At an ungodly hour of Wednesday morning (or was it still Tuesday night?) I was awoken by my alarm clock. First stop Heathrow by car and then on to Hannover.
Due to the specific security staff not starting work until 6am, this meant an unscheduled wait to check-in, before boarding my 'eagle in the sky.' Well maybe I exaggerate. A sparrow should I say?! Arriving safely, I was able to train .22 that afternoon in preparation for my Sport Pistol competition on Friday.
Getting a perfect balance of competition mental readiness is critical in any sport, but none more so than shooting. Not quite building myself up enough, my average start to the Precision stage of the match, meant that this just separated my performance from world class. Luck also just wasn't on my side with nine 9.9's out of 30 shots! Nine points lost by the width of a cigarette paper. Excellence is at my finger tips!!
The Rapid stage followed my 8am start precision later at 12 noon. A slight technical error that occurred under the competition environment resulted in a solid, but not the sparkling performance that I have recently been consistently been putting in in Trials matches at Bisley.
So all in all a performance to build upon, but a good stepping stone of development.
Early that evening I was able to train Air Pistol, to reacquire myself with this gun in preparation for the following morning. I struggled and just thought it was because as a GBR Pistol Shooter, I'm at a disadvantage to other International Shooters. The very strict restrictions enabling us to live-fire our .22 Pistols means that we don't get the opportunity to transfer from one very different gun to the other, in a short period of time.
Saturday morning came and having learnt from the day before, I was mentally ready for this competition! But sadly my gun wasn’t. Struggling with the irregular trigger from the outset and culminating with a trigger weight that would rival a shotgun, I was proud to have been able to remain focused. As a result of these equipment problems, I finished with a well well below average score. But Julia and Victoria’s performances at the Ft Benning USA World Cup today, only one point better….
With no Steyr technicians in Hannover to cast their professional opinion over the situation, Steve Pengelly (the British Shooting Assistant Coach) and I did some basic tests. The outcome was it definitely wasn’t an operator error but seriously (hopefully not terminally) faulty equipment. I’ve shot this pistol for the past seven years and this is the first instance I’ve had a problem. A credit to Steyr. As I write this, the Air Pistol is being sent to Harry Preston (the Steyr UK technician) to fingers crossed, save the day!
Hannover. Character building, but positive!
It is the same each year. May Bank Holiday weekend is the English Championships, and for the first time for a good while I was able to attend. ISCH, a good minor competition in Hannover, Germany where I compete with both my Air and .22 Pistols, usually clashes with it, but instead it's a week later!
Sport Pistol, but with an Air Gun, I classed as my warm-up competition on sunday morning. It was great fun especially as I realised I'd not shot that pistol since 2009 (mainly because it is SO DIFFERENT to my .22 Pardini cartridge pistol).
My main event came at lunch time, Air Pistol. The qualification went well, shooting 380/400 a clear 8 points infront of my nearest rival. And by the end of the Final, this lead had stretched to 8.3. I'm the English Champion 2011!
I was quite happy with my qualification performance and a step forwards in my progression again, even if I shot another consistent 380 when all I need is 381 to qualify me for World Cups this year! Annoying, but I won't back down!
It was straight back home to Devon after filming in London, for the Exeter Chiefs End of Season Dinner. (With just enough time to dash to the gym for a session before!)
I was kindly invited by Jamie Horner to join the Ashfords Solicitors table. Three players were on each table of which Jason Shoemaker was sitting to my right. I was gutted in the closing seconds of the silent auction, when 'Annie Oakley's' bid for Jason's Chiefs European Cup Rugby Shirt was shot down by an anonymous bidder on table 28!
It was a great fun evening with delicious food, great company and inspiring speeches. Rob Baxter (coach) being one of these. Martin Bayfield was a great Guest Speaker and brought the house down on many occasion, before live music from the Unknowns saw the night out in style. (Pictured, James Stevenson Exeter Chiefs Sports Therapist. A fellow Uni friend!)