Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Shooting: The North Wales Open & My 2nd Shooting Session

Coach Morris had invited me up to the North Wales Open to see how an Olympic shooting event would take place, I wasn't going to let a mere 200 miles get in the way...

The event was being held at the illustrious Ellesmere College Shropshire, a private school so grand it'd almost make the pupils of JK Rowling's self-imagined Hogwarts look standard.

Ellesmere College: Impressive building, poorly photographed
Once I'd found the sports hall, thanks to the help of proud parents as they watched their lads cricket training on one of the college's many fields, this is what I saw:

The Final of the Adults Rifle Competition
Here's how this event works:
  • The 8 Finalists stand on the Shooting Line with their rifles and pellets and adorned in protective clothing including shooting frames (like specs though without lenses, instead they are designed to enable the shooter to focus with only one eye).
  • The Judge calls their attention and when he says 'Start' there is total silence - the competitors now have 75 seconds to take one shot at a target 10 metres away.
  • Each competitor has a personal Spotter who holds their arm up until their Shooter has shot, they then lower their arm to indicate this to the Judge.
  • Once all competitors have shot OR 75 seconds have elapsed, the Judge calls 'Stop'.
  • The Shooters then retract their target sheets and a Steward collects all of the target sheets (you can see Coach Morris playing this role in the above photo), who then hands them to another official who feeds them into a specially designed scanner.
  • The individual target sheets are scanned and images of them all appear on a projector screen - the machine also calculates the exact accuracy to one decimal place and the Judge calls out the results.
  • There are 10 rounds in the final, the winner is the shooter with the highest total.

    The projector screen  relaying the results from one of the rounds
I watched in awe as the leaders in the competition regularly hit 10's - 10 equates to a Bullseye in this target sport.

After the Adults Rifle Final I also caught the Youth Rifle Final, unfortunately I'd missed the Pistol events but I did get to see the competition medals being handed out for the whole event (including 2 medals being collected by Nicola Wilson, the first Shooter I met through Twitter - congrats!)

The next evening Coach Morris enabled me to get round to his for my 3rd ever lesson...

After a tough day at work my mind took a while to settle, my first practise card clearly showing that a few weeks off from shooting may have taken their toll.

Sign of shaky hands
Due to time constraints I would only have 3 more target sheets, each of 10 shots, to get myself back on the path to consistency.

Coach Morris was calm personified, after each shot for the next 2 target sheets he'd point out the good and bad points of my technique.

For the final 10 shots of the evening, I was left to me devices - sink or swim time.

This is my final target sheet:

I think we all know I left with a smile slapped across my face - Game On!

You can listen to the podcast recorded by Coach Morris at the North Wales Open here

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