Marathon Shooting

(Information on how to prepare yourself
Marple Rifle and Pistol Club)

Feinwerkbau 10 metre air rifles

  • The term, Marathon Shooting is used to describe competition shooting over an extended time frame. In 1994 I was introduced to this branch of shooting by being invited to take part in the 24-hour airgun shoot at Chabris (pronounced, Shabree) in France. Since then I have shot 6 times in the event and am writing here so as to give the benefit of my experience, so that anyone else wishing to take part in such a competition will be better prepared. To a large extent my advice will be of use to anyone taking part in any extended shooting competition, not just airgun shoots in a foreign country.

  • The shoot at Chabris is organised to start at 09:00 on the first Saturday in November and to finish 24 hours later at 09:00 on the Sunday. The competition itself is made up of 16 separate 60 shot courses of fire held under International Competition rules, each course lasts for 1½ hours and the competitors shoot in teams of two. The arrangement is that one team member shoots and the other rests, then they swap over. Obviously under this arrangement, each member fires 8 separate 60 shot courses of fire, one course every 3 hours for the 24-hour period. Both rifle and pistol teams are catered for and shoot side by side as is normal airgun practice, usually with the rifle teams occupying the firing points to the left of the range.

  • Tip 1: Arrive at the venue in good time after having had as much rest the day before as possible. If it is a long way to the venue it is much better to get to the location the night before and have a good meal and nights sleep in a comfortable bed, than travelling on the day. In the case of Chabris we have always spent Friday night in the village after having an excellent meal in a local hostelry. Remember that if you like wine with your meal, it is quite cheap in France, but you do have to get up the next day and shoot for 24 hours!
  • Tip 2: Really this is just an extension of the above. If you are a driver, it is even more important to get the maximum rest before the competition starts.
  • Tip 3: One obvious consequence of the timing at Chabris and any similar event, is that this late in the year, it gets dark quite early (about 17:00 local time) and does not become light until about 07:00 the next morning. This has an impact on what you can do to amuse yourself during the periods when you are not actually shooting. Take a good book.
  • Tip 4: At the start of the competition you will probably not feel tired, so whatever you do, do not do anything to tire yourself physically. No long walks to explore the surroundings, I know this sounds obvious, but do bear it in mind. Remember you are going to be standing up a good deal during an airgun shoot.
  • Tip 5: When not shooting keep warm. At Chabris it is possible to lay out a sleeping bag to the rear of the firing point and this makes a very suitable nest. The point about temperature becomes really quite important between 01:00 and 05:00 on the Sunday morning; I have always felt very cold around these hours. If you are cold you will not shoot to your best performance.
  • Tip 6: Eat often and sparingly during your rest periods. Generally go for light, easily digested food, not roast potatoes and Yorkshire Pudding, pasta is good. No alcohol, tea or coffee drink lots of water.
  • Tip 7: Make friends with other shooters, it will give you something to do during the rest periods.
  • Tip 8: Take an alarm clock of some sort to act as a reminder when it is your turn to shoot again. Your teammate will not be very happy if you are not there when he is finishes his detail. This becomes more and more of a necessity as the time wears on in the small hours of the next morning. Rest as much as possible, you will not get any real sleep, but short naps will help considerably.
  • Tip 9: Make sure that your shooting equipment is properly set up before leaving for the competition. You do not want to be travelling a long way for an all day event, only to find that your trigger weight is too low, or that your shooting jacket has one button too many.
  • Tip 10: Do not think that your shooting performance will drop off markedly over time; it won't. I have found that usually my third 60 shot comp is the best of the eight, but the last is not necessarily the worst. Fatigue does begin to take over towards the end of the 24 hours and if the competitions were to be extended, to say 30 hours, then most people would start to struggle.
  • Tip 11: Make sure that you have your after shooting rest arrangements made before the competition begins. You will not be at your negotiating best after 24 hours of high level concentration, a good meal and bed is all you will really want at this time.
  • Tip 12: Rifle shooters especially will need to make certain that all their shooting clothing fits perfectly. Standing, holding a rifle for these lengths of time has quite a debilitating effect on the body. At Chabris, masseurs are on hand (for free) to soothe away any aches and pains. Two years ago I had acupuncture for a poorly shoulder about two thirds of the way through.
  • Tip 13: At the end of the competition be very careful with alcohol. You could well be somewhat dehydrated and drink can have an unfortunate effect on the body (diarrhoea). As mentioned above, drink lots of water during the event and have a supply of your favourite biscuits to eat whilst shooting.
  • Tip 14: Take enough airgun pellets. Chabris requires 8 x 60 = 480 for the main competition, plus say 10 per course of fire for sighters = 10 x 8 = 80, plus say 20 for the final, makes a grand total of: 580. Normally at these events CO2 is provided free, but compressed air is not. So if you have a CO2 gun, no problem, but with high pressure air it will almost certainly be up to you to provide your own.
  • Tip 15: A shorter than 24-hour event is much easier than a full day competition. A 12-hour shoot hardly requires much by way of special preparation at all.

Good luck ...... Michael Williams

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Revised: 25-Nov-2021.