I realise its been over a week since the Open European Championships, however I was quite busy in getting some university work completed which probably should have recieved greater attention while I was in Slovakia.
Firstly journey went without any problems. This was the first time I had flown with my air rifle, however that all went smoothly. There was a little bit of confusion at Vienna airport in knowing where to find the air rifle, however it was found and there was no problem. From Vienna we had road transport arranged by the organiser.
The Wednesday was set aside for the equipment control and training. As my training time was not until late in the afternoon I decided to have a bit of a break until then. At the training session, as here in the UK loading is normally done by the assistant as the specialist scope we use can make it difficult to load the rifle, we decided to ask whether it would be permitted for my assistant to load for me. We managed to get approval for this.
The Thursday saw the day of the standing competition, the one which was my main focus as its the discipline I am experienced in. We heard word in the morning that there was some disatisfaction over my assistant loading for me and as I started my sighting shots we were officially informed that I would have to load the rifle for myself. I possibly took more sighting shots than I would normally so that I could get used to the new shooting procedure of me loading. Luckily this change did not seem to affect me and I completed the competition with a score of 585. This was possibly slightly unfortunate as there were three people on 586. Anyway this got me 6th place which saw me into my first international final. I had a couple of bad shots in the final, however I had finished the main competition sufficiently ahead of 7th place that I maintained 6th place. This was possibly lower than I wanted, however the top scores were tighter than I had been expecting.
The Friday was for the three position competition, my first ever competition doing other positions than standing. For some reason IBSA have decided to adopt sitting positions to replace the prone and kneeling and so we had not got a suitable seat and table for doing these positions. I am grateful to the Danish team for loaning me a suitable table and seat. Also while the IBSA rules seem to be very clear about slings not being permitted, it had been decided that slings would be allowed for the competition. Thank you to the team from Finland for loaning me a sling. The three position started with the sitting position for prone, I must have been lucky with finding the position as it was feeling quite good and comfortable. There were some moments where I was just doing the shooting and I was so unaware of how many shots I had taken that I became concerned in case I did too many and so needed to check how many I had done. I finished the prone part with a score of 394, which while may be not going to be the top score it was certainly good for my first go. Next came the kneeling, which did not go so good. I must have not found the position as it was uncomfortable and unstable. At one point I was ready to withdraw from the competition, but some how I managed to push myself on and completed the competition with a score of 375. There was little time to recover as there was still the standing to do. I completed the standing with a score of 388, which may be is lower than I would have liked, but considering what I had done just before that I was still happy with this score. I finished the three position with a total of 1157 which gave me 13th place.
The Saturday was the day of the prone competition, after my good experience with the prone the day before I was looking forward to this competition. I did not quite find the position I had found the day before for the prone, however it was still feeling very stable and I felt able to continue. I completed this competition with a score of 593, which I felt was fairly good considering the amount I had done before. This saw me in at 10th place, which I was quite happy with.
You can find a full copy of the results here.
I really enjoyed the time at the championships, may be I would have preferred the kneeling to have been a bit easier. Also I hope that may be more people in the UK could take up doing the prone discipline, then may be in future others could be going to such championships.
I imagine my next main competition is going to be the British Championships in March. I don't know whether I will be able to encourage some adoption of the prone position before the British Championships, however I hope at least it can be discussed at the British Championships and may be future years will have the prone discipline as well.