Sunday, 26 April 2020

Experience of creating shooting videos

You may be aware that over the last few weeks I have been creating some videos for IBSA on vision impaired shooting. It has been quite an experience for me, creating and editing video without being able to see it. I may have been in videos in the past, but those were produced by someone else, this time I was doing all the work alone! So how did I manage all this?

Turns out we all, or at least all of those who have a smart phone, have a powerful camera in our pocket. The great thing with this option is that it required no expense and for me the screen reader software built into Android was able to speak all the controls in the camera app so I knew what I was doing. The only question was how to hold the phone? My answer was a windscreen phone mount I have stuck to my table. A solution which worked but was not great, particularly on the day when the sucker decided it wasn't going to stay stuck down.

With the camera mounted, next question, how do I know I am properly in frame? Time to get onto skype with someone who can see and ask them what the view from the camera is like. With a few instructions on how to move the camera I was then ready to actually start filming.

Another problem spotted with using a smart phone, whilst the screen reader was helpful for me to use the camera app, it was not so useful when it started speaking notifications whilst I was filming. Silent mode does not actually silence the speech output of the screen reader and there seemed to be some notifications which got passed do not disturb. The best option I found was to put my phone in flight mode, although I have just thought I could also have tried using the screen reader's mute feature.

From that point actually doing the video was simple. I could try and focus on the content and what I was doing. However the story does not end there.

Once filmed there was a little bit of clean up editing to do. Having no remote for my phone there was a period at the beginning and the end where I moved between my seat and the camera, not great youtube viewing. To help locate the points where I wanted to trim to I said a phrase just before/after so that I could locate it by sound when editing. I first looked at the camera app on the phone, which did allow me to trim the video, but it was slow to use. Also in the introductory video there was a section I wanted to remove from the middle and the camera app did not look like it would do this. Time to get out the computer. Windows 10 has the photos app which is accessible with a screen reader, but still quite basic. Asking someone to check the videos before I posted them, it was suggested I teeak the brightness and contrast in some of the videos, a task beyond the photos app in Windows, so the hunt for accessible video editing software started. So many tools seem to be not accessible, either partially or completely. Eventually I came across VirtualDub2.

With the editing done and the video checked by someone who can see, time to post. From an accessibility point of view no issues here, just the usual YouTube bugs everyone has to deal with, from time-to-time, including uploadss seeming to just constantly restart and never completing.

Now I have been through the process a couple of times I am feeling more confident in doing this video making, it feels like quite an achievement. Whilst I did not do it without any sighted assistance, I did manage it without needing someone actually present at home, so I can actually use this lock down period to create these videos I have been intending to make for some time. I plan to make a few more videos later today, so keep watching the Vision Impaired Shooting channel for more videos.

Tuesday, 17 March 2020

Making the most of the situation

I am sure you all are aware of the COVID19 virus situation and how many sports events are being cancelled. With my first two international competitions of the year being cancelled and I have my doubts whether any of my international competitions will happen, I am thinking how best I can use my time now I don't have the pressure of competitions coming up.

In a way it probably is a good timing for me as I really have not been happy with my standing shooting over the last year and I feel part of the problem has been putting too much pressure on myself. So this break from competition will be a good opportunity for me to lower the pressure and may be even have a break from standing if I feel that is needed for a couple of months.

There is something else I want to get done, that is to put my IBSA shooting committee chairman hat on and produce some information on vision impaired shooting. The sort of things I want to include are details of how the sport is done, the different disciplines, some tips for coaches, etc. Ideally I would like to get some videos made, but that does require the help of others. Again with the pressure of competition being removed for a few months, now may be that opportunity to get on with it with minimal impact upon my shooting.

So whilst turning on the radio seems to bring doom and gloom news, I intend to make the most of the next few months and have some good come out of it.

Saturday, 29 February 2020

Melton Times Sports Awards presentation evening

Yesterday evening was the Melton Times Sports Awards and I was up for the Sportsman of the Year award. Those who read my social media will already know who won the award, but I felt now I have returned to the office it is time to write a blog post on the evening. Just for clarity, the office is not the shooting club, rather it is the room where I have my computer set up at home.

For those who do not know what the Melton Times Sports Awards are, they are local awards recognising the achievements of those involved in sport in and around Melton Mowbray. There were 14 awards to be presented with 18 sports represented. As I said I had been nominated for the sportsman of the year award.

When you read through what the nominated people have done, it is really impressive and I can imagine the decision was quite a tough one for the judges to pick out the winner in each category. The presentations started with the junior sportsman and junior sportswoman awards and then it was my moment with the presentation of the sportsman of the year.

As I said in a previous post, it is a slightly strange thing for me to realise I am not in the disabled sports person category, this time up against non-disabled sports people. The other two finalists both also had a good number of achievements to their name so I really did not know who would get the award until the name was read out.

Finally you patient blog readers now can be told that the name which was read out was mine and so I am this year's sportsman of the year.

The evening continued with awards in other categories, such as the community sports award, a coaching sports award, junior team awards, etc. It was a really good evening and it was nice to hear about all the nominees and what goes on in the local area.

Sunday, 9 February 2020

Step towards being Melton Times sportsman of the year

In my previous post I mentioned about being nominated as Melton Times sportsman of the year. As readers of my social media posts probably already know, I have now been selected as a finalist for sportsman of the year.It is now a case of waiting until 28 February for the winners to be announced.

In the meantime I have training to do in preparation for my first international competition, the World Cup in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates which is due to be held in March. Over the last year or so I have been finding I have been putting more and more pressure on myself and I think its starting to get in the way of my shooting, so the main aim I have for this World Cup is to get back to the place where I can relax in competition and enjoy it.

Sunday, 2 February 2020

My relationship with disability

This week the nominations for the Melton Times sports awards were announced. It was nice to find my name on the list, however to find myself in the list for sportsman of the year rather than the disability sportsman of the year got me thinking again about how I feel about my disability.

Whilst I do not try to hide my disability and I accept it as being a part of who I am, I do not want to be defined by my disability. I want people to see who I am first, someone trying to be the best shooter they can be, with my vision impairment just being another fact about me. So in a way its quite pleasing to be nominated and considered for an award where disability is not in the title. It feels like a step towards equality where I can be considered against everyone else and not just in a disabled category.

Those who have followed what I have done probably already know how I shoot in national competitions against sighted shooters. In these competitions I think I place more pressure on myself than at international vision impaired shooting competitions. This is because I feel in the sighted competitions I am someone different, may be even someone who others will view as being at a disadvantage, facing more challenges and may be even pittied. So I feel I need to shoot as well as I can to show people what i can do and so that when complements are given to me I feel I have earned it. It can annoy me when people are saying well done to me when I feel I have performed much worse than my best, it can feel patronizing even if that is not the intent.

When I compete in a vision impaired specific competition I feel more comfortable as I know that people will be comparing me against other vision impaired shooters. If I have a bad day, then people will see its not the best a vision impaired shooter can manage as they will see what the other competitors achieve. So in a way the disability is less defining about me in these cases.

Also the vision impaired specific competitions are required as you do need to create an equal playing field for all competitors, particularly when you are trying to find the champion. There are certain aspects which may be harder for someone with a vision impairment to do and so it may either require more work to achieve the same level of performance as their sighted opponents or it may not even be possible to reach that level of performance. In my case the competing in national competitions against sighted shooters is to give me a challenge and experience of shooting competitions, I know that in some of the competitions there is very little chance of me winning.

So whilst I do like it when I can achieve things in non-disabled categories, I do feel it needs to come with some caution as the disability specific competitions and categories do have their place. Sometimes when aspiring to break out of the disability world, it can lead to people feeling you view the disability specific categories as a lesser category, something we really should not do.

Wednesday, 1 January 2020

What is to come in 2020

Happy new year to all readers of my blog. Time to start looking forward to what 2020 has for me. It looks like it could be a busy first half of the year with three vision impaired international competitions to go to. Starting in March with the World Cup in Al Ain, UAE, followed by the International Shooting Competition of Hanover in May and the 10m European Championships in June. Then there are the national competitions against sighted shooters to consider, with the British Open Airgun Championships in February and the ESSU championships in May. These are just the shoulder-to-shoulder competitions, there are the various league competitions to be shot at my local club as well. At this point I don't know if there will be any shoulder-to-shoulder competitions in the latter part of the year, however it may present a chance to have a bit of a break or opportunity to experiment in my training. So plenty to look forward to, keep tuned for further updates as the year goes on.

Saturday, 30 November 2019

Why I do mental training

Readers of my FaceBook page will know that recently I have started putting a lot of attention on mental training. So why am I doing this, wasn't it already part of my training?

To answer the latter part first, yes it was already in my training, however I feel over the last few months something had changed and I felt much less confident about my shooting. Well to say something had changed is possibly understating it, almost all of my standing position has been changed and with all the attention being on the position I found my mind was being left behind.

As well as it being something I felt needed greater attention at the moment, it also is the part of training I can do independently. Unfortunately to actually go shooting I always need someone to assist me and so I am restricted to when someone is available to help. Even dry-firing at home is difficult, finding my standing position independently is almost impossible. On the occasions I have done dry-fire training at home, it was not about the position but rather familiarising myself with the EcoAims sound or doing trigger training, for which I could rest the rifle on a support rest.

Sadly many vision impaired people may know that books in an accessible form can be hard to find. Here are two suggestions of books I have got:

  1. With winning in mind by Lanny Bassham, can be found on Amazon Kindle.
  2. Bullseye Mind by Raymond Prior, you will need to email him regarding getting a PDF copy.
Another route may be to look for mental training apps. Certainly for those new to mental training I think it may be a good option as the interactive nature allows it to gather information about you and then make suggestions on what to focus on next. One such app is the Sport Psych app for Android.

The fact mental training can be done independently makes it even more important for a vision impaired shooter, you can do as much or as little as you feel is required. So if you are a VI shooter and you are not doing mental training, I would encourage you to take a look at it.

Experience of creating shooting videos

You may be aware that over the last few weeks I have been creating some videos for IBSA on vision impaired shooting. It has been quite an ex...