Intershoot’s sort of a special match from the Irish point of view. It’s traditionally been where most Irish shooters who go to the international circuit in airgun shooting make their debut appearance. It’s run by the same team (by and large) that runs RIAC, but it’s a bit bigger than RIAC and the scores are usually that bit higher and the competition that bit fiercer. It’s usually seen here as the first step above the level of going abroad to compete in a national championships match overseas (which is usually done as part of a club team rather than the Irish team). It’s close enough that the logistics aren’t absurdly hard, but far away enough and with enough of the bigger names on the circuit shooting there, for it to have that feel of an international competition. It’s usually used as a warm-up match for a season by a lot of the bigger names on the circuit in Europe for similar reasons. So when I got the okay to go as part of the Irish Squad going to Intershoot, it was a bit of a deal for me.
But some preliminary work had to be done – that jacket, for a start, had to go. But spending a grand on a new Kustermann custom-made suit wasn’t going to be happening, because I knew I wouldn’t be shooting after Intershoot (Biscuit being born in March means the plan needs tweaking – more on that in a later post; and why get a custom-made suit before (a) losing weight and (b) seeing the post-2012 ISSF rules on clothing?). So I called the other Intershoot :D, and they bent over backwards to help, sending down several of the basic off-the-rails Gehmann 40x series of jackets, letting me choose one and then post the rest back after testing. Brilliant. I wound up going with a Gehmann 404 jacket which fit fairly well on the torso (it might have been a centimeter too long, but only barely), but whose arms were like stovepipes and which were in dire need of tailoring. I’m not a tailor so I just cut them off Well, half-off anyway, and used a sewing awl to crimp in the excess on the left arm. Ugly, messy job, but it tidied it up enough to be usable, so that was fine by me. Backside hauled from fire by Ryan and Sam yet again.
I also needed better pellets, but that’s another blog post (it’s too good a tale not to tell on its own).
Training continued; logistics arrangements were made; flights were booked; and the departure day eventually rolled around. I said goodbye to Herself Indoors, now quite heavily pregnant but planning to spend most of the time I was away with her family, just in case; and I headed for the airport. Traffic delayed me by a few minutes, but nothing too serious; got on the bus from long-term parking and was just getting off it when I got a text that the others were headed through security. No worries, I’ve gone through security solo a few times, all the paperwork’s in order, I’ll be at most five minutes behind them, it’ll be grand. Hang on, what do you mean, my flight’s leaving from Terminal 2? Feck, they’ve only moved Aer Lingus since the last time I was here. Sod. Off we go to Terminal 2, on foot. Given that Terminal 2 had a former DURC captain overseeing its handover, you’d have thought there’d be a fast way to move rifle cases and kit around in it, but noooooooo….
Anyway, aside from that whoopsie, all went quite well. Loads of time after security to grab coffee and a croissant and let the team all gather up, to buy the various things you can’t take through security that you’ll need for a 5-day stint at a match (like toothpaste, foot powder, shower gel and so on), and we headed for the plane when the gate opened. Uneventful flight, no problems with bags on the far end (Schipol is fine as a terminal point in a trip with firearms; not so much if you’re just passing through though), customs were polite and efficient and wished us well, and on we went. We got a minivan (through a bit of arm-chancing ) out to the camping site where we’d be staying (rent a chalet for seven for a week, and it costs each person the same for the week as it would have for one night in the official hotel; plus, the chalet’s within walking distance from the range and is more comfortable). We arrived well after dark, got lost, got unlost, met up with Peter who was driving there directly from the UK, and stashed the gear and settled in with a cup of tea and divvied up the rooms. We then walked over to the local diner/restaurant place to get something to eat, not having any food stocks in yet. They did a nice steak, fantastic chips, nowhere near enough calories in the meal (just like RIAC), and had no english menus at all so we all struggled for 20 minutes trying to translate what the items on the menu were… except for Aisling, who didn’t understand why we hadn’t all noticed the twelve foot tall illuminated english menu on a sign outside the door . Well, feck it, it was freezing cold and we were tired The meal went well and we headed back through the -4C breezy evening. The weather was supposed to be cold, but it felt colder than had been predicted, so we settled back into the chalet with a hot cup of tea and turned in for the night.
The following day was going to be equipment control, training and registration, but EC wasn’t until 1600h that day. So a really cold wake-up (it’s now -6C, wasn’t supposed to be this cold for a few days!), breakfast (microwave porridge is the devil’s tadpole-spawn, sorry guys, never going to happen), and then we split up, some going to the campsite shop and on a general recce of the area, and some (myself included) going to the official hotel to handle registration and on to the local Lidl or Aldi to stock up on supplies for the coming days. Registration was relatively trouble-free, and while Kealan took care of that, myself and Peter were free to live the high life of an international target shooter…
For those wondering, this high life consists of free hotel wifi, the wrong coffee (ask for an espresso macchiato, get a latte macchiato which is the polar opposite of a proper macchiato – instead of an espresso stained with a bare teaspoon of milk to cut the bitterness, you get milk stained with a bare teaspoon of espresso to… well, I don’t know what it’s meant to do, but it wasn’t doing very much for me). Anyway. Checked the internet weather forecasts, and aw crap, the cold snap’s gotten colder than the forecasters predicted. We hit -6C this morning, and it’s due to fall to -10C to -12C for the next few days. Yay. Good thing I have my finland snow coat; not so good is that now we’ll really be burning calories just to stay warm.
After this, to Aldi, where we tried finding everything on the list of things you need to cook for seven adults for five days in a sports event. Which is a lot. A metric buttload, in fact. Coffee filters and grounds, rice, pasta, chicken stock cubes, eggs, porridge oats, bacon lardons (ie. small strips of cut-up rashers), garlic, tomato pasatta (because we couldn’t find canned tomatoes), fruit (bananas, apples, oranges, etc), olive oil, sausages, italian herb mix, salt, butter, bread, cereal, 3kg of beef mince and 24 or so chicken breasts; and that was just the stuff we were able to find, we were still left with a list just as long of stuff we couldn’t find and we had to do two runs to the campsite shop during the five days for things like white wine (down boy, it goes in the bolognaise, nobody was drinking in the house ), toilet paper, kitchen roll, cous cous, rubbish bags, frozen peas, frozen veg mix, risotto rice and yet more chicken (and hamburgers and a small pack of chocolate biscuits for one lunchtime treat for the rifle team ).
It was after we got back to the chalet and I tried cooking lunch that I found we had no chef’s knife of any description.
Look, if you don’t cook, or just don’t have a decent knife, let me clue you in. That’s a Big Deal. A Major Problem, in fact. The chef’s knife is the one indispensible tool in the kitchen, without it, you’re not cooking anything, you’re microwaving ready meals at best. When you have seven athletes at a big event? You need a chef’s knife. It’s the very first thing on my list of Notes for Next Time – bring a damn knife. Five days, we spent cooking, myself and Caroline, and the only sharp usable knife we had was this:
That’s a Gerber Ripstop 2. It’s my Gerber Ripstop 2. Why do I have it? Because it’s the perfect size (the blade is about one-and-a-half inches long) to open parcels, cut tie-wraps in a data center when doing recabling, and that sort of very small quick job. And really, it’s not the perfect size for anything else, it’s a pocket knife. You ever try to cook a meal just using your pocket knife? Let me tell you, it’s sub-optimal
We get back to the chalet, I cook up some pasta and bolognaise sauce (yes, there’s milk in it, that’s how it’s made ) which we all hoover down; we load the rifles and kit into Peter’s car and he drives them to the range for us, and we walk over to the range for EC and official training, and to get our first look at where we’ll be shooting.
If you look closely there, you can see a small white webcam up on the back wall, just above the backboards between firing points 52 and 53; that was one of the ones broadcasting to the web during matches. Same electronic targets as used in RIAC in December (well, it’s the same people running things ), but the thing that we noted here and really noticed while shooting, was that the targets felt low. Several inches lower than we were used to in fact. There was apparently more prep area this year than last year, but it still looked incredibly crowded to us newbies. Around this time, Peter arrived up with the rifles and kit and we helped unload them, and got down to doing some training, reasoning that we’d wait until the initial EC rush ended before going over.
Training went okay, some buttplate adjustment was needed to get on the target at all, and after the first ten shots (a 90 because I was dialing in the sights for a new batch of pellets in a new head size), the groups felt okay, I was seeing 96s going in so I was comfortable enough. I put about 20 shots down after settling in, then broke and went to do EC, planning on coming back and doing ten or so more after EC, assuming all was okay. EC was easy enough, only the rifle was checked and that I knew was well within the limits on all the measurements. Queueing for our accreditation cards, however, took forever…
I suppose I’m just being bitter about the queue, I know they were having technical difficulties. It’s just that after the guts of an hour for queueing, this is what I got as a result:
Now I’m a realistic sort of person most of the time, I’m under few illusions about ID photos, but would it kill the entire universe if once, just once, I didn’t look like the unabomber in an official ID photo? Seriously?
Back to the line, back into my kit, and ten or so more rounds downrange. All felt grand, so I stepped away from the line, packed kit into kitbags and we locked all our stuff away in the designated area and wandered back to the chalet to eat and get some sleep before tomorrow’s match. I’m cooking, so I do my rice pilaf for carbs and chicken poached in a tomato sauce for protein, which goes down fairly well, with only the one small mishap:
I seared my finger on the metal handle of one of the two pots of chicken while cooking dinner. My trigger finger. Right on the point where it touches the trigger when shooting. The night before an international match.