Saturday 24 December 2016

Air Pistol Training: Dec 2016

My daily air pistol training sessions (~1hr every evening using the SCATT for 'dry fire' practice) seems to be slowly improving my results. I've been tracking the summary results from my SCATT sessions and my weekend shoots at the local air pistol club, and there seems to be a trend towards better scores. Aside from strengthening the specific muscle groups used to raise and hold a pistol steady during an hour, I presume the result is mostly due to improved hold (a somewhat smaller arc of movement, as shown by the SCATT 'trace length' graph) and more consistent trigger release (few 'wild' shots resulting in 8s or 7s due to trigger 'jerk', and hence more 10-shot 'cards' that end up with scores in the low 90s, rather than in the 80s).

The plots below (on the left) show histograms of 'card' totals for the first, second and third sets of 20 practice and club match shoots. They show that when I first started shooting regularly a couple of months ago I was often having a 'card' with a score in the low 80s. By the second set of twenty sessions I had reduced the number of 'bad' cards considerably, and was mostly shooting in the low-mid 90s, with a handful of cards in the 95-97 range. The third set of twenty sessions (which is still in progress) shows that although I am still having the occasional bad card (below 90) on an 'off' day, I have increased the percentage of cards in the 95-97 range to the extent that it is almost the same as the percentage of cards falling into the 89-91 range. My end goal would be to shoot nearly all cards in the 92-94 and 95-97 range, and occasionally get a card of 98-100.

At the national championship level, shooting all 95-97 or better per 'card' is required. And at world championship level nearly every series of ten shots would have to be 97 or above to even make it into the finals!

A review of some SCATT traces from last night's practice session shows where I still need to improve my shot consistency. The first plot  below shows what a typical  'good' (for me) shot looks like - with a small AM (the 'hold' area in green) settling well within the 9-ring, and the final second (yellow trace) lying mostly within the 10-ring, and then the trigger release (blue line) being smooth and not displacing the point of aim. Ideally the follow through' (red) trace would show that I maintained my hold until after the shot away.

The second trace shows a more typical shot, with a larger AM (more wobble in my hold), possibly due to slight changes in stance, grip, breathing etc. resulting in a '9'.

The third trace shows the problem of occasional trigger 'jerk' that I need to eliminate - while the AM was OK, I must have consciously tried to 'pull' the trigger at the instant the sight picture was 'perfect', and as a result the more abrupt trigger motion upset my sight alignment and threw the shot into the 8-ring. To win competitions I'll need to work on my trigger release and completely eliminate such 'wild' shots. And of course it is a lot more difficult to achieve this during the stress of a competition than while calmly practicing at home!

At least my regular practice is slowly improving my AM and hence my scores - as shown in plots of SCATT trace length (a measure of how much 'wobble' is in my hold), and SCATT average shot score.

So far I've been doing some SCATT training most days, but I haven't yet got back into the habit of doing daily 5BX exercise sessions, or started doing any isometric or weight training. To maximize my performance I'll need to work on this during 2017. I also need to work on my mental state during competitions - too often I find myself thinking about previous bad shots, or worrying about how my score is progressing during competition, rather than calmly executing each shot in the same manner I do during practice sessions.

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Tuesday 6 December 2016

Free and Easy way to support the World Food Programme

If you click on this this cute, animated cartoon [1:42] that is Mastercard Season's Greetings 2016 - MasterCard will donate one euro to the World Food Programme to support the school meal programme.

disclosure: #MasterCardEmployee

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Friday 2 December 2016

Diet & Exercise update - Weeks 38 & 39

Well, I haven't been doing too well with my diet and exercise since the last post. While I managed to cut back slightly on my consumption of confectionery, I haven't yet managed to eliminate it completely and stick to my daily diet plan, so my weight has been creeping up again. I usually start out well enough each day, sticking with my planned breakfast and lunch items, but I'll then have a 'snack' while shopping or preparing dinner, and then also browse on confectionery after dinner while watching TV. My 'plan' is always to only have some fruit after dinner as dessert, and then to avoid snacking until bed time. The trick is to work out how to stick to my plan! Since it is too hot and humid to go for a long walk at lunchtime, I need to start going for an evening walk after dinner. While I've been doing an hour or so of air pistol 'dry fire' training using my SCATT most evenings, I haven't started doing daily 5BX.

To make my SCATT training sessions more productive, I decided to try the 'kindergarten' training method outlined by Anatoliy Piddubnyy. I wrote out a 'script' for a single 1-minute 'shot' sequence, and dubbed the narration on top of a free classical track (Handel's 'Andante' from the 'Water Music'). Initially I was going to record the narration myself, but after getting poor recordings using a cheap USB microphone I decided to use a free online text-to-speech app to simply create a suitable MP3 file. Loading the two MP3 files into audacity was very simple, and it only took a few moments to edit out some unwanted parts of the narration and replicate it 10-times to create a recording for a 10-minute, 10-shot 'card', followed by a 3-minute rest, all accompanied by a loop of  3-minutes of Handel. I was initially going to create a 90-minute track for an entire 60-shot 'match' training session, but after trying out the 10-shot 'card' track I decided it was better to simply re-play that track for every 10-shot 'card'. That way it is a lot easier to take a break between 'cards', and to have amply time to get back into position and check my natural aim before starting each 10-shot sequence.

The first evening I tried using the 'kindergarten' method with my home-made sound track it seemed to work quite well - I got  nearly all 9s and 10s, and only had one 'wild' shot (an 8) out of my 40-shot training session. However, the second night I tried training with this track I tried being a bit 'flexible' about adhering to the exact timing of the commands, and ended up holding my aim too long and getting five bad shots out of 40 (4x8s and a 7). So, I'll probably have to create a modified version, as the timing of some parts of each shot isn't quite right. Once I get the sound track exactly the way I want it, I'll use it for daily SCATT training sessions for a couple of months and see if I can consistently shoot 95+ on every 'card'. Currently I'm shooting between 89-96 for each 'card' of ten shots while SCATT training at home, although I tend to not shoot as well at the club on Saturday's, or when at a competition. Hopefully with enough training my shot timing will become 'second nature' and I'll be able to consistently shoot as well at competitions as I do in training.

At the moment the SCATT traces are showing my natural AM (arc of movement) when I initially 'take aim' is a 'random walk' lying mostly within the '9-ring', and then tightens up as I commence my trigger release ('squeeze'). Using the sound track for training helps my shoot within 5-10 seconds of 'taking aim', rather than holding way too long waiting for my aim to be 'perfect'. Currently the SCATT results show that around 35%-40% of the final second of the trace before my shot fires is falling within the 10-ring, which matches with my result of getting slightly less than a 50:50 mix of 10s and 9s. I still need to avoid holding too long and trying to 'force' a bulls-eye - which sometimes works, but is almost as likely to result in a 'wild' shot of an 8 or a 7.

My initial training goals are:
1. Habituate a natural 'rhythm' for taking aim and releasing a 'surprise' shot within 5-10 seconds of taking aim. This should help eliminate any shots that are worse than a '9', and, based on my current AM, should result in a score of around 550-570 for a 60-shot match (averaging around 92-95 per card, and eliminate any 'card' scores below 90).
2. Add daily 5BX and light weight training (and loose more weight!) to improve my overall fitness, muscle tone and core strength. This should (hopefully) improve my natural AM ('arc of movement') over the next couple of months - ideally my SCATT traces should end up mostly lying with the 9.5 region. And should (theoretically) improve my 'card' average to around 94-97, and result in 'match' score of around 565-575. My SCATT traces should improve to around 50%-60% of the final second falling with the 10-ring.
3. Use mental rehersal and regular training to develop 'muscle memory' and make the shot timing 'second nature'. This should  enable me to reproduce my training session performance during club shoots and local competitions, and get my 'live fire' match scores up around 550-560. My last two weekend club shoots were both in the mid 530s, so I still have a way to go to translate my SCATT results into live scores of 540-550+.

Depending on how much I can improve my shooting through regular training and improved fitness, I'm hopeful that I *might* be able to get a competition score in the 'top ten' during 2017. To achieve that goal I'd need to shoot around 565-575 in a 'sanctioned' (nationally recognized) match, based on previous national 'top ten' scores:

Range of 'Top Ten' score in Mens 10m Air Pistol in recent years:
2016: 568 - 579
2015: 568 - 578
2014: 569 - 577

It is somewhat depressing to realize that these national 'top ten' scores generally would not even be good enough to make the final of an ISSF 'world cup' in Air Pistol! I guess that explains why Australian's only came 36th and 44th in Men's Air Pistol at the 2016 Rio Olympics (the cut-off to even make the final eight was 580). The targets of the best qualifier at the Rio Olympics are very impressive.

Anyhow, my 'dream' goals in shooting for 2017 are somewhat more modest (although probably still not realistic):
1. Shoot an 'A grade' score at a sanctioned competition (in Air Pistol, 'A grade' is 560+, and 'Masters grade' is 575+. I'm an 'A grade' shooter on the basis of having shot 560+ in a competition .... a *long* time ago). [If I achieve this goal I may 'reward' myself with a new Air Pistol, as my trusty old FWB model 100 is looking a bit anachronistic when I go to sanctioned competitions... the Steyr evo 10 looks nice]
2. Shoot a 'top ten' score at a sanctioned competition (Ie. around 569+)
3. Shoot a 'Masters' grade score at a competition (575+). [If I achieve this goal I'll definitely get a new pistol!]

If I'm serious about these goals I'll probably have to also radically cut back on the amount of 'diet coke' that I consume each day (~4+L/day!), as that amount of caffeine can't be doing my AM any good.

Anyhow, here is how my 'diet' has been going recently. Not looking too good ;(

.             Fibre      Carbs    Fat     Protein    kCals     Avg Wt   Steps
              g/dy       %        %       g/dy       /dy       kg       /dy
Week 34       50.9       63.7     21.4    115.6      3,353     94.2      9,071
Week 35       33.3       63.0     22.2    118.9      3,434     94.6      9,149
Week 36       36.7       60.2     24.3    129.9      3,578     95.2      9,592
Week 37       43.2       60.5     22.9    127.7      3,208     95.6      6,560
Week 38       36.1       59.4     25.7    118.8      3,187     95.8      6,602
Week 39       44.3       64.5     20.9    111.3      3,253     96.2      4,972

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Thursday 1 December 2016

Net Worth: November 2016

The 'Trump bounce' (apparently every random movement in the stock market has to have a root cause attributed, and a catchy name assigned by the financial media) during November saw the value of my geared stock portfolio and retirement savings each increase by around $20K. Sydney house prices continued to rise, pushing up the estimated valuation for my half of our house by around $24K. The mortgage balance was unchanged as last month we did a 'redraw' of the small extra amount we had paid off the interest only, fixed rate home loan (DW needed some extra spending money for a short holiday to China).

The long-awaited 'Hospital Precinct Plan (draft)' came out yesterday - it looks like the council is only planning to rezone the four properties at the end of our street (adjacent to what is being transformed into a main road past the hospital) as 'high density', and not the bulk of the area falling within the 'hospital precinct' (at least not yet). That will probably mean we won't make any 'windfall' profit selling to a developer in the short term (2-5 years), and will stay put until we've retired and DS2 has moved out (since he's only starting Yr 5 OC next year, and will probably live at home while attending uni for at least his undergraduate studies, we might 'stay put' for another 12+ years!). Looks like I'll have to think about budgeting for some home maintenance costs after all.

Overall, my net worth hit a new 'all time high' of A$1.974m, and I *might* just scrap into the 'multimillionare' club before the New Year.

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