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3D Printed Pistol Grips Improve Comfort for French Shooting Champions

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Olympic silver medalist and multiple world champion Céline Goberville is a competitive sport shooter from France, who is currently competing at the European Shooting Championships in Croatia, which ends later this week. She competes in 10-meter air pistol shooting, which means she has to fire over 60 shots within a 75-minute time limit. Talk about a hand cramp!

Shooters in this discipline obviously have to hold their position for a long time, and a badly fitted grip on the pistol can actually decrease their accuracy. Recently, Céline and her sister, Sandrine, also a competitive shooter and a multiple national champion, reached out to Athletics 3D, a French company specializing in 3D printed sports gear for professional athletes, to have 3D printed pistol grips custom-made for them.

Athletics 3D works with an entire farm of Zortrax 3D printers to fulfill orders for its customers, and 3D printed the pistol grips for the Goberville sisters on the Zortrax M300 Dual 3D printer.

Céline Goberville in training.

“When it comes to fitting a pistol grip, some athletes go for a heavily scientific approach that involves precise measurements and state-of-the-art research in biomechanics. Me and my sister, on the other hand, shoot on feel. The pistol is right when it feels right on the shooting range,” Céline Goberville explained in a press release. “This is why we tested multiple prototypes, each slightly different from the others, during our trainings. Overall, I believe technology is responsible for 30% to 40% of the final result in competitive 10-meter air pistol shooting.”

Zortrax, based in Poland, develops and manufactures 3D printers that have been used by many customers for a wide variety of applications, such as electronics, tools, educational projects, motorbike parts, camera accessories, charging cables, and more. Now, the company can add custom sporting equipment to that list.

The Zortrax M300 Dual 3D Printer.

As a three-time World Cup winner, three-time European champion, and an Olympic silver medalist in her sport of 10-meter air pistol shooting, Céline Goberville is one of the most decorated female shooters in history.

“Me and my sister were born on a shooting range. Guess I can put it that way,” she said in a Zortrax case study. “Both our parents were on the French national shooting team. Father, who is now our coach, competed in a rifle. Mother specialized in a pistol.”

Céline and her sister Sandrine both shoot with 4.5 mm caliber CM 162el air pistols made by the Swiss company Morin, which feature a standard grip made of walnut that, while an excellent fit for most shooters, doesn’t cut it for champions like the Gobervilles; in fact, most top athletes have their grips custom-made and shaped to their own hand. This standard grip meant that Athletics 3D had their work cut out for them, because not only did the design team have to worry about the internal architecture of the grip, they also needed to create an ergonomically shaped exterior.

“The challenge here was that apart from external features like ergonomics, we had to take into account the internal design as well,” explained Clement Jacquelin, chief designer and CEO of Athletics 3D. “The Morini grip has to house electronic and batteries which control and power the pistol.”

Prototype grip 3D printed on the Zortrax M300 Dual by Athletics 3D.

Two different iterations of the pistol grip 3D printed on the M300 Dual.

To get the internal geometry right, Athletics 3D first made an exact replica of the original walnut Morini grip, and the Zortrax M300 Dual 3D printer was very helpful here, as it can print two materials interchangeably. The grip itself was printed out of the enhanced Zortrax X-ULTRAT ABS blend, while support structures were printed in the water-soluble Z-SUPPORT Premium polymer, so they could be easily dissolved and rinsed from inside the grip for an accurate recreation of its original internal architecture.

The Athletics 3D team printed multiple grips with slight differences so that Céline and Sandrine could find the best fit, and it definitely worked. In one training session with a new grip, Céline scored 391 out of 400 possible points and actually tied the Olympic record.

Céline Goberville scores 391 points in 40 shots with 3D printed pistol grip.

“Céline has proven time and time again that she is perfectly capable of winning European Championships whole tournament. This is why we used Zortrax 3D printing technology in making custom equipment for her. We could cost-effectively iterate through multiple prototypes and get the design just right. At the highest level of competition, the difference between winning and losing often boils down to tiny details and marginal gains,” Jacquelin said. “After the European Championships we will draw our conclusions and have just enough time for adjustments before the Summer Olympics in Tokyo.”

The European Shooting Championships in Croatia end this Saturday, June 5th, and then Céline will begin preparing for the Olympics, for which she has already qualified.

“Summer Olympics in Tokyo are the most important event this year,” she stated. “I’m aiming for gold there no less.”

Céline Goberville shooting with a Morini pistol featuring a grip 3D printed on the Zortrax M300 Dual.

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