New ISSF Rules for 2009

Just went up on the ISSF website here. Some new additions including a whole new section on 5-shot air pistol, including two new competitions, 5-shot air pistol (5 targets, 1 shot each) and 5-shot standard air pistol (1 target, 5 shots).

There’s a lot of little tweaks that have been talked about in the last few weeks, like the tie-breaking moving from countback to counting inner tens in air rifle (which is awkward given the lack of an inner ten gauge in air rifle). Unfortunately, there’s no document up yet listing all the changes officially.

World Class Award for Modern Pentathlon Federation in Ireland

A while ago, the NTSA helped out the MPAI by providing some equipment and some judges for their Europeans. It was a fun day out and it was good to see another large competition being run in Ireland. And now it turns out that they’ve won an award, the competition was so good:

World Class Award for Modern Pentathlon Federation in Ireland
posted: November 26, 2008

The Modern Pentathlon Association of Ireland was rewarded for the enormous success of the Youth B European Championships held in Dublin in July 2008, with an award from the Modern Pentathlon International Governing Body, UIPM at the World Congress in Guatemala.

The award for ‘Best New Competition’ was accepted on behalf of the MPAI by Robert Downes, MPAI President. The award was accepted alongside the Portuguese Federation who won ‘Best Promoted Competition’ for the Senior World Cup Final held in Lisbon in September, and Hungary, who were awarded ’Best Overall Competition’ for the Senior World Championships in Budapest.

Stephen Martin, OCI, passed on “congratulations to all who played a part in this great achievement for the MPAI. The Olympic Council of Ireland has already recognised the continued progress of the MPAI through allocation of a financial support package in July 2008”

MPAI Chairman Robert Downes said “The reward comes on the back of the steady progress in development of the sport in Ireland, and in particular the success of hosting the recent Youth B European Championships in Dublin.

The grant awarded by the OCI will be used to support development of broader participation in Modern Pentathlon and its constituent sports, through expansion of the biathlon program already initiated by the MPAI.

The grant will also enable the MPAI to consolidate and implement development of the elite performance program, and in particular continue to pursue eligibility for direct NGB (National Governing Body) funding through the Irish Sports Council.

We would like to thank the Olympic Council for its continued support, and recognition of the commitment and ability of the MPAI to successfully develop the sport in Ireland”

Handguns to go away again?

It’s been a depressing fortnight.

Look, for those who don’t know the backstory, here it is. In Ireland, pistols have never been illegal to own. Ever. Up until 1971, they were relatively commonplace. About 1,500 of them were licenced to owners in Ireland for sport or humane dispatch or for starting races (blank-firing starting pistols are legally firearms in Ireland and must be licenced). Then, in 1972, prompted by pressure arising from the tragic shooting of Garda Fallon by a terrorist gang during a bank robbery in Dublin two years earlier, the then-Minister for Justice Des O’Malley signed the by-now infamous Firearms (Temporary Custody) Order 1972 (aka S.I. 187/1972) which required all licenced firearms owners to hand in their firearms for a period not to exceed one month. However, it was timed in such a way that the firearms were in Garda custody when the licence renewals came up – and at that point it was announced that the Department of Justice and the Gardai had instituted an internal policy to not issue licences for any firearm over .22 calibre (except for shotguns).

This, in effect, was a massive ban on all pistols and fullbore rifles. It was done right at the start of the Troubles and because of this, legitimate target shooters could not get public opinion on their side to effect a return; and they were told informally that should they challenge in court and win, a new, more stringent Firearms Act would be drafted in days to permanently ban the firearms. Faced with this, and the genuine horror of what was unfolding across the border in Northern Ireland, shooters dropped the campaign to return their firearms.

Thirty years later, with the firearms still in Garda custody (and periodically inspected by their owners), and with the Peace Process finally seeing the end of the Troubles, the campaign was renewed. By now, of course, thirty years had passed and not having pistols or fullbore rifles was “the norm” (despite their absence being the anomaly in well over a century of recorded firearms ownership in Ireland. There were a number of small changes at first (fullbore rifles up to .270 calibre were initially permitted in the late 90s for deer hunting for humane reasons as the highest calibre available, the .22-250, was not suited to humanely dispatching red deer). Other instances did not go so well – in one meeting in the mid-90s, it was offered to return smallbore and air pistols, but not fullbore firearms (this was during the inital phases of the Peace Process when noone was sure it would work, and fullbore firearms were still seen as a security risk). The offer, rather unwisely in my opinion, was rejected in favour of the “all or nothing” demand with predictable results. Continue reading “Handguns to go away again?”

Licenced handguns

Feck’s sake. You’d think that the Garda Commissioner of all people would be better informed as to what he can and can’t do with his Superintendents. And as to Deasy and Mitchell, well, the fact that Enda Kenny has pretty much ordered them to attend a pistol range to find out what the blank they’re spouting off about says an awful lot.

Meanwhile, sent this on to the national papers. No sign of a pick-up yet though.

Dear Editor,
In recent weeks, Deputies Deasy and Mitchell and others have engaged in scaremongering on a widespread scale in the media (including this newspaper), saying that there has been a massive rise in the licencing of pistols, and attempting to link this alleged rise to the recent rise in levels of gun crime. As a licenced firearms owner, I wish to offer the following counterpoints:

  • (*) The number of pistols licenced in Ireland per capita has fallen by 20% since 1971.
  • (*) Since 1971, our firearms laws have been tightened three times, making ours the most restrictive laws in the EU.
  • (*) Every single licenced firearm in Ireland is licenced to someone who was personally approved as safe to own and use that firearm by a Garda Superintendent.
  • (*) Garda Superintendents have exceptionally wide-ranging powers when it comes to granting or refusing licences. They can – and do – requiregun safes, home inspections, house alarms, access to medical records, proficiency courses and membership of authorised firearms ranges.
  • (*) Firearms ranges are also inspected and authorised by the Gardai, to exceptionally high construction and safety standards. Many firearms ranges have spent tens of thousands of euros to come up to the Gardai requirements over the past two years.
  • (*) While there is a distinct difference in how many pistol licences are granted by different Garda Districts, this is caused by the requirement to be a member of an approved range – more licences are granted in areas closer to approved ranges.
  • (*) In 2007 the Gardai, the Department of Justice, the Irish Sports Council, the governing bodies of target shooting sports, firearms dealers and other stakeholders, all came together to found the Firearms Consultation Panel under the aegis of the Minister for Justice. This groundbreaking body allows all parties to find safe, efficient, well-informed solutions to the concerns of those who use firearms and those who draft and those who enforce firearms law.

In short, the concerns that Deputies Deasy and Mitchell and others have attempted to raise are not based on facts or statistics or current procedures, and serve no useful function other than to scaremonger in the lead-up to the local elections. This is a shameful act on their part.

Yours in Sport,

Inner Tens

Looks like the new ISSF rules for 2009 will contain a few doozies. Centrefire shooters are a bit annoyed at the reduction of trigger weight to 1000g (there’s some concern about how well trigger mechanisms optimised for 1400g would work at 1000g). But the one that’s really going to kick up dust looks to be the use of the number of inner tens shot as the first mechanism for breaking ties, relegating countback to second place.

I mean, I can see the sense in it. It can be argued that someone with more inner tens shot the better match (just as it can be argued that the shooter who chokes within sight of 600 on the last few shots isn’t the better shooter and shouldn’t win). The problem is in implementation – right now the electronic target systems don’t do tiebreaks this way, so that’s a software update no matter if you’re on Suis Ascor or Megalink. That’s not a huge deal I suppose. Those with electronic scoring machines will need a firmware upgrade and a software upgrade for their shotsoft3000 program (or whatever they’re using) though – that’s slightly more of a big deal, since you’d probably have to ship the scoring machine around to get the firmware upgraded.

The real pain will be those folks still scoring by hand though, which I’m guessing is the majority of people. For 50m it’s okay, you have the gauges – but for 10m air rifle, there is no such thing as an inner ten gauge in production yet. There’s the decimal gauge, but that’s slow to use and a bit fiddly, and not many clubs will actually have them. Countback was much easier to tiebreak for manual scorers, as you didn’t have to gauge tens – now every shot that does more than barely clip the ten will have to be gauged, or you’ll have to go back and re-gauge them in the event of a tie. Which means more time, which means more delays, which means more of a pain in the fundament.

Gah. And this is due in in 7 weeks and it’s not even up on the ISSF website yet, it’s just being talked about online. Daft, daft, daft.