Shooting Skill Review: Olympic Edition

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Just how good are shooters in the Olympics? How difficult is it to shoot at their level?

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Consider this shoot off between Mary Tucker (USA) and Park Heemoon (South Korea), Women’s 10 Meter Air Rifle, Tokyo 2020 Olympics:

First, it’s all shot standing which is much more difficult than using braced positions.

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Second, consider the target. The period in the center is the 10 ring (0.5mm diameter). With a projectile diameter of 0.177 inches (4.4958mm) consistently shooting tens demands just over 1 minute of angle accuracy from standing. Scored decimally, a perfect shot is 10.9 points. To hit a “scratch” 10 (10.0 points) is a circle that is 0.5 mils in diameter or 1.8 minutes of angle.

Standard dime for comparison

Same target with a 5 shot group using .177 caliber pellets.

Third, as if all that was wasn’t difficult enough, top competitions have been using electronic scoring since 1984 with Swiss Sius systems. Notice how the scores are decimal, such as a 10.9? A shot that barely touches the 10 ring (the period in the center) is scored 10.0. A 10.9 is dead center, essentially threading a needle at 10 meters.

To put it further in perspective, the maximum shot value is 10.9 per shot, a perfect “pinwheel X” dead center on of the 0.5mm 10 ring. A typical 60 shot match has a maximum value 654 points. The last place shooter at the Men’s 10 Meter Air Rifle at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics (Mahdi Yovari) shot 601.4 in the qualifier, an average of 10.023 points per shot for 60 shots. At this level of competition, being able to hit the ten ring essentially every time still isn’t good enough.

Air Rifle shooting at the Olympic level demands shooting about 1 minute of angle from standing. For reference, most military rifle qualifications can be shot at an “expert” level (and possibly a “perfect” score) by holding 6 minutes of angle accuracy from supported prone. Sniper qualifications can be passed readily, and possibly shot with a “perfect” score, by holding 3 minutes of angle from bipod supported prone.

Something to consider next time you hear someone boasting about qualifying “expert” in the military.

Olympic Shooting and the value of sport

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Recent interest in #rio2016 Olympics resurected a post about whether shooting is a real sport:

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Interestingly, Duelling has been a competitive shooting event.

One of the lesser-known Olympic events, pistol dueling was a popular sport in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It was certainly not the deadly pastime of generations earlier, where young gentlemen killed each other over matters of honor. Rather pistol dueling had transformed in a safe sport. Conventional pistols were used, however, they fired cartridges with wax bullets that lacked gunpowder, the wax bullet being propelled by the force of the primer only. Contestants wore a mask to protect their face, and the pistols had special shields to protect the user’s hands.

Pistol dueling was introduced in the 1906 Olympics, but was discontinued after the 1912 Stockholm Olympics. A poll conducted before the 2000 Sydney Olympics showed that 32 percent of respondents would like to see dueling pistols reinstated as a sport.

So force on force was used as a competition shooting event in the Olympics over a century ago. Here’s yet another example of competition shooters doing something long before tactical types found it cool.

The Stigmatized Olympians

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USA Shooting, which used to be run by the NRA, remains shrouded in controversy—despite winning numerous gold medals at the Games

Following December’s deadly shooting rampage in nearby San Bernardino, the media sought out comment from Rhode, who expressed sorrow for the victims and support for gun rights. Why should that crime have placed her in the spotlight? she asks: “You don’t hear them asking Nascar drivers to comment on crimes involving cars.”

– Three-time gold medalist Kim Rhode

Notes from John Tate

You may find this article interesting. I do; but also tragic as symbolic of national flawed thinking. But as you read it, I offer this thought, the product of some 70 years of observation: attitudes shift. Sometimes with the speed of the wind; sometimes with the speed of glaciers; but always shifting. When I came back from WestPac in 1969, the public hated us; we were all baby killers. Today, a half century later, the public loves us. We are the same, only the public has changed.

On a different note, I want to thank you, Keith Sanderson, and the USAR shooting program for the training aids you publish.

When I began shooting competitively, I was really bad; I could barely make NRA expert. But that was no fault of the Marine and Army shooters, any and all of whom would give me tips to remedy this or that aspect of my failings. Then and now I worship(ed) those men and women & John, you among them! Several characteristics stood/stand out:

Confident gentility. All were/are so poised, so polite. The activity was shooting; but the carriage was one of “I’m cool. I know it; that’s what matters. I don’t need to strut.” (I also find this to be a trait in most of the Marines I worked with.)

Magnanimous patriotism. All were always ready to help us rookies. (Compared to you guys, I still consider myself a rookie.) I always figured one reason, an accurate reason, was that you folks were so far ahead of the rest of us, there was no threat in helping us. It has only come with time that I realize, while that is likely true, the more important reasons are two: (1) you never learn like you do when you teach, so there was/is a self-serving aspect; (2) there was/is a military mindset of TEAM. Not just service personnel, but all shooters are part of a band of brothers (and sisters) who are preserving and advancing an activity that is central to the nation’s survival.

Great info. Thanks!

Not surprisingly, we’re in agreement. I’d add that, sometimes, our fellow gun owners are also opposed and/or ignorant of our great shooting events and competitors. One need look no further than the “competition causes bad habits” and the general lack of awareness of gun owners.

Promotion is a hard, long row to hoe for every activity and organization.

Single Mom Shoots at Home, Makes Olympics

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Next time some gun owner complains about the expense or time commitment to shoot, slap him upside the head with this:


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