulders...

That done, I took a few minutes to run twenty shots through the new chronograph, then got set up for RIKA training. First ten shots were standard, look-where-you’re-going stuff and went really well (would have gone better if the sights had been tweaked though – hardware problem #1):

Training series 1, eyes open

And the RIKA traces showed that this would have been an outstanding string if I’d tweaked those sights. (Again, the RIKA’s calibration is drifting, so watch the traces, not the points of impact, which are almost random at this point):

Composite of RIKA traces
Composite of RIKA traces

RIKA-captured points of impact

Not bad, though getting a bit hinky at the end – shot eight was a bad trigger and shot nine wasn’t great either, but that could have been a decent 96-97 if the sights had been on. I have no idea what happened to shot 6. At all. The RIKA trace was fine, with really good hold, trigger release and follow-through, but the shot was an 8.8. I really, really have no idea what happened there. For all I know it could have been bad ammo (which would be the first time I’ve seen a verifiable case of that in the last few years). Mind you, if it was bad ammo, and it can do that much damage to a really good shot execution, then I really need to get a selection box of pellets and test out sizes (which isn’t that easy in Ireland, but there’s got to be some way to do that…).

Next up was ten shots fired with the target and RIKA screens turned away, and it felt like a decent string – no really hairy shots, all with pretty good holds and good approaches:

Training series 2

Er, wtf? 0.0?

Turns out, the paper tape from the megalink had hit off the RIKA sensor and tripod, doubled back and fed back up into the megalink. End result, one very confused target and the last two shots at least were utter silliness. Still, it started well enough…

So Matt extracted the tape from the target, set everything up again, we fired off a few more rounds in calibration exercises, and then did Matt’s new exercise (well, new to my training plan, anyone from WTSC will remember it as the “shooting at the stars” exercise). The idea is to approach to target and hold as normal, then look off to the right of the target (or left, if you’re a left-handed shooter). You then keep your focus there, maintaining the hold with the periheperal vision only, and then fire and follow-through, all on periheperal vision. The results… were pretty much as you’d expect:

Training series 3, Shooting for the Stars exercise

Traces show it pretty clearly as well – mostly it’s okay, but if the hold wasn’t set up correctly, the NPA heads right off to the right as soon as the focus leaves the target:

But the payoff comes when you take then next few shots after the exercise:

Final training series

Yes, I know, but ignore the last four shots where my back is having fun and my mental focus is being worked on by Matt, Paul and Aisling chatting about rifles in the background (which is disturbingly effective at being disturbing, by the way). All three of the first, focussed shots landed in the same hole and the traces tell the story nicely:

Very tight holds, very clean trigger releases, very even follow-through. No NPA problems. Matt’s exercise really does work on focussing the attention on the NPA during the setup of the position.

So, one week to the next match out in UCD. Three days training left. Almost all of which will be dry-firing and working on Matt’s exercise. And trying to sort out the blinder design – I tried a different kind of tape on the perspex than scotch tape and it worked really well. Trying ordinary sellotape next. There’s a happy medium in here and I’m going to find it…

As to the match itself, the plan’s simple enough:

  • Be on the first detail;
  • Have porridge for breakfast;
  • Get there early;
  • Warm up and set up kit before prep time starts;
  • Check sights for correct apertures for the lighting on the UCDRC range;
  • Check buttplate height as UCDRC’s targets are slightly lower than the WTSC targets;
  • Set up position in relation to shooting stand (as practiced) and dry-fire throughout prep time;
  • Turn away the monitor and only check every few shots for any required changes to sights;
  • Stay hydrated during the match;
  • Tweak rearsight arpeture as required during the match;
  • Use both side blinders and the older earplugs to keep out distracting noises/sights;

The goal is to try to shoot all 60 shots with the right shot routine, the right mental focus, and running all the in-position checks against balance and inner position as I go (I deliberately don’t have a target score in mind for this match, and won’t until I get my new shooting suit).

More blinder work

After a few comments on the blinders made up the last day (thanks to David and Liam), I’ve dumped the 0.25mm PTFE side blinders. The thinness of the material meant that the side blinder wouldn’t stop curling round and that’d get me hauled up by EC on the line 🙁

DIY blinder, front view

So 0.5mm PTFE instead, and all’s well.

Also, I got some new material for the non-aiming eye blinder, 0.5mm perspex. The idea was to try to get the maximum amount of light through (the perspex is transparent). The idea was to get a blinder like Hannah’s here:

Hannah Polak

The problem now is to find a way to fuzz up the image. First attempt is to use scotch tape and doesn’t work too badly, but I’ll keep looking because it lets in as much as the PTFE and if so, why not just use the PTFE.

Blinder, partial obscuring

The single piece of tape doesn’t work quite so well – the alignment has to be just right or it all goes sideways…

Blinder, fully obscured

And when fully obscured, it might as well be PTFE. But it works…

 

Meanwhile, the dry-firing on the RIKA is improving from the last day, but the RIKA’s calibration is drifting to the left within ten rounds 🙁

 

Training series 1 (eyes open)
Training series 1 (eyes open)

 

 

Readjusted calibration and shot the next series with eyes closed for the second either side of trigger release.

 

Training series 2 (eyes closed)