Sunday, February 28, 2010

Center hold in pistol shooting

Interesting fact: Word Champion in women’s 10 metre air pistol (Santo Domingo 1981) — Kalinina Nonna — aimed on the center of the bull’s eye (center hold).

Kalinina Nonna — Word Champion 1981, European Champion 1975, four times USSR Champion 1973-1977.

Rarity… but possible.

I have tried center hold yesterday in air pistol. Not so hard. I shot my usual scores.

Center hold in pistol shooting
Center hold in pistol shooting.

Right pistol sighting

You ask — I answer.

I have problem about aiming the front sight somehow, it difficult to make the right pattern. Can you describe the front sight position or maybe the exercises?
14 years old girl from Indonesia.

Look at the figure 1 below. This a traditional proper pistol sighting. Most of us see something like this. Eye is focused on the front sight. Many strong pistol shooters focus even somewhere between front sight and target, but no one focuses on the target — it is mistake (figure 2).

Focus on the front sight.
Figure 1. Focus on the front sight.
Focus on the target.
Figure 2. Focus on the target.

Figure 1 — is ideal static picture. We aren’t robots and to see absolute static picture isn’t possible — the front sight permanently moves relative to the rear sight, and our stretched hand with pistol moves relative to our body… our body has small movements too. Also — the figure 1 — will be our ideal pattern. We must try to reach this pattern in each shot, if possible.

If you have troubles with focusing on the front sight — first of all — you must speak with yourself. Unfortunately there is no such button «focus on the front sight now» on the outside of you. Only you can force yourself to focus on the front sight, but I could describe you one trick. It really works.

Most of us know about training & shooting using white blank target. It helps us to concentrate and stay focused on the front sight. Most of us shoot better if we use white blank target without bull’s eye. But what happens if we use normal target? We hesitate. Sometimes it’s not so easy to stay focused on the front sight… etc.
But you could try following. You stay relaxed at the shooting range and you prepare for the next shot. Look relaxed on the target and draw in your head solid red rectangle below the bull’s eye… something like on the figure 3a below. Imagine this read rectangle, feel its existence. And now forget about everything what lays outside of your rectangle. This white rectangle is your aiming area. Its area is brighter that everything else outside this rectangle. Your aiming area pretty big, isn’t it? It’s your blank white target. There is no need to hit tons of tens. Simply come with your aligned sights somewhere in the middle of this area and wait a little bit… shot breaks. Simply make one safe shot. No fear. In your case it’s only portion of air leaves pistol and 0,5g lead pellet leaves the barrel.
And don’t forget — sighting is not so important as smooth trigger or internal calmness. Sighting is slave process.


Defining the aiming area.
Figure 3a. Defining the aiming area.
Defining the aiming area.
Figure 3b. Defining the aiming area.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Freie Gedanken zur Freien Pistole

English version you can find here.

Urheber: Hannes Rainer
Quelle: ISSF NEWS Ausgabe 1/2003. Seitenr. 44.

Dieser dritte, abschliessende Artikel umfasst genaueres über die in Teil II angeführten Vorteile der Freipistole TOZ – seitlicher Abzug und bewegungslose Schussauslosung.

Prinzipiell kann man sagen, dass in Schützen- und Waffenzeitschriften immer wieder Beschreibungen der TOZ zu finden sind, eine genaue Beschäftigung mit diesen Grundlagen fehlt aber – oder?
Weitgehend unbekannt, da kaum erklärt, ist schon die Bedeutung des Namens TOZ. Es ist nichts anderes als die Abkürzung von Tulskij Oruzhejny Zawod (Waffenfabrik Tula; diese Stadt liegt etwa 150 km südlich von Moskau).
Auf der Original-Gebrauchsanweisung, Waffenbegleitkarte genannt, erkennt man, dass der eigentliche Name TOZ-35 M lautet. Das kurze Stichwort TOZ hat sich unter den Schützen international durchgesetzt, da keine andere Sportwaffe dieser Firma in Verwendung steht.
Das Folgende soll als Erweiterung und Hilfe zur Gebrauchsanweisung dienen, aber auch die Neugier über die geheimnisvollen Grundlagen des seit 4 Jahrzehnten anhaltenden Erfolges dieser Freien erfüllen. Das für die Schützen in der Praxis erkennbare Auftreten der TOZ-Vorteile ist in Teil II geschildert -man muss nicht genau nach hinten in Schussrichtung abziehen, sondern kann die Abzugszunge (Züngel) auch seitlich, zur Seite, betätigen; besonders beim Trockenschuss ohne Patrone erkennt man, dass der Mechanismus von Abzug und Verschluss die gesamte Freie und damit die Hand des Schützen kaum erschüttert und bewegt. Jetzt wollen wir herausfinden, wie das funktioniert; die TOZ wird zerlegt.

Das erste Geheimnis

Die Möglichkeiten des seitlichen Abzuges muss man vorerst einschränken. Den Abzug zur Seite - links oder rechts, beliebiger Winkel - zu ziehen, ist nur beim unbeschränkten Abzugsgewicht der Freipistolen sinnvoll, in der Regel 10g bis 100g. Beim vorgeschriebenen Abzugsgewicht der übrigen Pistolen von 500g bis 1360g, aber auch beim sekundenschnellen Abziehen der Schnellfeuerpistole mit unbeschränktem Abzugsgewicht würde man die gesamte Sportwaffe zur Seite reißen. Die Nummern aller hier beschriebenen Teile sind die in der Original-Gebrauchsanweisung; die Bezeichnung mancher Teile ist geändert und entspricht damit den übersetzten Sprachen besser. Beide Vorteile der TOZ enthält das Abzugsgehäuse 33, bestehend aus insgesamt 34 Teilen inklusive Schrauben, Achsen, Federn neben den eigentlichen, beweglichen Teilen.
Jeder mechanische Abzug dreht sich um eine waagrechte Achse, die im Idealfall genau über der Abzugszunge angeordnet sein soll - bei der Achse vorne über der Zunge drückt der Abzugsfinger etwas nach oben, bei der Achse hinten über der Zunge drückt er etwas nach unten; beides ein Nachteil. Diese waagrechte Achse ist bei gewohnten Sportwaffen fix im Gehäuse, im Winkel von 90 Grad zur Schussrichtung gelagert und gibt die Bewegung der Abzugszunge über Zwischenteile bis zum Schlagbolzen weiter. Bei drehbarer Lage der Achse wäre der Kontakt der Abzugszunge mit dem nächsten Zwischenteil unsicher, da die Stelle der Zunge, die es berühren soll, je nach Winkel des gedrehten Abzuges zur Seite wandert und den Kontakt verliert. Beim Abzug der TOZ ist dieses problematische Zwischenteil, der Hebel 11, aber 10 mm breit und übernimmt den Schlag des Abzuges, hier Drehmuffe 20, auch noch, wenn diese um 45 Grad zur Seite gedreht ist. Die Fixierung der geänderten Position der Abzugszunge 42 - drehen und auch bis zu 15 mm vor oder zurück schieben - geschieht durch das Gleitstück 16, wegen der Form auch Hufeisen genannt.
Ein weiterer Vorteil dieser Funktion ist darin zu sehen, dass der Drehpunkt der Abzugszunge direkt über ihr bleibt, egal ob sie vorne oder hinten positioniert wird. Ein unbe-wusster Fehler als Folge von sonst erforderlichem, geringem Drücken nach oben oder unten ist hier auszuschließen. Will der Schütze aber unbedingt, zum Beispiel wegen der Form des Griffstückes oder wegen der Fingerlänge, leicht nach oben oder unten abziehen, verwendet er eine anders geformte Abzugszunge - aus Aluminium einfach zu basteln.
Weiters ist darauf zu achten, dass 2 Möglichkeiten der seitlichen Drehung bestehen, deren Winkel sich nicht widersprechen sollen. Wenn der Abzug zur Seite zu ziehen ist, die Zunge aber so in die Gegenrichtung gedreht ist, dass es so aussieht, als wäre sie gerade nach hinten zu ziehen, wird die Haut des Abzugsfingers beim Schuß etwas zur Seite gedrückt und die TOZ als unbewusster Ausgleich in die Gegenrichtung gerissen.
Wie geht es weiter? Die Übergabe der Schussauslösung vom Abzugfinger bis zuletzt zum Schlagbolzen erfolgt bis jetzt über Zunge 42, Abzugsnadel 19 und Drehmuffe 20 - diese 3 Teile miteinander verbunden - bis zum Hebel 11, alles mit minimaler Federkraft. Dass das Gleitstück 16 hier nicht angeführt ist, hat den Grund, dass es nur der Verstellung der Zunge dient, beim Schuß aber keine Bewegung ausführt. Die Abzugskraft 10g bis 100g des Abzugsfingers muss bis zum Schlagbolzen auf die vielfache Kraft der Schlagbolzenfeder verstärkt werden. Das ist technisch kein Problem und tritt bei der Mehrzahl der international verwendeten Freipistolen so zum Vorschein, dass möglichst wenige Zwischenteile die Verbindung herstellen und die Federkraft mit Hebelwirkung auf das nötige Maß erhöhen. Diese wenigen und daher relativ großen, schweren Teile erschüttern die gesamte Freie und weisen damit auf den zweiten Vorteil der TOZ hin, die kaum spürbare Erschütterung.

Figure 1
Abbildung 1
Die Drehmuffe 20, mit gleichem Drehpunkt (Pfeil links) wie die Abzugszunge 42 (darunter), drückt den Hebel 11 (auf den ersten 3 Fotos nicht dabei) nach oben (Pfeil rechts). Auf allen Bildern Schussrichtung nach links.
Figure 2
Abbildung 2
Die gleiche Stelle von oben gesehen. Die Drehmuffe 20 ist leicht gedreht, der Schütze zieht den Abzug etwas nach rechts (eher ungewöhnlich).
Figure 3
Abbildung 3
Teile des Abzugsgehäuses 33 hinter Drehmuffe 20 (Pfeil links); die oberste Stelle des mittleren Hebels 23 (Pfeil rechts), die vom Hebel 11 gehalten wird, ist nur 2 mm x 2 mm groß.
Figure 4
Abbildung 4
Der ungewöhnlich lange Hebel 11, am Foto oberster Teil, übernimmt die Bewegung und gibt sie weiter; auch das Abzugsgewicht ist an ihm einzustellen, links im Bild.
Figure 5
Abbildung 5
Die Fixatorfeder 32 (Pfeil) in der 4-mm-Bohrung der Verschlussachse 72.

Das zweite Geheimnis

Auch dieses ist im Abzugsgehäuse 33 verborgen. Hebel 11 wird von der Drehmuffe 20 gehoben, Stecherschlagstück 43 gibt den Schlag mit schon viel stärkerer Federkraft weiter. Wenn 43 längere Form hätte, könnte es direkt bei 11 einrasten, die Bewegung empfangen und weitergeben, ohne mittleren Hebel 23 und kleinen Hebel 21. Das würde aber einen größeren Berührungspunkt (Rast) von 11 und 43 erfordern, daher stärkere Bewegung und mehr Erschütterung zur Folge haben. Über 23 und 21 wird das Drehmoment und damit die Federkraft über 3 Stufen statt über nur 1 Stufe erhöht, jedes Mal um ein geringes Maß.
Die Vermutung, dass diese 2 zusätzlichen Zwischenteile den Abzugsvorgang verzögern und erweichen könnten, ist grundlos. Da alle Teile schon vor dem Schuß Kontakt zueinander aufweisen und unter Federdruck stehen, erfolgt jede Bewegung sofort, ohne Verzögerung. Die Auslösezeit der TOZ, von der Bewegung der Abzugszunge bis zur Zündung der Patrone, liegt im gleichen Bereich wie bei anderen Freien, unter 5 Millisekunden.
Den Beweis, dass der bis jetzt geschilderte, die Federkraft auf das für die Auslösung der Schlagbolzenfeder notwendige Niveau hebende Abzugsvorgang trotzdem eine viel geringere Erschütterung weitergibt, bringt ein einfacher Vergleich. Abzugsgehäuse 33 und Verschluss 74 werden abmontiert (Durchstoßen der Achsen 29 und 72), die Federn gespannt (Stechen mit Spannhebel 45; Spannen der Schlagfeder 71 durch Zurückziehen des Schlagbolzens 73 mit einem Schraubenzieher) und einzeln in der Hand haltend ausgelöst (Abzug wie gewohnt abziehen; Abzugstangenhebel 76 drücken). Der Verschluss gibt einen deutlich stärkeren Schlag, eine spürbare Erschütterung, an die Hand weiter.

Figure 6
Abbildung 6
Der seitlich drehbare Abzug.
Figure 7
Abbildung 7
Die Grundlage für die fehlerlose Schussauslösung; Bild ohne Federn, Teile symbolisch gezeichnet.

Weiteres

Informationen über die unglaublich feine, exakte, sicher enorme Geduld fordernde Fertigung der TOZ bietet der Blick auf besonders winzige Teile. Mehrere sind an einzelnen Stellen nur 1 mm dick, auf Achsen mit 1 mm Durchmesser gelagert, mit Schrauben M 2 in Verbindung. Beispiele dafür sind die Achse 17 (1 mm Durchmesser und 6 mm Länge, bei Drehmuffe 20) und ein Bestandteil der Verschlussachse 72. Um zu verhindern, dass 72 bei den Schüssen oder bei zu schwungvollem Laden und Entladen langsam seitlich aus dem Verschlussgehäuse 6 rutscht, enthält die Achse an beiden Enden je eine Rinne. Es ist egal, wie und an welcher Seite, links oder rechts, man sie ins Gehäuse 6 steckt; eine der Rinnen wird an der linken Seite gelagert und dort sieht die Bohrung im Gehäuse 6 anders als die an der rechten Seite aus. Sie besteht aus der Muffe 31 und ist durch die fast nur mit einer Lupe zu entdeckende, maximal 2 mm x 2 mm große, federnde «Fixatorfeder» 32 unterbrochen, die in die Rinne der Verschlussachse 72 eintritt. Zur Entfernung und wieder Montage des Verschlusses - bei normalem Gebrauch und Lauf putzen ohnehin nicht notwendig - muss man 72 mit etwas mehr Kraft als erwartet durchdrücken.
Nach der Suche mit der Lupe ein Blick auf etwas anderes, 2 Schrauben. Zum Hinweis in der Gebrauchsanweisung, dass das Abzugsgewicht mit der Schraube 36 - am Vorderschaft, vor dem Abzugsbügel - eingestellt werden kann, ist hinzu zu fügen, dass das Drehen nach rechts das Abzugsgewicht erhöht. Auch bei Schraube 37 (direkt hinter der Abzugszunge), mit der man den «Abzugsleergang», die Genauigkeit am Auslösepunkt, einstellt, fehlt die Richtung: beim Drehen nach rechts wird der Abzug feiner, geringer, genauer - bis zum sprichwörtlichen Auslösen durch intensives Hinblasen.
Apropos Sprichwörter: Eine sprichwörtliche Garantie, die Sicherheit des Sieges bei Schießen mit der TOZ, gehört anscheinend der Vergangenheit an. Bei den Olympischen Spielen 1996 stieg sie in ungeahnte Höhen und gewann das Finale ihrer 4 Jahrzehnte währenden Ära: Gold, Silber, Bronze. Mit dem neuen Jahrhundert ist mit anderen Dimensionen zu rechnen: bei der Weltmeisterschaft 2002 half die TOZ zu Silber; Gold und Bronze wurden mit der CM 84 E (elektronischer Abzug) von Morini errungen; beim Weltcupfinale 2002 alle 3 Medaillen mit dieser.
Diese Jahresbilanz 2002 beweist einen deutlichen Sieg der Elektronik. Für die endgültige Verdrängung der Mechanik fehlt aber noch der wahre Höhepunkt: der Freipistolen-Weltrekord - die Serien 95-96-98-98-98-96 = 581 von Alexander Melentiev, USSR, 1980 in Moskau mit dem damaligen TOZ-Nachfolger MC-55 geschossen.

Free thinking about the free pistol

Deutsche Version finden Sie hier.

Author: Hannes Rainer
Source: ISSF NEWS Issue 1/2003. Page #24.

This third, conclusive article includes further details on the advantages of the TOZ free pistol mentioned in part II - lateral trigger and motionless shot release.

In principle, descriptions of the TOZ appear time and again in marksmen magazines and gun journals, but an exact study of its basic elements is still missing, isn’t it?
Even the meaning of TOZ is largely unknown, since it has hardly been explained. It is nothing more than an abbreviation for Tulskij Oruzhejny Zawod (A gun factory in the city of Tula which is about 150 kilometers south of Moscow). In the original instructions, called the gun-companion card, you can see that the actual name is TOZ 35 M. The catchword, TOZ, has established itself internationally among shooters, since no other sport gun from this company is in use.
The following information should further explain and help clarify the instructions but should also satisfy your curiosity about the obscure basic elements of the free whose success has lasted for four decades. For shooters, the obvious advantages of TOZ in general practice are described in part II - the trigger doesn’t have to be pulled straight back in the shot direction but can be pulled laterally (to the side) as well. We can see that the entire free and the shooter’s hand are hardly vibrated or moved by the trigger and breech mechanism especially during dry training without cartridges. We now want to find out how this works. The TOZ is therefore disassembled.

The first secret

The possibilities of the lateral trigger must first be limited. To pull the trigger of a free pistol sideways - to the left or right at any angle - only makes sense with an unlimited trigger-pull weight, usually 10 to 100 grams. If the stipulated trigger-pull weight of other pistols is used, from 500 to 1360 grams, or if the trigger of the rapid-fire pistol is pulled in a flash with an unlimited trigger-pull weight, the entire sport gun will be torn to the side. The numbers of all components described here are the same as in the original instructions, though the names of some components have been changed to better correlate with the translated languages. Both advantages of the TOZ are included in trigger unit 33, which, apart from the actual movable components, consists of a total of 34 components, including screws, axles and springs.
Every mechanical trigger rotates around a horizontal axle which, in the ideal case, should be arranged directly above the trigger - when the axle is in front above the trigger, the trigger finger presses somewhat upwards, and when the axle is in back above the trigger, the finger presses somewhat downwards; both are a disadvantage. This horizontal axle is fixed in the trigger unit of customary sport guns at a 90° angle to the shot direction and transmits the movement of the trigger to the firing pin via intermediate components. With a rotary position of the axle, the trigger contact with the next intermediate component would be precarious, since the point of the trigger, which should touch it, moves to the side, depending on the angle of the rotated trigger, and loses contact. With the trigger of the TOZ, this problematic intermediate component, lever 11, is 10mm wide and assumes the blow of the trigger, here rotary joint 20, when it is rotated 45° to the side. Fixing the altered position of trigger 42 - by turning and pushing it as much as 15mm back and forth -is done with slide piece 16 which is also called horseshoe due to its shape.
A further advantage of this function is apparent from the fact that the trigger’s pivot point remains directly above the trigger, regardless of whether it is positioned in front or in back of it. An unconscious mistake resulting from a minimal upward or downward pressure usually required, can be ruled out here. If, however, the shooter insists on pulling the trigger slightly upwards or downwards, due to the shape of his grip piece or the length of his finger, for example, he can use a differently shaped trigger of aluminum which is easy to make. It should also be heeded that two possibilities of lateral rotation exist, whose angles should not contradict each other. If the trigger is to be pulled to the side but is rotated in the opposite direction and looks as though it should be pulled straight back, the skin of the trigger finger will be pressed somewhat to the side when the shot is fired, and the TOZ will be torn in the opposite direction as an unconscious compensation for this. How do tilings continue from here? Thus far, the actuation of the shot release, from the trigger finger all the way up to the firing pin, has proceeded by way of trigger 42, trigger pin 19, and rotary joint 20 - these three components are connected with each other - up to lever 11, all with minimal spring tension. The reason that slide piece 16 is not listed here is that it is only used to adjust the trigger but does not move when a shot is fired. The pulling force of the trigger finger, which is 10 to 100 grams, must be strengthened on its way to the firing pin to the multiple force of the firing-pin spring. Technically speaking, this is no problem and is brought about in the majority of free pistols used internationally by making the connection with as few intermediate components as possible and by increasing the spring tension to the necessary extent with leverage. These few and thus relatively large and heavy components vibrate the whole free and thus allude to the second advantage of the TOZ, a hardly perceptible vibration.

Figure 1
Figure 1
Rotary joint 20, with the same pivot point (arrow to the left) as trigger 42 (below it), presses lever 11 (not included in the first three photos) upwards (arrow to the right). The shot direction is to the left in all the pictures.
Figure 2
Figure 2
The same point viewed from above. Rotary joint 20 is slightly turned, and the shooter is pulling the trigger somewhat to the right (rather unusual).
Figure 3
Figure 3
Components of trigger unit 33 behind rotary joint 20 (arrow to the left); the uppermost point of central lever 23 (arrow to the right), which is held by lever 11, is only 2mm x 2mm large.
Figure 4
Figure 4
The unusually long lever, 11, in the uppermost part of the photo, assumes the movement and transmits it; the trigger-pull weight also has to be set on it, to the left in the picture.
Figure 5
Figure 5
Fixative spring 32 (arrow) in the 4mm bore of breech axle 72.

The second secret

This secret is also concealed in trigger unit 33. Lever 11 is raised by rotary joint 20; firing piece 43 of the hair trigger transmits the blow with a much stronger spring tension. If 43 had a longer shape, it could click into place directly by 11, receive the movement and transmit it without central lever 23 and small lever 21. However, that would require a larger point of contact (pause) from 11 and 42 and would thus result in stronger movement and more vibration. Via 23 and 21, the moment of rotation and thus the spring tension are increased in three phases instead of one by a small extent each time. The assumption that these two additional intermediate components could slow down and soften the triggering process is unfounded. Since all components have contact with each other, even before the shot is fired, and are all under spring pressure, each movement follows immediately without delay. The release time of the TOZ, from the movement of the trigger to the ignition of the cartridge, lies in the same range as for other frees, in less than 5 milliseconds. The fact that the triggering process, described thus far, of increasing the spring tension to the level required to release the firing-pin spring, nevertheless transmits far less vibration can be proven by a simple comparison. Trigger unit 33 and breech 74 are detached (push through axles 29 and 72), the springs are tightened (pierce with tension lever 45; tighten main spring 71 by pulling back firing pin 73 with a screw driver) and individually released while holding them in your hand (pull the trigger in the usual manner; press trigger-bar lever 76). The breech clearly transmits a stronger blow or a perceptible vibration to the hand.

Figure 6
Figure 6
The laterally rotational trigger.
Figure 7
Figure 7
The basis for a perfect shot release: picture without springs; components drawn symbolically.

Other facts

Information on the incredibly fine and exact production of the TOZ, which undoubtedly requires tremendous patience, is afforded by a look at its very tiny components. Several of them are only 1mm thick in places, are positioned on axles 1mm in diameter and connected with M-2 screws. Axle 17 (1mm in diameter and 6mm long with rotary joint 20) and a constituent part of breech axle 72 are examples of this. To prevent 72 from slowly sliding sideways out of breech unit 6, when firing shots or when loading or unloading with sweeping movements, the axle has a groove at both ends. It doesn’t matter how or on which side, left or right, the axle is stuck into unit 6; one of the grooves is positioned on the left side, and the bore looks different there in unit 6 from the one on the right side. It consists of joint 31 and is interrupted by the resilient «fixative spring», 32, which has a maximum size of 2mm x 2mm and can almost only be seen with a magnifying glass and which fits in the groove of breech axle 72. To detach and reattach the breech - not necessary with normal use and cleaning of the barrel - 72 must be pushed through with somewhat more strength than expected. After some exploring with the magnifying glass, let’s now take a look at something else, two screws. As for the tip in the instructions, that the trigger-pull weight can be adjusted with screw 36 - on the front end of the shaft in front of the trigger guard - it should be added that turning it to the right increases the trigger-pull weight. The direction is also missing for screw 37 (directly behind the trigger), with which the «trigger’s lost motion», the accuracy at the release point, can be set: when the screw is turned to the right, the trigger becomes finer, smaller and more accurate - to the point of the proverbial release through intensive blowing. As for proverbs: The proverbial guarantee of a sure victory when shooting with the TOZ is apparently a thing of the past. At the Olympic games in 1996, it rose to unimagined heights and won the finale of an era lasting four decades: gold, silver and bronze. With our new century, other dimensions have to be reckoned with. At the world championships in 2002, the TOZ helped win the silver. Gold and bronze were won with the CM 84 E (electronic trigger) by Morini. At the world cup final in 2002, all three medals were won with the latter-mentioned trigger.
The balance for 2002 shows a clear victory for electronic triggers. However, the true highlight for the final displacement, of mechanical triggers is still missing: the free pistol world record series of 95, 96, 98, 98, 98, 96 (581) shot by Alexander Melentiev of the USSR in Moscow in 1980 with the TOZ successor, MC-55.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Imagination profiles

I am trying to work with the imagination at the moment. I am trying to imagine ideal implementation/execution of forthcoming shot together with smooth follow-through trigger. I heard about the role of imagination in sport shooting, but I was too lazy to try this technique… exactly to say – I tried to imagine, but I was too lazy to imagine before EACH forthcoming shot.

So, now I have two imagination profiles – for free pistol and air pistol. At the moment I am working on third profile – rapid fire pistol. I have no plan what concerns imagination profiles for center fire pistol and for standard pistol… but I think it will be mix from rapid fire pistol and air pistol profiles.

I set different goals during practise and thereby my imagination profiles differ from competition profiles. For example, setting follow-through-control as practise’s goal forces the imagination part to include more «pictures» and feelings about ideal follow-though. I set accent. Some parts of a shot will be accented for me.
The imagination profile during a competition is solid and without accents. Shot execution must be solid too – from the moment as hand with pistol begins to rise and till the moment as hand goes down on the table after shot. One solid execution. One flow. One single solid stage.

What I already know about my rapid fire pistol imagination profile – I must imagine that I am locked in my body without contact to external environment. Only so I am able to control trigger, sights and time good during 4 seconds series. Since the target in the rapid fire so big as a cow – it makes no difference how exactly my sights are placed relative to target (at least now), which means that I can with no worry fully concentrate on the inner processes. I tried the same trick in air pistol – I get many «8’s» (in spite of good feelings during the shot). More exact control over sights relative to the target is needed. That was the difference in my imagination profiles for air pistol and rapid fire pistol.

I oft complain, that I have bad steadiness during the shot (maybe I should more train?). But If I imagine, that my steadiness is good and my hand is calm and sights are going to stay still – my hand comes still. This works good for me.

Conveyor: imagination > execution, imagination > execution… and so on.

Beijing 2008 – Letter from Silver medalist Emmons

Found somewhere in Internet.

My Olympic Adventure – Chapter 2: Beijing 2008
Matt Emmons

Four years ago I decided to write a mass email to my family and friends about my Olympic experience in Athens. Well, here I sit again early in the morning suffering from jet-lag, so I’ll write a new chapter. This experience was, again, filled with incredible highs and some lows, too. Get a cup of coffee and I hope you all enjoy the story!

First and foremost, I want to thank everyone who has helped me along the way to achieve my dreams. 12 years ago when I first started shooting competitively, I never would have believed that I would be living the life I’m living. I’m so thankful for everything I have and the opportunities I’ve been given. Endless thanks to all of you who have made a difference in my life; especially my parents, Paul Adamowski, Ed Shea, Randy Pitney, Dave Johnson, my wife, Katy, and my family in the Czech Republic.

So here we go! I’ll back up a little bit to the Airgun Olympic trials in March. That’s where the story should start. I went into those trials expected to win and make the team. My goal was to go after three medals in Beijing, so, naturally, airgun was the last piece since I had already qualified for both smallbore events. I wasn’t shooting my very best at that time and through the first two days of the trials, I shot decent. On the last day, I had one of those once-in-five-years terrible days where nothing made sense or worked. I missed the airgun team and it caused quite a stir among many. Frankly I was surprised and disappointed, but things indeed happen for a reason (this is a theme we’ll visit much more later…). Now it was time to change gears a little bit and concentrate more on smallbore even though I continued to train airgun.

I started the Olympic trip on July 28th. I left my current home of Colorado Springs and hopped on a plane to San Francisco where we would take a short drive to San Jose for our in-processing. This was where we received our uniforms and pretty much everything we would need for the Olympics. We did the in-processing at San Jose State University. I was really surprised with San Jose. I didn’t get to see too much of the city, but it was my first trip to California and I was impressed. San Jose State University was a really nice place. Clean and the weather was beautiful! Downtown was nice, too. During the afternoon of the 28th, we got our uniforms and all kinds of things. Wow, did we get a lot of clothing! I probably got about 30 shirts!

The next morning we headed back to the airport to depart as a whole team for Changwon, South Korea, for our pre-Olympic training camp. I wasn’t terribly excited to go back to Korea, but I wanted to keep an open mind and give it a second chance. We arrived to Changwon late in the evening and it was pretty hot and steamy. Kind of like being in a wet sauna all the time! We were going to be there for about a week.

I was roomed with Brian Beaman from the pistol team. I was a little surprised we were roomed together since I knew the rooming arrangements for the Olympics would be different. However, it was great that we roomed together. I’ve known Brian for several years, but never really got to know him well. As we talked more and more, I really began to enjoy his company. Brian’s got a great sense of humor and we’re both avid hunters, so we had lots to talk about. I also have a lot of respect for him because he’s only been shooting pistol for about four years and, wow, he is talented!

The week in Changwon was really good. We’d go to the range in the morning, train until about 1 or 2pm, and then go back to the hotel. I’d do some kind of workout in the afternoon and by time that was finished, it was almost time for dinner. Since it was so hot in the afternoons, I went swimming with Sergey Luzov (our pistol coach) and Jamie Beyerle, or I played video games on the Xbox with Keith Sanderson and Vinny Hancock. To be completely honest, it was the first time I’ve gone to a normal indoor pool and swam laps. I’m not the best swimmer, but I really did enjoy it. Katy was happy to hear that since she was a competitive swimmer before she was a shooter. She’s been bugging me about teaching me to swim better for a while now… hehehe.

We didn’t get to go and sight-see very much, but that was ok. We were often simply too busy. Last time I was in Korea, I got tired of the food really quickly. No offense to any Asians or Koreans, but I really enjoy Asian food, just not every day. Thanks to some of my teammates and also the Aylwards (our coordinators for the trip), we found some western restaurants that served my dietary needs a little better. Nothing too special – Outback Steakhouse, Bennigan’s, and an Italian restaurant.

Over the week, training was pretty good. I switched to a new shooting jacket and pants back in June and was still adjusting to them. None of my positions were what I would call “perfect” by any means. I played with every position pretty much all week. I was somewhat worried, but I still had almost two weeks until I started competing. That was plenty of time for me to get them working.

One thing that was really, really great about this trip is that the whole team was together – rifle, pistol, and shotgun. Before Athens, it was just rifle and pistol together and we met shotgun in Athens. USA Shooting had a much stronger commitment to team building and team cohesion this go round, which was perfect – and it showed results in 6 Olympic medals. I had such a good time getting to know some of the shotgun shooters better, and even went over and shot a little bit with them a few times! In general, we had a super team. So many great personalities and positive attitudes. That was cool! In fact, I never met or got to know Vinny Hancock until this year. For three years I’ve heard about this crazy skeet shooter who by age 19 had won just about everything except the Olympics! It’s been such a pleasure to get to know him and I’m proud to call him a friend of mine. He’s a super guy and I greatly enjoy spending time around him. Caution to everyone – you don’t want to play anything against him on the Xbox! I have a great time playing, but I lose every time! Keith Sanderson’s no slouch, either.

That was basically our trip to Korea. It was mainly just lots of training and so much built-up excitement to finally go to Beijing and start competing. Finally, on August 6th, we left from Pusan to Beijing. Some of you might be wondering where my wife has been during this whole time. Well, on July 23rd, she flew back to the Czech Republic so she could fly to Beijing with her team. They arrived to Beijing on August 1st and had a week of training there before the Games started. It wasn’t too much fun being apart for two weeks, but sometimes we have to do that since we shoot for two different countries.

Finally we’re in Beijing and we arrive at the Olympic Village. So much anticipation and we’re finally there! Katy told me that the village was spectacular and she did not exaggerate – it was awesome! The apartments and rooms were really nice, the landscaping was beautiful. Everything was top-notch. Something that was important to us was to be able to stay together at the Games. Over the past couple years, when we’re at World Cups and things, that’s what we normally do. If it was possible at the Olympics, we wanted to do the same. Why change anything at the biggest competition? I’m very grateful to the Czech Olympic Committee for making it happen. There were other couples on the Czech team that wanted to stay together, so they put all of us in an apartment together. It had three bedrooms, so Katy and I had one. Yes, it was a little odd staying with a different country at the Olympics, but for both Katy and me, it’s nothing crazy. I feel like a part of the Czech team and Katy feels like a part of the US team. It’s hard for some people to believe, but that’s how it is.

At this point, I was starting to get a little nervous. That’s normal, it’s the Olympics! If you’re not a little nervous, I think you’re either dead or in the wrong place. I was nervous about my own shooting and also nervous for Katy. In Athens, I only had myself to worry about, which is much easier. This time we had someone else to worry about, too. That’s challenging, to say the least, but it’s very, very positive. I was starting to wonder “can I really do this? Am I ready? Have I done everything I could to be prepared?” For Katy, I was nervous for a couple reasons. She’d been having a great year. I’ve never seen her shoot so well in airgun, but her training hadn’t been going so well for a couple weeks. If there is one thing I know about her, though, it is that she has an amazing ability to make it work when it counts. I was nervous in anticipation of her events because I knew something special was definitely possible.

We didn’t go to the Opening Ceremony. Katy had to compete first thing the next morning, so Katy, her dad, and I stayed in the village, relaxed and watched some of the ceremony on TV. From what we saw, it looked unbelievable! We were constantly saying “wow! That is amazing!” Did I miss not being there? No. Not at all. It would have been cool, for sure, but spending the evening with Katy was much, much more important to me.

August 9, 2008: women’s air rifle, first medals awarded of the Games. I was terribly nervous that morning. Probably more so than Katy. It’s always harder to watch the other than to actually compete yourself. The nerves didn’t really hit her until she walked in the range. Her stomach hurt and she just wanted to go home. In fact, she said that’s what she was thinking the whole match: OK, 30 more shots… 20 more… 10 more… I was behind her the whole time. I never left my seat. She started with about 32 straight tens and took a break. She came back to chat with me and her dad. Not about anything in particular, she just wanted a little mental break since her mind was starting to think too much. Then she went back and finished with all tens. A perfect 400 in the Olympics! A new Olympic record that can now only be tied. She’s been complaining that she wanted to shoot a 400 in a big match and she’s been close several times. I always said, “You’re just waiting for a better time for it to come.” Well, it did. I was incredibly happy and proud of her, but now maybe a little more nervous! In the final she did well. Not her best final, but for standing in position 1 in the Olympics, she did great. If I remember correctly, she had the highest final and won the Gold Medal with a new Final Olympic Record! I cannot explain the emotions during that moment. I was on the verge of tears because I was so proud of her and happy that, yes, it worked! All the hard work paid off.

Another thing that made airgun so stressful for me was that my best female friend next to Katy (and also Katy’s best friend next to me), Jamie Beyerle, was shooting near Katy so I could watch both of them. Jamie’s had a rough time with airgun and it’s not been her strongest event. In her first 11 shots she already had three 9’s, but she was shooting really good 10’s. Then she turned on the gas and finished with 29 straight tens for a 397! It was the best match I’ve ever seen her shoot. Her poise and control was simply fantastic. Jamie’s developed so much in the past two years and has worked incredibly hard to be able to put herself in that position. She shot a fantastic match. She was also in the final and I was on pins and needles watching both of them. Jamie also shot a very good final and finished 4th. She just had too much ground to make up on the top three to medal. What an effort. I was proud.

The next 24 hours was pretty crazy. The organizers and jury members were very conscious of our situation and let me sit in the special seating area and let me follow her through the mixed zone where you talk to the media. I went with her to the press conference and sat with her in doping control. We spent the whole afternoon and evening together. That night we went to the Czech house. Most teams take over a hotel in the city and set it up as a place were their athletes can go and others can feel at home. When a Czech wins a medal, they have a ceremony there to recognize them. It was so nice. Really, really first-class. I know it’s a benefit of a small country with nowhere near the amount of athletes or medalists the US has, but they know how to celebrate and make their athletes feel like they’re important and that they really care about how they do. It was a long evening and we were completely exhausted at the end. One of the cool things was that we were able to meet a very famous Czech actor there, Miroslav Donutil. He starred in one of the most famous Czech films, Pelisky. Every Czech knows this movie very well. It’s so funny. We hung out with him for a while, chatting. Nice guy and he speaks English very well.

Then our shotgun team started winning medals, and a lot of them! Corey Cogdell got the bronze in trap in a shoot-off, which was a nail-biter. Then Glenn Eller won double trap and Jeff Holguin finished 4th. I knew both of them would do well and for Glenn, it was a long time coming. His third Olympics and he’s been one of the top for a while. Next, Kim Rhode won her fourth, yes, fourth, Olympic medal – a silver in women’s skeet! Her first three medals came in women’s double trap, which was removed from the Olympic program, so she switched to skeet. Good choice!

Katy was up again on Thursday, the 14th. Women’s 3X20. I wasn’t as nervous for this one because I knew she could do well, but it wasn’t the same as air. In air, she had a great shot at a medal, so there are some external expectations. For 3X20, she’s not as strong and her goal was just to make the final. A medal wasn’t really a thought. A possibility, yes, but not a big one. Well, things worked out pretty well. Luckily, there wasn’t much wind, which helped her. Her prone was decent, and so was standing. Kneeling’s always been her tough one. The girl’s worked hard to build a position that she could shoot and, well, it worked at the right time. She was running short on time, so she didn’t have time to be nervous. Just shoot. She had a great kneeling, ended up with a 586, and walked into the final in 6th. Jamie also had a great day with a 586. She was going into the final in 5th. So, again, I was able to sit in the special area and watch both of them in the final. Both of them shot excellent finals. Katy ended up with a silver and Jamie was 5th, but very, very close to a medal. I was, again, incredibly proud of Katy and at the same time heartbroken for Jamie because she was so close to a medal. This time around, I couldn’t be with Katy after the final. I had training for prone because my competition was the next day. Talk about having a hard time to get my head back on to focus on my game! Wow!

I had finally gotten my position to feel good enough to be confident. I shot 21 shots in training and it was good. Really good. I told my coach, Dave, “If I can do that again tomorrow, good things are going to happen.”

I asked Katy and her dad if we could keep the media stuff and other things to an absolute minimum that day so Katy and I could be together and relax before my competition. They did, and for that I’m eternally grateful. The celebration at the Czech house was rescheduled for the next evening after my prone match. That evening I was nervous. Still not sure if I could do it. Katy and I usually would go for a walk around the village before bed. For some reason, it was really relaxing to walk around outside. It was peaceful. We talked a lot and Katy was amazing in switching her focus to me for my competitions.

I slept OK that night, but not great. Too much anticipation. I was still a little unsure going into the competition, but I was fired up. Now I wanted my chance. I wanted to show what I could do. I was squadded in the middle of the range, which isn’t good. The range isn’t really fair. If you’re on one of the ends you have an advantage with the wind. That was fine with me and I was prepared. The Beijing range is tough. If the wind is blowing, it is very tricky. I had hoped for wind on the prone match because that plays to my advantage. Well, I got my wish. It was the windiest day I’ve seen on that range. The wind blew hard and it switched direction constantly and quickly. I was focused and motivated. In the Olympic Games, I shot the best competition of my life. I finished with a 597 and I told my coach, “It does not get any better. That is the very best I can shoot right there.” I walked into the final in 2nd and was ready. I got a charge of energy walking into the finals hall. Artur Aivazian of the Ukraine was in first, two points ahead of me. In an indoor finals hall, two points is too much to make up. I made up a point, shooting a 104.7. I finished, heard that I was silver and was immediately overjoyed. I wanted that medal so incredibly bad. I have trained for the last four years in anticipation of the Olympics. It worked! That silver is only a medal, but to me it signifies so much. It was hard-earned and I was so happy.

That night not only Katy, but I was invited to the Czech house. The Czechs have taken me in like one of their own and they not only honored Katy that night for her silver, but also me. I cannot explain those emotions. It’s overwhelming. They also wanted to invite my coach and our team leader, Dwayne Weger. Both came. Hehehe, turns out they were in for a surprise! The Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Mirek Tololanek, was there. So was the Minister of the Interior, Ivan Langer. In addition, all of the top people from the Czech Olympic Committee were present. So all of us got to hang out and drink a little beer with some cool people! Dave and Dwayne were floored. They couldn’t believe it. Neither could I, really! Then something amazing happened. Mr. Langer had something special in mind for me. As minister of the interior, he said he has some pull in certain ways. They want to help make me a Czech citizen. I was speechless. Completely speechless. I said, “You’re joking. You must be joking!” I’m not exactly sure the details of how it would work, but I remember reading somewhere that I’d have to give up my US citizenship to become a Czech. If there’s a way to be a dual citizen, I would be simply delighted an honored. Just the offer is incredibly humbling for me. For those wondering, no, I will not give up my US citizenship if that is, indeed, the case. And I will continue to shoot for the USA. This is my home, but I also have a second home, the Czech Republic.

The next day, Katy and I mainly relaxed and took it easy, but we had to go the range for a little while. We had two guys in finals. Keith Sanderson was walking into the rapid fire pistol final in first place with a new Olympic record. Keith’s a good friend of mine and I wouldn’t miss his final for anything. Unfortunately, Keith’s limited experience got him in the final. He ended up in 5th, but his performance and courage were incredible. He was sad about his finish, but I was proud. He’d worked so hard to get there and overcame a lot. Later, Vinny Hancock was going into the skeet final in first, also. Vinny had a little better luck and in a shoot-off he won the gold medal! Now at age 19, he has won everything you can win and holds not only both world records, but both Olympic records! He is amazing, to say the least!

That evening I was getting a little nervous again. A little unsure if it would work and, again, so much anticipation and build-up. I’d been looking forward to this competition for a long time. I’d done so much to be prepared and I’d been worrying about the final for months. Would I be able to stand there in the final and be in control and shoot like I can? Katy and I again took a little walk and chatted. I didn’t sleep that great, but good enough.

I got to the range that morning and I was in an odd mood. Not terribly nervous, just a little. I guess that since I already had one medal, some of the pressure was off. One thing that kept me motivated, though, was the thought that I would never, ever give up. I would fight like hell until the end. Prone started well. I had a very, very good 399. So far, so good. I was never able to get my standing feeling as good as I knew it could feel, but good enough. I fought through the 40 shots and ended up with a 389. It was tied for highest on the line and I’m proud of that. I pride myself on being the best standing shooter in the world. Kneeling’s always been a struggle for me, but I’ve worked incredibly hard in the last four years to improve my position. I didn’t shoot a great kneeling, but I was satisfied. For the nerves, it’s the best I’ve seen my position react under stress. It makes me feel good for the future. After I finished, I asked Dave where I was and he said 2nd behind Rajmond Debevec. I was happy with that. Walking into the final in 2nd helped keep me on the offensive, which was important for me. I was still nervous about the final, but I’d been thinking about it forever, so now it was time to just go and do it. I got out there and in the sighters, things looked good. Shots I didn’t like were still good shots. We started. I religiously did my mental routine before every shot where I was thinking about shooting at Ft. Benning in training finals. I remember seeing the sight picture so well and I was so calm there. It helped. My first shot was a 9.7 and then I ran seven straight 10’s. I had a 9.8 on my 9th shot. I was shooting a great final and I was in control. Nervous, but in control. It’s the Olympic final, if you’re not nervous, you’re not human! Going into the last shot, I ran my mental routine and reminded myself to take my time and break the shot clean. I was a little more nervous, but when I finally looked through the sights, I felt good about the shot. I was coming down from 12 o’clock, like normal, and as I was getting into the bull, I started to put pressure on the trigger. Then something crazy happened – the gun just went off. I guess my finger twitched and simply set it off. My first thought was “oh, I hope that’s in the black. How can this keep happening to me?” Well, I looked down and it was in the black, but high at 12 o’clock. A 4.4. I was angry at first. Not so much at myself, but the situation. Like I said, what did I do to deserve this again? I looked back at my coach and he said I was 4th. I went back to hug him and then to congratulate the medalists. I hugged Qiu Jian, the gold medalist, and told him a big congrats. He’s a very nice guy and is always very friendly to Katy and me. Then Katy finally made it down to the railing since she was commentating the final for Czech TV. She looked at me and smiled. She said “for some reason, it’s just not meant to be this time.” We chuckled some because it’s just so crazy that there isn’t much else you can do but laugh about it. She said she was proud of me and made her way down so she could go with me through the mixed zone and the media. I slowly made my way through there talking to all of the reporters. Of course, everyone asked “what happened?” and I told the story over and over. One funny part was that there was this Chinese reporter grilling Katy about it and then he looks at me and asks if there is something wrong with my mind. I looked right at him and with a wide grin said,” Dude, I have an Olympic silver and gold medal, and I should have two more gold medals! There is absolutely nothing wrong with my mentality.” That got a real charge out of the other reporters and they laughed. Thankfully, one of the reporters for USA Today printed that in his article. I wrote him about it and thanked him. So, I finally made my way through the mixed zone. As I was walking back to the preparation room, I started to hear clapping. I turned around and saw that all of the reporters, many Chinese volunteers, and everyone else were giving me a standing ovation. It brought tears to my eyes and still does when I think about it. That was incredible.

I went back into the preparation room where Dave, my sports psychologist Sean McCann, and our physio Nick Potter were there speechless. They didn’t know what to say. I’ve never seen Dave like that. He looked like someone in his family had died. I didn’t know if he was angry, sad, or both. I felt like I let him down.

I was told later that among so many who were watching in the finals hall, there weren’t many dry eyes. And that includes many of my competitors who did not make the final. I think Katy and I were the most composed of anyone. Before going through the mixed zone, Katy’s dad came down and his eyes were filled with tears. He didn’t know what to say and neither did I.

And that was that. That afternoon and evening, I was approached by several of my friends from other countries who I compete against at these competitions. All of them wanted me to know that everyone still considers me the best shooter in the world and one shot does not change that. Katy adamantly told me the same and said I was smoking everyone in the final. She was proud. Thank God I have someone like that by my side.

We stayed in Beijing an extra day purposely to do media things. That next day was pretty busy running around and talking to reporters and doing interviews. I have to say that almost all of the reporters who I spoke to in the mixed zone and then afterward were extremely nice. They treated me with respect and mainly said and wrote very nice things. I’m very grateful for that and I thank all of them.

China is an interesting place. Shooting is a big sport over there and it seems like it’s as popular as basketball or football is here in the US. Katy and I were constantly in all of the newspapers for a couple reasons. First, because of our story of how we met and being at the Olympics together and also because we were winning medals on top of it. It’s a good story and they all really like it. No kidding, Katy and I are superstars over there. We can walk down the street in Beijing and Chinese people will recognize us. I cannot describe it well enough to do it justice. Reporters always want to talk to us. Most importantly for us, though, is that the Chinese people like us. They are so respectful and nice. It’s an unbelievable feeling when you’re in their country, not one of their athletes, and they still cheer for you and hope you do well. They’re sad when you don’t do well. That is incredible. Katy and I have been fairly well-known in Czech, but now it’s more so. That’s cool. The only thing that makes me sad is that it’s not the same here at home. No one knows us here in Colorado and few seem to care. That’s a shame. And it’s not about fame – for me it’s about people caring about what you do. It gives you a bigger sense of purpose beyond your own ambitions. I know the shooting community cares and for that we’re grateful. The shooting world is a close-knit “family” and I’m happy to be part of that.

One more thing about all that: don’t worry, fame has not gone to our heads and it won’t. Then Katy and I would become people that we’re not. That’s not our style at all and it never will be.

Remember how I said earlier that I’d revisit the theme of “things happen for a reason?” First, when I missed the airgun team, I said it must be for a reason. The first reason I thought of came true. At the Olympics, Katy had airgun and four days later, smallbore. Afterward, it was my turn. If I had shot airgun, it would have been two days after her airgun match. I said that maybe it was good I didn’t make the airgun team so I could focus my energy on Katy first, then refocus once my turn came. That came true. I thought Katy would do well and she did. It took a lot of energy from both of us. If I had shot airgun, it would have been difficult to bring my best focus. I’m confident I would have done well, but it was easier on both of us the way things worked out. Second, the crazy last shot. Katy and I both said right away that there must be a reason. I guess you could kind of say that with my crossfire at the last Olympics, the good thing that came was Katy. This time, I’m not sure what will come. Things do happen for a reason, now we just have to wait and see what that reason is.

What’s next? Well, our plans are to continue shooting for another four years. We’re still having fun, so why not? The only stipulation I have for myself is I will continue as long as I can still make a living out of it. If I can take care of my family, I’ll keep going, but if I can’t, then I will probably retire. I’ve accomplished a lot in this sport and I do it now for myself and because I love it. If anyone’s still wondering, Katy will continue to shoot for Czech and I will still shoot for the USA. Although we’re at home in either place, our hearts will always remain close to our first home. It would be weird to win a competition and see a different flag going up other than your native country. Beyond all that, we’ll see where life takes us and hopefully there will be a third chapter in four more years!

Again, thanks to all. We’re terribly fortunate for the lives we have and the opportunities we’ve been given. I hope it stays that way. Take care,

Matt Emmons
USA Olympic Shooting Team

Athens 2004 – Letter from Gold medalist Emmons

I like stories concerning shooters and/or sport shooting. Do you like too?
Found somewhere in Internet.

From: Matt Emmons
Sent: Wednesday, August 25, 2004 8:20 AM
Subject: My Olympic Adventure

Hi everyone,

It’s a nice jet-lagged 4am morning and there’s nothing better to do this early in the morning than write emails. I figured I would write a mass-email about my Olympic experience instead of writing a million personal ones – that would have taken forever! Ok, so to the story…

It all started on July 31 when we left for Athens. We arrived on August 1. The team was going over early to do our in-processing (where we get our clothes, apartment in the Olympic village, and all that junk) before going up to Germany to train for a week. We were only in Athens for a couple days and flew back up to southern Germany on August 3. The in-processing was surprisingly painless since we were there two weeks before the Games started. Not too many other athletes had arrived yet. The in-processing can often take a very long time when there are tons of athletes, but this one was quick. We got some great stuff, too! A bunch of track/warmup pants, a bunch of shorts (most of which are way too big for me to wear), several jackets, hats, shoes, two bags, a small digital camera, tons of shirts… well, lots of stuff! I was loaded down coming home.

Germany was so wonderful. I would go back to the place we went just for a vacation. We flew into Munich, then rented cars and drove about an hour and a half down to a little town called Ainring, which was right on the Austrian border next to Salzburg in the Alps. As we drove in, the town was exactly what one would picture of typical Bavaria – beautiful wood houses, chalet-style, amazing hanging flower boxes… simply beautiful. Everyone wanted to live there it was so pretty. We got there by way of pistol Olympian Daryl Szarenski.
He shoots in the German Bundesliga (state league) for the Ulrichshögl team, which is based just next to Ainring.

Pretty much every day we would get up and be at the range around 8am, train until about noon, do some sort of physical workout, then go sightseeing in the afternoon. The team captain of Daryl’s German team was a guy by the name of Andreas Steuer. He pretty much took care of us the whole time. A simply wonderful guy and we were amazed at how greatly he took care of us. He organized our afternoon trips, dinners, etc. Our smallbore shooters trained at another range about 15 minutes away in a town called Bad Reichenal. We shot air at the Ulrichshögl range. Both ranges were extremely nice and we have nothing like it in the US. The Ulrichshögl range was 3 stories – basement had a very nice 14-point electronic airgun range, middle floor was the bar/restaurant and 25 meter range (pistol), top floor was a 12 or 14-point 50 meter range with returning targets (you hit a button and the target zips out on strings, hit it again and the target comes back). Gorgeous facility. Bad Reichenal was really nice, as well. That particular shooting club can trace its existence back to the year 1309 – yeah, no joke! I guess way back then they must have shot crossbows and longbows, but they can seriously trace it back that far.
The modern building can be traced back about 150 years, I think.
They have these things in Germany called Schützenplaques – they are basically a wooden disc about a foot or two across and are very nicely painted with some sort of depiction celebrating whatever occasion it was for. They then shoot at them and put wooden dowels in the shot-holes with the shooter’s name on them.
They’ve been doing this for hundreds of years and the Bad Reichenal range had ones dating back to the 1700’s! These plaques are then hung up in the range somewhere. Every shooting club in Germany has a bunch of these things and are completely unique to the club.

The week of training was very good. I got a lot done and was shooting great. We took some great trips, too. One day we went to see this thing called the Eagle’s Nest. I had no clue what exactly it was other than a building on top of a mountain. Well, we get there and talk about a great history lesson!
Andreas knows a ton of people in the area and he had worked with a guy that now worked at the Eagle’s Nest – his name was Gerd and I’ll have to tell his story because it’s amazing. Anyways, the Eagles Nest is the American name for Hitler’s house in Bavaria. When we wasn’t in Berlin, this is where he lived. The main complex was not on top of the mountain – it was part of the way up the mountain where originally a bunch of farmers had settled and were living a nice, quiet life. Hitler visited the area in the late 1920’s and fell in love with it. As he gained more power with the Nazi party, he eventually had all the farmers run out of there so he could build his own complex. He had his own home there, which was almost leveled when the Allies bombed the place, a guest home that still stands and is now the museum (people like Winston Churchill and Mussolini stayed there), barracks for troops, several other houses for his important people – all the names you’ve heard if you’ve studied WW2 history. Connecting all these houses and buildings was a series of underground, extremely fortified bunkers – which we got a tour of from Gerd. Some of the places he took us in the bunkers hadn’t been touched in a really long time – I saw writing on the wall from the French troops who first invaded them, writings from the German soldiers who manned them (stuff like «Heil Adolf»)… it was truly breathtaking to experience it.
The actual Eagle’s Nest is a building up on top of the mountain overlooking the town of Berchtesgaden. This building was built in 1938 and given to Hitler for his 50th birthday in 1943 as a teahouse – problem was, Hitler was afraid of heights. Anyways, we saw that a couple days later on another trip and that was really cool – the view was fantastic and the building itself was beautiful.

Now for Gerd’s story - this guy was born in 1945 right before the war ended. He lived with his mother somewhere in eastern Germany while his father was away fighting for the Germans in the war. When Russians came through, they basically told them «get out in 15 minutes or suffer the consequences»… so they packed up what they could and took off. They ended up at the Eagle’s nest after it had been occupied by the Allies. The were able to live there in the barracks while his mom worked there supporting the American troops. Gerd grew up there and he showed us the house where his sister was born. So, he’s lived there almost all his life However, his father had become a POW in the war. After the war he had been released, but how was he supposed to find his family and how were they supposed to find him??? After a lot of talking to people here and there trying to find info, they eventually found each other. Amazing story.

That was probably the highlight of the trip, but we saw other nice things.
Saw the Königsee, which is a picturesque lake between two mountains with a chapel on the south end of it that can only be reached by boat. Absolutely gorgeous place. Also visited Salzburg one afternoon. Nice town and got to see Mozart’s birthplace there.

As a whole, the Germany trip was fantastic. Met and made friends with some of the nicest people on earth, ate some great food, shot well and did about the best thing we could have done prior to the Olympics.

On August 10 we flew back to Athens. What a zoo when we got back! The airport was nuts – people everywhere, fifteen different volunteers telling you different things… «you need to go over there and do this»… «no, no, you need to go over here»… no one really knew what the heck to do. Eventually we got through it all and got our tired butts back to the village.

For a couple days we just trained and did some little stuff exploring the village, but nothing major. I really didn’t do much sightseeing or anything while I was there. Never saw any other sports, didn’t go anywhere. I had enough to do on the range and was competing the whole time… besides getting sick halfway through the Games.
The opening ceremony ranks up there as one of the coolest things I have ever done in my life. Walking into that stadium was electrifying, to say the least.

We gathered up and got on buses at 6pm in the village. Drove to the stadium and then they took us into the gymnastics hall to sit and wait to be lined up and taken into the main stadium. We sat for like two hours and while we were doing that, got to see and meet some cool people – saw Martina Navratilova (famous tennis player), Lebron James, Allen Iverson (huge dickhead…), Tim Duncan and the rest of the basketball team, whichever Williams-sister was there, Andy Roddick (tennis star), Jenny Finch (softball pitcher), Misty May of beach volleyball, talked to Rulon Gardener (heavyweight wrestler gold medalist from 2000). A couple of my teammates got pictures of a lot of these people. Mike Anti got one with Martina, Sarah got pictures with Duncan, James and a few others… the whole thing was really cool.

Anyways, so when we finally walked in the stadium, the crowd went nuts. A lot of media people asked questions about how we might be greeted and it was nothing but positive. We got the biggest ovation next to the Greek team. If you saw the ceremony, the US team was right in the middle of all the teams standing in the stadium. I was right next to the circular area where the IOC president and the head organizer of the Games went up and talked. In fact, I was directly in-front of them about 15 feet away. The torch-bearer ran right by me… I was right there in the middle – so cool. Actually being there and being a part of the ceremony was a feeling that is indescribable. I was willed with pride and joy just to be there and was filled with excitement. One of those feelings that you never know if you will ever experience again.

After that, it was time to go to work. I watched my teammates as much as I could while they were competing. Heck, these guys and girls are my teammates, so I wanted to support them as much as I could from the stands. I shot airgun on the 16th. That was the event I was most worried about – well, not worried, but perhaps least confident in. I did a ton of mental work in preparation for the match and it really paid off. Yeah, I was ninth and missed the final, but I shot a very good match. I was very very happy with my performance and fact of the matter is, my skill level in airgun just isn’t as high as the guys who made the final. Yeah, I have and can shoot a 596 or 597, but sometimes a good performance may also yield a 594, like I shot. I was not at all disappointed with the match. I walked away knowing I had prepared as best I could and shot the best match I could.

Just so you know, my main goal for the Games was so go in and walk away knowing I had prepared as well as humanly possible and that I gave it everything I had while I shot and simply performed well. If I did that, good things would happen and I could walk away satisfied no matter where I finished because if I got beat, then I got beat by better shooters – which I did in airgun.

The day after airgun I got sick. I caught some sort of virus and had a head cold. I never felt completely horrible, just not 100%. In fact, I’m still not feeling perfect. My voice hasn’t been right since the day of prone.

Prone was on the 20th. The girls shot 3X20 in the morning, so I was there to watch them. Our girls gave it a good go, but neither made the final. We shot in the afternoon. I felt great about prone going in – I had been shooting really well for a couple weeks and I knew my gun was good enough to win. It was a breezy day, but readable if you shot smart. I had the wind figured out and shot a great 599 with one little miss of the wind somewhere in the middle.
I was shooting so tight, too – my groups were amazing. I got done and Dave told me I was going in first into the final. Athens has an indoor finals hall, so there is no wind. I knew I could finish it off from there. I got in the final, sighted in really well and shot a good final of 104.3. I had to adjust my sights a little during the final, but I kept a clear head and shot well.
Winning my first Olympic medal was so cool. I can’t say I expected it, but was prepared for it. It was just a great feeling to have something pay off just the way you planned. All the hard work, sacrifice, planning and training that went into it paid off like I wanted it to. Such a satisfying feeling.
That afternoon and evening I had a ton of interviews to do. Since I was sick, my voice already was kinda crappy and by the end of the evening, it was pretty much gone. I could barely talk the next day.

Two days later on the 22nd was 3X40. Most, if not all of you, have heard about this one. Going in that morning, I felt a little flat. What I mean is that I think I was on the tail-end of my performance peak, or past it all together. It was really hard for me to get into the game mentally that day and I had to work my butt off to do it. I shot a really good prone and standing. I got to kneeling and had absolutely no hold. I was waving all over the place! I took a ton of time in the sighters to get it to settle down and finally had to go for record or I was going to run out of time. I wasn’t happy with my kneeling at all – if I had a good hold, there was no reason I couldn’t have shot 6 or 7 points better. I was happy with the effort I put forth for it, but was ticked off that my hold was so bad and the score was so bad. So, when I finished I wasn’t a happy camper, but someone told me I was going into the final in second. That was a surprise because I thought I’d shot like crap. I’d been anticipating that final for a long time because I figured I would be in it.
Once we got out there, I was nervous, but was able to control it somewhat.
I guess I should say I was able to control it enough to make quality shots. I was shooting a decent final for 9 shots. I was really happy with how I was handling my nerves, but that was something I had trained for. For the last shot, I was feeling the last-shot-jitters and was working really hard to calm down enough to break a good shot. I never have natural point of aim problems, so I set up like normal, came down on target and shot it when it crossed the black. I looked down and didn’t see anything on my monitor… uh-oh… I figured the target malfunctioned, so I told the judges that I shot. After a minute, someone realized I had shot on the target of the guy to the right of me. It was an 8.1, which would have been more than enough to win the gold. I think I would have won by a point. In one shot, I pooped away a second gold medal and $25,000. I put my gun down, was in a bit of shock because I think I’ve only ever cross-fired once in my life and that was a long time ago. I walked back to Dave, he gave me a big hug and I think he was more upset/sad than I was.
I turned around to look at the scoreboard and saw the Mike had won the silver. Immediately my I got excited and ran over to him and give him a huge hug because I was so happy for him.

I think I gave just about everyone in the building a heart attack and I was probably dealing with it better than anyone. Hey, stuff happens, even to the best of them. An honest mistake that every shooter will make at some point in their career… just so happened that my time was at about the most inopportune time it could have been. I have always said that things happen for a reason… I’m still not completely sure what the true reason for this one is, but I’m sure I’ll figure it out soon. I’m really not too upset about it all.
Partly because I have one gold medal already. That’s pretty cool. However, also because that is the game we play and that’s sports. You’ll win some and lose some. I could get really upset, look at the negative side of it all and make it a demon that will haunt me for the rest of my shooting career and life… but you know what? That sure as hell ain’t productive for anything, so there’s no reason for me to even begin to think that way. I’ll live to shoot another day, life will go on… and it will go on happily.

The only part that hurt was watching the medal ceremony. I wanted to see Mike up there on the medal stand. I walked out and unfortunately could only take about a minute of it before I had to leave. I wasn’t upset that Mike was up there or jealous of him in the least – the guy has more than earned it and deserved it after the great career he’s had. I was just sad for myself and that I wasn’t able to be up there celebrating with him.

The show of sportsmanship after the match was over was something that I will never forget. It was one of the most amazing things I have ever seen both on my part and everyone else who was there. Almost every shooter and coach came up to me and said how sorry they were and that they knew who the best shooter in the world was – me. Everyone in the shooting world knew who the best guy was and that’s enough for me. I know how hard I worked and I how well I shot. No one can take that away from me. I may not have another gold medal or the money that would have come with it, BUT it’s not always about that. It’s how you play the game. You win with grace and lose with grace. You have to.
That’s what champions do. I sucked it up, accepted my mistake and simply moved on. I did a few interviews and handled the whole situation very well. After it was all over, several us went outside to where they were selling food and drinks and had some much-deserved beer. Quite of few of the shooters were out there. The Aussies, the guys from the Eley ammo company who have so wonderfully supported me over the past couple years, the Japanese team, Czech, Swiss, and some others. I was taking pictures with people, signing autographs and having a good time like one should after a big competition is over with.
The head of the Japanese shooting federation pulled me aside to talk with me for a bit – I’ve know him for several years. He told me something that meant so much – he said that I am the best ambassador for my country that there could be.
Lots of other people would hide their heads and talk to no one – just run and hide, but there I was having a good time with everyone else.

Seeing what I saw that day from everyone who was there and after all that I have heard from people in the US and around the world, I know even more why I play the game I play. The sportsmanship has been amazing. That is what sports are all about. Heck, that’s what life’s about. It’s not always what you win, what you lose – it’s how you’ve gotten there.

If nothing else, the 3p mistake will make one heck of a story that they will be talking about for years to come. I’m sure it has also drawn a lot of attention to shooting, which is good for our sport. That is completely fine with me and if that’s what it takes to get people interested, good deal!

So that was my Olympic adventure. Adventure is such a good word because it was filled with so many highs and a few minor lows. Now I’m back in Colorado and will be starting work on my masters degree in business. I’m going to take about a month off from shooting and then start getting ready for the World Cup Final, which will be at the end of October in Bangkok, Thailand. I will be shooting all three events there.

Thanks to all of you who have supported me over the years. There are so many people who have made a difference in my life and I would not be the person I am today, or done the things I have done without them. Thank you so much.

Matt Emmons