Sunday, 28 April 2019

ESSU competition report

Today I was shooting at the ESSU competition at Bisley. It was an early start, leaving home at 5:00am. Being so early on Sunday morning there was little traffic and we arrived around the time we hoped. My assistant was going to be shooting prone rifle on the first detail at 8:30. As my call to the line was not until 10:00, I went to have some breakfast in the meantime.

Once my assistant had finished shooting, time to start getting me ready to shoot. We knew it was going to be tight and in the rush I forgot to do some stretching exercises.This combined with the rushing and nerves, meant at first I was not quite as settled as I would have liked and there was more movement than I wanted. Unfortunately this did show itself in my scores, with the first 10 shot series being the worst. As the competition went on I started to settle and things started to pick up. The nerves did seem to be impacting upon some of my technique, I just need to find a way of keeping relaxed in these competitions.

My score was 550.0, which is lower than I had been hoping to do. As it is possible to see how my scores improved as I relaxed, I am sure that if I can learn to control my nerves a bit better my score will improve. Also as we have some video of me doing my competition, we should be able to learn quite a lot from this competition. So it has been useful for training even though I would have liked to have done better.

Saturday, 27 April 2019

Pre-competition thoughts about the ESSU

Tomorrow I will be shooting in the ESSU competition down at Bisley. Again another competition shooting against sighted shooters. This will be my fourth competition against sighted shooters since my first of these about six months ago. Contrast this with VI specific competitions where I have only done two in the last year. It is this relatively low number of VI competitions which lead to me starting to shoot against sighted shooters so that I could gain much more competition experience. As I noted before, I think I put myself under greater pressure at these sighted competitions than the VI competitions, so hopefully it will be doing some good in preparing me for high pressure competitions in the future. The only thing these are not giving me is experience of shooting in a final, unfortunately VI shooting scores are that much lower that there is little chance of me making a final when competing with sighted shooters.

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Improvements in prone

I thought may be I was going to have a little break from shooting over easter. My coach was going to be busy on the Monday when I would normally do some training and I had not been sent home with my rifle or any other training to do at home. However this morning I noticed a text message from my coach saying she would be up at the shooting club this evening so did I want to do some training. So this evening I was at the club doing some more prone training.

It was a good training session this evening. I am not sure whether I quite got the correct position fully as it was not as comfortable and it was starting to hurt by the end. However we were trying out some new equipment as I had been borrowing some at the training camp last week. Well in the end my score for 60 shots was better than my previous attempt and it also was possibly a bit more consistent. I had been getting a bit concerned before last week that it was getting closer to the dates for going to Hanover and not really having a prone position sorted. Since last week I am now starting to feel more confident about it, my prone does seem to be coming together now.

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Training camp report

Firstly I want to start by saying sorry to my blog readers for not writing an update over the last couple of days. As you may know I was away at the British Shooting training camp and whilst the hotel did have internet it was extremely slow and so it was difficult to post updates. Well I am back home now and time to give you a full update on the last few days.

Monday started with an early morning start to travel down to Stoke Mandeville. Dispite the early start, we hit some traffic on the road which meant we arrived a bit later than originally planned. After being introduced to who was there, it was time to start doing some training. We decided that may be start with what I know and do some standing so that everyone else could see how my aiming equipment works. One of the coaches commented on a few things I could look at changing, so I focussed only on the standing on the Monday leaving the prone until Tuesday.

So Tuesday arrived and after my early morning go on the rowing machine in the gymn, it was time to get on with doing some prone shooting. We had watched some of the other shooters in wheelchairs doing prone from a table and had some ideas of what may be I could try doing. However whatever I did I just always seemed to be in significant pain and I was getting very close to giving up. However we tried changing the glove I was using and things seemed much, much better and I did a bit more until the end of the shooting time. Now things seemed comfortable in prone, or at least manageable, we said that Wednesday would be time for me to do a trial match in prone.

Wednesday started in a similar way, the early morning go on the rowing machine for 12km before breakfast and then onto the shooting. A quick few shots to check that I had found my prone position again. After a short wait for the electronic targets to sort themselves out, it was time to start my 60 shot match. All started good and after about 35 shots my assistant asked me if I wanted a break. I was feeling reasonably OK and wanted to see how far I could go until the break was necessary, so I decided to continue without taking a break. A short time later I had finished my 60 shots and it was time to review how it had gone. When looking at the scores you could see that I probably should have taken a break as there was a significant dip around shot 35 and with the score returning for the last ten shots. Overall it scored 601.2, which for a first prone match is reasonable. There are things I need to work on and I need to learn when to take a break, but it has made me more confident that I will be able to compete without trouble in Hanover and that I should be able to qualify to do prone at the World Championships.

After doing the prone, it was a return to standing. After making a small adjustment to the rifle, it seemed to be sitting better in my shoulder than it previously had been. After all this shooting which is more than I normally do, it was time to start packing up and heading for home. I think we have learned a good amount over the last few days and it possibly has turned my prone around to a point where I am at least prepared to continue with it for now.

Tomorrow I will be going to my local club for a normal shooting evening. However after so much hard training, it will be time to just go and shoot and try and let it happen as naturally as I can and enjoy what I am doing without the concern of trying to do everything perfect.

Monday, 8 April 2019

Would I take full sight if offered it?

Today a non-shooting post, rather a post about vision impairment. The question of whether if I were offered full sight, would I take it?

This question comes up for me from time to time. The question is a theoretical question in my case as at the moment there is nothing out there which could actually do this. However it is still an interesting question.

Many think the answer would be obviously a yes. There are times when life can be difficult as a vision impaired person, when being able to see would make the task so much simpler. So why when I think about the question do I feel it is not that simple and possibly my answer would be no.

I have always had a vision impairment since birth. This means that the lack of sight feels like it is part of who I am and it has probably has made me who I am today. This probably is explained a bit through some examples of what I mean.

  1. As you may know I work as a software developer. My real interest in software was triggered back when I was studying physics at university and was having trouble getting mathematical documents in a format I could read. The software out there at the time was simply not good enough and so I started to write some software for my own use. As I felt the benefit of the software I was writing, it made me realise what a difference software could make. If it had not been for this experience, would I feel so strongly about wanting to write software and that software should be accessible to all? Possibly not and my life may have taken a different direction.
  2. Likewise my vision impairment possibly has lead me to shooting. I got into shooting when I was at school, it was a school for the blind and they had a shooting club actually at the school. I decided to try shooting to see what it was like and ever since then I have been hooked. Also as you may know, vision impaired shooting is not yet a paralympic sport, although there has been attempts to develop it to that point for many years. So when the IBSA shooting chairman asked for help back in 2011, I stepped forward wanting to help develop the sport I enjoy so much. If I were not vision impaired would I have even tried shooting and would I have got involved in the sport development and governance?

The other thing is that having a vision impairment is normal for me as that is how my life has always been, full sight would be totally new and strange at first. That raises questions of how I would feel about it, would it change how I view things and may others change how they feel about me? Also would I be able to cope with it and learn to use it, or would it just overload me with an excess of confusing information? It is not really possible to answer these, but I cannot believe that at least some of this may happen.

Finally I am fairly comfortable with who I am, life is quite good, a job I want to do, a sport I enjoy, etc. Yes there are things which may be difficult, but with the right tools and help these normally can be overcome. Remember with my shooting I can hit a spot 0.5mm in diameter at 10 meters distance, so surely there must be solutions for the more every day things. I do get mixed feelings about research for cures, I don't want to be cured of who I am, I just want help to be able to live my life.

I must point out this is my views. Other people with a different life experience, in particular those who have had full sight and lost it, may feel quite differently.

Monday, 1 April 2019

Wobbly training

After doing prone on Thursday evening, today was back to standing. I think the plan is that this will be my routine for training now leading up to Hanover in May.

The difference today was I was going to work on stabilising the position, which involved doing some dry firing standing on a balance board. The balance board I am using is a board placed on top of a number of squashy balls.

The training started off with me just doing shooting as normal for the first 20 shots. After this I then was moved to be standing on the balance board. It wasn't feeling too much different to normal, I am not sure I could feel much more movement although I have been told it was possible to see the movement. However I settled down and it turns out my trace on Scatt was becoming shorter than the shots I took earlier. I made the joke that may be I need to shoot my competitions from a balance board if it makes my shots better. Then to finish off it was back to normal shooting without the balance board. Well it must have done something as these shots were better than the shots at the beginning of the session.

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...