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Article 11 – 2021 (December)

Australian Shooter Magazine

Question and Answers

Article 10 – 2021 (November)

Question: I have a play at most clay target events and I admit I am a master of none of them, but after watching the Olympics I must say that the events conducted at the Games are the most boring of all in the clay disciplines. Surely there must be a way to get Sporting Clays into the program to at least make it spectator friendly. Is this a remote possibility?

Dan Upton, Diggers Rest, VIC

Answer: No. Not a chance. I could leave it there, but your question is worthy of a longer answer.

You would have seen a variety of new events at this year’s Olympics that included Skate Boarding and Rock Climbing. Now if you are like me at first glance you wouldn’t have paid the slightest bit of attention, but here is the kicker. They rated like crazy and they were watched by millions of people that have never been on a skateboard or climbed a wall in their lives. I was one of those people. Skating and Rock Climbing have made their sport into a television spectacle. Both are very easy to film and both are now enjoying a massive influx of participants at grass roots level, but more importantly enough people watched them to justify networks like the NBC is the USA forking out over seven billion dollars in their long term deal with the IOC.

Here is the problem that we face with Sporting Clays. Whilst I agree that Sporting is far more enjoyable for the participant than Trap or Skeet, a forty metre crossing clay target is just about impossible to film in real time for a television audience.

Sure, you can get close up slow motion footage of any target, but when something is a small and as fast as a clay target at that distance it pretty much appears that the competitor is shooting at an invisible object, even with the aid of exploding “flash” clay targets.

And here is the other great problem. In order to make the shooting sports fair and equitable the scheme of targets and the layout that they shoot over must be consistent. Possibly a few different programs could be set up that could be used over a five-stand sporting field, but to replicate those same programs on every layout world-wide becomes an enormous challenge. Shooting ranges at the Olympics need to be contained into quite small spaces due to a variety of issues that include spectators, crowds, security and obviously television. I agree Sporting would be fun, but that horse has bolted. The International Olympic Committee are looking at ways to decrease numbers in the Shooting Sports. They are certainly not increasing the size of the field any time soon.

I am not sure if you are aware, but the Shooting Sports at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, one of the birthplaces of shotgun shooting, has been totally axed from the Games. Yes, you read that correctly. For the first time in history Shooting is no longer a sport at the Commonwealth Games. Politically it was easier for the British to dump the sport instead of trying to work through a solution that would allow pistol shooting to take place in their country where the practice is totally prohibited.

This is what the Shooting Sports are fighting and whilst Trap and Skeet may not appear to be the most exciting of the clay target disciplines they remain two of the easiest to broadcast on television. The “Finals” system, that is pretty much universally hated by all competitors, is constantly being “tweeked” to make the event more appealing for the non-shooting public (just like rock climbing) in the hope that television ratings during the Olympics will remain healthy enough to justify keeping the sport on the program.

The short term future of Shooting at the Olympics is relatively safe. It is on the agenda for Paris and I would be amazed if Los Angeles doesn’t keep it and then of course Brisbane in 2032 have tentatively said it is also to remain. This can all

change, but I would be fairly confident it will be there. Don’t go out and buy a skateboard just yet, but sadly your Sporting shotgun won’t be needed any time soon if you are planning on an assault at making the Olympic Shooting Team.

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