Monday, 16 December 2013

38. Artistic Gymnastics - Floor Exercise

Event: Artistic Gymnastics - Floor Exercise
Date: 14th December 2013
Location: Colchester School of Gymnastics
Cost: Free
Rules: Routines are performed on a 12m x 12m mat with a safety border of 1m. The mat has a surface elasticity to allow for power during take-off. The routine is accompanied by instrumental music to enhance the performance. The routines should combine connections of dance movements with a variety of tumbling and acrobatic elements, using the whole floor area. It should be varied in mood, tempo and direction, with a maximum length of 90 seconds. The judges look for individuality, maturity, artistry and mastery of presentation. 

The Event:



London 2012 Winner: Aly Raisman, USA.


Sarah: We went to a couple of practice sessions, and were wowed by the agility and strength of others in the group. It turns out that doing cartwheels aged 31 isn't as simple (or graceful) as when I was a child. When it came to performing the routine, I felt really uncomfortable, and conscious that I was SO far from the tumbles and moves of the others in the class. We both enjoyed doing research and planning our routines, but mine, set to The Commodores 'Machine Gun', was basic to say they least. Though technically it fulfilled all the criteria in the rules, I dread to think what my score would have been! I'm going to keep practicing and aim to be able to do a cartwheel by the time we start our Rhythmic Gymnastics routines.
Ellie: Never have we looked more like a sketch from a French and Saunders special. To say we were nervous of embarrassing ourselves is an understatement! These routines look spectacular and effortless when performed by Olympic Gymnasts but I felt a lot like one of those tutu wearing hippos in Fantasia; only nowhere near as graceful. That being said this is one of my favourite events so far! It was lovely to be able to waltz across a sprung floor, putting together some moves to Britney (Yes, I used 'Work B*tch'; it seemed appropriate)! And if I even had 1% of the skill level of any of the gymnasts that do this properly I'd be over the moon. 
I spent some time watching YouTube videos and researching moves to use and the practice sessions at Colchester School of Gymnastics were perfect for cultivating my enthusiasm. They run adult drop-in sessions where you can use the equipment with as much or as little tuition as you like and some of the people there are incredibly talented. 
In an ideal world I would have been able to do some flips or spins or something more akin to the real gymnasts but I'm proud that I overcame my nerves and now have so much more appreciation for the level of skill needed to be able to perform such things with so much style and precision. 

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

37. Hockey

Event: Hockey
Date: 16th November 2013
Location: University of Essex
Cost: Free
Rules:  Hockey is a fast-paced team sport, with attackers, midfielders, defenders and a goalkeeper on each team. In a match, two teams of 11 players play for two 35 minute halves with ten minutes for half time. It is essential for players to control, pass, push, stop and hit the ball. Athletes can only play the ball with the flat face or edge of the stick and are not allowed to use their feet or any part of their body.

The Event:
University of Essex 1 - 0 Basildon

London 2012 Winners: Netherlands.

Sarah: We both felt pretty nervous before the match as it was an actual league game and we'd only been to one practice lesson a few weeks ago. My only other experience of hockey was at the start of secondary school, and the memories of mud-splattered, blotchy legs and numb hands weren't happy ones. Hockey was my Mum's sport when she was younger; she played on the Saxmundham mixed team, and was full of stories of how rough it was. After years of playing netball, I always thought I was an attack player, so I was a bit disappointed when I was put in Right Defence, but it actually felt a much better position for me to be playing. I really enjoyed getting stuck in to steal the ball back from the opponent, and try to get it forward for the team. There were a couple of tense moments around our goal, but we managed to keep the other team at bay and it felt amazing when we went 1-0 up!  Hockey has shot right up there to take the top spot as my favourite sport so far, and I'll definitely be looking to join a club once our Challenge is over.

Ellie: Today we played for the University of Essex Second team - and WON! The Seconds have trouble fielding a full team and this is the first win for them this season. Although the team were glad we were there to make up the numbers, the pressure I felt was enormous. This was an actual league match. Thankfully I'd been put in a position, top right (more traditionally known as Right Wing), that had little to do. That being said, I think I made one genuine contribution and the match was a really great education. From my position I was able to chat to the opposition (I was trying to mess with them psychologically!) and gain a good understanding of what the game is all about. I felt really encouraged that I wasn't ruining the teams chances and was so happy when we scored!

Sarah: The other team had a brilliant mascot!: 

Monday, 18 November 2013

36. Artistic Gymnastics - Uneven Bars

Event: Artistic Gymnastics - Uneven Bars
Date: 15th November 2013
Location: Colchester School of Gymnastics
Cost: Free
Rules:  The maximum width allowed between the bars is 180cm. Swinging and continuous movements are required on this apparatus, with the athlete moving between the bars. The routine should include movements in both directions, above and below the bars. Twists and somersaults with multi-grip changes and high flight should be demonstrated to maximise scores. The exercise usually ends with an impressive dismount.

The Event:
London 2012 Winner: Aliya Mustafina, Russia.

Sarah: This was my worst event of the night, it definitely doesn't lend itself to having awful upper-body strength! The bars are much further apart than I'd been expecting; I can't imagine throwing myself between them. I managed a few swings on the tall bar, some non-too graceful dismounts and an aborted attempt at a somersault on the lower bar. I was a bit distracted by the huge foam pit next to the bars, and much preferred playing practicing in that.  

Ellie: This was far and away my favourite of the three events that we've tried this evening; it was gleeful! It is a lot like being on a swing only you have to do all the work and once I got the momentum it became really enjoyable. I was really happy to be able to turn around on the tall bar and somersault over the top of the smaller one. We also got to try the dismount practice bar where you can spin gracefully in the air (!) and land in a giant pit of sponge! And we got to CHALK our hands like a real gymnast!

Sunday, 17 November 2013

35. Artistic Gymnastics - Vault

Event: Artistic Gymnastics - Vault
Date: 15th November 2013
Location: Colchester School of Gymnastics
Cost: Free
Rules:  The vault is 1.25m from the floor. Each vault is awarded a value according to its difficulty. Judges assess height, length and shape of the vault and the exactness of turns before and after the somersault, and a controlled landing within a marked area.

The Event:
London 2012 Winner: Sandra Izbasa, Romania. 

Sarah: If you were a child growing up in Essex in the 80s, it's pretty much guaranteed you would have visited Magic City in Clacton. It was a wonderful padded playground/obstacle course where you could throw yourself around and bounce off the walls. For me, gymnastics was a lot like that. Everywhere was springy, which was pretty great. As we bounced our way across the room, the vault loomed up and just got bigger and bigger. It's massive! We had a bit of a demo from some of the others and I knew I just had to go for it or I'd get too scared. You have to sprint full-speed on the run up, to get the momentum to bounce off the springboard and over the vault. We didn't quite manage to get the whole way over in one go, but got closer each time we had a try. The crash mats were stacked on top of a trampoline, which gave an extra springy dismount. I loved this one, and can definitely see how you'd gain in confidence and experience to improve.  

Ellie: The vault is about the size of a dinner table. It's huge. We asked some regulars to give us a demo and they were able to spring over it, performing somersaults which was really impressive! Regardless of the fact that we had to stop on the vault, it was so much fun and as Sarah says, I think you could get better quite quickly. It must be really satisfying to bounce straight over and on to the padded trampoline!

Saturday, 16 November 2013

34. Artistic Gymnastics - Balance Beam

Event: Artistic Gymnastics - Balance Beam
Date: 15th November 2013
Location: Colchester School of Gymnastics
Cost: Free
Rules:  The beam is 1.25m high, 5m long and only 10cm wide. The routine should be a maximum length of 90 seconds and show an artistic combination of leaps, jumps and turns, ending with the dismount. Athletes should use the entire length of the beam, demonstrating elegance, flexibility, rhythm, balance, confidence and control.  

The Event:

London 2012 Winner: Deng Linlin, China.

Sarah: I wasn't too excited at the thought of starting gymnastics; I picked up a few Baga awards in primary school, but that was my last experience of the sport until we took on the trampoline for the Challenge last year. I shouldn't have been nervous though, the club has a really relaxed atmosphere and everyone got on with their own thing; doing eye-watering somersaults, twists and tumbles. We had a practice on the lower training beam and got a bit cocky, thinking it was 'easy'. It turns out the proper beam was way more intimidating, and felt so much higher. It's even narrower than it looks, but we managed some dips, turns and impressive dismounts. 

Ellie: Nope - not for one moment did I think this was easy; even on the lower practice beam. It's so high up and so narrow! How the gymnasts are able to do anything other than wobble slowly along, occasionally looking as if they are about to fall off I have no idea - I imagine years of practice and natural skill would have a lot to do with it! That being said, the relaxed atmosphere at Colchester School of Gymnastics meant that there was zero pressure and I had the time to be slow and look clumsy. I managed to do a few dips and also turn and walk like a crab for a second or two. My 'routine' was probably as far from elegant as it's possible to get!

Thursday, 14 November 2013

33. BMX

Event: BMX
Date: 10th November 2013
Location: Platt Fields BMX Track, Manchester 
Cost: £12 each for one hour 
Rules:  BMX was first introduced into the Olympics in 2008. The competitions begin with a seeding phase where each rider runs the track once to determine the seedings, ensuring that the fastest riders don't meet before the final. The women progress straight to the semi-finals which have a three-run format. The top four riders in each progress to the final, where the winners are determined in one run. The women's track is 440m long and built with jumps, bumps and tightly banked corners.

The Event:

London 2012 Gold: 0.37.07s, Mariana Pajon, Columbia.  
Sarah: 1.25.50s
Ellie: 1.36.26s   

Sarah: We dragged three friends to Manchester for a weekend of cycling terror; both in the velodrome and on the BMX track. I quickly realised that I was going to have to throw myself in to the BMX before I had the chance to over-think it, get scared and wimp out. And it seemed to work! It took a little while to get used to the tiny bike, but standing on the pedals quickly became normal, and by the end of the hour we were tearing round the circuit. The slopes and jumps are incredibly steep and you have to pedal like mad on the downward slopes to get the momentum to launch up the other side. Miraculously I didn't fall off, but the first time I tackled the starting ramp, I pedalled full-pelt and launched into the air from the first bump! Miraculously I didn't fall off, and it made me appreciate just how fast the pros are going when they fly between the jumps. It was loads of fun, and definitely one of the sports I'd love to do again.  

Ellie:   I can't fully explain how satisfying it was to make it round this crazy track without stopping or more importantly, falling over. Our instructors took us through the basics and then threw us into the full circuit and I think we could all have ridden for more than an hour. However, at one point when I was half way up a steep slope my shoe flew off and I was sure I'd had it! There is a lot to remember with BMX and like the velodrome, it's nothing like riding a normal bike. You can't coast, you can't sit down, you can't take a break. You just have to keep the momentum going and keep looking straight ahead. I think BMX gets some points for the safety equipment as it really gave me a feeling of confidence and authenticity - we looked awesome in those helmets!  

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

BONUS EVENT #1 - Powerlifting

Event: Powerlifting or Benchpress
Date: 1st November 2013
Location: East Bergholt Sports Centre with the Suffolk Spartans
Cost: Free
Rules: Male and Female athletes assume a position on a specially designed bench and, after taking or receiving the bar at arms length, the lifter shall wait with locked elbows for the referee's signal. After receiving the signal 'start', the lifter must lower the bar to the chest, hold it motionless (visible) on the chest and then press upwards, with an even extension of the arms, to arms-length with locked elbows. When held motionless in this position the audible signal 'rack' shall be given.


London 2012 Gold Medal Weights:: 106.0kg - 162.0kg
Ellie: 31kg
Sarah: 26.5kg

Ellie: When Sarah and I began this challenge we didn't expect to have time for extra events but we knew we'd take any opportunity that came our way and weightlifting has given me one of the greatest experiences so far. This project has posed many problems for me and the biggest has been capability. As many of you know, I was born with Bilateral Talipes Equinovarus, a lower limb deformity which has both affected me and not bothered me at all in almost equal measures throughout my life! I had scores of operations to manipulate and correct my feet and legs and these only stopped at the age of 16. Sport has always been one of the areas that I have found most frustrating as I have zero balance, leg strength and speed but a massive amount of desire to be able to do the same as my peers; and so this was a very important bonus event for me.

While learning Weightlifting, our coach Tom noticed how I was struggling with the necessary balance needed to complete the entire move. He probably also noticed how annoyed I felt about it! Tom then suggested something that without exaggeration, opened up sports for me a little bit - Benchpress.  This is a sport that relies on you not using your legs at all in any traditional sense. It is easiest for those with good core muscles and upper body strength and I enjoyed it very much. On my first attempt I was able to Benchpress 30kg - a weight that Tom says he has never seen a female lifter press on their first attempt. 

When we were invited to visit the Suffolk Spartans, where 2012 Paralympic Gold Medalist, Zoe Newson trained, we were both really excited and the experience was wonderful. With only a small set of equipment and limited space, this club trains a variety of people with a variety of impairments and the atmosphere was warm and supportive. We chatted to their members throughout the evening and then were invited to have a go ourselves. I am very proud to say that I achieved a new personal best of 31kg. It is safe to say that I will be returning to Powerlifting when our challenge is complete - it's top of my list! 

Sarah: Why settle for 114 events when you could do 115?! It was a pleasure to be asked along to the Spartans training sessions, and try another event. We were really surprised that the club has just one bench, and such a small training area, but when the high costs of the equipment were explained to us, it all made sense. The Spartans are one of the three Paralympic powerlifting clubs in the country, and train 2012 bronze medal winner Zoe Newson, but they didn't receive a single penny of legacy funding, or even any legacy equipment. The dedication of the club owners, who also double up as the coaches, is inspiring. Having one bench does result in a brilliant atmosphere, with all the athletes cheering and heckling; spurring each other on to lift heavier weights, and being a real part of each others progress. On to the event, and I found this one really hard! My upper-body strength isn't brilliant, and I struggled to shift the weight after the pause on the chest. was like trying to move a completely dead weight! My arms were wobbling all over the place, and it took every ounce of effort to try and get the bar stationary.  

Ellie: We'd like to thank our coach Tom for all his help and the Suffolk Spartans who are a wonderful and welcoming club. If you would like any information on Talipes please visit the Steps website. Steps is a charity dedicated to supporting families affected by lower limb abnormalities and one that has meant a lot to me throughout my life!

London 2012 Bronze Medallist Zoe Newson powerlifting crazy weights in training:


Wednesday, 30 October 2013

32. Judo

Event: Judo
Date: 25th October 2013
Location: Colchester Judo Club 
Cost: Four free lessons. 
Rules:  Judo contests last for a maximum of five minutes with athletes attempting a combination of throws and holds to beat their opponent. It's fought on a tatami (mat) 8mx8m. Reflecting it's origins, much of judo's terminology is Japanese. The best score is Ippon, and other scores are for waza-ari, yuko and koka. At the start of each contest the athletes stand 4m apart facing each other on the mat. The referee gets the match underway by shouting 'Hajaine!' and stops it by shouting 'Matte!'.  

The Event:
Sarah: 17 (waza-ari 7 and ippon 10)
Ellie:    12 (waza-ari 7 and yuko 5) 

Sarah: I wasn't expecting too much from judo when we first went along, and came away from the first lesson firmly in the 'not a fan' camp. And the aching over the following two days was crazy! But, something happened over the next three lessons, and I found myself beginning to understand the sport and really get in to it. We built on our throws, falls, holds and strangles (really) each week and by the time the final match came around they all started to come together and make sense. Judo means 'the gentle way'..I'm not sure if I completely agree with that definition; the tactics and strength involved combine to make it a very physically intense sport, but one which I really began to enjoy. 
Ellie: Judo was our first attempt at a martial art and again it was another event that far exceeded our expectations. 'The Gentle Way' really stuck in my head as the meaning of the word Judo as it didn't feel very gentle after the first session. We had skinned fingers and toes and aches throughout our bodies. It was great learning the moves and the tactics - which are further reaching than you could possibly imagine as a spectator. I felt that once we were into the actual match my mind dissolved the tactics I'd learnt and I couldn't think of anything other than trying to stay upright! 

We were made to feel so welcome at Colchester Judo Club, and were so lucky to have some excellent coaching. We were majorly impressed by the dedication and strength of the players; many of whom have been practicing judo since they were small. The club has classes for all age groups, so if you're interested, their facebook page is here:   

Friday, 11 October 2013

31. Waterpolo

Event: Waterpolo
Date: 8th October 2013
Location: Chelmsford Swimming Club 
Cost: Two free sessions. 
Rules:  Waterpolo is a very physical team sport in which the players of each team try to score as many goals against the opposing team. There are seven players on each team, and games are played in four eight-minute quarters, with two minutes between each quarter. The pool has a minimum 2m depth, and players tread water for the whole game; not allowed to touch the sides or bottom of the pool. Each quarter starts with teams lined up on opposite goal lines; on the whistle the teams sprint towards the centre of the pool where the referee throws the ball in to the water. Players can only touch the ball with one hand, and can swim up to 1500m in one match!

The Event:

Sarah's Team (No Hats): 9
Ellie's Team (Hats): 3
London 2012 Winners: USA

Sarah: It's inevitable that we're going to encounter sports in this challenge that we're not as keen on as others. I wasn't a huge fan of trampolining, and I can now add waterpolo to the list. It's an incredible sport, but just not for me! The lessons we had with the club were really great; the warm ups and drills gave us such an insite to the sport. I'm a fairly confident swimmer, but found being out of my depth for so long quite disconcerting. I'm sure it's something that I would get used to the more I did it, but I found that I was concentrating so much on staying afloat that I couldn't get any power or speed behind my throws, and dropped nearly all of my catches! In our second lesson we had a glimpse of the physical contact involved in the sport.. be prepared for shoves and other players leaning on you to get to the ball! We had a short match at the end of our last lesson, and it was great to see how it's meant to be played (it's fair to say that Ellie and I didn't have too much impact on the goal scoring or defence!). One thing that really came through was how much fun the team appear to have, and how well they all work together. Also how much endurance is needed to play the sport; the speed of changing direction in the pool and the power with which the players lift themselves out of the water and hit the ball is really impressive.  
Ellie: What can I say about waterpolo? If someone asked me to describe the sport in three words I would probably say; demanding, exhausting and violent. Waterpolo makes list of most violent sports! Our training sessions weren't too bruising thankfully but they lasted around two hours and as per waterpolo rules, you're not allowed to touch the bottom of the pool. It's another sport that requires far more from the player that one imagines. The agility needed in the water is mad - you have to change directions so quickly and with such speed! Our training sessions were a little grueling but when I was eventually able to score goals or make good passes it was really satisfying. I was sent to mark Sarah during our game, and it became even clearer just what skills are on show by the other players. The ball was constantly at the opposite end to us as we struggled to get up and down the pool! The definite plus point alongside goal scoring - I got to wear a hat!

The players and coaches at Chelmsford Swimming Club were very patient and accommodating for us, so a big thank you to them! If you'd like to give waterpolo a try, have a look at their website:

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

30. Weightlifting

Event: Weightlifting
Date: 5th October 2013
Location: Hamiltons Fitness Centre, Colchester 
Cost: Three lessons; first free, then £7 per lesson. 
Rules:  The women's event first appeared in Sydney 2000. Weightlifting consists of two moves, completed in order. First the Snatch and then the Clean & Jerk. Each athlete can have three attempts at each movement, and their best performance in each are added together to give an overall score. The Snatch lift sees the athlete lift the barbell from the platform to locked arms overhead in a smooth continuous movement. The barbell is pulled as high as possible (typically to mid-chest) at which point it's flipped overhead. The Clean & Jerk consists of two movements; the Clean park sees the barbell lifted from the floor to a position across the chest. The Jerk involves lifting the weight above the head until the arms are straight and the bar is stationary.
The Event: 

London 2012 Olympic Gold:
Gold medal combined weights range from 205kg-333kg for the various weight disciplines.
Sarah: Combined weight lifted: 28kg  
Ellie: Combined weight lifted: 28kg  

Sarah: Whatever you do, don't look at the weights we lifted compared to the Olympic Gold weights. No, really, please don't look. I'd like to think that we're not as weak as those numbers make us look! We had no idea what to expect when it came to weightlifting, and went along to our first lesson feeling a bit nervous about stepping in to the unknown. We were quickly put at ease by our coach Tom, and had three brilliant lessons.  We were taught the techniques required for the lifts (including a spot of bench-pressing where Ellie pressed a whopping 30kg and I managed 25kg), and the movements were broken down and practiced in parts before putting everything together in our last lesson. I can honestly say that the achievement I felt when I did the Clean & Jerk was the most victorious so far during our challenge! We both loved our lessons and learning the disciplines of this event. I found that if I over-thought the moves; which I did regularly, then I would start getting nervous about the weight. It's best to just throw yourself in and attack the weight. Tom was full of facts, incite and knowledge that really broadened our understanding of the sport, including lots of stories featuring various dislocated body parts. I came away feeling that we've been given such a thorough introduction, and it's really changed my perception and understanding of weightlifting.         

Ellie: So, another event ticked off the list and this is one of the first were the feeling of accomplishment is lessened by the fact that I’ll really miss these training sessions. My impression of weightlifting really changed when we first started. Alongside the sheer power of the athletes, the balance and technique needed to compete is staggering; which is funny seeing as we staggered around a lot while trying to lift these weights! Our coach, Tom, was really enthusiastic and our sessions were amusing as well as energetic. Weightlifting certainly gets the gold medal for best erminology- snatch, jerk - brilliant. But seriously, these are skills that you must be spot on with as referees can disqualify competitors for small inaccuracies.
Clean & Jerk - my trouble started straight away. Although my upper body strength is good, if I say so myself, I have zero balance and the beginning position is a very low squat with both heels on the floor. I am totally unable to do this. However, we were able to get my bar started on higher blocks and so I didn't need to start so low down. The first and second movement brings the bar up to your chin and this is best as a swift, smooth motion keeping as close to the body as possible. Then it gets scary. You have to split your feet, one back and one forward, and use the momentum to get the bar above your head- without smashing your chin or nose. It's terrifying before you do it and then elating once it's done. 
Snatch - This is an even scarier method. It is one fluid motion from floor to above the head with a low dip in the middle to help propel the bar up. Again I couldn't manage the starting stance and also struggled with the dip but even using the training bar the sense of achievement when you stand with the bar held high is amazing!   

Huge thanks to Tom at Hamiltons for making the lessons so much fun. We'd really recommend their gym; especially for the massive tyres you can try to shift in the outdoor training area.  

Thursday, 26 September 2013

29. 10m Air Pistol

Event: 10m Air Pistol
Date: 19th September 2013
Location: Colchester Rifle Club 
Cost: 24p for scorecards 
Rules:  In the qualifying rounds shooters fire 40 shots at the target which is at a distance of 10 metres, with a time limit of 75 minutes. The eight shooters with the best score progress to the final where they fire 10 shots with a time limit of 75 seconds per shot. The shooter with the best combined score from the qualifying and final wins.

The Event: 


London 2012 Winner: Guo Wenjun, China.


Sarah: After the stability of the air rifle, we both found it was really hard to keep the air pistols steady, and the few shots that actually hit the targets were quite erratic. We shot one round of ten on a basic air pistol, and another round of ten from a more advanced gun with a wooden grip, which offered a bit more support to our wobbly wrists. We're not just being casual in the pictures; we were told to stand with a hand in our pocket or on our bum to steady ourselves! We only have one shooting event left now, and we'd been hearing murmurs that it would be impossible in this country. Which it will, as the pistol is banned. The UK athletes train in Switzerland, which I don't think our budget will stretch to!  We're hoping to find somewhere a bit cheaper, and probably less glamorous, to plan our trip!    
Ellie: Well that's it. That's all our shooting in the UK done. The next time we pick up a gun for our challenge we will be somewhere foreign! These tiny guns are really hard to keep steady but I really enjoyed the jaunty stance... it's easy to feel a bit like you are in a film when holding a gun and standing like that!

That was sadly our last trip to Colchester Rifle Club, and we'd like to thank them for their patience and hospitality! If you're looking to get in to shooting, they are a good bunch to contact!

Sunday, 22 September 2013

28. 10m Air Rifle

Event: 10m Air Rifle
Date: 19th September 2013
Location: Colchester Rifle Club 
Cost: 12p for score cards. 
Rules:  In the qualifying rounds, shooters fire 40 shots in a standing position, with a time limit of 75 minutes. The target is placed 10m away. The eight top shooters progress to the final where they shoot 10 shots on command, with a time limit of 75 seconds per shot. The shooter with the best combined score from the qualifying and final wins.

The Event: 



London 2012 Winner: Yi Siling, China.


Sarah: We made a welcome return to Colchester Rifle Club, this time with Matt as our coach, talking us through the air rifle. The gun was so much lighter than the other rifles we'd previously used, with hardly any kick-back, and we were both far more accurate in our shots. The guns take pellets, which are simple to reload, making the whole event seem much quicker and more flowing. I seemed to favour the right-side of the target, which apparently meant I was pulling at the trigger rather than gently squeezing it.    
Ellie: The moon was bright, there wasn't a cloud in the sky and we were off to try a new firearm. Everything seemed a lot calmer compared to our previous gun adventures. This is possibly because we are now old hands in the shooting game or because of how quiet it was at the club or because the pellets seemed a lot less ... dangerous? Either way I still felt a great deal less accurate when shooting and I think that this was because of the weight of the riffles or lack thereof. I felt that I was much more wobbly because I didn't have a huge, weighty riffle rooting me to the spot. It was a great experience though - the machine that positions the target was worth it in its self!

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

27. 50m Rifle Three Positions

Event: 50m Rifle Three Positions
Date: 13th July 2013
Location: Colchester Rifle Club 
Cost: £1 each plus £4.70 for ammunition. 
Rules:  In the qualifying rounds, shooters fire 150 shots; 50 in each the prone, standing and kneeling position in a time limit of 135 minutes. The eight shooters with the best score progress to the final where they fire 10 shots in the standing position. These are fired on command with a time limit of 75 seconds per shot. The target is 50 metres away and divided in to 10 rings. The shooter with the best combined score from the qualifying and final wins.

The Event: 



London 2012 Winner: Jamie Lynn Gray, USA.


Sarah: It was our second visit to the Colchester Rifle Club, following our Health & Safety introduction at the start of the year, and we unexpectedly got to tick an event off the list! The rifles are so heavy, but thankfully don't have much kick-back. I was wary on my first shot, following the kick-back from the Trap and Skeet shotguns, but the trigger was super-sensitive and there was hardly any jolt. The prone position gave us chance to get used to positioning the rifle, and time to understand how to scope for each other and call the hits so the shooter could adjust their aim. Ellie is ridiculously accurate; look at her targets! Feeling confident, we attempted the kneeling and standing positions, which quickly brought us back down to earth! The weight of the gun meant it was basically impossible to keep still, and I feel pleased I even managed to hit the card. We had to complete the event on an indoor 25 yard (23 metres) range, as the 50m shooting range is outside. The club understandably doesn't allow beginners on outside targets; if the shot were to go in to the air, it can travel for up to a mile and have the same force on impact.    
Ellie: It was such a pleasure to finally meet Bernie at the Colchester Rifle Club. We've been in contact since Christmas but a list of unfortunate events has stopped us meeting until now. It's also a total shock to be able to write this event up. We assumed we'd meet and talk through what we needed to do and maybe have a look around, but Bernie was straight in there. After safety talks, registering, jokes and offers of drinks it was 'discovered' that I am, annoyingly, left-handed and I was given a beautiful and expensive (£1200) rifle. We were allowed to change the shells ourselves and this made me feel much more comfortable and, in a way, connected to the sport. The other difference I felt between this event and the Trap and Skeet is the weight; the rifle is crazy-heavy. I think this is why I didn't get a good shot on target when kneeling or standing - I was so wobbly! I hit the paper and that is good enough for me on this occasion. I'm really proud of my grouping when in the prime position as well. And now we have these beautiful score/shoot cards. I find them so nice to look at that I'm going to frame mine!

Big thanks to Bernie and all at Colchester Rifle Club for their patience and hospitality!