Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Buryat Father Of Russian Arms

Source and credits: orginal article in Russian language
Loose translation: me (Igor /

Please stay calm. It is only translation. It is not excluded that interviewer did a couple of mistakes. Historical inaccuracies are not excluded. Leave your comment if you find any inaccuracy.

Buryat Father Of Russian Arms
Efim Khaidurov

1955 - 1963: member of the Soviet national team; has won multiple World, European and Soviet Championships in a variety of pistol disciplines.

1967 - 1976: head pistol coach of the Soviet national team; personal coach of World Champions Stoliarova Nina (1970 Phoenix USA, 1974 Thun Switzerland), Suleimanov Renat (1970 Phoenix USA) and many others shooters. The Soviel team led by Khaidurov has won 12 gold medals of 14 possible at the World Championships in Thun Switzerland.

Almost all World Championships since 1962 and Olympic Games since 1976 were won in different disciplines with pistols designed by Khaidurov (some of the arms were personally made by Khaidurov).

1976 - 1984: head of sport shooting department in State Central Institute of Physical Culture.

Contributed to the improvement of the rules of international shooting competitions; has achieved inclusion of air pistol discipline in the Olympic program. All this is done by one person - Efim Khaidurov.

How did you get started? You first experience with the arms? 
In the Ust-Orda Buryat Autonomous Okrug (District), where I was born and where I spent my childhood, almost every man hunts. I went hunting with my father but I did not shoot. I was used as a beater. For many years, had not thought that the arms will be the main thing in my life.

Your adolescence fell on the years of the war ...

Right from the beginning of the war, as many of my contemporaries, I wanted to theater of war. But the enlistment office did not accept my earnest desire. As a child, I was diagnosed with a heart defect. Besides, I looked younger than my age and I was short.

In 1942, I graduated from high school and I sent an application to the Moscow Aviation Institute. I was called for the entrance exams, but my father did not let me go. He told me that now it is necessary to defend the homeland. I worked for more than one year at an aircraft factory in Ulan-Ude. Having mastered the machines I worked as locksmith and milling machine operator. In 1943, I went to study at the military school. Very soon I was promoted to an officer and as high achiever was sent to the Ministry of Defense. In 1948, I was discharged.
I became interested in the theory of shooting, read a lot of books. In school, we were taken to the shooting range. We had four classes and I learned to shoot with a small-caliber Nagant revolver 42-43 points at 25 meters.

So, after demobilization in 1948, you went to the shooting sports?

I went to sports - in athletics (pole vault, decathlon). At the same time I worked as head of educational and sports department of the city council of "Dynamo" in Ulan-Ude. One day my friend offered to take part at the shooting competition. I trained one month with his TT pistol and I spent 300 rounds of ammunition. As a result, I earned First-Class Sportsman (Sports Classification System of the USSR; equates to regional champion).

In 1950, I was seconded to study in Moscow - special courses in the State Central Institute of Physical Culture. And in 1951, I was enrolled in the Mechanical Institute, which was reorganized in 1953, and I was transferred to the Bauman Moscow State Technical University (Mechanical Engineering Faculty). Then at age 28 I started shooting sports training.

Who was your coach? What was your first success in the shooting?

The greatest influence on my formation had Zhgutov Oleg, Merited Master and Coach of Sport of the USSR (equates to international champion who has made valuable contributions to the sport). He was head of the sports department of the Institute and coached shooters. In 1954, I joined a team of Moscow's DOSAAF (Volunteer Society for Cooperation with the Army, Aviation, and Fleet). In 1955, I took the second place in free pistol and center fire pistol at the USSR Championship and I was selected for the USSR national team.

Did shooting affect your performance in the University?

Because of the long trips to the competitions and participation in training camps I had to take a sabbatical, but I studied well. I graduated in 1958. I defended my thesis in 1959.

Do not confuse the date? As far as I know, since the beginning of 60's soviet shooting team already used your pistols?

No, I do not confuse the date. Our shooters always were understanding technical details of firearms better than their foreign counterparts - not out of choice but out of necessity. Domestic firearms factories, compared with foreign companies, have never satisfied design requirements of leading shooters. In the West everything is predefined: some people shoot, while others produce and repair. At the beginning of my career Soviet shooters hadn't have quality sporting arms, although coaches and athletes were high qualified.
In the 1954 for the first time our team took part in the World Championship and immediately before the competition we had seen that we have nothing to do here with our "Nagant" revolvers. The officials of our team had taken an unprecedented decision and bought directly during the championship two new "Smith & Wesson" revolvers. Our boys won the team championship and set a new team world record.
Personally for the first time I used MTs-2 free pistol and constantly worked on its construction trying to satisfy my personal needs. In the 1957 I set a goal myself - to design new free pistol.

Based on MTs-2 or foreign free pistol?

I tried to completely abstract from well-known to me models, because its demerits could be preserved in the new product. All parts for the first prototype, except for a few standard screws, I had made myself. This pistol has become my thesis work, although my specialization in the institute was completely different - the technologist. For thesis defense I had prepared three prototypes of free pistol made by me in the workshops of the Bauman Moscow State Technical University. To study the "balance" some gun parts and components were made of duralumin, and one prototype was completely made of steel.

And which one was the best?

Of course one made of steel. Our Soviet famous shooter Kreheli risked and he was shot with it at the Championship of the Soviet Union in the 1959 and won. It was before my thesis defense. Already in 1960s some newspapers have published articles mentioning Khaidurov as designer. The first prototype was called the X-1-MT "Baumanets". Later I made only one change in its construction. Also in the 1959 the national team had tested the pistol. It was approved and I got only one comment concerning the trigger. I modified it - made the intermediate arm bent for an even smoother trigger.

In the modern pistols the trigger smoothness provided by electronics.

Athlete should always have a choice between electronic and mechanical triggers (but smooth mechanical trigger). Electronics still makes the gun more expensive and susceptible to external influences. Electronic trigger was used for the first time in the pistol of one American, who became the medal-winner at the World Championship (1954 Caracas?), but that new product didn't become popular. The Hämmerli company after many unsuccessful attempts to make a smooth mechanical trigger started to use electronics in the early 1970s.

The paradoxical situation: the student makes a single product, the quality is better than the state industry!

Not exactly. Many foreign companies produce single-peace firearms for the Champions. However, the same companies provide full service-support on the first demand of the client. Our best shooters always had dreamed of it. Unlike typical designer I used my pistols myself, I experimented with pistols and improved construction. I worked directly with the national team and asked for their opinion - not all designers have such opportunity. At the long last - I have good education.
I had also met many talented engineers, but heads of departments were people, who didn't have an idea what shooting sport is (delegated by Communist Party).

Many heads of departments showed absolute ignorance in the design requirements. They were also top-level professionals in intrigues. So when we had started to prepare my first match pistol for the production I supposed to name it TX-62 (the place and year of manufacture - Тула Хайдуров / Tula Khaidurov), but the deputy chief designer insisted on "TOZ-35 (designed by Khaidurov)". But then, my name was listed only in the data sheet of the first series. Some of the factory bosses did not believe that man alone is able to design a normal firearm. They really advised to me to do something easier (improve wooden box for spare parts for example).

Glory, prestige - OK. Is clear. What about material stimulation?

There was a simple formula for calculating the financial reward: A = 20 rubles × K1 × K2 × K3 × K4. "K" coefficients were set depending on how friendly engineer with management. As a result, bonus could be 20 or 20,000 rubles (1960-1970). One big boss thought a long time about the amount of the bonus for "TOZ-35". I said I cannot buy me a car. He asked: "And how much is Moskvitch? 3500 rubles? OK. 3500 rubles". But I didn't buy a car. I needed money for my family and children.

For IZH-KhR-30 and IZH-KhR-31 (very successful models) we both - I and my partner Razorenov - were rewarded with 2,800 rubles. For TOZ-36 revolver I have not got a penny. Design of firearms was considered to be a hobby of mine, and I was paid as a coach. Most of the time I worked with national team as gunsmith.

In many photos of the period when you were in the USSR team, you were wearing glasses. Are glasses a problem for shooting?

It is a wrong belief that the shooter must have perfect visual perception. I remember one of the best shooters in USSR team - Kalinichenko - he was wearing correction glasses (-D 4.5) and he won the World Championship in 1954 (Caracas). The main thing - proper correction glasses.

Is it necessary to cover the other eye during aiming?

Personally, I believe that if a shooter wants to cover other eye, then the narrow cover strip must be used (to cover firearm only). Large cover strip affects stiffness and coordination. General question - light circumstances - a big problem. At open shooting ranges eye iris is about 1.5 mm, at indoor shooting ranges - about 6-7 mm. Scores are getting lower if shooter switches to indoor shooting range after open shooting range.

Was it difficult to combine the design work with the coaching?

Until 1967 I combined three things - I was firearms designer, coach and shooter and until 1963 I was in USSR team. All liked all three occupations, and one became a continuation of the other. The main problem - lack of time. And because of that I am one of the few shooters, who are not engaged in hunting.

My coaching principle - a strict individual approach to an athlete (look at problems from the same point of view; use the same vocabulary as athlete...).

Did any foreign company invite You to work abroad?

"Feinwerkbau" invited me in the 1969 and in the 1975. It was impossible to accept such invitation in those years. "Walther" invited me in the 1993-1994.

What is the salary offered? And why you did not accepted the invitation?

They offered 300 DM for one day of consultations. I had a doubt: Well, I'll work on them one month disclosing all the details (and why else would they need me?). And then goodbye. But the main reason for denial was that then our team had to buy abroad and import firearms with my inventions. Our opponents would get an advantage. This is unacceptable for me. I have always considered myself as a patriot.