Sunday, 27 October 2019

An encounter with Kedok

Whilst out in Australia I met with Geoff Hunter who runs a shooting club for the vision impaired in Sydney. I got the chance to try out the Kedok aiming system. After having read about it for sometime, it was great to actually get my hands on one to test it out.

For those who do not know what Kedok is, it is another aiming device for vision impaired shooters designed by Wim Hager over in the Netherlands. It differs from other available aiming devices as all the design documents have been published online, so you could make your own and even modify it as you feel fit. One of the goals of the Kedok device is to make something which is much more affordable than devices like the ecoAims or the VIASS Pro.

Before discussing what it is like to use, I must note that it currently has not been approved for use in international World Shooting ParaSport competitions. So anyone wanting to compete internationally will need to use something else or apply to get their Kedok approved by WSPS.

Now for what i think about it. Unlike EcoAims and VIASS which use cameras to locate the LED, the Kedok uses a light sensor and so is more similar to the Swarovski device. This has the advantage that sampling of the sensor is much, much quicker and so the sound changes much more smoothly, however it does mean it is more sensitive to differences in lamp or LED set up. In fact when I tried it, Geoff had made a mistake in the set up and the device detected something was wrong when we were calibrating it.

Once the lamp was correctly configured, time to have a listen and shoot with it. As I noted the sound does change very smoothly, takes me back to the Swarovski scope although it does sound a little different. For me being used to the EcoAims sound now, I found the amount of variation in the tone was not really enough and I felt it flattened off too much in the middle. I felt the tone did impact upon my ability to shoot a good group and probably it was no where near what I can do with my EcoAims. I am aware that there are settings which can be changed, but I did not want to go and mess up someone else's aiming device so I left them alone. This though does mean I cannot judge how accurate the device really may be, so I cannot pass comment on accuracy.

Whilst on the topic of settings, it is nice to note how Kedok has speech prompts in the device which allows the shooter to alter settings and to warn the shooter of any problems it detects. It is good to allow the shooter to be as independent as possible. Also I like some of the prompts and how they give the device a bit of personality, such as wishing you good shooting after calibration, rather than just being very boring information only prompts.

Something which I am not so keen on is the separate processing unit which sits on the table. Having used a battery pack fitted to the rifle to power a Swarovski and now using the Ecoaims with its built in battery, I am used to only having a single cable whilst shooting. So it feels like a step back to have a cable from the scope to the processor and then a headphone cable from the processor. I think EcoAims have really set the standard here with the built in battery, so you don't even have a cable for a battery pack.

So in conclusion, I think the Kedok is a step forward from the Swarovski scopes by allowing calibration and customisation with voice guidance. When compared with the EcoAims it just does not do it for me. The problems I have about the sound being too flat might be possible to resolve either through settings or by tweaking the software. The external processor unit is a more significant issue to me and would need a more significant redesign. For those who want to do the sport recreationally or at national level, then this might be a reasonable option to consider if price is important. However for those who want to compete internationally, I would suggest save up and go for something like the EcoAims VIS500 or the VIASS Pro.

Friday, 25 October 2019

Medal success at World Championships

Now the World Championships is over and I have returned home back to normal life, time for an update here. Sorry its coming a bit later than I really would have liked, but things got rather busy out in Australia and I just never quite found time for writing a blog post. May be I need to alter my blog posts to be shorter but more frequent.

This was my first World Championships and nerves were a big part of what I was feeling. I felt I was fighting the nerves all the way through and I think they may have affected my shooting.

The first competition was prone. As I said nerves meant my score was not as good as I had been hoping and I entered the final in 7th place. Well enough to make the final and the score was better than my previous competition prone scores, so not all bad. Unfortunately I had some problems in the sighting of the final which disturbed me and meant I found it difficult to settle down. Not being settled meant my shooting was not competitive and so I ended in 8th place after the final.

After all the lead up to the World Championships and my success in prone at the World Cup, I was feeling a bit disappointed with my prone and I had to put my attention to the standing competition. Again nerves hit me and affected my qualifying score, with me getting through to the final in 8th place. With the reality of my performance being down at the World Championships and the prospect of not getting any medal, my mind was really focussed for the final and to make the most of it. Again the nerves were there and I could feel my hand shaking, so I was doing everything I could to help me calm down and relax. As shot 12 was taken and I realised I was still in the final, I started to relax knowing that I had at least gained a place in the final. This probably helped me on as I climbed to 3rd place. There was one shot which was really bad and cost me heavily, potentially meaning I missed out on 2nd place.

After the final I was so happy to have managed a medal place and relieved it was all over. Of course I wish I had done better but considering the nerves I think it is a reasonable result for my first World Championships.

Now the World Championships are over, time for a short break and planning for next year. Being a Paralympic year next year, there will not be any World Championships. It looks like the highest level vision impaired competition will be a European Championships to be held in Slovenia. There is a World Cup planned to be held in the UAE, however I am considering only doing European competitions and to make next year a cheaper year after all the expenses of this year with the change of equipment and travel to Australia.

Monday, 7 October 2019

In Australia for the World Championships

As the World Championships gets closer, now less than a week away, I thought it was time to write another blog post. Last week saw me take the longest flight I have taken up to now as I flew out to Australia. This is also the first time I have been outside Europe for shooting, so many new things for me. I had decided to fly out early so that I would have time to acclimatise.

The first couple of days were not shooting related, time to be a tourist and find where things are in Sydney. However by Sunday it was back to work at the shooting centre doing some training and to take my first shots on another continent. First up was training standing It was good to get going again and find out that everything had survied the flight and was working correctly.

After a break for some lunch and it was into training the prone. May be I started too soon after lunch as things weren't quite feeling right and I was feeling a bit sleepy. After a short walk around to wake me up a bit, back into the prone shooting and everything was back to normal again.

So all seems to be going to plan and I am feeling positive for the upcoming championships. So today I was back being a tourist, going on one of the access tours of the Sydney Opera House and then to the maratime museum. Both were very interesting and had things I could appreciate, well worth doing if you are in Sydney.

I plan to have a couple more training sessions before the championships begins. My first competition is prone on Tuesday 15 October. Keep watching here on my blog, my FaceBook page or my Twitter page for updates.

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