CMP Staffers Recall Incomparable Experiences at 2016 World Cup Event in Bangkok-Part 1
April 14, 2016Civilian Marksmanship Program▸The First Shot▸CMP Staffers Recall Incomparable Experiences at 2016 World Cup Event in Bangkok-Part 1
In March 2016, CMP staff members Chance Cover and Elijah Ellis traveled to Bangkok, Thailand, to compete in the World Cup Men’s Three-Position Competition. Each have an extensive background in shooting and were eager to compete at the prestigious event.
In college, Cover was a walk-on member of the West Virginia University rifle team from 2009-2013. While there, he was a member of the Academic All-Big 12 At-Large Team, CRCA All-Academic Team and also earned Academic All-Big 12 First Team. Additionally, he helped the rifle team reach NCAA Champion status in 2013 and 2014 and finished in first in the Class A Men’s 50m rifle prone and the Class A Men’s 50m Rifle Three-Positions at the 2013 USA Shooting National Championships for Rifle and Pistol.
Ellis was a member of the University of Kentucky rifle ream from 2011-2015. His past rifle accolades include six state championships, four national championships, five National Records and over 100 wins in local, regional and sectional matches. While at Kentucky, he was an individual qualifier for smallbore at the 2013 NCAA National Championships, Honorable Mention for All-American Air Rifle Team 2012-2013 season, GARC All-Conference Second Team Air Rifle 2014, All-American Second Team Air Rifle 2014 and GARC All-Conference Honorable Mention Air Rifle 2015.
He was also a member of the U.S. National Junior Rifle Team 2012-2013 and competed internationally in Munich, Germany, at the 2013 Bavarian Air Gun Championships. One of his biggest wins came in the summer of 2013 as he received the gold medal for USA in the Czech Republic Olympic Hopefuls Match.
The following paragraphs are journal entries of Chance’s experiences traveling and competing in the World Cup in Bangkok. He recalls the ups, the downs and the wisdom he gained during his unforgettable trip.
(NOTE: CMP Staff member James Hall also competed in the World Cup event in Bangkok, in the Men’s Free Pistol competition.)
Day 1 – March 3, 2016
The first flight of the day left Las Vegas at 6:30 a.m., meaning that with parking, checking in with a firearm for an international flight and going through security, we left the hotel at 2:15 a.m. After the first flight to Los Angeles, we grabbed food and waited for the long leg (11 hours to Tokyo) of the trip to begin. We didn’t have to worry about any bags but our carry-on items, which made most of the trip much more bearable. We ended up sleeping on the first half of the Los Angeles/Tokyo trip, since it took off at 10:00 a.m. PT (about 3 a.m. Bangkok time). Other than that, watching movies or listening to music was the only thing to do.
After landing in Tokyo, we had to go through security again. Even water bought in an airport cannot be taken through security, though it was much easier than security in the U.S. We ended up being in the airport at the same time as some old NCAA shooting friends, and we stopped to talk to them about their time in Bangkok. They shared some things to do or see in Bangkok, such as eating at the buffet for breakfast (must do).
The flight to Bangkok was around 7 hours long, but this time we tried our hardest not to sleep, since we would be arriving at 11 p.m. and wanted to get onto the sleep schedule as quickly and easily as possible. Really, the in-flight entertainment systems are life savers for long flights like those…
The fun really began when we reached Bangkok, as nobody knew we were supposed to be there. Originally, everybody thought that we were departing Bangkok, and since nobody had us on a list to leave, there was mass confusion as we tried (fruitlessly) to understand and talk to the Thai customs agents and representatives who know enough English to make sense (but the accent twists words and makes it very hard to understand on our end).
After waiting around an hour, everything was finally sorted out, and we were on our way. First, off to the range to drop off our gear and rifles, and then on to the hotel for some much needed rest.
Day 2 – We’re Official
Sleep didn’t last long. Wake up call was at 6 a.m. to get breakfast and then get to the range. Breakfast was very good – just an odd mix of Thai and what you might see in an American hotel. Directly after breakfast, we went off to the range to check it out in the daytime. Obviously it was much busier, as Men’s Prone Qualification started just after we arrived. Before we could do any shooting, however, we had to get all the credentials and equipment passes that are necessary.
We found Tom Tamas, the USA National Rifle Coach, and he had our start numbers with him so that we could begin our equipment check. They always check slightly different gear at these matches, so we didn’t have to have our boots or kneeling rolls checked. Elijah’s pants ended up having to have the waist band significantly cut down to make specifications, and the blood stain in the pants just adds character to them (from the ISSF Jury Member, not even his own). My gear went through flawlessly, and after getting buttons checked, we got our ISSF tags and yellow cards! Immediately afterwards, Tamas found us again to go get our credentials for the match. They took our pictures, and printed us passes for the range (if you look either of us up on the ISSF athlete database, and we look a little like beetroots, it’s because it’s hot out here. Drink water!) We were then completely official.
The prone final had almost started at that point, so we wandered off to get seats for that and watched some very good prone shooting, especially for a windy range. The final was really exciting, with, at one point, all remaining athletes within 0.1 points of one another. The diversity in shooting styles was amazing as well. Low positions, high positions, shooting fast or slow – it all seemed to work for each individual shooter.
After the conclusion of the final, we went back to the 50m range and watched the Women’s 50m Three-Position PET relay. If you wander down the line, you will see a wider variety of positions in all three positions. The oddest (for me) were super spread legs in prone, and a standing position where the feet were separated by no more than 6 inches. We ended up walking down to where a few of the American women were shooting and staying there until right before our practice, when we went to get lunch. I ordered Pad Thai, with seafood, and was surprised to see a little octopus go into the Wok. Also to my surprise, it tasted fairly good, but was an odd taste and texture, being that it was crunchy. Then, on to our practice.
Open practice was a very different experience. We found out firsthand how much wind can affect your shots. The wind was mostly right to left, but it varied in speed quite dramatically, sometimes almost n
I felt I could only spare a box of ammo from my brick that I brought, with there being one more open practice, PET and a match, so I only practiced for about an hour. We packed up after practice and headed back to the hotel. After another long day, the only things left were dinner (which was amazing – Thai food is very good), a quick trip to the pool, and on to bed.
Day 3 – Hot. As. Ballistically Efficient Lead Bullets.
Today started off the same as yesterday, just a little later. The only obligation today was open practice at 2 p.m. (they keep moving the time back…), but we went to support the USA ladies in their 50m Three- Position event. The high score for the day was a 583, and if you’ve ever seen some of the World Cup scores, and know how relatively low that is, then you will appreciate how much the wind was blowing.
There were more 7’s shot than I could count, and it was all due to the wind – both how hard it was blowing and how rapidly it was switching. Two U.S. shooters made the finals, Sarah Scherer and Sarah Beard, so we watched that final through kneeling, at which point we had to go to our practice. We had our squadded firing points, Ellis on 6, myself on 20, so we were able to see what we would be up against in terms of conditions of the range. Practice wasn’t great for me, as the wind was trickier today, but the worst part was the heat. Somebody threw some more water on the sauna rocks, because it was warm and wet – both of those extreme understatements. But, we went about our business.
During the practice time yesterday, it was pointed out that not having a trigger guard on a rifle is illegal (after all, I’m not so prepared…), so today Jason Parker and I did some marvelous on-the-job engineering and made a makeshift trigger guard out of an Eley bullet box. It is important to know what is necessary to have on your rifle before you get to a match, but more importantly, it is vital to know how to fix or make something if you break it or don’t have it.
Practice wrapped up after that, and we took our shooting clothes home to dry (because it is never fun to put on wet, tight clothing). Jet lag is still making late afternoons a little hard to manage – since by about 5 p.m. my eyes hurt to keep open. Hopefully that cuts out and I’m fully alert and aware for the PET day, which comes tomorrow, starting at 9 a.m.
Day 4 – Jet lag catches up
PET day started out fairly early, as we were supposed to be at the range by about 7 a.m. to get ready (realistically, nobody else got there until closer to 8 a.m., but we were eager and naive…). However, my body clock told me it was time to wake up at 3 a.m. And 4. And 5. I finally stayed up after waking up at 5 a.m. and messaged some people at home while I waited for 6 o’clock and a shower.
After breakfast (which was, as always, amazing at the hotel) we hopped a shuttle to the range, which was far more dead than we had anticipated for being the PET day for Men’s 3P. We had to wait for another hour before people showed up, and we felt comfortable grabbing our gear and putting it on the line. My trigger guard fix from the day before (or theoretical fix) didn’t work as expected, and so an even more ridiculous fix was employed – using the trigger weight screw on a Feinwerkbau to screw on a piece of plastic to act as a trigger guard. It is about as low budget as it gets, but it worked, and made me legal to compete again.
PET overall was a very good training day. The range was windy, but it was a more consistent wind, which made me feel very confident about my positions. I did my part in preparing my positions, and they rewarded me by feeling better than they had in a long time, with standing and kneeling falling into place and working very well. Prone comes fairly naturally, so I took the fewest shots there, while I needed to test the other two positions to make sure I was clear on how the feeling of each position was, where the balance was, how the rifle rested and how the hold looked before and after squeezing the trigger. I also switched my ammo from Eley Target (yellow box) to Eley Tenex (red box), neither of which are lot tested out of my rifle, but the Tenex shot so much better and much more consistently than the yellow.
Besides being windy, the range was swelteringly hot again, which was a distraction while trying to focus on the feeling of the positions and how wind affected shots. By the end of practice, I was drenched, but so was everybody else on the line. It is not uncommon, like at Ft. Benning, to see coats and pants and undergarments laying out in the sun drying and airing out before wearing again the next day.
After practice, we headed immediately back to the hotel. While only meaning to rest for a little while before actually doing something, my body clock had other plans, and I fell asleep at 2 p.m. and slept for five straight hours, until dinner. After dinner (which, again, was always good, and cost the equivalent of about $20), we went back upstairs, and again, I crashed onto the bed in anticipation of the next day.
Day 5 – Match Day
Unfortunately, because of my sleeping habits from the day before, I woke up at 2 in the morning and took a shower before I realized what time it was. I ended up drifting in and out of consciousness for the next three hours, before finally waking up and going to breakfast. The plan was the same as PET, to keep some consistency, and we arrived at the range at just after 7 a.m.
If I haven’t accurately described how hot and humid Bangkok is yet, here’s another way: I was dripping sweat just walking around the range, in the shade. Luckily I had taken my shooting clothing home and dried it out, so it wasn’t too miserable trying to pull on my clothing. I was ready by about 8:35, just in time for 8:45 sighters.
The match was completely different than PET day. The wind was inconsistent, gusty, and the lighting conditions were constantly changing. My kneeling position held up the same as it had the day before, but my inadequate wind calling caused me to lose a few more points than I expected, including two 8’s. Nerves got the best of me in my first series, with five of my first seven shots being no lower than 9.8’s, but not 10’s. After that, I calmed down, but the wind made everything more difficult.
One of my regrets, which I intend to rectify as soon as possible, is not having a timer to pace myself and keep myself aware of the time. On Sius targets, they do not give you a timer, so it is the shooters’ responsibility to keep their own time.
I finished kneeling fairly quickly, one of the first done, and moved on to prone. My prone position felt solid, but, again, I was fighting the wind. I shot an 8 in prone, surrounded by 10’s, for a 98, then followed it up with a 99. That’s when it got really interesting. There was a change in the wind and lighting conditions at the same time, but the wind was not moving exactly as the wind flags indicated, causing shots to move in unintended directions. Moreover, and more importantly, it frustrated me, which meant I didn’t pay as much attention to the indicators as I should have. Leaving slings behind, I had a 769 – not bad, but definitely not what I had wanted.
Moving to standing, I was again one of the first shooters up and ready. I feel as though my standing positions aren’t as (relatively) solid as my slings, so I like to leave a considerable amount of time to settle and sight-in. I took nearly 30 minutes to settle and sight-in, before I decided that I needed to move into record for time’s sake, not that I felt particularly comfortable doing so. Standing was about as solid as I’ve seen it in a long time, but unfortunately, I had an even worse time reading and compensating for the wind.
As I was to find out later (from a far better wind reader than me, and with considerably more experience at all levels of the sport), the wind was moving more on the vertical plane than horizontal, swirling and “eddying” because of the walls that surrounded the complex. This caused a fair amount of my problems, but simply not knowing and not paying attention caused most of them. I also found myself doing math, for the first time in the match, with only 20 shots left.
With all the distractions of the match, I am happy that it took that long for my concentration to break to that extent. After finishing, I was more disappointed than anything, but it is important to me to keep frustrations and other negative emotions in my own mind and not show them, so I just sat and reflected, and tried to let go. It is perfectly acceptable to be frustrated, to be even a little distressed or angry and to use that to motivate you later, but it is also important not to let it affect you in a negative manner in the moment on the line.
Finishing the match with a 1127-34x (379, 390, 358), I know that I could have done much better, but I had to be happy with my performance, since I fought all the way through. At no point did I give up, and only once that I know did I express my frustration in a way such as flicking the bolt open. There were plenty of shots that confused me, even flustered me, but I was able to compose myself much better than I had been able to in the past before continuing on.
We went to watch the final, which was a very tight, very well contested final. In the end, USA won the day, with Matt Emmons proving again that he is one of, if not the best, in the world at what he does.
Part 2 of this story series will feature the experiences of Elijah Ellis through his journey to and from Bangkok – which were unexpected and nerve-wracking at times!