Wow! It has been over two months since my last post and so much has happened – the most notable being a huge improvement in my shooting which I put down to both focused practice, and also to some very minor modifications to my rifle which seem to have made a rather considerable difference!
I have also won some more trophies but more on that at the end!
It all started a few weeks ago after a mostly good club shoot with an occasional random bad shot. I was frustrated and probably sulking just a tiny bit. The random bad shots had been happening far too often and have been a bit of a downer on otherwise good shoots.
Luckily I have the sort of personality where I can quickly turn a strong desire to use my rifle as a javelin into something a little more constructive.
After some thinking and a bit of asking around, I got asked the question, “Are you puttng your finger on the trigger in the same place every time?”. I was quite embarrassed to find that I couldn’t answer this – I actually didn’t know! Could it be such a simple thing?
Over the next few days, I did a bit of dry firing in the evenings and really concentrated on what was happening to my sight picture as I released the trigger. It was all over the place! My hold was good and steady but all bets were off at the trigger break!
I came to the following conclusions.
- No I was not putting my finger (and hand) in the same place everytime. More importantly, I couldn’t actually tell whether I was or not.
- My pistol grip was too large for my hand and I was struggling to hold it.
- My trigger finger was touching the grip where it shouldn’t be (but only sometimes… eeeek bad!)
- I had a nasty flinch (possibly partly because I was automatically correcting for movement I could see when squeezing the trigger)
#1, #2 and #3 are easy fixes… #4 might take some work!
A New Trigger Shoe.
Looking at my original trigger, it is no wonder that I can’t tell where my finger is. There are no reference points at all – it is cylindrical and feels the same in every direction.
The easy solution would be to drill a hole through the shoe and insert a screw that my finger can rest on. I decided against modifying the original though for a few reasons.
- If I mess it up completely, It will find myself in a sub-optimal situation with no back up.
- If I ever sell it, It would be nice to have it as original.
- It currently feels very bulky, awkward and imprecise under my finger so I would like something that feels solid and positive. The round shape means that instead of pulling straight back, I am pulling or pushing it side to side.
- I think I can make something better.
Luckily it was an easy process. The current shoe is mounted on a 4mm bar which just slides into the trigger body and is secured with a grub screw. All I needed to find was some 4mm bar and then I could go from there.
A quick rummage around the garage led to the discovery of some 4mm stainless steel buckles… perfect! I used my incredible hacksaw skills and soon had a base for my new trigger shoe.
I decided that I would like a flat faced trigger with a groove in it which will help me position my finger. It would be loosely based on the MEC triggers.
I built up a base of epoxy on the steel and sanded the face flat. The epoxy was quite difficult to work with and create what I want so I used polymer clay to finish off the process. I baked the clay in the oven and then glued it to my prepared epoxy base.
Here is the finished trigger… what a pretty colour!
A Modified Pistol Grip
In my dry-firing adventures, I discovered a few things about my grip.
- Because the grip was so large, I was struggling to pull the trigger straight back.
- I was occasionally touching the grip with my trigger finger.
- The grip was occasionally touching the left elbow of my jacket where the jacket is bunching up.
Out comes the file and I spent a happy few hours reshaping the grip.
My new modified grip compared to Jared’s untouched one (the camera angles are slightly different but you get the general idea!)
The grip feels much more comfortable in my hand. I think there is a little more that can come off but I will try it and see first.
I tried it all out! A lot of mindful dry firing over the next few evenings where I was concentrating on finger placement, hand placement and shot release started the process of cementing all the new stuff in my head.
I was a bit worried as the club champs were the next day and championship events are usually a terrible time for trying something new but I finished up my final practice session for the week quite satisfied that it was at least going to be no worse than before.
All that worrying for nothing! I had a few wobbly shots which I saw and called (infinitely better than being surprised by random bad shots!) and much to my delight, I didn’t shoot anything under a 45 all day. I ended up winning C grade which was even more satisfying. I did get knocked about by the wind a little bit in the longer ranges but my group was mostly in the 5 ring… next step, the V ring!
My overall scores were:
300y – 48.3, 500y- 49.7, 600y – 47.3, 800 – 48.2, 900y – 46.5, 1000y – 45.3
And my groups – still room for improvement but getting better!
The next week was the Kiwitea champs at Cheltenham. I was itching to make sure that everything I had done had stuck!
I shot a nervous and shaky 47.2 at 300. Due to the lighting, the targets looked very large compared to what I am used to and I should have increased my foresight to match. I think this may have contributed to the size of my group.
I settled down and shot a couple of 49s! Yippee! It looks like I might be getting there! A couple of odd shots but the group is looking better!
I ended up by winning C grade and I was selected for the Wellington team to shoot the next day where I shot two 49.5s and a 48.2. I am quite pleased with these scores although I realise that I should have stopped and rested my eyes on the final range when I noticed a swimmy sight picture.
Bert Dixon Teams
The next exciting thing to happen was to be selected for the Petone Green team for the Bert Dixon teams event. The team consists of two A graders, a B grader and a C grader with 7 shots at 300, 500 amd 600 yards. I was the C grader.
I was super excited to be be in the top team but also very apprehensive in case all the good shooting was just a passing phase.
Once again, I needn’t have worried.
I was pretty satisfied with a 33.1 at 300y (both the lost shots were my fault) and then I shot 35.4 and 35.2 which I was very happy with! Our team ended up winning the Bert Dixon Shield and I managed the top score for our team!
Onwards and Upwards!
I definitely still have a lot to work on but I think I have ironed out a few crucial things. I will still focus on tightening up my group and eliminating those last few rogue shots. Lots of dry firing on the living room floor!
There are only a few weeks until the end of fullbore season but there are still a few exciting adventures still to go as well as getting ready for the big trip to Australia in June.
I will also make sure that I don’t leave it so long between blogs this time 😉