I’ve had the same earplugs now for quite a while – basic E.A.R. ones:
They did the job well, but they have a disadvantage in that they block all noise equally, and that meant taking one out when being coached, and sometimes shooting without putting it back in (naughty, and leads to hearing loss). So during the last kit purchase from Intershoot, I splurged a bit (because decade-old earplugs are probably a bit hygienically unwise anyway) and bought a set of MEC Silence earplugs:
The little black bit you can see in the middle of the earplug is the fancy bit that drives up the price. MEC describe it as a membrane that closes when hit by loud sounds, but which stays open for low sounds, like speech. You can have the little eyes in the end of it like there, or use a plain shoelace for the same job:
But personally, I took out the string because it kept catching around my neck while shooting and annoying me. Having used them now on the UCD range and the WTSC range, I’m happy with them – they certainly work as advertised, I can talk to Matt during coaching without removing them and they still block or deaden the sound of the air rifle, even with my ear up near the muzzle end (no, not in front of it :D). They’re a bit expensive compared to the E.A.R. ones (they’re about €31 or so), but they’ll last for a few years and the convenience is worth it to me. So in case anyone was wondering if they’re a gimmick or if they work, yes, they do what MEC says they do 😀
I’m now just wondering if letting you hear what’s being said on the range more clearly is a competitive disadvantage (the RO commands are always loud enough to hear, but the chatter in the background from spectators would now be loud enough to hear as well…). More on this after the nationals I think…
Seeing this on your screen after weeks of effort is not a comforting sight, in case you were wondering….
So what went wrong? I’m not entirely sure. My mental focus was not the best on the day. I didn’t get 20-odd minutes to stand there in kit with rifle off to one side to warm up, but I don’t think that would have made a huge difference. The position felt loose, though I was able to get into it reasonably well. The shot routine was far too slow and I wound up dropping chunks of it in the last two strings. The left elbow placement was constantly fiddly and felt like it was adding to motion during the shot routine (which adds to the sway) rather than taking it away. And the quality of the hold was not the best at all, but that’s been the case all the time of late because of the jacket – this time it felt worse, but only slightly so. Not 30-points-off-my-average worse by any means.
Looking at it another way, I’ve learnt that my core strength is like a little girl’s, my mental training needs beefing up, I’ve found the dross cluttering up my shot routine, and I’ve shown I *can* get off ten decent shots in six minutes (that last string) without significant disasters, even if the hold’s a bit loose. So that’s not a horrible silver lining, even if the match itself was classed as “character building”.
Spoke with Matt afterwards and we went through what worked and what didn’t; and we have the guts of a plan to go after what didn’t, though he’s warned that until the weight goes down and the new jacket gets here, some things just aren’t going to get any better. So there may be more character building in the future 🙁 Which sucks, because the Nationals are in a fortnight.
John (from UCD) and I were talking about this idea and we thought we should also have an air pistol version – garden peas aren’t really at the same level of difficulty for pistols, so we took the score you had to hit to hit a pea, figured where than landed on an air pistol target and walked through the vegetable bin to see what qualified, and guess what, small new potatoes do