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.

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90 Responses to Olympics Wants to Remove Bullets from Shooting Sports ‘To Attract TV Audience’

    • Not sure I understand the question, but I see two possibilities:

      Why cite the IE? Because the Shooting World Cup is being held in India so it’s a target rich source for interviews and opinions from those who care.

      Why name it the IE? Because it was founded during the British occupation, well before the U.K. had extracted as much as they could, and thus would likely be named in a similar manner to the British press. An Express will transmit news of both local and national import by relying on rapid movement of stories and printing. The name will also be English, again, due to rampant colonialism.

  1. Wouldn’t the beam diverge to much for this to be as accurate as these shooters are?

    I guess if your divergence was smaller than the average shooter’s group it might work depending on the laser.

    • Commercial laser pointers and pistol lasers have ~0.8 MOA divergence. Benchrest rifle shooting records clock in a 0.1-0.2 MOA. Although, you could just take the center of the laser circle to get a better measurement.

  2. Shooting sports are a great Olympic sport, and the IOC should either remove the sport (maybe in favor of Water Polo Ballet?), or leave it as is. The TV audience is also thin for Fencing.

    Watching the shooting sports is like watching baseball; jello setting.

    If IOC only wants sports that attract large TV audiences, they can scrape a whole bunch of “sports” off the menu. That would make the whole thing more watchable, and take so much less time.

    • I would recommend dropping all the sports nobody cares about and replacing them with Olympic Face Punch. The rules are simple: two men take turns punching each other in the face until one can punch the other in the face…

    • Keep the Biathlon, but use real military caliber rifles, not .22 LR. Add a 3-gun event.

      All the rest of their shooting games are just plain boring.

      • Try holding a 5 shot group offhand, hitting a bull they size of a quarter at 50 feet with a 22lr rifle. It might be boring but it is pretty damn challenging.

        • No argument there. But except for the shooter and the people he’s competing against – it’s DAMNED boring.

        • In fact, it’s even harder than THAT! While the whole Bull is about the size of a quarter, the 10-ring is not a ring, but actually a pinpoint dot in the center. This does away with the need to count the number of “Xs” as well as the overall score (as in a score of say, “98-7X” for a possible 100 point stage), as is done in most American small bore competition. In serious Olympic competition, anything outside the 9-ring is nearly as bad as a miss, since the leaders will drop few if any out that far (except maybe in the offhand stage). The 9-ring is about .22 inches in diameter, so, in effect, the serious competitors in the Olympic small bore events are typically shooting for the center of a ring that is the diameter of their bullet itself. THAT’S TOUGH!

      • The original event name was “Military Patrol” for exactly this reason. Competitors used their battle rifles.

    • If the IOC wants to “save” the Olympics, the first things to remove are anything that already has an international level of competition such as:

      * Soccer (Football to the Brits) which has the World Cup
      * Rugby
      * Tennis
      * Golf

      And while we are at it, remove Boxing (especially after the cheating scandals with bought-off judges, Seoul 1988), Beach Volleyball, synchronized swimming, handball, and rhythmic gymnastics.

      Any “NEW” events must have one critical criteria: NO JUDGING!. Performance results only!

      The classic Olympics were about preparing for war. This is why running (sometimes in armor), discus, and javelin were included. Shooting sports are a continuation of that tradition.

      The sole purpose of the IOC is to have lunch at someone elses expense, and dinner too, and to be fawned over like the potentates they think they are and leaches we know they are. The disinterest in cities hosting the post Tokyo 2020 games are threatening to derail the gravytrain.

      • “* Soccer (Football to the Brits) which has the World Cup
        * Rugby
        * Tennis
        * Golf”

        Let’s add basketball to the list.
        I thought the Olympics were supposed to be about *amateur* sports?

        • I agree with you 100%! The U.S. should go back to the tradition of only using amateur athletes. Who cares about the other countries but I quit watching when it went all pro, not fun anymore. IOC is a bunch of crooks anyways.

      • I was aware that the original idea was a quasi-military type competition, and I understand the military use of javelin throwing, shooting, archery, running, jumping, wrestling, etc., so it makes sense they were included. What I NEVER understood, was how DISCUS got involved. The games started long before any need to launch hand grenades or drones, so I’m guessing maybe it was something like learning to “return fire,” as it were, when a Hoplite returned from the wars and his irate wife started throwing dishes at him…maybe?! Seriously, does anyone know?

        • The discus actually was an ancient Greek weapon of war.

          So were slings. Ask an Israeli conscript about the hurt a half pound rock launched from a sling can inflict. It can even break ribs under body armour.

  3. I have an idea to make this a bit less ridiculous. Have Olympic laser rifle as a new supplemental event, with a target made of thin steel sheet or something. No points unless you burn a hole in the target, complete weapons system must be carried by the user. No giant extension cords or anything.

  4. Or make it air guns. Honestly Olympicshooting IS boring. So are lots of other sports. You often need to participate to appreciate hard difficult they are…

  5. I’d much rather watch TV-friendly Olympic events, like synchronized swimming and rhythmic gymnastics, where a bunch of Romanian midgets twirl streamers and hula hoops. Now those are real sports.

    • If you have to have a panel of judges tell you how well you did, it is entertainment, NOT sport.

      As far as weapons transport issues go, how about the host nation provides the rifles and pistols issued to their military to be assigned randomly to the shooters and mixed up at each event. No more race guns.

      Or, the IOC provides the weaponry used for it’s events, removing the responsibility for transport, customs, etc, from the participants.

      Televise the stuff that’s television friendly, report the results of the other stuff as they happen.

      Add short format cricket (6’s) and Buzkashi. Everyone’s crazy about Buzkashi.

      • I could go for the host nation issuing the guns only if the competitors are also given 10k rounds and a couple of weeks for practice. Part of the sport is being familiar with your own weapon and its performance.

        As stated, your idea is like NASCAR issuing the vehicles to the drivers at the start of each race — lame.

  6. “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…”

    I can get behind this if they intent to increase television appeal but using military grade lasers that burn a wicked hole in a target

    But somehow I doubt that is what they’re looking to do.

  7. No surprise here, as sports become increasingly politicized, they loose audience. NFL is a perfect example. This is nothing more than a social conditioning tactic to further marginalize the normality of firearms with young people.

  8. As the father of an Olympic hopeful in trap shooting this disgusts me. We’ve been hearing of rumblings from the IOC for a while. Right now they’re ready to dump double trap and it’s just the start. They are coming for the rest.

    • When the Olympics were here in Atlanta, I heard one of the eruo/canadian muckie mucks proclaimed his desire to make future Olympics gun-powder free.

  9. That is the lamest excuse I have heard.
    Making the sport more boring isn’t going to drive up tv views.
    This is nothing more than succumbing to the “PC” police, it’s gross and they should feel bad.

  10. How do shooting sports even work in the Olympics considering that the majority of nations on Earth have banned gun ownership.

    • Good point; anyone who has watched the Keanu Reeves three gun video is going to say some variant of: “Wow he’s pretty fricken fast!” Modern firearm action sports (and even cowboy action shooting) are certainly a lot more watchable than most of the current Olympic shooting sports.

      • No. Hell no. Hell to the no. The only way I watch cowboy ‘action’ shooting, is when they go back to loads likely to kill someone. Squib loads, wax ‘bullets’ and such are anathema. Just shoot your capgun and yell ‘bang, you’re dead!’ I’m pretty sure Miculek would rule in CAS, with real boolets. Show me that and I’m so there.

        • Having said that, props to Mr Reeves. Not so fond of his roles, they all seem to be ‘Keanu Reeves playing a Keanu Reeves role’. But I recognize the skills. I could do that kind of damage but it would take 1-2 mil in fire control, an M1A2 MBT and 3 other crewman 😉 And I call shotgun on the M2HB.

    • I still hate 3 gun. So impractical. No one is going to be running around with a shotgun, rifle, and handgun in any real life situation.

      I’d change it to two gun, rifle and handgun.

  11. The Olympics are a huge money laundering operation anyway. I predict they’ll go away altogether within the next 20-50 years.

    • We can only hope. These days the Olympics are only a scam run by a crooked politicians and an even more crooked IOC on the citizens of countries dumb enough to host them.

    • Not to mention that few cities want to host them since they are a money sink. I am still convinced the USA put Boston as their possible host city because they knew the Olympics committee would never pick Boston.

    • ESPN had a show called ‘Starshot’ a totally off the wall skeet shooting contest. Loved it. Then they snagged some major league sports contracts and all the interesting stuff went ‘poof’. Where now can you watch lumberjack competitions, sumo, water ski jumping by babes in bikinis, monster trucks, hell anything that doesn’t have a ‘major’ contract?

      • I was watching some lumberjack competition with my brother-in-law at his and my sister’s house. I thought it was one of the ESPN channels, but I wasn’t really paying attention.

  12. Lasers really? Something that eliminates most of the skill from the sport? Lets just cut to the chase and have them play video games of shooting.

  13. How can you shoot skeet or trap with a laser? I just don’t see it. Can they really shoot targets in biathlon with air rifles? And isn’t it a fact that TV viewership is low because either a) it isn’t shown at all or b) it is shown in the middle of the night? Heck, we had a Gold Medalist in skeet and she was lucky if she got 30 seconds of TV coverage–and it wasn’t even live. As an aside, the only fencing coverage I found were the semis and the finals, and I would watch it even if I think the “new” rules (since I stopped fencing in 1980 any way) have taken out some of the best aspects of the sport.

    Now this has to do with the American networks that got the contract, and as most of the MSM is anti-gun. I have no idea what the foreign press does, but the inference is that it is the same. So is it lack of viewership or a “conspiracy” to reduce or eliminate viewership by the manner in which such sports are (not) presented?

  14. They should bring back the Hoplite race at the end of the Olympics. Either go retro and use ancient Greek Hoplite gear or modern gear. Two things though, every entrant has to be active duty in their respective military for X number of years and everyone gets the same gear otherwise the Kenyan with the AK and simple ammo belt will totally outrun any American with his armor and other gear. I bet that would draw eyeballs.

  15. This from the same IOC that talks a lot but cannot end doping and various other scandals. I have to say, I have totally stopped watching the Olympics.

  16. “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.”

    Lie. Biathlons are hugely popular in Europe.
    http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Olympics/2010/0213/Winter-Olympics-Why-biathlon-is-the-most-popular-sport-in-Europe

    In fact, people watch summer biathlons which are done with rollers. The ranges are set up outdoors in the middle of towns.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZdsYddCoK08

    The IOC just wants to ban guns. They ought to be man enough to say so.

  17. I have no problem with this as long as plasma rifles are also permitted and the lasers are powerful enough to vaporize a hole straight through at least a quarter inch of steel. Unfortunately though I don’t think those are the types of lasers they have in mind.

    • I used to compete in the 10m indoor air-rifle and I was lightly equipped with a padded field jacket and an old ski glove.

      My best ever competition score was 328/400 (C, D, & E grades shoot a 40 shot match plus sighters, A & B grades shoot a 60 shot match plus sighters) and ironically I did that in about 25 minutes including a dozen sighting shots to check the zero.

      I will admit you learn A-LOT of technique in air-rifle which does help in other disciplines.

      But service rifle is my favourite. Every week a different distance and course of fire. And things go BANG instead of POP.

  18. My wife and I enjoyed watching the Olympic shooting, from trap to those damned electronically fired pistols. We had to work hard to find the coverage, and often it was not shown in preference to some other sport, but we watched as much as we could.

    They aren’t boring. The viewers are just not understanding what is going on. Like watching a chess game. Much more interesting if the tv puppets actually explain what is going on so the viewer audience can grok the action.

    Would love to see more of the shooting sports covered. Archery, anything with guns, just show them. Quit hiding the competitions on channels no one watches.

    And get rid of most of the IOC officials. They are about as screwed up an corrupt as UN officials.

  19. There goes all the fun of watching rapid fire pistol. The only sport where the laser rifle is appropriate is Paralympic Biathlon, where the competitors are blind.
    Taking away bullets doesn’t make for better TV, it just pleases the elitist gun haters, and the IOC is clearly both elitist and corrupt. Just look at the contract Oslo rejected that demanded Politburo style reserved traffic lanes and daily fruit baskets for all IOC members.

  20. >>With the current political climate Olympic shooting sports have been a rather low performing sport in terms of viewers

    Unless I missed something, ISSF-style rifle and pistol were not quite Superbowl-popular, political climate or not. Never. Nowhere. And since IOC is all about money and politics (remember ridiculous, and not yet finished, story of “olympic karate”?), little doubt they have to swing an axe. Air rifle and pistol competitors won’t even notice, probably. But castrated rapid-fire and free pistol will be sorry sight.

  21. Make it a condition of hosting the Olympics that the host country has to allow competitors in all sports to bring all of their gear that meets the rules set out by the international governing body of the sport with a simple declaration form at the time they apply for a visa (and allow for quarantine periods for the horses etc).
    And while they are at it make it a rule that the host country can’t ban competitors based on their religion or the country they are competing for.

  22. Bring back PANKRATION and limit the Olympics to the original 6 events…either that or figure out a way to televise shooting sports to where you can actually see what is going on. I tried to watch all the indoor shooting events and it was like watching paint dry…on my computer since there was virtually no broadcast coverage.

  23. Maybe the olympics should just mandate that only transexuals can compete and they have to wear butt-less chaps. that makes just as much sense as removing shooting from shooting sports.

  24. I want sharks with fricken laser beams as an Olympic sport.

    To me, it was left nuts in charge of the sport that ruin it. The only way that anyone could had watch or know who won any shooting sports was on the net.

    If I am not mistaken, didn’t the last couple Olympics the viewership are tanking.

  25. What bullshit reasoning this is. The projectile is the only thing that makes this worth watching on TV. Replace it with a beep and light and now it’s quite literally watching paint dry.

    A row of people standing, 3-2-1-start, faint glow on target. That’s must see TV right there.
    Why not just make flashlight tag an Olympic event? Too much running and people might get hurt?

  26. Perhaps the tv viewing figures are low because they didn’t cover the shooting sports? And perhaps they shooting sports weren’t shown due to some pc type conspiracy? Just look at the treatment of Kim Rhode, a great US Olympic champion but treated like dirt because she competes in trap, the horror!!!

    Not all shooting sports make great tv, but some do and even those weren’t shown. The whole concept of the Olympics was to show prowess in skills that were useful on the battlefield. Shooting would seem to be part of that!

  27. Sweet, if they are shooting lasers, teams should line up on opposite sides and just shoot each other. Throw in some barricades, a flag, 50 shots each and allow contact. I would watch that.

  28. “Bullets” are the reason the civilized world is no longer ruled by feudal warlord tyrants.

    But hey, if you pine for the good old days when your betters could cut down a family member for no reason and there was nothing you could do about it, be my guest.

  29. Perhaps the lag in viewership of the olympics is because they are broadcasting stuff no one wants to watch. NBC Broadcast a whole range of events on their web channels this summer and the results were fantastic, But we don’t determine everything that goes over the airwaves. Check out the app. it was worth it

  30. Television has ruined a lot of sporting events, why should the Olympics be any different?
    The money TV contracts offer overcomes many “problems”. Commercial breaks allow both the TV viewers and the actual event watchers bathroom breaks, so they don’t need to miss any of the action.
    Unfortunately, that same money now makes colleges and universities grapple with the problem of whether or not football players are “employees”. Schedules are now juggled to make the most money, not get the biggest audience (no, the two are not the same).
    Sports are now big business. Professional players, and their attending hangers-on, are usually better paid than the POTUS. For playing a game. With no actual consequences to winning or losing other than more or less money.
    Why should the Olympics be different?
    If you want to watch a real sport, watch High School level sports. Less expensive, sportsmanship is actually present, and the players play for love of the game (and girls), instead of for money.

    Love of money is not just the root of all evil, it also destroys sports.

    • Olympic dodgeball — I could go for that!

      I read a sci-fi book once where the Space Olympics had dodgeball — with variable gravity fields…..

  31. Shooting is a ballistic sport — take out the ballistics, and it’s not the same sport. May as well replace arrows with lasers.

    If they want to make a change that will get more viewers, get back to basics but add more skill — how about discus, shot put, and javelin for accuracy instead of or in addition to distance?

    Or add a modern war skill, like grenades.

  32. Rather than dropping the shooting sports, why not add more? I’m sure there are many people who would tune in to watch something based on USPSA or IDPA. Add a three gun match Hell, I’d even tune in for a good Steel Challenge match.

    • “Rather than dropping the shooting sports, why not add more? I’m sure there are many people who would tune in to watch something based on USPSA or IDPA. Add a three gun match Hell, I’d even tune in for a good Steel Challenge match.”

      I fear we would just get more thinly disguised pros. (Jerry Miculek anyone?)
      How about genuine high school age shooters? There are actually a lot of them, even though very few such schools have actual teams.
      I’d bet a lot of people would pay to see teens shoot such matches.

  33. Certainly we should eliminate golg… B-o-r-i-n-g!
    And we should eliminate skiing… rather, skis. Too dangerous. Let them ski on a Nitendo-like pad in front of a big-screen TV.
    Soccer… too dangerous. Boxing- too violent.
    Olympics.
    Too expensive.

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