April 3rd, 2014

Pistol Guy Shocks ISSF Ranks by Medaling in Smallbore Rifle

This week’s big story from the ISSF World Cup in Fort Benning involves a lanky Army Reserve Marksman from Montana, Nick Mowrer. The shooting world was shocked when this “pistol guy” (a 50m Free Pistol shooter for the 2012 USA Olympic Team) took a bronze medal in a World Cup rifle competition. Yes, we said “rifle”. And get this — in the process of earning that World Cup bronze medal, Nick racked up enough points to become a triple distinguished marksman (three disciplines).

In the highest level of ISSF competition, it is very unusual for a pistol shooter to even compete in a rifle match. It is unheard-of that a pistol shooter would actually earn a medal. That is like an Olympic 100m spinter also medaling in the Marathon. It just doesn’t happen.

USAR Team shooter Nick Mowrer pulled off this remarkable accomplishment at the 2014 ISSF World Cup at Fort Benning. It’s not known whether a pistol specialist has ever earned a World Cup medal in rifle competition. In fact none of the experts from USA Shooting can recall another shooter who has even competed in both rifle and pistol categories at the same World Cup event. It appears Mowrer made history with his smallbore rifle Bronze medal. Competitive pistol shooters aren’t supposed to be good rifle shooters as well. Mowrer’s bronze-medal-winning performance has changed that view.

Cross-Training Works Well Mowrer Says
Will we see more pistoleros “cross the aisle” and shoot rifle? Only time will tell. But Mowrer believes that “cross-training” with both rifle and pistol has improved his overall marksmanship skills: “I have used prone smallbore (rifle) as cross training for pistol for years now and I am very excited to have the unique opportunity to represent the USA not only in pistol but rifle as well. I shoot multiple events, not only prone, but the reason is just the same; I use other shooting disciplines to be able to compete in more matches and gain more experience that I am able to then use in my pistol shooting! It also keeps shooting fun and exciting.” Read related USAR story.

Mowrer’s medal at Fort Benning has caused a stir among top-level World Cup shooters. The reigning Olympic gold medalist in Women’s 3-P rifle, Jamie Gray, recently posted:

“Today is an amazing day…our Olympic Pistol Shooter Nick Mowrer broke into the medals in Men’s Prone [rifle event]! Couldn’t be more excited for him and obviously his amazing shooting abilities! Nick… [took] a Prone Rifle Bronze, nothing more to say than AWESOME!”

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February 14th, 2014

Olympics Insight — Anatomy of a Modern Biathlon Rifle

Anschutz 1827 fortner straight pull biathlon actionIf you’ve been following the Winter Olympics in Sochi, no doubt you’ve been watching Biathlon events. This combination of Nordic-style skiing and precision shooting is hugely popular in Europe. Biathlon requires great physical fitness levels, superior marksmanship skills, and of course, a very accurate .22 LR rifle.

This video shows biathletes at previous winter Olympics. Note how the straight-pull actions allow competitors to shoot rapidly without breaking their position (at the 1:00″ mark, the shooter takes five shots in ten seconds). Target racks are located 50m from the firing line. The targets, which flip from black to white when hit, are 45mm (1.8″) in diameter for prone, and 115mm (4.5″) in diameter for standing.

Watch Olympic Biathlon Competition (Archive Footage)

Anschutz 1827 fortner straight pull biathlon action

Biathlon rifles are sophisticated. The top competitors use rigs with slick, straight-pull actions, integrated magazine carriers, and ergonomic stock designs that work well for both prone and standing positions. The advanced slings use “bungee cords” to allow rapid deployment from on-the-back carry position (while skiing) to the shooting position.
Anschutz 1827 fortner straight pull biathlon action

One of the most popular Biathlon rifles is the Anschütz model 1827F Fortner. This features a straight-pull action with a two-stage trigger typically adjusted to 550 grams (19 ounces). The sprint version of the model 1827F weighs just 3.7 kg (8.16 pounds). Remarkably, even the magazines are optimized for “high-speed, low-drag” performance: “Shortened 5-shot magazines were laterally incorporated into the stock to reduce the surface on which the wind can act. Non-slip magazine bottoms make the handling of the loading process easier. An additional magazine release lever on the side makes an even faster exchange of the magazines possible.” (Anschütz brochure).

Anschutz 1827 fortner straight pull biathlon action

Anschutz 1827 fortner straight pull biathlon action

Anschutz 1827 fortner straight pull biathlon action

Anschutz 1827 fortner straight pull biathlon action

Anschutz 1827 fortner straight pull biathlon action

Credit Chris Cheng, Top Shot Season 4 Champion, for finding these photos of the model 1827F Fortner on the Anschütz website.

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September 28th, 2013

Gary Anderson’s Ten Lessons for Competitive Shooters

DCM CMP Gary AndersonIn the current issue of On The Mark magazine, DCM Emeritus Gary Anderson, an Olympic Gold medal-winning shooter in his younger years, offers sage advice for competitive shooters.

In his article Ten Lessons I Wished I Had Learned as a Young Shooter, Anderson provides ten important guidelines for everyone involved in competitive shooting. Here are the Ten Lessons, but you should read the full article. Anderson provides detailed explanations of each topic with examples from his shooting career.

READ Full Article by Gary Anderson in On the Mark.

LESSON 1 – NATURAL ABILITY WILL NOT MAKE YOU A SHOOTING CHAMPION.
(You also need hard work, training effort and perseverance.)

LESSON 2 – ANGER IS THE ENEMY OF GOOD SHOOTING.
(The key to recovering from a bad shot is to stay cool, no matter what happens.)

LESSON 3 – BAD SHOTS CAN TEACH YOU MORE THAN GOOD SHOTS.
(Today, error analysis is one of the most powerful tools for improving scores.)

LESSON 4 – NEVER GO WITHOUT A SHOT PLAN.
(A shot plan is a detailed breakdown of each of the steps involved in firing a shot.)

LESSON 5 – PRACTICE IN BAD CONDITIONS AS WELL AS GOOD CONDITIONS.
(Most competitions are fired in windy conditions or where there are plenty of distractions.)

LESSON 6 – CHAMPIONS ARE POSITIVE, OPTIMISTIC PEOPLE.
(Negative shooters expect bad results; positive shooters expect to train hard to change bad results.)

LESSON 7 – IT’S NOT ABOUT WHETHER YOU WIN OR LOSE.
(It’s about how hard you try to win.)

LESSON 8 – YOUR DOG WON’T BITE YOU AFTER SHOOTING A BAD SCORE.
(Hopefully your coach, parents and friends won’t bite you either.)

LESSON 9 – YOUR PRESS CLIPPINGS CAN HURT YOU OR HELP YOU.
(Winning can go to our heads. We start thinking we are so good we don’t have to work hard any more.)

LESSON 10 — YOU NEVER SHOT YOUR BEST SCORE.
(Great champions are always looking for ways to improve.)

DCM CMP Gary Anderson

About Gary Anderson
DCM CMP Gary AndersonGary Anderson served as the Director of the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) from 1999-2009, and is now DCM Emeritus. As a Nebraska farmboy, Gary grew up hunting and shooting. Dreams of winning an Olympic Gold Medal in shooting led Gary to the U.S. Army. In 1959, he joined the elite U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit. Just two years later, he won his first national championship.

At the 1962 World Shooting Championships in Egypt, Anderson stunned the shooting world by winning four individual titles and setting three new world records. At the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, Gary won the 300m free-rifle Gold Medal, setting a new world record in the process. At the 1966 World Shooting Championships in Germany, Anderson won three additional world titles. At the 1968 Olympics, Gary won a second gold medal in the 300m free-rifle event.

DCM CMP Gary AndersonGary retired from active international competition after the 1969 World Championships in Spain, where he set a 50m, three-position world record. After his “retirement” from international competition, Gary competed in the National High Power Championships, winning the President’s National Trophy in 1973, 1975 and 1976. Over his competitive career, Anderson won two Olympic Gold Medals, seven World Championships, and sixteen National Championships. No American has ever won more major shooting titles.

Gary’s influence on shooting sports extends beyond the United States. Gary has attended eleven Summer Olympic Games, three as a competitor and eight as technical delegate or a jury member. Gary is the first American ever elected as Vice President of the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF), and still serves in that capacity. In 2012, Gary received the International Olympic Committee’s highest honor, the Olympic Order.

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March 27th, 2013

ISSF Introduces Target Sprint — A New Shooting/Running Sport

Original story by Marco Dalla Dea for ISSF.
The ISSF has announced a new name and new competition for the ISSF Run & Shoot event. ISSF TARGET SPRINT will now be the official title for this action-filled ISSF “Sport for All” event. And the ISSF is organizing an international Target Sprint Grand Prix in Munich (GER) in May to promote the new sport. ISSF Target Sprint combines athletes’ precision shooting and running abilities. The new event mixes air rifle shooting and middle-distance running. It requires participants to be fast, accurate shooters and to possess outstanding physical fitness. LINK: ISSF-Sports.org.

ISSF Target Sprint Air Rifle

You Provide the Running Shoes — ISSF Provides the Air Rifles
“A pair of running shoes is all you need. Everything is designed to keep costs down for the athletes. The ISSF will provide targets and single-shot air rifles,” explained ISSF Secretary General Franz Schreiber. “The game is as easy as it looks”, says Schreiber, “Competitors will run on a track or running path and then stop at the air gun range to shoot at falling targets on their assigned firing points. There are no complicated scoring systems — the first athlete to cross the finish line is the winner.”

ISSF President Olegario Vazquez Raña adds: “We are developing ISSF TARGET SPRINT under the rubric of Sport for All, a program now being strongly promoted by the IOC. We were looking for a new event that combines marksmanship and fitness, can be staged outdoors, and is accessible to everybody.”

ISSF Target Sprint Air Rifle

How Does ISSF TARGET SPRINT Work?
ISSF Target Sprint participants begin each event with a mass start and a fixed distance run. At the end of the first run, normally 600 meters, they stop at a 10-meter air rifle range where they must pick up their rifles and shoot at and hit five knockdown targets from standing position. More than five shots are often required to hit all five targets, but that adds to the shooting time. There are no penalties, but the sooner you finish shooting, the sooner you can start running your next lap. At the end of the second run, participants must shoot another five targets before beginning the third and final running stage. The final rankings are clear and easy to understand. The athlete who completes the three running stages and two shooting stages and who is the first at the finish line is the winner.

ISSF Target Sprint Air RifleISSF TARGET SPRINT Competition this May
at ISSF World Cup in Munich, Germany

The new event will have its official 2013 inauguration during the 2013 ISSF Rifle and Pistol World Cup Munich, set for 23-30 May at the Hochbrück Olympic Shooting Range. The ISSF TARGET SPRINT competition will be held on the 26th of May.

Participation is open and more than 40 athletes have already registered to compete. World Cup participants who are interested in trying TARGET SPRINT are invited to bring their running shoes and clothing to Munich and give it a try.

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March 3rd, 2013

How to Shoot Great Under Pressure — Tips from Lones Wigger

The digital archives of Shooting Sports USA feature an interview with Olympic smallbore shooter Lones Wigger. This constitutes the third and final part in a series by Jock Elliott on pressure during a match and the methods top shooters use to handle their nerves. Read Part I | Read Part II.

Shooting Sports USA

The Fine Art of Not Cracking Under Pressure – Part III

by Lones Wigger, Smallbore Rifle Olympic Medalist

lones wiggerIt’s pretty complicated — this subject of dealing with pressure. I’m a precision shooter and have learned to excel in that discipline. You’ve got to learn to shoot the desired scores at home and in training. And once you’re capable of shooting the scores, you may not shoot the same way in the match because of the match pressure. As a result, it takes 3-4 years to learn how to shoot, and another 3-4 years to learn how to win — to deal with the match pressure. It takes several more years to learn how to do it when it counts.

To win, there are several things you have to learn how to do. You have to do it from within. You have to learn how to train just as if you were in a big competition. You work on every shot. You have got to learn to treat it just like a match — to get the maximum value out of every shot. You have got to use the same technique in practice and in training. A lot of shooters have a problem because they change their technique from practice to the match. In competition, you work your ass off for every shot. You have to approach the training the same way.

A second way to combat pressure is to shoot in every competition you can get into so that you become accustomed to it.

Do Everything Possible to Prepare
The third technique is preparation. Before you are going to shoot in a big competition, train hard to do everything you can to raise your scores. So when you’re in the match, you know that you have done everything humanly possible to get ready for the competition. If you have self-doubt, you will not shoot well. You have to have the will to prepare to win.

When Gary Anderson was a kid, he couldn’t afford a gun or ammunition. He had read about the great Soviet shooters. With his single shot rifle, he would get into position, point that gun and dry fi re for hours at a time in the three different positions. He had tremendous desire. He wanted to win and he did whatever he could to get there. When he finally got into competition, he shot fantastic scores from the beginning.

Visualize Winning to Train the Subconscious Mind
A little bit of psychology: You picture in your mind what you want to do. You have to say, OK, I’m going to the Olympics and perform well. Picture yourself shooting a great score and how good it feels. You are training your subconscious mind. Once you get it trained, it takes over. A coach taught me to visualize the outcome, and it worked. Eventually you train your subconscious and it believes you can win. At first I didn’t know about teaching the subconscious to take over, but now I do it all the time. And it certainly worked for me at the 1972 Olympics. What it really takes is training and doing the same thing in training as at a match. If you are “just shooting,” you are wasting your time. READ MORE….

CLICK HERE to READ FULL ARTICLE featuring interviews with Brian Zins, Bruce Piatt, Carl Bernosky and Ernie Vande Zande. (Article take some time to load.)

Story courtesy The NRA Blog and Shooting Sports USA.
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December 7th, 2012

New ISSF 2013-2016 Rules: Finals Start from Zero, and End in Head to Head Duel for Gold

ISSF Rule ChangesIn November, the ISSF Administrative Council approved new ISSF rules calling for major changes in ISSF and Olympic Shooting Sports events. Starting in 2013, all Finalists will start with zero scores and there will be elimination rounds, ending with a final two-shooter duel for the Gold medal (the loser of the duel gets Silver). The new Finals procedure represents the ISSF’s first major format change since the introduction of finals in 1986. The new Finals format will be used in all 2013 ISSF Championships.

This rules were changed to make shooting events more “spectator-friendly”, attract media coverage, and engage a larger fan base. It is hoped that the new format, ending in a duel, is more appealing and easily understandable. The new ISSF rules contain new Finals formats for all Olympic shooting events mandating that ALL finalists start from zero. This means that qualification scores will not be carried into the Final anymore, making the scoring system immediately understandable for spectators. Furthermore, all Finals feature eliminations, and end with duels between the two best athletes to decide the gold and silver medals. The new 2013 Rules have been published on the ISSF website, ISSF-sports.org.

Other Shooting Rule Changes to Be Implemented
The new ISSF Rules also include the separation of sighting and match firing in 10m and 50m rifle and pistol events, a new position order for 50m Rifle 3-Position events, and a provisional test of decimal scoring for 10m Air Rifle and 50m Prone Rifle events. The Final for the 50m 3-P Rifle event will become a true 3-Positions Final, not a one-position Final like it used to be. And new time limits will require shooters to make more rapid position changes in future 3-position rifle Finals. Both 25m Pistol Finals will use hit-miss scoring to encourage more spontaneous spectator reactions.

ISSF Big Shots Praise Finals Format Changes
“The shooting sport has always been a leading sport in the Olympic movement. And with the new finals we made an important step forward to keep that leading position,” said ISSF President, Mr. Olegario Vazquez Raña.

ISSF Sec. Gen’l Franz Schreiber concurred: “It was time to change….The ISSF has always been open to innovation, and we are proving it once again. All sports must adapt to the digital era of technology and media. The time has come to adopt new [formats] which fulfill these objectives.”

Legendary USA Olympic marksman and ISSF Vice-President Gary Anderson observed that the rule changes will present challenges: “We will have to work hard to make this work. But our sport will benefit from this new, appealing format.”

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November 21st, 2012

Gary Anderson Receives IOC’s Olympic Order

Gary AndersonUSA Shooting President and two-time Olympic gold medalist Gary Anderson was awarded the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Olympic Order on Thursday. ISSF President Olegario Vazquez Raña presented the Olympic Order to Anderson in Acapulco, Mexico at an ISSF meeting.

The Olympic Order (for distinguished contributions to the Olympic Movement), is the IOC’s highest individual award. Worn around the neck like a garland, the IOC Olympic Order features the five Olympic rings framed by olive branches.

“Gary Anderson has devoted his life to sport, both as an athlete and as a sports administrator in the USA and at the International Shooting Sport Federation,” said Raña. “He has placed his knowledge and experience as an elite athlete at the service of sports administration.” Anderson was a member of the USA Shooting Team for 10 years (1959-1969) and earned two Olympic gold medals in Tokyo (1964) and Mexico City (1968). He also claimed seven World Championship medals, two Pan American Games titles, 16 National Championship titles, and six individual World Records in his career.

Anderson served as the Director of the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) from 1999 to 2009. Anderson’s influence on shooting sports extends well beyond the United States. He has traveled extensively throughout his career in shooting, serving as a genuine ambassador for shooting sports, attending 12 Olympic Games, three as a competitor and nine as technical delegate or a jury member.

Anderson has served USA Shooting as President since 2009. At the international level, he joined the international shooting family in 1978 as member of the ISSF Administrative Council, and is now serving the international federation as Vice President.

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August 23rd, 2012

USA Shooters Get Ready for Paralympics in London

The 2012 Paralympic Games run August 29 – September 9, 2012. The 277 American athletes named to the 2012 U.S. Paralympic Team will compete in 19 sports contested throughout the 11 days of competition. Among the events will be target shooting. Profiles of Team USA’s Paralympic atheletes, including pistol shooter Eric Hollen and rifle shooter SFC Josh Olson, are provided in the official 2012 U.S. Paralympic Team Media Guide. This handy guide to the Paralympics can be downloaded for free.

CLICK HERE to download Paralympic Team Guide

Eric Hollen — Paralympic Pistol Shooter
Hollen, a former U.S. Army Ranger in the 2/75 Ranger Regiment, suffered a life-altering injury on his horse farm in Tennessee. Getting involved in competitive pistol shooting has helped Hollen adjust to life after his injury. Showing great determination, Hollen is now one of the top paralympic pistol shooters in the world. At the IPC World Cup Sydney, he won a Silver Medal in Air Pistol and a Bronze Medal in Free Pistol. Hollen is looking forward to the challenge in London: “This has been 10 years in the making and it’s an awesome opportunity to represent my country. I shoot with the best able-bodied athletes in the world here at the U.S. Olympic Training Center and I have the opportunity to now go and win my matches and that’s what I’m setting out to do.” Hollen will compete in the Men’s P1 10-meter Air Pistol event on August 30th. On September 6th, he’ll compete in the 50-meter free Pistol event.

USAMU Rifle Marksman SFC Josh Olson
While on patrol with his unit (101st Airborne Div., 3rd Brigade 1/187) in Iraq in 2003, SFC Josh Olson was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade resulting in the loss of his right leg from the hip down. After spending 18 months at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Olson was assigned to the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit in Fort Benning, Georgia. Olson has been a member of the Paralympic National Team for five years, but this will be the first time Olson competes at the international Paralympic Games. Olson will begin competition on Saturday, September 1 in the 10-meter Air Rifle Prone event followed by the Smallbore (.22 caliber) 50-meter Rifle Prone on Tuesday, September 4. In the video below, you can learn more about Olson’s background and courageous process of rehabilitation.

Watch Video Interview with SFC Josh Olson

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July 28th, 2012

First Gold at 2012 London Olympics Goes to Air Rifle Shooter

London Olympics 2012 ShootingThe 2012 Olympic Games kicked off last night in London. And the first gold meal awarded at the 2012 Game went to a shooter — Yi Siling of China. The top-ranked Chinese Air Rifle shooter edged Slywia Bogacka of Poland to win Gold in the Women’s 10m Air Rifle event. The South Korean shooting squad also captured its first Gold Medal of the games as Jin Jong-oh won the Men’s 10m Air Pistol event. Jin had won silver in the last Olympics at Beijing, China.

CLICK for Shooting Events Schedule | CLICK for Air Rifle Match Photos

London Olympics 2012 Shooting

Visit NBCOlympics.com for complete online coverage of the Olympics. On that website, in the upper left-hand corner (next to the London 2012 logo), you’ll find a “Select a Sport” button. That button opens a menu with links to all the different sports. There is a dedicated page for the Shooting Sports. CLICK HERE to visit the Shooting Sports Page at www.nbcolympics.com/shooting/.

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July 13th, 2012

NSSF Donates $100,000 to USA Shooting Team

$100,000 donation NSSFThe National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), a longtime USA Shooting sponsor, has donated $100,000 to help support the USA Shooting Team and shooter development programs. This large donation will help the USA Shooting Team at the London Olympics and help support USA Shooting’s ongoing operations.

In April, the NSSF visited USA Shooting’s Colorado training center and interviewed marquee USA Shooting athletes and coaches. These video interviews, hosted on the NSSF’s YouTube Channel, feature noted Olympians, who provide useful tips on target shooting. In the video below, Olympic shooter and Team USA member Matt Emmons explains how to shoot a rifle from the kneeling position:

NSSF Previously Provided Funds for USA Shooting’s Electronic Targets
The NSSF has been a valuable contributor to USA Shooting for many years now. NSSF funds helped USA Shooting purchase electronic targets for its indoor ranges in Colorado Springs. In addition, the NSSF showcases USA Shooting Programs at the annual SHOT Show. This provides valuable exposure for USA Shooting’s talented shooter-athletes.

“The firearms and ammunition industry takes great pride in being a longtime sponsor of the USA Shooting Team,” said NSSF Managing Director of Business Development Randy Clark. “From its introductory junior programs to its elite athletes who soon will be representing our country in London at the Summer Olympic Games, USA Shooting broadens awareness of the challenging and fun sport of target shooting.”

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July 6th, 2012

TV and Online Coverage of Shooting Sports in 2012 Olympics

NBC London OlympicsThe 2012 Summer Olympics in London begin July 27 with shooting events starting the 28th and wrapping up August 5, 2012. NBC has already launched a full-featured website dedicated to the London Olympics at NBCOlympics.com.

LINK: NBC Olympic Shooting Events Web Page

We visited NBCOlympics.com this morning and were pleased to see that NBC has already launched a content-rich “homepage” dedicated to Olympic shooting. This includes Latest Shooting News, Tech Info, Event Schedules, Shooter Profiles, and Feature Stories with Video. There’s an excellent Video Interview with Sarah Scherer (10m Air Rifle), and you’ll even find a ‘Glamour’ Photo Shoot with Smallbore 3-P Shooter Amanda Furrer. In the NSSF video below, Amanda chats about the challenge of making the U.S. Olympic Team:

Fifteen (15) shooting events are featured at the 2012 London Olympic Games
Rifle Pistol Shotgun
  • Men's 10m Air Rifle 
  • Men's 50m Rifle Prone 
  • Men's 50m Rifle 3 Positions 
  • Women's 10m Air Rifle 
  • Women's 50m Rifle 3 Positions
  • Men's 10m Air Pistol 
  • Men's 25m Rapid Fire Pistol 
  • Men's 50m Pistol 
  • Women's 10m Air Pistol 
  • Women's 25m Pistol
  • Men's Trap 
  • Men's Double Trap 
  • Men's Skeet 
  • Women's Trap 
  • Women's Skeet
  • Olympic Television Broadcasts and Online Webcasts
    NBC TV will broadcast many shooting events as part of its 2012 Olympics coverage. Supplementing that broadcast coverage will be Live Extra WebCasting. The Live Extra option provides real-time or delayed coverage of EVERY Olympic event. That’s right, you can watch every single Olympic event on the web. The Live Extra service does require viewers to register online for the service. In addition, you will need to verify that you subscribe to a cable, satellite, or telecom video tier that includes CNBC and MSNBC on the NBCOlympics.com website. CLICK HERE to learn more about Live Extra services.

    History of Shooting in Modern Olympics
    One of the original events featured at the first modern Olympic Games in Athens in 1896, the shooting sports have been present in all but the 1904 and 1928 games. The United States leads the field in shooting sports medals, having racked up 103 all-time, including 50 Gold. China is second with 42 total shooting medals and 19 Gold. The Chinese had the top showing at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, taking home eight shooting medals, five of which were Gold. (In Beijing Team USA garnered six shooting medals, including two Gold.)

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    June 27th, 2012

    Olympic Starter Can’t Use His Starter Pistol at UK School Race

    Starter Pistol Alan Bell ScotlandAlan Bell, the “Chief Starter” for track events at the 2012 London Olympics, has been called one of the “world’s top race starters“. Over the past 36 years, using his trusty blank-firing starter pistols, Alan has started over 25,000 events, including Olympic and World Championship races. Bell, the current Chairman of the IAAF International Starters Panel, is widely recognized as one of the most capable (and knowledgeable) race starters on the planet.

    However, the regional Council in West Dunbartonshire (Scotland) recently decided that Bell should not be allowed to start a running race at a local elementary school. Bell had originally been invited as an Olympic VIP for the benefit of the student athletes in this small community near Glasgow. Bell was even planning to start the school race by firing the same starter pistol which will be used to start the 100m Finals in the 2012 summer Olympic Games.

    Why did the West Dunbartonshire Council send Bell home? It’s all about gun-phobia. Council members feared “that the sound of a pistol discharge would frighten the children and, perhaps, psychologically scar them forever”. (Source: Outdoor Life Blog).

    As might be expected, some locals lambasted the Council’s action. One parent told The Scottish Sun: “It was ridiculous. We were told that the children would be distressed by Mr Bell firing his starting pistol. Anyone who believes they would be frightened by a starting pistol has never experienced the noise at a typical three-year-old’s birthday party.” So worried was the Council over the firing of a starter pistol (which shoots blanks with no projectile), that it tried to find a “politically correct” alternative. One proposed solution was to use an iPod to play a recording of a starting pistol. The school’s administrators eventually decided to start the race with a Klaxon horn noise instead of the crack of a starter’s pistol.

    Score one more victory for the gunphobic Nanny State. One wonders if the West Dunbartonshire Council’s next move will be to ban local broadcasts of the actual Olympic Games, so the sound of a starter’s gun on television will not traumatize young viewers.

    Related News Stories about Starter Pistol Controversy: Daily Mail Online | The Telegraph.

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