For home training, or for training on the range, it’s close to impossible to replace something like a SCATT (or RIKA or Noptel) trainer. However, the sensor you have to sling under your rifle or pistol is a bit of a pain – it’s fiddly to put on, fiddly to take off, fiddly to adjust, and the wire drags no matter how careful you are with it, so it can put you off.
So this looks like a very neat piece of useful kit :
The big frame on the left is the normal end frame, most of the systems use one of these, no big deal. The sensor on the other hand, is a nice little change:
Wireless. Excellent. 🙂 You could potentially mount this thing permanently to your rifle and that way it’d be the same setup for training and for competition, and you might even be able to rig up a more sturdy permanent mount too.
The only drawback seems to be the €1300-or-so price tag. Ouch…
I got one of these (direct from MEC, but you can get them from Intershoot.co.uk now) a while ago to try out.
Looked great, but had a few problems – for a start, my rearsight got a little complicated:
Okay, so some of that got stripped off, but even after that, it was still a bit… busy:
Now, I have a fairly pronounced cant on the rifle, so that introduced another problem – the duplex is only anchored at the top and I don’t know if it’s my one alone or the design, but when you cant it, the iris doesn’t hang vertically, it moves slightly to one side and makes a mess of your sight picture, so you’re fiddling with its adjustment a fair bit to try to get everything aligned. And speaking of which, the sight picture itself gets a bit more complicated as well:
The problem is that the gap between the rear iris ring on the outside and the middle ring of the duplex is just as critical as the centering of the foresight ring in the rear iris, and unless the duplex is perfectly centered in the rear iris – and locked solidly in place – then you get a sight picture like the one above, and if you’re mid-match and fixating on the target, you don’t notice the small drift offcenter of the duplex in the rear iris.
Now I know these can work; I saw one or two being used to good effect in Intershoot and in RIAC by the Dutch team (it’s hard to see but look at the rearsight of Peter, second from the left in the photo):
But for me, the Duplex is now sitting in the pile of Bits I Bought Because They Were A Good Idea At The Time But They Haven’t Worked Out So Far But Maybe With A Bit Of Work They Will Later On…
Time to dip the toes back in the water, so I went to shoot pistol at the UCD range today (only 8km away, not bad…)
Lots of old faces showing up again, some because the range is finally open again after a great upgrade to the lighting, and some because they were watching the Olympics and want back in (and welcome!) 🙂
The shooting itself was okay, I mean, I’m no great pistol shooter but I can enjoy it – I still haven’t hit my goal (four years on!) of shooting a full match with the Izzy without dumping a shot into the white, but I’ll keep plinking. Some of the others were just pounding away on the ten ring though, and with everything from Izzys to the new Walther LP400, which was nice to see. Me, I didn’t get my head back into the game until the final string, and by that time the arm muscles had given up and gone home 😀 But it was nice finding the mental still point again.
Now, to figure out how to get back to regular training. There’s probably a Rika in my future…
New lights – 4.5kW of high frequency florescents. Makes an *enormous* difference to the shooting – it’s like a whole new range!
So obviously, when you have a kid, they need toys. And naturally, no good parent gives their kids toys untested, right?
Besides, this beats toy soldiers any day. (And more seriously for a moment, it’s nice to see the sport get this kind of exposure with kids). So, let’s see, need eight for a finals hall…
Leaving aside the giggles for a moment (if you can), our sport gets very little good publicity. Even this week, in the middle of one of the most outstanding Olympic Games in a long while (in terms of performance standards), despite the good image being protrayed, we had medal winning Olympic shooters having to tell the press that our sport isn’t connected to gun violence. The fencers weren’t asked about edged weapon violence despite a similar event happening at the same time in Bejing; boxers aren’t asked to justify their sport in the light of drunken idiots beating each other up outside the pub at closing time; dressage riders aren’t asked about stray ponies being mistreated in inner city Dublin. But shooters get vilified all the time, precisely because we aren’t a familiar, known quantity. The Olympics do a huge amount to help with this, but they’re out of the news cycle for four years at a time. So silly toys like this one, which show what our sport looks like so that we’re a familiar image from a person’s childhood; that’s not a silly end result. It’s wonderful.
Frankly, if you like shooting, I think you should go search for a few of these and buy them now, to give out as birthday and xmas presents later. It’s not like they’ll break the bank, they worked out at about a fiver each on ebay…
…for a while at least. With biscuit’s due date rapidly incoming, rifle training is shut down for now, and shooting pistol in the UCD Open is the last match I’ll be in for a while, and it’s purely as a plinking match for me, a bit of fun. So I grabbed the Izzy case and wandered over to UCD, said hi to folks and set up on the firing point, and take my first sighter shot:
You know what? Feck that, that’ll do 😀 Went straight into the match after that (hey, it’s for fun, right? 😀 )
The rest of the match went quite well, I still haven’t achieved my goal of shooting a full match with no shots in the white, but it was closer this time and I broke 500 so that was a good match scorewise. I forced myself to put down the pistol for 30 seconds between each shot for the first 40 shots; then took a longish break and then came back and shot the last 20 shots non-stop quite quickly; I think the results show the whole shoot-a-string-and-then-take-a-break approach beats the pause-between-each-shot approach.
And it’s a nice strong finish to go out on, at least for a few months 🙂
I’d been running shy on pellets over the last while; RIAC was shot using RWS R10 pistol pellets on the principle that sub-par pellets are better than no pellets at all, but the groups weren’t spectacularly brilliant and I wanted to have better pellets for Intershoot, especially after one UCD match that saw eight 9.9s…
We’d been looking to do some pellet batch testing in WTSC for a while but hadn’t gotten it sorted out yet, so proper batch testing would have to wait as there wasn’t enough time to get that sorted. I knew that Intershoot had some Qiang Yuan pellets in stock from talking with them about batch testing, and I’d had a chance to shoot a box of them before so I knew they were pretty decent so I asked Intershoot to send me down two boxes of all the head sizes of the QY pellets they had (which at the time was just the two, 4.49 and 4.50) and I clamped the rifle into our patented Really Awful Bench Clamp, shot a few shots to warm up and then ran through ten shot groups of the RWS R10 light pellets, the QY 4.49s and the QY 4.50s.
Personally, I strongly suspected that there’d be a small difference, but nothing major. I was in for a bit of a surprise…
Feck me. I was not expecting the group size from the 4.49 QY pellets. Thank you very much, those will do nicely. Yes, at £35(€42)/1000 they’re pretty bloody expensive for airgun pellets. But on the other hand, the trip to Intershoot is the guts of a grand anyway. €16.50 for pellets that might save me from a 9.9 or two didn’t seem like a bad investment to me (I’d still have to pay out €12 for a tin of R10s anyway if I didn’t get the QYs). And given that Intershoot saw 28 10.0 and 10.1 shots (which you could argue were saved from 9.9-hood by decent pellets), that works out at €0.41 per ten. Seems fair to me 😀
QY do pellets in tins like everyone else btw, unlike the 200-pellet trays that I bought:
And RWS do their R10s in the 200-pellet trays too. So whether the QY pellets are better for FrankenRifle because they’re just better than R10s or just because they were in trays and the R10s are in tins, or – and this seems more likely really – just because the 4.49 head size suits FrankenRifle better than the R10’s 4.50 head size, is an open question and at some stage, we’re going to have to do proper batch testing with a proper bench rest. But until then — and after we’ve done it as well — I’ll be taking my own advice and forgetting about it completely. Time on the range training beats time on the range batch testing every single time…
No idea of what went wrong. Shot routine was fine, certainly nothing as bad as the results suggested. Sight picture was good, though I had to crank my rearsight up to 1.3-1.4 to get enough light in. Foresight was at 4.2. Position was good – no significant back pain after a short break around shot 16 or so to hike up the trousers a bit. Rhythm was a bit off but not enormously so. Mental game was mangled, but that was done by the results rather than anything else. Had plenty of time pre-match, was doing holding exercises ten minutes before prep time started. Blinders worked fine, all the reference points worked fine.
Just no clue as to what went sideways. Have to watch the video.
Yesterday was a shorter training run than tuesdays, only about an hour or so spent shooting on the line, but there were non-shooting activities to get through as well, with cleaning the rifle with my new cleaning kit (more on that in another post) and adding a weight at the muzzle end of the barrel.
The weight proved awkward – we didn’t have any of the over-barrel weights I was hoping to use and my anschutz-specific barrel weight (the only one I have to hand) is on a shelf over the workbench in DURC which is awkward when you’re in WTSC 😀 I scoured around looking for unused weights but didn’t find anything that would fit, and then I found some leftover lead from when we were making up the weights for my home training setup (which is a wooden stock weighed with lead to let me do balance work at home). A bit of rolling and a lot of electrical tape later and viola, a standard WTSC bodge job homemade barrel weight 🙂
Some of the more observant readers may have noticed that this homemade contraption is hanging a little low and that the air cylinder appears to be closer to the barrel than the edge of the weight… and they’d be correct. On dissassembling the rifle after training, I found that the weight prevented removal of the cylinder, and as you can see, it’s taped in place. So out with the penknife, cut away all the tape, then rework the weight so that it’s thinner underneath and all the weight’s up above the barrel:
The air cylinder can now be inserted and removed at will, and as soon as the match on Sunday’s over, I’ll get something a little less… homemade sorted out.
The idea behind doing this in the first place was simple enough – a little weight out at the far end of the barrel will add to the barrel’s inertia and make it easier to reduce side-to-side wobble in the hold. Allegedly. In theory. I have to say that I think there was an improvement, but it’ll take more RIKA time tonight to tell for sure and to quantify it. I’ll have to shoot on better shooting days than last night (when my position and hold didn’t feel as solid as they have on other days) in order to confirm it.
However, last night did have some good results. I was working on the hold initially, but Matt changed focus a few shots in after noticing that when I was settling towards the pre-aim, the RIKA showed me hovering off to the top right of the target, and then moving in during the preaim; and then as I was dropping my head to the cheekpiece, moving out to the right again. After a while of looking at it, I noticed that during my preaim, I’m lining up a spot on the rearsight and the center of the foresight ring with a plumbline down from the bull; but because of the shape of my face, when I drop my cheek to the cheekpiece, it pushes the rifle out the right slightly. The fix seemed simple; now, instead of the foresight ring being on the plumbline, I use the gap between the foresight ring and the right-hand-side cant bar in the foresight tunnel:
With that change made, the preaim is a little finickier, but the aim gets much better. The results show this:
The two nines were fliers shot before the changes to the preaim, as the RIKA shows:
Again, ignore the score values as the RIKA calibration was a tad off:
And here are the traces, looking at the hold:
And looking at the approach:
Long gap there between shots #3 and #4 as we changed the pre-aim routine (and started the RIKA saving the last 30 seconds before the shot instead of the last 10). And then there’s the really good bit of the evening, between shots #8 and #9. There’s a hole in my mental game where I catch sight of a string of tens and think “just one more…” and then promptly stuff it up and shoot an eight. We’ve been working on that too – it’s why the shot routine has morphed into a series of changes and checks, along the lines of “Do step 1; check step 1; only go on to step 2 if step 1 passes the check” and so on. Tonight it worked for the first time – it was hairy and difficult and nearly didn’t several times, but eventually I was able to rely on the checklist approach to get me through the shot and put in a decent execution (and was rewarded with a 10.0). That is the part of the evening I’m really chuffed with.
So tonight, we’re going to test the new routine a bit more, and also shoot on the RIKA with a few different foresight sizes – that group above was shot with a 3.8 foresight (which is a wee bit small for those who don’t shoot much air rifle, it’s as low as my foresight can adjust to, and normally you just use that for training and shoot a match on a higher setting). We need to shoot some shots on the RIKA at 3.8, 4.0, 4.2 and 4.4 to get an idea of what the effect on the hold will be. Given that you normally set the foresight according to the range lighting, it’s worth knowing what the different sizes will do to the hold; though I’m reasonably sure that the change in lighting might also be a factor in the hold…
…or a major improvement. I don’t know yet, and probably won’t know for a week or so.
First of all, I tweaked my buttplate. That change has been a while coming, it was needed and expected and is reversible. Basicly, I just raised the buttplate a little – I was settling into position below the aiming mark too often, and this fixed that. So that’s okay.
The worry is the other change I made.
After yesterday’s session, and the last few training sessions both with and without Matt watching, I’ve been watching that rightward drift of my NPA and trying to find the cause or to fix it. Turning my feet so that they’re no longer parallel is not really an option, as it compromised my stability. Turning on the spot proved very difficult, and not repeatably consistently. Moving my right foot forward opened my hips to the target line and compromised stability. Moving the buttplate further out along my arm put it firmly on the bicep muscle, which was a recipe for pulse and twitches. The other problem with these solutions was that they didn’t seem to work anyway – that rightward drift kept creeping back in, no matter what I tried.
So last night I try the same exercise as on Tuesday. And I’m in a pretty good state compared to Tuesday, which is good, more data to check. After warm-up and dry-firing, the first ten shots of the exercise (the control group, shot eyes open) go down well:
Just two fliers, shot 6 and shot 10. The RIKA is tracking away, but again, the calibration isn’t matching Megalink to RIKA perfectly — this is the same group on the RIKA:
So again, watch the individual trace shapes, not their location on the target because the calibration seems to be drifting from shot to shot (other shooters have noticed this on this RIKA unit as well, not just me):
So it’s not bad, the shots all land in the hold area, more or less, and the hold area’s small enough:
So that’s not a bad control group. Not the best I’ve ever shot, but more than good enough to work with. Tuesday saw a major drift of the NPA to the right when I fired with both eyes closed, but was that because I was having an off day or because of a real issue?
Yeah, I’m going to go ahead and call that a real problem. The RIKA agrees (again, the calibration’s off…)
Okay. So that’s a conservative tweak, a good control group, a good test group, a problem clearly spotted, and good data all round. So far so good. Here’s where it gets a bit hinky.
When I drop my head into position, and look through the rearsight on target, I could tell there was something pushing the rifle out of my cheek and trying to rotate it around the axis of the barrel (or a parallel axis a bit lower down). It showed up on Tuesday, and I’ve seen in a match or two in the past, but I had it down as a product of a bad day. But I got to thinking when it showed up today as well (when I wasn’t having a bad day) and I started looking at it, and after some experimenting, I came to the conclusion that the cheekpiece came just a smidge too far out to the left of the rifle, so that when I dropped my head into position initially and compressed the flesh of my cheek, it was okay, but as the flesh decompressed, it pushed the cheekpiece away from my cheekbone.
Solution? Move the cheekpiece.
The angle of the cheekpiece is now shallower, and it has been moved to the right by about four mm. Which doesn’t sound like much, but makes a large difference. It’s also been raised just a smidge to compensate for the angle change, but that’s more a consequence than a change in itself.
The results seemed very promising – the rifle is no longer shoved out of my face, my head’s just sitting there on the cheekpiece comfortably without any side pressure and with the foresight nicely centered in the rearsight. And the RIKA trace shows a good hold with this:
So why the worry? Well, first off, it’s like I said yesterday – changing the rifle setup is a Big Thing™. Having made the change, it’s going to be a week or so before I know I made it correctly (ie. did I move it far enough left or change the angle too much, etc), and longer before I know if it fixed the problem properly. And ideally, I should probably have waited another few sessions first. Dumb rookie mistake.
Hopefully, there’ll be some dumb luck to go with the dumb mistake, and this will lead to an improvement… we’ll find out over the next few sessions… and then there’ll be a few hundred dry-firing cycles to run through to properly bed the change in.
What, you thought a quick change to the rifle would be quick? 😀