Thursday, 28 April 2011

Interview with insight radio

Today I did a phone interview with RNIB's insight radio discussing visually impaired shooting and a bit about how I got into the sport. There is a listen again feature on the insight radio website and you will want to look for the morning mix of Thursday 28 April. The interview with me isn't until quite a way in, so if you only want to listen to my interview then skip in 2 hours.

It may be worth me repeating the story of how I got into shooting and why I find it so enjoyable, as I don't think any visually impaired shooters have put such information about themselves on the internet and it may be interesting for those who might consider taking up the sport. I won't write it out now as it is late, but if there is interest then I will do it another day.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

The state of information on VI shooting on the internet

Today I have been looking at how much information really is out there on shooting for the visually impaired. As before its quite shocking, bits and pieces here and there, some of it interesting, some of it a little bit brief and some of it just wrong. May be those of us inside the VI shooting community need to try and put that right.

I suppose if I am going to say anything about this, I better put some of what I have done in order. I don't know how many of you reading this have seen www.shootingwiki.org. There is a page on blind shooting there (thankfully pretty accurate). However it did link to a list which I had set up on the topic of shooting for the blind, but now pretty well a dead list. Therefore I thought let's start by pointing people to an active list like http://groups.google.com/group/blind-target-shooting-uk.

Now to some of the wrong stuff. Why is it that people keep thinking the Swarovski scope is laser based? Even in a video which IBSA link to which demonstrates blind shooting says the scope is laser based.

I suppose I am not complaining at those who make the mistake and possibly give wrong information without knowing, I am more complaining of those like IBSA who should know better linking to this wrong information. That is probably enough of me saying stuff about this, may be I should pay attention to what I say and just get on with producing correct information and trying to spread that about.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Communicating shot information

There are quite a number of things with my shooting which I think will need a bit of adapting to fully comply with the international rules. One thing which struck me right from the beginning is how the assistant communicates information about where shots go.

Here in the UK, at national level we allow the shooter and assistant to communicate by speaking to each other. However the IBSA rules for shooting will not allow this, information such as shot information needs to be communicated in a non-spoken form. The IBSA rules suggests a way through tapping the shooter at different points on the arm to indicate score and tapping the shooters back to indicate shot position. I really feel this method is inadequate as it only provides the shooter with individual shot information, but to be able to perform sight adjustments you need to understand what the group of shots is like.

I am currently devising a system with my coach which we feel will provide all information needed so I will be able to adjust my own rifle sights. It is not quite completed yet but we think we have the basic idea worked out.

The system I intend to use is basically having a tactile diagram of the target mounted on a cork board and pins will be stuck in the diagram to indicate shot positions. It seems like we will use two boards and have a maximum of five pins to each board. By doing this I should always have a record for at least the last five shots and by feeling the diagram I should be able to identify what the group of shots is like.

As I said, I think the system still needs a bit of work, we need to find the best sizing for the diagram and the thickness of the scoring rings. Hopefully we will have this system worked out soon and I will try and write this system up more fully.

While I understand at national level we want to not put people off doing the sport, I would like to see the top level visually impaired shooters being a bit more international ready, in the hope that future years we may be able to get a team together for international competitions. So if this idea proves successful for me, may be others will want to try and adopt a similar system.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Equipment

I thought it may be a good starting point to discuss the equipment I personally use. A number of items I am using are of a high end nature and so may be more expensive than some other options. However at the level I intend to compete it is important to have good equipment.

The rifle I use is a Steyr LG110. I really like this rifle, its a good quality rifle but the biggest thing which is an advantage to me as a blind person is the connect version comes apart so it can be packed in a small case for easy transportation. Also the loading mechanism on this rifle will not interfer with the scope being mounted on top.

The Swarovski ZEB618 scope is the only item which is specialist to blind people. This scope contains electronics to convert the amount of light it receives into a varying pitch tone which one can listen to through headphones. There isn't much more to say on the scope itself, other than to note it needs a power supply and it does not contain a volume control for the headphones, therefore you probably will want to ensure your headphones have an inline volume control. The other thing to be aware of is that the size of the scope may get in the way of some rifle loading mechanisms, however there are plenty of rifles where this is not an issue. On some where the loading mechanism is an issue, it may be possible to make adaptations but this is probably not recommended unless you really know what you are doing.

I power the Swarovski scope with a PP3 9V battery. This required a cable to connect the battery to the DC input socket of the scope to be made and some velcro to fit the battery to the rifle. Some of the advantages to using batteries is that it removes mains hum from the output sound and also reduces the number of wires coming from the rifle, which is a big advantage when doing free standing.

I use a set of Sennheiser HD280 headphones to listen to my Swarovski scope. These are probably much better than are really needed, although I am certain I can hear a difference between these and some of the cheap headphones when I do shooting. These headphones lack a volume control so I needed to buy a inline volume control for them.

There are also items such as the lamp which is used to illuminate the target, but as that is provided by the club I have little details on those.

As I do free standing shooting, I do use items such as a shooting jacket, shooting glove and shooting boots. I won't list these now as I am in the process of getting a shooting jacket and trousers and so intend to discuss them and give photos for your amusement in a later posting. So please check back if you want to see some of the strange things us free standing shooters wear.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Introduction

Welcome to my blog about myself doing air rifle shooting as a blind person. I hope that this blog will be informative to many people on how this sport is done, and potentially will encourage others to take up or progress in this sport. There are many things currently going on which I probably will discuss in later posts. The most exciting thing at the moment in my shooting life is related to me going to the European championships in Slovakia this September. There are so many things which I need to get organised, until now I hadn't realised how much was involved in organising attending an international competition. I will keep you informed through this blog as things progress. I also hope that once this particular competition is over I will keep the flow going about my shooting.

So for the moment, all I will say is please check back and I hope you enjoy reading.

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