Tuesday 27 March 2012


This post is partly inspired from a question put to me at the British Championships. It was asked, why I and others in this country use the headphones with a head band for shooting where as in photos of the European Championships many seemed to be using in-ear headphones?

There are two parts to this answer, why clubs should use the headphones which sit on the ear rather than in-ear ones, and why I personally choose to use the sort I do.

I would recommend that clubs use the sort of headphone which sits on the ear for one simple reason, hygene. Just imagine sharing in-ear headphones with others, stuffing things in to your ears which have been stuffed in other people's ears. The idea just does not appeal to me and we're probably best to avoid trying it to find out what happens.

My personal reason is a bit different, I have my own set of headphones so I would not be sharing them with others. My reason is that I have simply never been comfortable with in-ear headphones. Well may be if I spent a lot of money on a decent set, possibly even a custom pair I might find them comfortable but that is a lot of money to spend on something you do not know whether you will like. A better option seemed to be to go with what I know I find comfortable, and that's not just any old set of on ear headphone. For some reason I have trouble with headphones which apply pressure to the actual ear, after some time of wearing this can become painful and as for shooting I will be wearing them for a decent amount of time then they need to be comfortable. I tend to need to use headphones which put the pressure actually on to the skull, so the first set I used for shooting when I bought a pair of my own was the Koss PortaPro. The PortaPro is slightly unusual as there a fairly small set of headphones, the ear pads hardly cover the ear and they have a separate adjustable pad above the ear pad which sits against the skull. The adjustment on the second pad is to adjust what pressure is taken by which pad.

Those more observant amongst you will have noticed I am not using the PortaPros any more, well at least for shooting. The problem is that they are an open headphone so will let a lot of sound escape from them and it was suggested I needed to be careful in case anyone complained about my headphones making too much noise. So I stepped up a bit to some Senheiser HD280 headphones. These are great, I actually think I can pick out a very little more detail when shooting and the full earcup design means the pressure again is taken directly by the skull and they do not leak so much sound. The heavier cable on the HD280s can be a bit annoying, however we tend to clip it in one of the number clips on the back of the shooting jacket. The only other thing I find a problem with these is that if its warm it can get quite warm inside the headphones.

So I have given quite a bit of detail why I have personally chosen the headphones I do, what do others use? What are the advantages of other types such as in-ear ones? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Some additional thoughts on prone

It has been brought to my attention the matter of whether one should contact the table with the body. Well in the photos in the previous post you may be able to make out that I am contacting the table. Officially though IBSA say in the rules that the body should be separated.

So you may wonder why do I do the prone with the body contacting the table? The answer is that it simply does not fit with any other idea of prone to have the body separated. If one were to do the normal prone position they would have the body in contact with the floor or a shooting mat, well the table in the seated position becomes the shooters floor. This is also the approach the IPC have taken.

In another way I also feel it does not make much sense for the shooter to keep the body separate, if one were to do that then what is the difference of doing prone and kneeling? It turns out very little for a shooter who keeps one position as the only differences are the right elbow not contacting the table for kneeling and the left elbow being restricted to a 10cm diameter circle. So if one keeps a fairly constant position in prone then the 10cm diameter circle thing will not be a difference and how much of a difference does just lifting the right elbow make? I feel probably not as much as going between the standard prone and kneeling positions.

I do not know whether IBSA will change things regarding this, but I intend to stick with doing the prone as shown in the previous post with the body contacting the table.

Monday 26 March 2012

VI prone shooting

Well I notice that last year I said I would keep you informed about the other shooting positions available for the vision impaired, but it seems like I had not actually got round to providing any information. As I have been doing prone for the last three weeks, now is the time to change that with this post on the prone position.

For those who don't know about the way IBSA specify vision impaired shooters do the prone and kneeling positions, well its done from a seated position at a table. For those who know about other types of shooting, the prone position is a bit like benchrest without the rest, or a bit like the way IPC disabled shooters do prone. However there are still a few differences from those descriptions.

Firstly the equipment used. The table used, according to IBSA should be between 70cm and 90cm. Also the table may have a cut away in the corner where the shooter sits, this helps provide somewhere for the shooter to put the right elbow. At my shooting club we are just using one of the tables used for benchrest. The seat used by the shooter is a stool, so no arms or back to the seat. The only other equipment is a handstop on the rifle. It is worth noting that for some reason IBSA rules say no slings are to be used although slings would normally be permitted for IPC shooters. While mentioning differences from IPC shooting, IBSA have decided to allow normal ISSF approved shooting jackets rather than IPC jackets, however the shooter must only use the top button on the jacket in prone.

The position above the table top is meant to closely resemble the prone position, so both elbows on the table. The left hand holds the rifle a long way forward, the handstop is there to stop the hand sliding forward. As for the right arm, the elbow probably wants to be on the bit of the table which sticks out to the right of the shooter.

As one is allowed to rest the rifle on a stand between shots, well why not make use of one so as to minimise the amount of movement one has to make. If using a stand between shots, just be careful you make sure you are properly clear of it when shooting, having the rifle resting on it may make it easier but may also not be permitted.

My feeling is that once one has got a reasonable position, then doing prone is quite comfortable and enjoyable. I have included a few photos showing me doing the prone last week, they may help you in understanding the position.

Thursday 22 March 2012

Thank you to survey respondents

This is a quick note to those who responded to my survey on disabled shooting and how disabled friendly their shooting clubs are. I appreciate the timescale was very short and this did give me concern over how many responses I would get. At the time of taking the results for analysis I have had 114 responses from a good number of clubs. I think I should have plenty of information now to work with to be able to draw up some conclusions and recommendations.

Again I would like to take this chance to thank those who responded. your time, effort and views are certainly appreciated and I will post further updates on what conclusions I manage to reach as I analyse the data.

Sunday 11 March 2012

Foot guide to help getting the same position each time

It seems like a little creation which I developed with my coach has been noticed last weekend at the British Championships, a foot guide to help in the set up process. As some interest has been shown then may be I better explain what it is, how I use it and when I think its appropriate.

Last year when I was training for the European Championships I was doing more training and so had different assistants on different days. We noticed that the set up of the position is very important for free standing and that it was hard for those unfamiliar with my shooting to help me get the correct position. As a good shooter will normally be taking the same position we decided to create a guide which shows my foot position. This guide is a piece of hard board with the front parts of my feet cut out on one side, obviously cut in the places where I normally put my feet for shooting.

When it comes to actually shooting, my assistant lines up the guide on the floor, helps me locate my feet into the foot holes and then removes the board. I normally maintain my position throughout the whole competition and so this is only done at the very beginning.

I have referred to this as a guide, there may be times when for some reason I need to make very small adjustments to my foot position after using the foot guide. Also as positions can develop with time, it may need to be something which is looked at from time to time to check that the guide is actually giving the shooter the optimum position for them.

I have seen some suggest that they were considering such a guide to help with beginners, I really doubt I could suggest such a thing. One reason is that the guide is probably specific to a given shooter as everyone has a slightly different position which they find comfortable. Also it may not be a good idea for beginners as they need to learn to feel for when the position is correct, as I noted I even may sometimes make small adjustments from what the guide says because I feel the position isn't quite right. If a beginner were to start by using a guide, they may rely on a guide too much and not really check how the position feels.

Sunday 4 March 2012

Report on British Championships

Well the British Championships finished today. It was good to be there, some interesting conversations and the demonstration of crossbow was also interesting.

Firstly the competition itself. I feel a little disappointed with my score of 590 out of a possible 600, of course in free standing. I think I had been hoping to improve on last year's score, however it was still good enough to win. As I said in an earlier post the lack of anyone from Aberdeen did mean the free standing was a bit low on numbers and so the scores were very spread, second place was down in the 540s so were not really posing much of a challenge to me, probably why its not feeling a great achievement to me.

Supported through up a number of surprises. Well done to Lee from Hereford for winning the supported with 597, particularly good as he is fairly new into the sport. Also well done to him for breaking a long standing junior record I had set a good number of years ago. I just hope Lee will keep going with the shooting. A bit of a surprise from Carole Brown getting 589, very surprising that it still was good enough for second place.

Now to some of the matters which were interesting. Blackburn Rifle Club had come with a crossbow for people to try out shooting crossbow. Having a go with that is the first time I have tried shooting anything but an air rifle. It was an interesting experience, you certainly can feel some recoil on the crossbow and you need to try and keep the follow through much more than you can get away with for air rifle. I don't think I will be taking up the crossbow as a major part of my shooting at the moment, it may be useful to try and improve my trigger/follow through technique which does need improving.

Finally it was good to talk with John from Blackburn Rifle Club and Liz from the disabled shooting project. We covered all sorts of things, possible other disciplines one could try and do, the state of the rules, ways of increasing competitions, my project for my Open University course and other things. On other disciplines I have now at least some ideas on possible things to look at for air pistol, something I really would like to do as it would certainly reduce the baggage when travelling to competitions.

Its been a good day, however long and tiring with that early start I needed to make to get to Wolverhampton in time for my detail. Hopefully if those discussions lead to anything then I will be writing about those developments here.

Friday 2 March 2012

Upcoming British Championships

Well the British Championships are coming up this weekend. At the moment I don't have a huge amount to say on the topic. I am slightly disappointed that nobody from Aberdeen is going to be able to be there, they normally offer some of the best competition in the free standing event. Also I know that some people are a bit annoyed with the way the sport is being run and as the AGM is held at the competition there may be some interesting discussions in the AGM.

This year is the first year where I have decided not to enter in the stand assisted event, it was a decision made last year that I should really focus on my free standing particularly if I intend to compete internationally. As I will only be competing in the free standing, I think this is the reason I am so disappointed that nobody is entering from Aberdeen. It can be nice just to know that there is someone who is actually competing against you, keeping you on your toes. My main focus I think is to improve on what I did last year and so hopefully set a new British record.

Disabled shooting survey

This is not directly related to VI shooting, however as it relates to shooting and disabled people I thought it was worth mentioning here.

I am currently studying a post graduate course with the Open University and the current module I am studying is on problem solving and improvement and requires me to do a small project. So I have decided to do a project on how shooting clubs can become more disabled friendly, or may be more correctly, how can the Disabled Shooting Project can assist shooting clubs to become more disabled friendly. As part of this project I would like to get views from shooters, both disabled and non-disabled, on their views of how disabled friendly they feel their shooting clubs are.

I hope you can spare a few moments and possibly will fill in the survey below to assist me in this project. If you do answer the survey, thank you for your time.

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...