Pre-Season Preparations #1 – Outriggers!

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It is that time of the year again – time to gather together the rifle-related paraphenalia from all corners of the house, time to reassemble the reloading bench and time to think about investing in new tools and toys.

Yep! Spring is coming.  It is only a month until full-bore season starts, and already the sensuous smell of Hoppes and gun smoke seem to be wafting around in the chilly winter sunshine.

We are gearing up for another season and this one is going to be a biggie. With Palma 2019 nominations due by the end of September, several training camps, Commonwealth and Palma selections, and all the usual club shooting, we are going to be very busy little llamas. We are feeling well-rested after a low-key 2015/16 season and a hiatus from smallbore has helped. This has been our first actual off-season since we started shooting 3 years ago and we are ready to jump right back into it.

Preparations have begun!

Equipment Decisions

Our first big mission was to decide what we need to do with our old rear sights. Our Central sights are the last antiquated component on our rifles and are definitely due for an upgrade. Jared’s sights don’t return to zero and mine look to be heading that way. We have always known that we need to upgrade but the question has always been “when?”. At $650 a set they are not a small purchase!

The announcement of the Palma team nominations clinched it for us. If we want to try out for the team, we need reliable, working equipment and the sooner the better. We bit the bullet (haha punny!) and sexy new Centras are now heading our way. There will definitely be some sort of write up when they arrive.

The second piece of equipment to get hold of is a little bit more specialised and a little bit tricky…

Left-Eyed

We have known for quite some time now that I have been shooting with my non-dominant eye. I am one of those rare and unlucky people who are right-handed but left-eyed. I should be shooting left-handed but by the time we realised I was left-eyed, we had already invested in a lot of right-handed equipment.

Bugger.

Mostly it isn’t a huge deal. It is like trying to do things with your non-dominant hand – for example using a computer mouse. You can mouse around (albeit a bit clumsily) and are concentrating really hard because OSH says you should mix up your mousing hands and although it is tiring and confusing, you are NAILING it. Then, out of the blue, your dominant hand has impudently pushed its way in and is mousing away before you realise what has even happened. Grrrrrr!  If you keep concentrating it is very possible to do things well but it isn’t very natural.

This causes all kinds of confusion when you are trying to look at the target with your non-dominant eye and your dominant eye keeps trying to take over. I think the technical term is “mindfuck”. The easiest solution, and what I have been doing so far, is to completely block off the sight from my dominant eye with my shooting hat. This is great for teams shooting (and smallbore) but in any situation where I might need to use my non-shooting eye to watch important things like wind flags, the situation becomes a touch sub-optimal.

Outriggers

Luckily there is a solution. Shoot right handed but put your sights on outriggers so you can shoot left-eyed! I have had a play on a friends rifle with this set up and was blown away with how nice everything looked. It has to be worth a try, right?

The trickiest bit is locating some outriggers. They are not common pieces of equipment. Luckily a fellow shooter, friend, and all-round-good-guy agreed to fabricate some for me (I am not sure if he wants to be named but lets just call him Jack for now).

After the usual to-ing and fro-ing on facebook, measuring, re-measuring and photographs, my shiny new outriggers arrived in the post.

It didn’t take long to install them on my rifle… As with everything I purchase, I asked for them to be left as raw aluminium ready for a paint job. Usually they would be done to a fine mirror finish then anodised.

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Obviously, it was never going to be quite that simple.

In a flurry of excitement and impatience, I threw on my freshly assembled shooting gear, plugged myself in, launched myself down on the ground and…

Several bewildering and hilarious moments passed.

In the end, I had to figure out which eye I was looking through (and what I was looking at) by covering up each eye in turn with my hand.

Once the correct eye was ascertained, I could adjust the cheek piece which was the main cause of the confusion in the first place. Having one eye on each side of the sights wasn’t the best option.

A small pile of aluminium filings later and I was comfortably cuddled up with my rifle with the correct eye open and admiring the jaw-droppingly beautiful sight picture before me.

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Exquisite

After about 30 seconds of internal struggle, my brain reprogrammed itself and reclaimed the right eye as its own.

I immediately noticed some weird things happening.

  • I didn’t feel like I was fighting to see the sight picture
  • I hadn’t blinded my other eye but I could still clearly line up the target in my sights
  • My cheek wasn’t squashing into my eye and distorting the sight picture (added bonus!)
  • My eyesight is also way better in my left eye so I could focus easily enough without a correctional lens

A few dry fires and I am feeling excited about my new outriggers and the season ahead. I am most looking forward to learning to read wind more accurately due to being able to see what actually happens when I fire shots rather than guessing!

What next?

We are hoping to head up to Palmerston North for a shoot in the next few weeks to get some pre-season training in. With any luck our new sights will have turned up and we can do a zeroing session while we are up there.

Four weeks to go – I can’t wait!

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