Today was finally time for our first HFT shoot of the year. As always Kingsley put on a great shoot, only let down by the state of my head. Flu season is coming to an end but there are some lessons that might carry over.
At the end of last year I was trying to pick certain aspects of my shooting to improve each weekend. As well as having a motivation quote for each competition. Unfortunately this weekend I had neither. For the last 5 day’s I’ve been in the grip of the dreaded ‘Aussie Flu’. All the man-up pills in the world wouldn’t have helped me this week.
However next weekend is round 4 of the Daystate Midland Hunter Series, and I desperately needed some practice before that. Yesterday I started to feel slightly human again, and managed half an hour in the garden to check my zero. Then back to bed and fingers crossed for a decent nights sleep.
Fast forward to this morning. Headache, blocked nose and definitely not enough sleep. Oh well. Practice is practice. I just decided to set my goals lower. Normally I would have said I was aiming for a score of 50. But today I settled on 40 instead. The main thing would be to get back into the HFT mindset before next weekend. Hopefully knock some targets over, and give the gun a run out in case there are any issues with the setup.
So we arrived and the weather was looking very promising. Clear skies, sun shining and no chance of rain. There was a light breeze initially which picked up later in the day. Not the kind of wind that defines a day though. First trip was the zero range. A while ago I was given some advice by a very good springer shooter. They said to give yourself more time on the zero range, and spend the first 10 minutes just hitting spinners or knock down targets. Don’t try to start printing tiny groups on paper straight away because you probably won’t be relaxed enough to do it. So this is what I tried. Although it was more like 5 minutes because we were running out of time. Then zero was checked and the gun was bang on. The first shot at 25 yards actually went straight through my aim point. The second shot followed it, and the third hit just to the left. (I’m sure I pulled it with poor technique). Either way that was good enough for me. Since using some blue loctite on the scope bolts, and torquing them equally with the proper tool, I now only lose zero when I take the action out to clean it. And even then it’s never more than a couple of clicks either way.
From my scorecard you can see it was one of those typical ‘meh’ days. Typified by inconsistent scoring. For example lanes 26 to 2 were all plates (7 in a row). Followed by lanes 2 to 8 all falling down (6 in a row). In my opinion the difficulty of the targets didn’t reflect the pattern of my scoring. The harder shots were generally spread out over the course.
The main issue I had was lack of concentration. For example, one target I just failed to notice the wind had started blowing and missed to the left. On another I ranged it through my scope as being over 30 yards, then forgot to give any holdover so hit very low. However I will take some positives from this. Firstly my range finding wasn’t great today. In a lot of cases I was 5 yards out or more. This probably up to quite a few dropped points. At the end of the shoot Laura very kindly went round and did some range finding. The table below shows the actual ranges (click to open a larger image, shown in yards), and the graph shows how far wrong I was in my estimation. (Sorry, we missed out lane 21!).
So did I learn anything useful? Definitely. Stay hydrated! The fuzzy head you experience from illness is usually down to dehydration. And being dehydrated clearly affects your concentration. HFT isn’t a physically intensive sport, but your body still uses up water just to keep you alive. After 3 hours of shooting this can add up. So I will always be carrying a water bottle in my bag. Regardless of how good I might be feeling.
As I mentioned earlier, next week is another Daystate Round and I think I’m going to need a very good score to stand a chance of being in the top 3 by the end of the series. Unfortunately there won’t be much time for practice this week so today was definitely worth making the effort.