How did I get there (my story)

Oldman, I only use Lenzi rear bags.
He offers angled and straight upper bodies. I use straight ones.
14 to 16mm will work and you could fine tune with more or less sand fill on the ears. Seek for a light/medium feel.
All Lenzi bags can be filled or poured, just lift the "filling ear", which normally is turned upside down on the ears and on the rear bag body.

Your front rest is a good one. And Rotex low profile stock is great too!
 
Oldman, I only use Lenzi rear bags.
He offers angled and straight upper bodies. I use straight ones.
14 to 16mm will work and you could fine tune with more or less sand fill on the ears. Seek for a light/medium feel.
All Lenzi bags can be filled or poured, just lift the "filling ear", which normally is turned upside down on the ears and on the rear bag body.

Your front rest is a good one. And Rotex low profile stock is great too!
Thank You PedroS
Im using the Randolph front MK II top, is there a better one to look at? Which Lenzi ear length 115, 95, or 85mm and slick material?
 
Top front rests at moment are the Lenzi (with or without moving front bag) and SEB, as I favour joystick ones.

Bear in mind that Lenzi rear bags are also used to center fire, so long ears won't pose lateral troque as BR50 will. So, for me, either the 95 or the 85mm ears length. I use 85mm even with a moving front bag, to try to minimised as much lateral torque as possible.
 
Top front rests at moment are the Lenzi (with or without moving front bag) and SEB, as I favour joystick ones.

Bear in mind that Lenzi rear bags are also used to center fire, so long ears won't pose lateral troque as BR50 will. So, for me, either the 95 or the 85mm ears length. I use 85mm even with a moving front bag, to try to minimised as much lateral torque as possible.
Thank You PedroS that was the information I needed.
 
Hi Pedro
Thank you for taking the time to post your most informative description of your 'journey'. Over the years I also have discovered many of the same things as you. If I had to say I had a weakness, it is trigger pull consistency. I have tried pretty well all the triggers, and prefer BnA - but the FF is a very close second. I use both on my competition guns - mainly because BnA are all but impossible to get in Australia whereas FF provide a good service. My question is, do you rest your shooting arm/elbow on a cushion of some sort on the bench, or do you have no contact with the bench at all when pulling the trigger? Thanks you again for your great post.
Graham
 
Thanks Graham for your kind words.

In fact, trigger pull consistency is a major key success factor. And many don't realize it, just because: "where can the rifle go, if it's on a rest?"
It goes weird, I can tell you, if we don't pay attention on how we pull the trigger. Of course, the lighter the rifle, the trickiest it becomes.

I do rest my elbow on a smooth towel. Two factors here: smooth, so it doesn't hurt in the long journey; towel as it allow for a certain (needed) back movement. As you might already know, I pull the trigger with my arm, not with the finger (leads to creeping).
If there's no elbow rest, height and elbow positioning is much harder to maintain shooting a card. And, no elbow rest will concur to fatigue. Too many muscles used to sustain that "air" elbow.

Regarding triggers, B&A and FFs are the top ones. I favour the later because is much less prone to suffer with dirt, and I can go as low as 4g if needed. Warning here: such a low pulling force is achieved with pull spring and not with a very thin sear (danger). And I don't recommend going so low if not having a very good trigger consistency,
 
Pedro - thank you for your quick reply and wise words. I will see how I go at the range today as I keep them in mind.
Best wishes
Graham
 
Man, at the last worlds I noticed a crowd of "spies" behind me.
It took me a couple of breaths to recompose, because unexpectedly I felt a rising in pressure... being observed 😊

I'm not immune to erros, so I do what I can to avoid them.
I block my index finger with my thumb, and when positioning the hand for shooting I touch the trigger guard with the side of my thumb, but that's it. After positioning, all done mechanically, the hand just goes off a little bit away from the trigger guard. Then, I know I'm ready to shoot when the condition presents.
Through the years I developed a mental trigger... readiness, condition, aiming, double check, aiming, action (firing). This way I can't go off, because a series of procedures have to be done before releasing. I just can't release in between, my brain is occupied with the sequence, so no other order can enter.
This sequence has to learned step by step, as a voluntary procedure, until it becomes automatic. Of course, from time to time, I practice just the sequence, to maintain the automatic level.

A very special warning here...
You have to know what you are doing, and being aware of middle road shortcuts, and worse, middle road "secondary effects". The must feared one is the potential developing of target panic. Again, consider yourself warned.
Target panic is a mental shortcut development, that will drive you nuts, leading to demotivation and going out of shooting. Why? Because target panic is an automatic brain trigger that will release every time you see the target center, or, when approaching it. You can't do anything against, it's a nightmare.

This is archery definition of it:
"Target panic is essentially an archer's worst nightmare. It's defined as anxiety when your pin is on target and can manifest itself in many different ways, including hovering your pin above or below your target, smacking the trigger right when your pin gets on target, or flinching when releasing an arrow".

Don't let anyone tell you differently, target panic DO affect rifle shooting. Sometimes very subtle. Have you ever saw an index finger being nervous on trigger blade? That's the beginning.
Target panic is very evident on prone shooters, less so on benchrest, but it will avoid you to wait for the condition and to shoot when you're ready.
The best benchrest solution to avoid it, but I don't like, neither recommend the technique, is aiming and then rising your head and shooting when a condition presents, not looking through the scope.

This could be another very interesting subject to discuss...
When I shot a bow, years ago, we used a clicker. Arrow went under clicker and pulling arrow back to same spot would cause clicker to snap against bow. We all used zippo lighters back then and closing lid with a snap sounded just like clicker. Yes we would
do this on purpose to cause others to flinch and release arrow early. The feather fletching would come off in a shower as a result, and yes we all had a great laugh about shooters error. That also let the shooter know he or she had a problem. Target archery is very much like rifle shooting, concentration and consistency are key to best performance.
 
When I shot a bow, years ago, we used a clicker. Arrow went under clicker and pulling arrow back to same spot would cause clicker to snap against bow. We all used zippo lighters back then and closing lid with a snap sounded just like clicker. Yes we would
do this on purpose to cause others to flinch and release arrow early. The feather fletching would come off in a shower as a result, and yes we all had a great laugh about shooters error. That also let the shooter know he or she had a problem. Target archery is very much like rifle shooting, concentration and consistency are key to best performance.
Thank You PedroS
I just got the Lenzi rear bag (ears) @ 14mm space 95mm length slick material. Man this bag really looks great. Thanks again for the tip.
 
I think I have the needed recoil (time after) to continue to tell how I did get there (my story).
I have had, thanks to many kind shooters, positive feedback about what I have written. Thank you!
In fact, as I said before, sharing is the key to progress. But, please remind, that's my approach, my way of seeing and doing things. By no means, THE ONLY WAY!
So, read it, if interesting to you, take notes, and if it makes sense, try it. If it works for you, keep it, if not, pass along.

These are the words I write until the 2023 Worlds...

"
2023 Worlds are coming, and we again are preparing it the best we can. We know that all eyes will be on us and on our targets, but that’s the price to pay.

I don’t know about the future, but I do know what to expect from it. Win and defeat, both make part of the game as joy and agony, but always be humble and friendly to the others.

I’m approaching things, as I did from the very beginning:
1. With passion
2. With desire to excel
3. And working hard

I hope you enjoyed how I get there (my story), as much as, I enjoyed writing and sharing it.

Have fun and good shooting, because you could be there too!

The End
(for now)

"

So, what about the 2023 Worlds? How did I prepared myself to it? What rifles, ammo, gear came with me? Did I changed mental approach?
In fact the 2023 Champs held in Plzen were more than Worlds, they were too the European ones. So, with this in mind, all shooters have to understand, that they have to shoot their best, so, they could clinch both trophies. Well, just for the Europeans, of course, because all the others are just competing for the Worlds.
Don't know if this was the best way, but after pandemic we had both Champs postponed, so, WRABF "melted" them together. Next year, everything, in organisational terms, will return to normal.
I have learn, from school, to take what it's given, so I realised to biggest potential of 2023 Plzen Champs.

As I told you before, 2023, was a more relaxed year for me. I knew already what has to be done to excel, what mental game needed to be there, so, based on the famous phrase "don't fix what's not broken", I did exactly the same shooting/mental preparation as before.
I have, due to ammo selection, just on IS rifle able to shoot, but, for LR and HR (WRABF changed the wording varmint to rifle), I had, still have, two fantastic options to shoot with. I have already discussed that on another forum/thread, so, I won't do it here, but will go more deep on another subject that it was not so important before. The stocks.
If you remember, I said, and maintain, if the action/trigger/barrel/tuner/bedding/ammo/scope bundle is ok, stocks (if parallel rides) don't matter much. Of course, I talk about good quality and well built ones.
During my shooting practice I looked at both rifles and, don't ask me why the doubt surfed on my head, I switched stocks between them. I could/can do this, because from some tine know I use almost the same type of actions/triggers so switching between them is possible.
So, I swop stocks and did a couple of targets. And I noted a funny thing... one of the rifles shot exactly the same, but the other started to put more Xs on the paper. And for some reason raised my confidence levels, leading me to choose it to go to Plzen. The rifle in question was built around a V3 action, FF trigger, 4MI barrel, RS Mk2 tuner, KSS straight-line stock and Nightforce scope, by Tony Harper.

And time came to fly to Plzen.
If you have never went to a major champs by plane, you never realised the logistics involved, not to speak the needed paperwork...
Just look at the attached picture where you can see part of the gear traveled with Portuguese committee.

To be continued.
 

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Let's rewind a bit...

When you target a major competition, you should be able to know what to practice and how to mentally adapt to the new challenge.

You should not overthink and rationalize that a Worlds is the end of the line, or insurmountable in terms of preparation, being gear or shooter related. If you over react you are just turning you down already in front of it.

Take a breath and start your preparation enough time before. Write down a plan, including practice goals, physical fitness and mental readiness.

I would like to share, but I'm afraid I fall short, because I don't know how to explain how I achieve my mental readiness for a Champs. What I can tell is as the competition approaches, I more and more tend to not worry about it. The feeling was, a couple of months before, "I have to do this and that", "let's achieve this mental state", "no, that's not the way", and then, when the competition begins the feeling is "let's do it!".

Of course, my mental training as something to do with it, mental focus, and concentration, totally related to my shooting, like creating a protective bubble over myself. But you have too, to fight not to be distracted. Giving you an example... on the 1st Worlds Day, one of my mates, told me: Pedro, don't worry I'll keep you informed about the others scores.", I immediately replied: "please don't do that, I don't care, I don't want to know, there's enough time after the shooting is done!".

This is very important, at least to me.

The other crucial mental aspect is confidence. Nothing can/should surf your mind when shooting other than reading the wind and aiming.

When you saw a shooter asking someone to be quiet, you should know you have already an advantage over him or her. When I'm at the bench I don't listen to nothing, except me and my rifle. You can make the noisiest ambience that it won't disturb me.

Practice this approach.

The other key confidence aspect is trusting your gear. A big competition is not the place to choose between lots, to fine tune your gear, to experiment. A big competition is where you deliver what you practice for.

And finally knowing when to pull the trigger. You have your gear well prepared, you are mentally fit, you read the wind, so pulling the trigger is the last equation part.

Believe me, shooting is a very solitaire discipline. You are completely alone with your rifle and ammo to speak with your target. Occasionally there are others around, namely in big competitions.

In physical terms you should practice like you'll be doing in the big event. If you are going to shoot a full day, practice a full day. Pause between cards, drink water, eat, relax and enjoy. A big competition is a huge physical strain. Not much realize that, and they will suffer at the end. You have to learn to wait your turn to shoot, not anticipating any type of wind or condition. Your time slot will come, and you have to be ready. Don't waste your precious time socializing in between, do your stuff first, and if some time is left, rest and be mentally ready. You'll have all the time afterwards to meet friends and socialize.

As I never had been at Plzen, I didn't know what to expect in range aspects. So, I tried to understand it through all the information I could find.

But, looking at some range pictures I anticipate a hard wind time, so I did practice a lot my 10/60 approach. Now you are wondering what's a 10/60 approach...

If you are a shooter with high goals, you have to be innovative, understanding that practicing always the same way, won't bring you different results.

For me, the worst situation I should avoid, is running out of shooting time. We have 20 min to do 25 shots. Looks more than enough, but when the wind starts to show its temper, time flies. So, I developed a practice technique that relieved me from any time stress. This is my 10/60 approach.

10/60 means 10 shots in 60 seconds. I mean 10 perfect shots. I know if I can do a perfect 10/60, I have enough time to wait for my wind conditions. So, I spent a lot of time doing 10/60 until I felt confident with it. And it was one of my secret weapons in Plzen. More on that later.

A lats word about gear preparation.

I'm very picky with my gear, all have to be perfect. Just read this thread and see how I did my rifles case. That's my way of gear preparation approach. Don't take short cuts. Believe in Murphy's law. Don't let it happen.

Ah... a final point of interest. Develop a good ability to read range peculiarities, meaning obstacles, sun light direction, benches space, those are key to develop your shooting comfort zone. You have to have your range space, places where your stuff is easily reach, your bubble zone.

A word of caution.

During the last weeks before the big event, don't overshoot yourself. You can't physically prepare in a couple of weeks. Either you are or not, so spend your time on mental training.

Don't burnout yourself.

And we arrived at Plzen.
(to be continued)
 
As usual a bit rewind...;)

I have to confess that during the hard preparation times I dreamed about being successful at Plzen. I couldn't help, even if I know that these kinds of thoughts put unnecessary stress on ourself. But "I had a dream"!

Plzen range is within a huge sports area, where many commodities can be found.
So, in there, you can feel the space around, but not on our shooting range. In fact, the chosen range to accommodate the Champs, is tiny. Not in number of benches, but in space between them and behind them.
Plzen is not a new facility, so, needs at that time were different. But, for such a big Champs, some care has to be taken to facilitate circulation around and comfort zones for the shooters, after all it was the Euro/Worlds, the 1st after the pandemics.
Such a huge competition puts an enormous burden on organisations, and criticising them is easy when you just arrive to shoot and nothing else.
WRABF opened a specific channel to debate whats when well and not so well, so I'm not doing it here, but I will just want to note two very important points that should draw our attention in the future.

One, is the distance to travel to clean the rifles.
Europe has a very restrictive firearms law, and even at this close specific ranges, you can not travel outside benches with rifles outside their case. Travel cases, specially the ones used for air travel, are not light, small, or silent, when rolled on the ground. And having to cross all the shooting range, and more 300m to arrive at your cleaning destination was a nightmare. So, I think, this has to be better studied, particularly when a perfect zone, just half doors to the shooting range, was available.
The other was something should be copied by others. That was a very good idea and should be implemented more. I'm talking about the complaint appraisal committee. It was formed by all team captains, and to give you an exemple, if a scored has been complained, the master referee prepared the target, and all captains looked through it. After they vote, except the one from the same target country. I made part of that committee, and others before, so I can say it was the fairest way to choose a doubtful situation. Hat's off.

Weather was misty in there, even if we were on summer time. Cold, rainy, and windy. Did I said windy? Oh boy, it was windy.

When I'm at a range new to me, I tend to visualize all the potential shooting wind obstacles. What I noticed there, was a complex range, with many easy to fall traps. As you cannot change a range building, might better to understand it and not fighting against it.

My appraisal brought me several hard to overcome aspects that I have to deal when aiming:

1. Benches are way back, so very hard to see more than two/three competitors flags. This is key to anticipate wind trend and turning waves.​
2. Lateral barriers. You have there a sort of lateral obstacles, planted in a way that, from my perspective, are more pernicious than benefic to shooting. They started 3m after shooting line, running for around 35m and then left a free ~10m space until the target.​
Funny enough, that space was where the wind blew more strongly. So, more flags than usual on that zone.​
About the barriers. There were not solid, instead, there are around 2m high and formed by wooden boards leaving, between them, a full 10~15cm open space. I have talked about it already, but I started to notice something was wrong at the practice time.​
I do my cards from bottom to top, and why on earth my last two rows were so difficult to hit correctly? I talked to my mates, we looked all around and really thought the culprit was the free space between the barrier end and the targets. But, I was not convinced, because why so much on the rows 1 and 2? At the end of practice day I spend a lot of time at the range wondering around to try to figure out what's happening. Then, in despair, I went to the targets, looked back to benches and took a careful look at the barriers. Bingo, the upper barriers gaps lined with the bullet path. And being higher than the target, we can't see it through the flags.​
Damn, the day after will start IS and I haven't realize that on practice, to try a couple of things. That night I did draw a plan to shoot so, I might could go around that trap, or not. And I did.

During the competition, many shooters complaint abut those 1 and 2 first rows!

Studying the range is very important, so do it. At Plzen I shot normally on the rows 3 to 5, but on the first 2 rows, I never shot lateral conditions, because they were the worst to deal, because of the venturi gap effect. I shot just front wind conditions, more truer than back ones. And normally I don't do it, so had to adapt.

The wind during IS was manageable, thank God! But on LR (I already told that WRABF changed to word varmint to rifle...) it was impossible. Strong, unpredictable, back and forth, with very strong bursts. I remember being seated, waiting for the whistle to start, asking me, man what are you going to do? I looked around and saw even more concerned shooters than me, that was reassuring...
During all day shooting you had 4~5 seconds to shoot in a condition, and if missed, a 9 or worst was granted.

When the dust settle down, only a 750 emerged, and I was the lucky owner.
I knew that I did something special, as on the last day, HR day, many people were behind me seeing me shooting. Great this was to my ego, when noticed, I had to recompose myself, as a sudden pressure raised inside me. Refocus and abstraction has been practice before and it helped me.

For HR, the wind settle down a bit and more 750 surfed, being wind reading and ability to cope with wind obstacles the major key differentiator between shooters.

There are moments which belong to us, and we'll never forget. Let me share the most striking one at Plzen. On the last HR target I had a dubious shot, might be 10 or 9. Could be then, 1st or 3rd place overall... I knew it will be complained, because referee gave me the 10.
It it was complained, but I didn't want to go to the committee, because it was my target. 10 captains were at the committee there to access the shot, and I went to the cafeteria waiting for the verdict. I couldn't eat or drink nothing, until my mate came with a big smile in his face. Yes, I did it! Could never forget that smile!

Of course all the practice done before, either physical, gear related and mental, played a huge part on my success, but those late hours at the range studying it, played gold to me.

It was a great time meeting friends, learning new ways to overcame shooting obstacles, understanding different shooting approaches, and having fun.

I brought home:

Individual
  • IS - World vice-champion, European champion and European record (747 42x)
  • LR - World and European champion, with World and European record (750 48x)
  • HR - World and European champion, with World and European record (750 61x)
  • 2 gun aggregate - World and European champion, with World and European record (1500 109x)
  • 3 gun aggregate - World and European champion, with World and European record (2247 151x)
Team (with Ricardo Serapio and Luís Pereira)
  • IS - World and European champion, with World and European record (2233/127x)
  • LR - World and European champion, with World and European record (2237/124x)
  • HR - World and European vice-champion ( 2245/164x)
All results here: https://www.wrabf.com/https://www.wrabf.com/World Championships.html

And my dream come true!


I can't be more grateful to my family and my dearest wife. Without their support, and love, I would never succeed. Your support, patience and understanding when I was not in the best mood, gave me all the strength to continue.
To Tony Harper, my mentor, always there to help and share his wisdom and knowledge.
To Erkki SeikKula, who continue to believe in me and granted the longest ever Lapua support.
And to my Team mates, and my club, helping to keep high that desire to excel.

(to be continued)
 
And 2023 came to an end...

It was so intense, I practice so much, I shot around 40.000 rounds (well spread among my rifles), that the undesirable happened... I burnout myself, physically and mentally.

Knowing what I had to do, I stopped for 6 long months, and gladly I did such a long break. Sometimes is wise to stop, looking back, and redo your future goals.

During my 8 years of BR competitions, I achieved all my goals and some more. But it was at a cost, both to my family and to other loved hobbies of mine.

So, I decided to slow down, regain my loved RC glider hobby, stopped for so long, having more time with my family, and above all, enjoying my shooting just for the sake of shooting.

During all those intense competition years I almost forgot how pleasant is to shoot. Now, I’m feeling again the fun of it.

That doesn’t mean, I’m quitting competitive shooting, no, not at all, and surely not yet. But my approach is much more relaxed than before. This is something we gain with experienced, enough life time, and well-established goals, and levels, during our shooting career.

Why I’m sharing these thoughts? To let you understand that “There is a time for every purpose under heaven”, as Pete Seeger’s song immortalised.

I will have more time to develop my gear, experiment a couple of things, develop BR in my club, and having a lot of fun shooting my rifles!

Thank you all!
 
Most excellent write-up. I was captivated from post one till the end. Thanks for sharing your experiences and your life. I appreciate everything you have done here.

Now it's time for me to take it and make it mine.

Steven
 
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