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Article 1 – 2018 (February)

person aiming shotgun at target range

Russell Mark

Australian Shooter Magazine, Question and Answers

Article 1 – 2018 (February)


Question: I noticed that the governing body for International shooting (ISSF) have brought in a rule starting in 2018 that both men and women will shoot exactly the same amount of targets in all of their major world Trap and Skeet competitions. My question is why do we need separate events in the shooting sports anyway? I can’t see any reason why the events should be separated by gender. Is there any advantage being male when using a firearms in your opinion?

John Cantona, Caulfield VIC


Answer: It would be a brave man to suggest that no female would ever beat a male in our sport. I was at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona shooting in the Trap competition when the day prior to my event a young Chinese lady, Shan Zhang, won the Olympic Skeet Gold Medal after hitting a perfect 200 out of 200 in qualifying. Back in 1992 the clay target events at Olympic level were classed as “open” competitions so each country had the option of sending either male or female athletes to represent them. It would be fair to say that 99% of countries sent only male competitors to represent them in them. When China entered a female it would also be fair to say every other competitor took particular notice because China at the time were not known to be the world leaders in the cause of strengthening sexual equality in their society. They were however very keen to show their sporting prowess in the sporting world and for them to enter a woman meant that this person must be good. She was.

It is an urban myth that the ISSF made the decision to ban females from shooting Skeet and Trap after Zhang won the 1992 Olympics. That sexist and backwards decision was actually made prior to the Games that year and when Zhang won it made the ISSF look like the most sexist sporting administration on earth. Luckily this draconian ruling only lasted for one Olympiad before women in Trap and Skeet were given their own event at the 2000 Games in Sydney. Females were allowed to compete, but not under the same rules. Men were allowed to shoot at 125 targets over two days and women were only allowed 75 targets on one day. By doing this comparisons between men and women’s ability would be impossible. Thankfully in 2018 that has now all been thrown out the window and near total equality has been achieved. I say near total equality because the total entry for females to participate at the Olympic Games is still only slightly better than half than that of males, but at least the ISSF are starting to move in the right direction.

Your question is based around there being no advantage to be male or female which by and large is true, but to promote the sport at grass roots level I believe the two sexes are better separated. That is not because I don’t think their scores should be compared, but I believe at the novice levels strength plays a certain part of holding onto a shotgun and absorbing the recoil. To put a frail twelve-year old girl against a strong fifteen-year old boy can be very difficult, but certainly not impossible. I am not sure if this would be a valid argument in Rifle and Pistol competitions. The three-position rifle event in my mind looks like strength would play a part in the result. That is a debate for another day

There is certainly the argument that in some sports like Equestrian or even Motor Racing there are many events that are still classed as “open” gender competitions, but personally I feel to better promote our sport then separate genders competitions can have it’s advantages. In saying that I always believe that at National Championship level if a woman shoots the highest score then they should be given the opportunity to wear the crown of their countries finest competitor not just the best female. Sadly under the new ISSF Finals format that may become an impossible situation in many shooting events.

It’s no disgrace to be beaten by a woman. My wife shoots and I remember once she actually beat me during a round of Trap. It was back in 2001 I believe, I think it was a Friday afternoon late in the year, I just had both eyes operated on and I was shooting with a broken right arm at the time …………………….. J

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