Wednesday, November 28, 2012

New Range and Targets by Rob Riddett

“How do you like your range grass cut John; stripes up and down...or stripes across?”

Here, Rob Riddett the National Small Bore Coach for the Welsh Target Shooting Fereation describes how a dream of a new 50m shooting range turned into reality.

In July 2011, Welsh High Performance Manager John Dallimore was asked at a planning meeting what Sport Wales could do to help Welsh shooting develop following its promotion to a category ‘A’ sport. ‘You could build us a training range out there’ said John half jokingly, pointing out of the window to a patch of ground besides the Sport Wales National Centre car park and behind the ‘Mochyn Du’ pub. The reply?

‘......Hmm, we’ll see what we can do; leave it with us’...stunned silence!

A few weeks later following a review of available space, an area approximately 70m x 10m was identified on a football training pitch adjacent to the Glamorgan County Cricket SWALEC Stadium. A full competition standard range was neither feasible nor desirable on sustainability and usage grounds so the plan was for a heated 6 firing point 50m training range with full electronic targets and batch testing facilities. The ground available meant that the range would be situated in the dead ball area beyond the touch line bounded on one side by a fence and dense conifer hedge alongside an important access road and on the other, the pitch - approximately 200m from the nearest houses. As the pitch pointed approximately northwards, the site was ideal.

Let's build a range here?

I have to admit here that having seen the space when we were marking it out,. This was going to be unlike any range I had ever even envisaged let alone shot on!

Chris Meredith an architect and member of Torfaen Rifle Club was asked, and agreed, to draw up suitable plans and oversee the project. In line with the Welsh Assembly Governments goal to fully supportallWelsh sports and make Wales a force in the international arena, and coupled with the realisation that smallbore rifle was one of the few Olympic sports which Wales was unable to provide facilities for visiting teams on holding camps, funding was agreed and put in place.The willingness to support and provide this level of funding was refreshing and exciting to say the leastbut compared with many of the facilities for other ‘category A’ sports such as cycling, swimming and athletics,the amount needed was relatively small; but an enormous and well received boost for our national squad!

A preliminary assessment visit by Ali Aitkin of the NSRA proved very encouraging and he could see no reason why a ‘no-danger’ range should not be sighted on the proposed area. Nick Lia of SWNC worked tremendously hard with John and Martin Watkins (WTSF Chairman) driving the project forward and maintaining momentum; nothing was too much trouble and he was an almost daily visitor on site to check on progress. Planning permission was sought which some of us, from previous attempts at range provision, thought might have been the final insurmountable hurdle. However, having got this far, confidence remained cautiously high especially as we were fully supported by Sport Wales as well as by the local Assembly Member and the Minister for Sport.

There were few formal objections in writing to Cardiff County Council however one local resident assumed we would be shooting at steel plate falling targets and he thought that this might be very noisy and not ‘in keeping’ with the sporting usage of the parkland! An open public meeting held in a local church hall nearby and was reasonably attended. Once again, Sport Wales in the guise of Malcolm Zaple did a magnificent job for us calming any fears about visual impact, noise while fending off prejudices against guns and shooting in a calm, well informed and friendly manner. Those local residents with lasting fears were invited to attend an air training and sports science session the following week to see who we were and what we did as a sport.

Helen Warnes, one of our elite athletes, was receiving sports science support and taking part in air rifle training on the day the one resident who took up our offer came to visit. This residentwas so impressed by the professionalism of all involved and the obvious fact that shooting was a serious sport on a par with any other she had experienced that on leaving, she actually asked was there any form of document that she could complete and send to Cardiff County Council to support our application; and this was from someone initially opposed to the development!

No other serious or valid objection was lodged in the time allowed so on to the next stage; sanction of planning permission. The planning committees only meet monthly so another nail biting wait.However, permission was granted without any real difficulty save one or two amendments to building materials usage and colour schemes but this mostly aesthetic in order to reduce visual impact and fit in with the listed status of the parkland.

All of the sports facilities in this part of Cardiff are built on land granted in perpetuity in 1947 by the 5th Marquess of Bute ‘for the leisure and enjoyment of the people of the Cardiff’ and as such is designated as Grade 2 listed parkland. This in itself necessitated sanction by CADW, the Welsh Government's
historic environment service but bearing in mind the enormity of the SWALEC stadium it would hardly have been equitable to decline our small facility; they didn’t so we were on our way...once Planning had approved the alterations and the revised building materials, actual examples of which had to be submitted for inspection. The range had to be as unobtrusive as possible with specific wood effectcladding and correct shades of green used for the firing point building and the butts wall. As one can see from the photographs, it all blends pretty well into the hedge-line.

In March, after what seemed like a rather long delay, the time lapse was queried. The reply? “I’m very busy with other reports at the moment, is there a rush for this?”err the Olympics in August? Visiting teams possibly needing training facilities?...things started moving again.

In the meantime we turned our attention to range equipment. While we have a generous allocation of Megalink air and cartridge units now, it was decided to purchase Sius targets for the new range. Megalink’s are portable and great for occasional short term training at home venues by individual squad members but as most major competition venues are equipped with Sius, then that was to be our system of choice in order to prepare out athletes with the best equipment available. As noise had been initially perceived as a possible problem, the new silica-bead filled bullets catchers from Meyton which we had seen at ISAS Dortmund seemed the quietest option and potentially the cleanest; no clanging steel plates and fragmented lead bullets. Orders were placed and all the kit was in store and ready for the final inspection and hopefully the issue of a Range Safety Certificate.

Things moved again and in April 2012 ground works commenced.The estimated ‘build time’ was 6 – 8 weeks. The simplicity of build i.e. one large wall, a slab of concrete for the firing point / prep area and
construction and 50m of fencing meant that work progressed rapidly. There were few problems beyond those usually encountered in most construction jobs and nothing that a bit of re-measuring and adjustment couldn’t solve.

Inspection time

The firing point and preparation area with electric roller shutter security and protection

Finally on 27th June 2012 we had another visit from Ali who thankfully was able to fit us in to his extremely busy pre Olympic schedule for which we were extremely grateful. John, Dave Phelps and I set up a couple of Megalinks primarily for the inspection but also to check heights and distances. WTSF Chairman Martin Watkins, the builder Andy Ward of Coronation Construction and Nick Lia of SWNC joined us while Ali carried out his review of the facility. All went well and very few questions needed to be answered, such was the quality of the design and the build. All was well and other than a minor query as to angles of elevation for shooting prone (either from tables or the floor) approval was granted and the certificate duly issued in Mid July. Now we were nearly there, next came the installation of targets.

The frames for the targets and bullet catchers needed a bit of 'tweaking' and Rob Warnes, our invaluable tech support spent hours checking and setting up the target hardware and understanding the more complex side of integrating the units. Final set up testing took place on 21st July with live rounds fired to test the targets. As I'd been shooting league cards in the morning and had my kit with me, I got to fire the first rounds on our pristine range; well someone had to make sure the targets worked ok!

Apart from one minor, but time consuming hiccup which was solved by 'phoning Michael from Sius at the Olympic range in London, by the end of the day the range was daisy chained and working perfectly. Without Rob we would have been floundering as, if it isn't 'plug and play' then most of us wouldn't have had much of clue. Building on his now expert knowledge of our Megalinks it is planned to sent Rob on a Sius training course in the near future which will help get both maximum benefit out of the system and also longevity of use.

As can be seen from the photographs, the ‘footprint’ of the range is minimal and one wonders how many clubs and associations around the country looking to establish a small outdoor facility could use this example to support an application? It looked a bit of a leap of faith at the outset but it has convinced me that we don’t need out of the way places with miles of open ground or quarries hidden away from public for our ranges; this one is situated literally 10 minutes walk from the centre of the capital of Wales next to a major cricket ground and at the home of Welsh sporting excellence!

One of the few conditions of planning permission was that use of this range is limited to Welsh Squad members between the hours of 0900 and 1800 (or dusk) and when in use, the pitch facilities are not
available to other sports making the area secure and safe. When it is seen how well this works then who is to say what is possible in the future.

Blending in – view from the football pitch with the SWALEC Stadium just visible in the trees

Ali was very impressed with the quality use of space and the final ‘product’ which has come in on time and within budget; as was the builder Andy whose first rifle range this is. It is possible that this design could be used for other facilities around the country where space is at a premium. Considering its location and size, this is a pretty unique range but it would be nice to think that it could become the norm.

So thanks to the hard work of John, Martin, Rob, Nic and the SWNC team and ‘Team Wales’ our High Performance cartridge and talented athletes now have and state of the art, full electronic training range with heated firing point and preparation area. All of this is within easy access of our Sports Science support team, our air training facility in the National sports centre with ample parking and all in the heart of the capital city of Wales

Oh yes, I almost forgot, the 'Stripes up and down or stripes across' bit? That was John the groundsman's first question when the inspection was complete and he needed to give the grass a bit of a trim. Apparently archers aren't keen lines up and down as it can draw the shot if the lines are not straight so he just needed to make sure rifle shooters didn't have the same requirements; now that's quality Sport Wales service for you!
If any Clubs or Associations out there have any questions or queries regarding the building of this facility then Welsh Shooting will be more than happy to supply information about the process and also, why not come and visit us sometime and see for yourself.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

London poem

The rain-soaked hem of a burkha...

A prophet with megaphone in the pedestrian precinct.
A market crier tries to drown him out.
In the tube a girl put's her make-up on, mirroring in the window.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

New Skateboard and Fingerboard Products!

We have TONS of new stuff this week so we'll try to get them all up as soon as we can.

Blackriver Fingerboard Trucks @ $100 a set
- Super Silver Wide 2.0
-Jack Black Wide 2.0
-Big Mellow Wide 2.0
-Bright White Wide 2.0
-Rad Red
-True Blue
-Jack Black
-Mellow Yellow
-Super Silver
-Bright White

Blackriver Fingerboard Wide Low Shape @ $70 each
-Pornstorm Butz
-Wrinkler Sun
-Harrier Foid
-Flatface Zeph
-Flatface Jay
-Wood Wars

Blackriver Fingerboard Wide Shape @ $70 each
-Tongui Zombie
-Tongui Krake
-BRR Classic Skull

Blackriver Fingerboard Ramps
-Pornstorm Plaza @ $160 each
-Double Staircase Red @ $160 each
-D-Rex Ledge @ $160 each
-Funbox Kink Rail @ $160 each
-Pole Square red @ $40 each
-Pole Round Red @ $40 each
-Iron up Kink @ $48 each
-Iron up Square @ $48 each
-Iron Bike Rack @ $52 each
-Iron Round Low @ $45 each
-Iron Square @ $45 each
-Iron Shotgun @ $48 each
-Iron L Style Left @ $56 each
-Street bench @ 52 each
-Bench @ $35 each
-Box1 @ $35 each
-Box2 @ $46 eacg
-Box3 @ $43 each
-Mini Table @ $45 each
-Table @ $52 each
-Box7 @ $48 each

Fingerboard Magazine @ $10 each
TKY Bushings @ $17 each
First Aid bushings @ $17 each
First Aid Screws @ $9 each
First Aid Lock Nuts @ $25 each
First Aid bushings Uldimate Pack @ $35 each
Flashbone Camo Bag @ $70 each
Pissing Fingers DVD @ $30 each
Riptape Classic @ $17 each

Monday, November 19, 2012

The future of Coaching and Volunteering, by Professor Laura McAllister

In her latest blog, Professor Laura McAllister sets out the reasons why developing the coaching and volunteering workforce must be placed at the heart of sports planning in Wales. Yn ei blog diweddaraf, mae’r Athro Laura McAllister yn datgan y rhesymau dros fod angen gosod y gwaith o ddatblygu’r gweithlu hyfforddi a gwirfoddoli wrth galon y cynlluniau chwaraeon yng Nghymru.

I am always very excited at the prospect of the Sport Wales Coach of the Year Awards and hearing the fascinating, inspiring and motivating stories about people who are, quite frankly, the backbone of Welsh sport. Coaches and volunteers deserve every recognition they get.
I know they don’t seek out attention for what they do and the time they spend on sport but, there is no doubt in my mind, they more than deserve their moment of glory.
What a year it has been for Welsh and British sport! One that will go down in history as inspiring a generation.
But in the spirit of elite sport, the event is over and we move on to our next challenge. I am delighted to hear the first reports of the impact the Games have made in Wales.
But making the most of this ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity simply cannot be left to luck. Anyone hoping that that nice, warm positivity around sport that the London Games generated will automatically transfer into more people taking part is living in cloud cuckoo land.
We shouldn’t need telling that Olympic success comes from damned hard work and perseverance, and it is that which has to be replicated in our work with clubs and communities to properly capture the passion of 2012.
We don’t have long either- we can try to sustain the buzz but it will fade next year - so now is our golden moment.
There are questions for all of us - ‘Are we doing what we need to do?’ ‘Do we have enough capacity -especially coaches and volunteers?’ ‘If not, what are we doing about it?’ The wonderful London ‘Games Makers’ showed the enthusiasm and will that there is to volunteer and I understand the Glasgow Commonwealth Games volunteer programme is already over-subscribed. Let’s capture that willingness and utilise it in the less glamorous, but equally fulfilling, world of grassroots sport.
And let me be very clear, we are now in the business of talking about the rights of children to good quality PE and sport, and the duty we have to ensure this happens.
No child turned on to sport by Jade Jones or Mark Colbourne should be turned away at their local club because of a lack of volunteers and coaches.
Two years ago- working with you all- we at Sport Wales set an ambitious target to double the number of coaches and volunteers to a quarter of a million by 2016. We will be watching progress towards this target with interest.
We now have a brand new Board at Sport Wales, some exciting and different contributors to the quest to make Wales one of the world’s leading sporting nations. I have made it very clear to my colleagues that the focus for our work is to drive change and improvement. Every debate we have will be framed not by, ‘we’ve always funded them’ or ‘they’ve delivered for us in the past’.
In fact, it will be the opposite in the future. The questions we will be asking are:
‘What can we do differently?’ ‘Which organisations are driving change?’ ‘Which are reaching out to groups currently under-represented in sport?’
For the first point of entry to coaching, simplicity is the key. We need to make it as easy as possible for the public to become coaches. If the process is cumbersome and costly-let’s be honest, we simply won't get anywhere. And we all need to shout it from the tree tops that there is funding available to help with costs.

We are a small nation and we simply can’t afford not to use all of the talent there is out there. I know that a number of governing bodies are working together on new awards to bridge the gap in providing coach education in priority areas. We know only too well that we need to address the issue of getting more women and girls, and those from a disadvantaged or a BME background, into sport and that means into coaching and volunteering too.

I’d ask you all to think about what more you can do for sport. In many cases, we rely on the amazing work carried out by one or two people and don’t spend enough time on succession planning or thinking about how we make a club or activity sustainable in the long term. A boom and bust approach to sports clubs does not work. The fantastic network of clubs that we have needs to be secure and sustainable. With a strong and diverse volunteer base, all clubs can build for the future.
And talking about succession planning, could we have a better resource for future coaching and volunteering than our splendid Young Ambassadors? Plus the excellent work with Sports Leaders UK and Sports Coach UK too.

For our Governing Bodies especially, is coaching and volunteering high enough on your agendas? Is your workforce plan a ‘live’ document that you consult regularly? Are you sufficiently open to learning from best practice elsewhere? Some sports, such as football, hockey and netball, are reporting continued increases in coaches and volunteers. What can we learn about the way these sports prioritise coaching and volunteering?

I am very confident that you will respond to the challenges we are setting, as the outcome is a massively enticing and motivating one: even more Welsh athletes on the podium in Glasgow in around 600 days’ time, and then breaking more records in Rio two years later. But as importantly, the smiles on the faces of our children as they have well-organised, properly run (and most importantly, fun) sport in their schools and communities.
Rydw i bob amser yn teimlo’n gyffrous iawn pan fydd Gwobrau Hyfforddwr y Flwyddyn Chwaraeon Cymru yn cael eu cynnal, i gael clywed y straeon rhyfeddol ac ysbrydoledig am y bobl sydd, o ddweud y gwir plaen, yn asgwrn cefn chwaraeon yng Nghymru. Mae hyfforddwyr a gwirfoddolwyr yn haeddu pob cydnabyddiaeth maen nhw’n ei chael.
Rydw i’n gwybod nad ydyn nhw’n chwilio am sylw am yr hyn maen nhw’n ei wneud a’r amser maen nhw’n ei dreulio yn y byd chwaraeon, ond does gen i ddim amheuaeth eu bod nhw’n llawn haeddu’r clod sy’n cael ei roi iddyn nhw yn yr achlysur yma.
Ac mae hi wedi bod yn flwyddyn wych i chwaraeon Cymru a Phrydain! Blwyddyn a gaiff ei chofio fel un sydd wedi ysbrydoli cenhedlaeth.
Ond yng ngwir ysbryd chwaraeon elitaidd, mae’r achlysur drosodd a nawr rydyn ni’n symud ymlaen at ein her nesaf. Rydw i wrth fy modd yn cael clywed yr adroddiadau cyntaf am effaith a dylanwad y Gemau yng Nghymru.
Ond nid dim ond lwc ddylai fod yn gyfrifol am wneud y gorau o’r cyfle cwbl unigryw yma mewn oes. Mae unrhyw un sy’n gobeithio y bydd yr agwedd bositif, braf sydd wedi’i chreu tuag at chwaraeon gan Gemau Llundain yn trosglwyddo’n awtomatig i fwy o bobl yn cymryd rhan yn byw mewn rhyw freuddwyd ffôl.   
Does dim rhaid i ni ailadrodd mai gwaith caled a dyfalbarhad sy’n gyfrifol am lwyddiant Olympaidd, ac mai dyna sydd raid i ni ei ailadrodd yn ein gwaith gyda chlybiau a chymunedau er mwyn ffrwyno angerdd 2012 yn llwyddiannus.
A does gennym ni ddim llawer  o amser chwaith – fe allwn ni geisio cynnal y bwrlwm ond bydd yn gwanio y flwyddyn nesaf – felly dyma ein cyfle euraid ni.
Mae cwestiynau i ni i gyd - ‘Ydyn ni’n gwneud beth sydd angen i ni ei wneud?’ ‘Oes gennym ni ddigon o adnoddau – yn enwedig hyfforddwyr a gwirfoddolwyr?’ ‘Os na, beth ydym yn ei wneud am y peth?’ Fe ddangosodd ‘Games Makers’ gwych Llundain bod digon o frwdfrydedd ac ewyllys i wirfoddoli yn bodoli, ac rydw i’n deall bod rhaglen gwirfoddolwyr Gemau Cymanwlad Glasgow eisoes yn llawn. Gadewch i ni fanteisio ar y parodrwydd hwn a’i ddefnyddio ym myd llai deniadol chwaraeon ar lawr gwlad, sy’n gallu cynnig yr un ymdeimlad o foddhad yn union.                                                                                        
A gadewch i mi fod yn glir iawn, rydyn ni’n siarad yn awr am hawliau plant i gael Addysg Gorfforol a chwaraeon o safon uchel, a’r ddyletswydd sydd gennym ni i sicrhau bod hyn yn digwydd.
Ni ddylai unrhyw blentyn sydd wedi cael ei ddenu at chwaraeon gan Jade Jones neu Mark Colbourne gael ei wrthod yn ei glwb lleol oherwydd diffyg gwirfoddolwyr a hyfforddwyr.                  
Ddwy flynedd yn ôl – gan weithio gyda chi i gyd – fe wnaethom ni yn Chwaraeon Cymru osod targed uchelgeisiol iawn i ni ein hunain o ddyblu nifer yr hyfforddwyr a’r gwirfoddolwyr i chwarter miliwn erbyn 2016.  Byddwn yn gwylio’r cynnydd tuag at y targed hwn gyda diddordeb mawr.
Erbyn hyn mae gennym ni Fwrdd newydd sbon yn Chwaraeon Cymru, gyda chyfranwyr cyffrous a gwahanol i roi hwb i’n hymdrech ni i sicrhau bod Cymru’n un o brif wledydd chwaraeon y byd. Rydw i wedi datgan yn glir iawn wrth fy nghydweithwyr mai ffocws ein gwaith ni yw sbarduno newid a gwelliannau. Ni fydd pob trafodaeth a gawn ni’n troi o amgylch, ‘rydyn ni wedi eu cyllido nhw erioed’ neu ‘maen nhw wedi cyflawni i ni yn y gorffennol’.
Yn wir, byddwn ni’n gweithredu’n gwbl groes yn y dyfodol. Y cwestiynau fyddwn ni’n eu holi fydd:
‘Beth gallwn ni ei wneud yn wahanol?’ ‘Pa sefydliadau sy’n sbarduno newid?’ ‘Pa rai sy’n estyn allan at y grwpiau sy’n cael eu tangynrychioli mewn chwaraeon ar hyn o bryd?’
O ran cymryd y cam cyntaf at hyfforddi, symlrwydd yw’r allwedd. Mae’n rhaid i ni ei gwneud mor hawdd â phosib i’r cyhoedd ddod yn hyfforddwyr. Os yw’r broses yn un feichus a chostus, wel, waeth i ni fod yn onest ddim, ’wnawn ni ddim cyflawni unrhyw beth. Ac mae’n rhaid i ni i gyd sefyll ar ben toeau tai a gweiddi bod cyllid ar gael i helpu gyda chostau.     
Cenedl fechan yw’r Cymry a ’fedrwn ni ddim fforddio peidio â defnyddio’r holl dalent sydd gennym ni. Rydw i’n gwybod bod nifer o gyrff rheoli’n cydweithio ar ddyfarniadau newydd er mwyn pontio’r bwlch yn y ddarpariaeth o addysg i hyfforddwyr mewn meysydd blaenoriaeth. Rydyn ni’n gwybod yn iawn bod rhaid i ni roi sylw i gael mwy o ferched a genethod, a’r rhai o gefndiroedd difreintiedig a DLlE, i gymryd rhan mewn chwaraeon, ac mae hynny’n cynnwys hyfforddi a gwirfoddoli hefyd.
Fe hoffwn i ofyn i chi i gyd feddwl beth mwy gallwch chi ei wneud er lles chwaraeon. Mewn nifer o achosion, rydyn ni’n dibynnu ar y gwaith rhyfeddol sy’n cael ei wneud gan un neu ddau o bobl, heb dreulio digon o amser ar gynllunio olyniaeth neu feddwl am sut gallwn ni wneud clwb neu weithgaredd yn gynaliadwy yn y tymor hir. Nid yw clwb chwaraeon sy’n profi cyfnod llewyrchus heddiw ond cyfnod llwm yfory yn gweithio. Mae’n rhaid i’r rhwydwaith ffantastig o glybiau sydd gennym ni fod yn ddiogel ac yn gynaliadwy. Gyda sylfaen gref ac amrywiol o wirfoddolwyr, gall pob clwb adeiladu ar gyfer y dyfodol.
Ac wrth siarad am gynllunio olyniaeth, oes posib cael adnodd gwell ar gyfer hyfforddi a gwirfoddoli yn y dyfodol na’r Llysgenhadon Ifanc ardderchog? A hefyd y gwaith rhagorol gyda Sports Leaders UK a Sports Coach UK.
O ran ein Cyrff Rheoli ni’n arbennig, ydi hyfforddi a gwirfoddoli yn ddigon uchel ar eich agenda chi? Ydi eich cynllun gweithlu chi’n ddogfen ‘fyw’ yr ydych chi’n edrych arni’n rheolaidd? Ydych chi’n ddigon agored a pharod i ddysgu oddi wrth arferion mewn mannau eraill? Mae rhai chwaraeon, fel pêl droed, hoci a phêl rwyd, yn cofnodi cynnydd cyson yn nifer eu hyfforddwyr a’u gwirfoddolwyr. Beth gallwn ni ei ddysgu am y ffordd y mae’r chwaraeon hyn yn rhoi blaenoriaeth i hyfforddi a gwirfoddoli?          
Rydw i’n hyderus iawn y byddwch chi’n ymateb i’r her rydyn ni’n ei gosod, gan fod y canlyniad yn un hynod ddeniadol a chyffrous: hyd yn oed mwy o athletwyr o Gymru ar y podiwm yn Glasgow mewn tua 600 diwrnod, ac yna torri mwy o recordiau yn Rio ddwy flynedd yn ddiweddarach. Ond, yn bwysicach na dim, y wên ar wynebau ein plant ni wrth iddyn nhw gael chwaraeon trefnus dan reolaeth briodol (ac yn bwysicach na dim, chwaraeon llawn hwyl) yn eu hysgolion a’u cymunedau.