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Part 1 of 3: Understanding Our Sport

Why is Shooting An Olympic Sport?

In this series, we’ll search for answers and explore some of the most common questions we get asked by those outside our sport.

Who hasn’t heard this

question? Those of us so intrinsically tied to this sport can’t see why anyone would question shooting’s inclu- VLRQ LQ WKH 2O\PSLF *DPHV EXW DV ZH PRYH WRZDUG 5LR jockeying for airtime (and UHVSHFW ZLWK VZLPPLQJ

because the performance of both mind and body play equal parts. Because the H[HFXWLRQ RI PRYHPHQW RU WR SXW LW DQRWKHU ZD\ WKH athlete’s precision is what makes the difference.” 'U 5REHUW 'X9DOO GLUHF tor of Sports Medecine of

sports. In no other sport can millimeters separate an athlete from a medal to not even making a podium. ,W KDSSHQV RIWHQ DQG PRVW recently at the Olympic level when Wang Zhiwei of China edged out Xuan Vinh Hoang of Vietnam for the bronze


slightest twitch can send the 4.5mm pellet disastrously off course — that includes a heartbeat or a mistimed breath.

“The skill to simultane- ously relax a muscle group and contract another mus- cle group takes years of and

training and development de

“Every Olympic sport is a com- bination of physical and mental requirements. There’s no doubt in my mind that shooting has the toughest mental requirements of any Olympic sport.,” said Sean Mc- Cann, Senior Sports Psychologist for the USOC.

o attain this extreme level RI ERG\ FRQWURO µ VDLG

to attain this

gymnastics or track and À HOG HQWKXVLDVWV RI WKH JXQ VSRUWV DUH RQFH DJDLQ À QG ing themselves justifying their existence in the great- est sports spectacle

world has ever known. 5LÁ H FRDFK SV\FKRORJLVW

DQG DXWKRU RI VHYHUDO ULÁ H and pistol shooting books Heinz Reinkmeier wrote in his book Sport Psychol- ogy and Competition: The Psyche of the Shot: “In spite RI DOO SURWHVWV WR WKH FRQWUDU\ >VKRRWLQJ@ LV D VSRUW $ VSRUW


Atlanta (SMA) echoes Re- inkmeier’s remarks. “Shoot- ing sports represent the es- VHQFH RI À QH PRWRU FRQWURO LQ sports…few other sports re- TXLUH WKH UHÀ QHG PRWRU VNLOO and precision of shooting. /LNHZLVH IHZ RWKHU VSRUWV necessitate the combined physical and emotional ap- titudes that are required for sport shooting success.” Precision – it seems to be the resonating


ment of what sets shooting apart from other Olympic

34 USA Shooting News | March 2016

medal in Men’s Free Pistol at the 2012 Olympic Games in London by one-tenth of a point – that’s the differ- ence of hitting between the dimples on a golf ball from DERXW D KDOI D IRRWEDOO À HOG away.

Or take for example an-

other one of the precision shooting sports at an even smaller level – 10m Air Ri- Á H 7KH


are aiming at is just .5mm across – that’s the size of a period in newsprint from

Olympian and seventh-place À QLVKHU LQ :RPHQ·V $LU 5LÁ H Sarah Scherer. “To shoot at P\ EHVW , QHHG WR EH DEOH WR contract the deepest level RI P\ DEV UHOD[ WKH H[WHULRU WZR OHYHOV RI P\ DEV WDNH D deep breath and then relax my diaphragm. I consciously close my epiglottis to seal off any air movement in my lungs all in a matter of a few seconds – and that’s only my breathing and core ele- ment of my [shooting] posi- tion!”

“The body control skills [in shooting] are very pre-

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