Name : AndyAndy
Now, where did I put that pistol?
I loved swimming at school. They taught me archery and made me run cross country too. Yes indeed, they kept us active at my school for the visually impaired. I am 40 and I am registered blind. Now normally at my age I should be thinking of buying a Harley. Thankfully for every other road user I took up horse riding instead after being given a lesson as a birthday present. I am immediately hooked and have kept it up for just over a year. Now I am not well funded so I try to keep fit for riding by running and starting to hit the pool. It strikes me that when I start this I am doing three of the five disciplines of the Modern Pentathlon which I saw on the Olympics last year.
Oh to be the dashing messenger, desperate and skillful in the challenge of getting vital information to where it is most needed. He/she must travel by water, foot and horse as well as defend themselves with sword and pistol. Well my years of playing Dungeons and Dragons means that part of me loves this idea. So, I have done 3 of the 5 sports before and I took up another one recently. I now just have to find someone who will let a visually impaired person shoot one of their guns. Who will I find who is mad enough? I feel a diary coming on....
Week Beginning 22nd May 2013
I have no idea what type of piston is used for the shooting part of these events. I find the Pentathlon GB website and call the number. A most energetic person answers and directs me to look at .177 air pistols. She also tells me there are also events which take the competitor through just two or three of the Pentathlon disciplines. I will have to get a lot better to compete I think, but this could be part of the development process. I am also referred to Alexia, a communications officer for Pentathlon GB who, from the beginning, exuded motivational enthusiasm.
Thursday:Running. The gym has just not been holding my attention so I have decided my local canal would be a good place to start. I go from one bridge to another and nearly blooming expire. Still, only a start.
Friday:I call a fencing club an am invited to attend to see what level I can enter classes at.
Week Beginning 29th May 2013
Monday:I found a Shooting club on the internet. They are happy to show me around their range with my first visit to be a non-shooting safety briefing.
Wednesday:Shooting club. 1st visit. The people are very friendly and are interested in what I am trying to do. I will be able to shoot next week.
Thursday:I begin to research what kind of air pistol to obtain. I will not buy one yet as I do not know enough about them and don't yet know if I will even be able to hit the target.
Friday:Running. I make what I think is about half the 3200 metre distance I will need for the event. The absence of road traffic means I limit the danger of running outside.
Week Beginning 3rd June 2013
Monday:First visit to a fencing club. The fencing Master, Isabel, tells me she has taught people with visual disability before.
Wednesday:I become a probationary member of a shooting club. This club caters for shooters of air guns as well as firearms and so they take safety VERY seriously. Not only does this mean I feel confident about the people teaching me but it also means they take things at a good steady rate, which allows me to learn to navigate in a new place. I have to pass a safety test with a variety of guns. Now apart from my visual disability I am restricted by something even more foul and contemptible. Yes, I am left handed. There are no left handed air pistols at the club but one of the members has very kindly offered to lend me one of his next week. I had a look at one of the pistol targets at ten metres on the range. Well I say “look” - I could not actually see it. Hmmm, this will be interesting.
Thursday:Run after work. I finish with a rest and a short run up hill. I guess I will have to do cross country so I have to get used to hills. However I can't train cross country too much as I risk tripping or falling etc.
Sunday:Riding. Some basic cantering work. I have ridden for about a year, can walk, trot and canter. I have jumped but no higher than a meter. It's quite a journey to get to the level I need. Luckily I have great horses from an old hunting school to take me there. Week beginning 10th June 2013
Week Beginning 10th June 2013
Monday:My first experience of grasping a fencing sword since university. I fight just about every adult in the club and get badly mauled by some. Though I need to fight with the Epee for the Pentathlon I need to start at the club with the lighter foil. It still shows me that I need to vastly improve my technique and conditioning. I think the aching should stop by next week. Maybe?
Wednesday:Shooting. I shot .22 rifles which is required for full membership of the club. I must say I enjoy this and it is interesting that my journey is spawning other interests already. That kind member brought in his pistol for me to try. I missed! There are two main reasons for this: 1) I cannot see the target, and 2) I cannot see the piston sights at arm's length. I had better give up now then. Ha, gotcha! I discuss with this mentor and others at the club how we might address these issues. I think I will take them one at a time. First I think I must find a way to acquire my target. I think the way might be to introduce contrast.
Thursday:I call British Blind Shooting after checking the internet. Unfortunately they do not shoot pistol. They do use an “acoustic” sight which shoots a laser at a target which has varying colours. Measuring the reflection tells the shooter how close to the centre they are. However these sights only exist on pistols. Hmmm, Well I will concentrate on seeing the target for now.
Saturday:Brought several large sheets of black cardboard and some tac. If I put a pistol target on this will I be able to see it better?
Week Beginning 17th June 2013
Monday:I have joined two new clubs this month so I couldn't afford to ride last week. I call the NSRA who aid people with shooting sports. They also have no experience with visually impaired pistol shooting. I think I will have to go along to a blind shooting session and see what they do. I wonder if it would be possible to adapt an acoustic sight for a pistol?
Tuesday:Fencing. Though I am still on foil I did a lot better this time and won more points. I experienced my first proper lesson at the club. It can be a bit hard to see the demonstrations but the other members at the club don't mind taking me through things. Though my technique has to vastly improve I can keep my distance well as I can see a body and I can brawl. The Master advises me to get on to Epee as soon as possible. There is an evil gleam in her eye which makes me think I am in for climbing a steep learning curve.
Wednesday:I take my new target along to the shooting club. The club let me mess about with one of their pistol ranges which, when you think about me fiddling with their electric target box. I set up the target and went back to the firing point. I can see the target! Well kind of. I can now see the white square of the target on the black background. This is a start. Next I have to point an air pistol at it. My mentor lends me one of his .177 air pistols. I miss! I shoot lots of times but miss the target card every time. I hit the black backing a couple of times but in 15 shots that's not going to be good enough. I think the trouble now is that I cannot see the sighting pegs on the pistol. I will need more practice next week.
Thursday:I call an air gun shop in Blackpool as recommended by a member of the shooting club. The range of guns available is bewildering and I know so little about them I hardly know where to start, pump, CO2 compressed air? Bolt action? Repeating? I think something basic to start with as I note some of the ones which the high level people use go for about 1200 quid, a little out of my range. I will practice further and learn more before making a purchase.
Friday:Running. I increased the distance and got better consistency in my pace. It felt good but I still need to go further. I have heard these cross country runners can be most tenacious.
Saturday:Swimming. My first time in a pool for a good long time. I used to swim a lot in school but I have not hit water for over a year. My stroke is surprisingly ok. It needs work though. However my conditioning is way behind and I could not even do the 200 meters I need to, to manage this event. Yes, bad isn't it?
Sunday:I found some modeling paint. You know, the stuff they use on those little figures and aeroplanes. I wonder if I could paint the sighting pegs of a pistol ? Riding. Canter work in a group. I did well but need to get to some jumping, which I really enjoy. I ride at an old hunting school so there are plenty of sturdy jumping horses about. Also I get to ride lots of different horses which I will need to do if I get good enough for a Pentathlon event. A few other members of my group want to do some more challenging stuff so this will help.