Shooting sports have been a staple of the modern Olympic games since they started back up in 1896. It’s a skill that demands a huge amount of practice and preparation — the challenge lies not only in making yourself as accurate as possible, but also in finding the right combination of firearm and ammunition to facilitate that accuracy.
Even then there’s a level of variability that firing a traditional projectile brings, everything from crosswinds to powder consistency issues. It’s all part of the challenge of the shooting sports, and the International Olympic Committee is considering removing that time-honored part of the challenge to “attract TV audiences.”
From the Indian Express:
If the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has its way, shooting ranges across the world could become bullet-free, with shooters firing laser beams at targets. While the IOC’s reasons for this change range from difficulties involved in travelling with weapons to the lack of television appeal for the sport, the shooting fraternity isn’t pleased.
Speaking on the sidelines of the ongoing World Cup at the Karni Singh Shooting Range in Delhi, Hungarian coach Laszlo Pinter was dismissive of the IOC’s plans. “Shooting won’t be a sport then,” he said. “It will be Star Wars.”
The proposed move towards laser-based scoring is a pretty clear indication of the IOC’s politics. They don’t understand shooting sports — they apparently don’t care about the challenge that real projectiles present in the real world and the skill required to keep the rounds hitting the bullseye every time. They just want to make their sporting events more “politically correct” in a world where proficiency with weapons is considered uncivilized.
With the current political climate Olympic shooting sports have been a rather low performing sport in terms of viewers. Americans by and large don’t practice Olympic-style shooting, and other countries have had the concept of gun control ingrained so deeply in their psyche that even seeing them on TV may constitute emotional triggering (pun intended).
The IOC hopes that by removing what makes shooting sports challenging they can “save” it. I’d recommend a different tack: encourage participation in the shooting sports among youth and build the audience organically.