Monitoring and reviewing your striking
When you are using Abel as a simulator (rather than for silent practice), it can show you how accurately you are striking as you ring. Click on the View menu and then on Striking Display, and Abel will show, below the bell circle, how accurate the striking is for the change that you and Abel are currently ringing. First a line of equally-spaced dashes appears, one for each bell; these show exactly where each bell is meant to ring. When you've clicked Start, as each bell rings Abel puts the number or letter representing that bell above the line of dashes. If the striking is accurate, the number or letter is just above the corresponding dash; if the bell rings too early it appears to the left of the dash, and if it's too late it appears to the right. The position accurately represents how early or late the bell is. The letter H or B at the left of the window shows whether this is a handstroke or a backstroke.
For example, when ringing rounds on 8, after 7 bells have rung the display might look like this:
H 1 2 3 4 6 5 7 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
On this handstroke, the 1, 2, 4, 6 and 7 have rung accurately, the 3 was a bit early, and the 5 was very late (it's actually rung AFTER the six). The tenor has yet to ring.
For both the simulator and silent practice, Abel records the striking of the bells. When you have stood the bells, you can click the button on the Tower toolbar, or press S (for Striking), or click the Ringing menu and Review Striking. Abel then shows a review of the striking since you pressed Start or Reset Connections or Reset Striking Records , or changed the number of bells ringing. Abel can record up to 60,000 rows or 350,000 blows. Each row appears as shown above, with the row number at the start. You can scroll through the rows using the scroll bar on the right of the window, or the keys for PgUp/PgDn or cursor up/down or Home/End. It's worth looking for things you regularly get wrong: for example, are your up dodges always a bit lazy; is your second blow at the back always late; are your handstroke leads too early?
If you have been using the simulator (rather than silent practice), and you've been ringing bells yourself, some extra lines appear at the start of the display. These give a summary of the striking for each bell you (or others) have rung. For example:
Bell 3 Hand Error 23% (18% Late ) Back Error 25% (20% Late ) Bell 4 Hand Error 17% ( 5% Early) Back Error 15% (10% Late )
The "Hand Error" and "Back Error" percentages show, for handstroke and backstroke, the average distance that the bell was from its correct position: if the figure is much larger than the Late/Early figure, it shows that the striking was rather unsteady. The "Late" and "Early" percentages show if the bell has a general tendency to be early or late at either stroke (being late at backstroke is very common!). Ideally all the reported figures should be zero - but in practice this is impossible to achieve. A good ringer should be able to score around 3-4% consistently.
At the top of the window there are buttons, as follows:
Don't forget, if you save striking files regularly, you will need to remove old ones from time to time to keep your hard disk tidy. You can use Windows Explorer to delete them: you will find the striking files in the Striking folder within your Abel program folder (normally C:\program files\Abel).
A note for the technically minded: errors are measured from the ideal time for the bell to strike, and recorded as a percentage of the inter-bell gap (i.e., the ideal interval between two bells striking), taking late blows as positive percentages and early ones as negative. The "Error" figures reported in the summary are
(sum of ( absolute value (error %))) / (Number of blows)
The Late/Early figures are
(sum of (error %)) / (Number of blows)
Negative results are reported as early and positive ones as late.
Note: during ringing, Abel displays the striking at the bottom of the screen only when it is ringing one or more bells itself: that is, after you have clicked Start. Note also that Abel ignores any external bells that ring while the striking review window is open.