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Jon Hammond – Olympian and West Virginia University Rifle Coach (Part 2 of 3)

By Admin | May 30, 2009

In the specialty of rifle shooting there are different categories. Which type of rifle did you shoot in the Olympics?

I actually did all three of the rifle events.

Which are what?

The air rifle match and then there are two matches in small bore. One is the prone match and then the other is the three position match.

Is it typical for competitors to shoot in all three?

Somewhat. Some of the very top hands specialize in either just air rifle or just small bore and then there are some that only shoot the prone events. But there were quite a few there that shot all three.

Which is your best?

The prone match is probably my best one and it’s actually the one I qualified in to get to get to the Olympics. I qualified in prone but because I was there I was able to shoot the other two matches as well.

Do you actually shoot bullets?

Yeah, it is a 22 caliber small bore rifle and it is a 60 shot match at 50 meters. International matchs are all at 50 meters. Add up the scores and that’s it.

How big is the bull’s eye you are shooting at?

At 50 meters, the bull’s eye, the “10” ring, is probably about the size of a dime.

How many times do you hit that out of 60 shots?

You are looking at least 55 or 56 times to make the finals. There is always someone who hits it 60 out of 60. Using open sights, no telescopic sights.

When you shoot in the Olympics do you take your own rifle or do they issue equipment?

No, no, you have all your own equipment.

How do they know you are not going to gin up your rifle some way to game the competition?

They check it. We go through a fairly strict equipment control at every competition, so we’ll have our jacket checked, our pants, our boots, our rifles and everything is checked and there are obviously specifications.

Do you have to break in a rifle like you have to break in a baseball mitt?

If you get a new a new barrel, you may have to break it in. It may take three or four thousand rounds until it is really getting some accuracy. It terms of the actual stock, that is something you can use straight away.

So, when you were getting ready to try for the Olympics, how did you practice?

You practice, you just shoot. Same as something like golf. Golfers just hit the driving range and hit ball after ball after ball all day long. It is similar for us. We come into the range and just shoot. Obviously there are a lot of different drills you can do.

Like what?

I may be shooting but working on different exercises. I may do dry firing where I am pulling the trigger but the rifle doesn’t have any bullets in it. I may be doing some stuff with my eyes closed. I may be working on balance.

An former athlete of yours has told me that you do aerobic activity so that you slow your heart rate down.

It’s not so much… yes it is to slow the heart rate down but it’s just for your stamina and health. We do cardio just to be in shape. The best way to describe it is we aren’t weighlifters or football players but if we are going to an international competition and I have been to plenty where it is 80 or 90 degrees and you are shooting a three position match, a three position match will last three, three and a half hours. Prone, standing, and kneeling. In the standing position our rifles weigh up to fourteen, fifteen pounds. In the standing position you are in the free standing position. A normal person will pick up one of our rifles and be pretty tired in five or ten minutes. We are not just only standing there with the rifle. We are standing there trying to hold it exactly still. And then we are doing that for maybe an hour. And you are not only doing that but your brain is working on overtime. Your focus and concentration has to be tops.

Do you run, do you lift weights, do you do yoga?

Pretty much everything. General cardio, you can do anything. There is nothing you have to do. For me personally, I probably do more running than anything

How far would you run in a day?

At the moment, I try to do three days a week, I try to do anywhere from three to five miles. I probably need to start doing longer runs and be running for an hour at a time to build my stamina.

Do you do stretching like yoga?

I actually have never tried yoga but flexibility and balance and core strength is very important. So, I think something like yoga would be an incredibly good thing to do. I have never gotten into it and tried it. We do a lot of core stuff.

Core like sit-ups and squat thrusts?

All the exercises we do combines flexibility and balance, so all your squats. A lot of the exercises we use the balance ball for. Instead of bench press you would do dumbbell press on the balance ball. The team works with the strength and conditioning coaches.

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