Some suggestions for the ISSF

The new post-London rule changes from ISSF are out, and some of them aren’t great at all. But there’s still time to change things before November, and in the hope that someone somewhere might read this to the right person at some point, I thought I’d put up a few suggestions for ISSF to achieve their stated goal:

All Olympic sports today must become more dynamic, attract more fans, engage the public with more drama and provide great shows for youth, spectators, television and the media.

As I’ve said many times before in many places, the problem with being a spectator of ISSF shooting is not that it’s boring; it’s that you can’t see it.

Look at football (any kind of football) and you see people spread out over a large physical area and a visible ball being passed around as the visually distinct teams try to move it to a visually identifiable goal. You can see the game happen, as it happens.

In shooting the game is too small to see with the naked eye from the stands, and unless you know what you’re looking for, it’s not visible to the naked eye from even a few feet away. The average punter won’t notice Debevec’s position being any different from Emmon’s in kneeling; won’t notice the signs that Piasecki is having a good day or a bad; won’t be able to tell who’s really handling the pressure in a finals. That is the challange you have to overcome. Do that, and you’ll get interested fans and drama and great shows. Changing the number of belt loops won’t change that.

Look at the London Olympics, specifically the Mens Air Rifle Finals. The gold medal came down to the last shot, and the audience went wild watching that last shot.

Why did they go wild? Was it the tension caused by several hundred people watching one man standing there on the line taking the final shot of the match, everyone knowing he would win or lose the gold medal depending on whether his score was higher or lower than a 9.7? Was it seeing that shot land and knowing instantly that he’d won it? Was it the commentator taking the entire audience to that point by walking them through the progression of the finals and winding them up for that final shot?

Or was it down to the blinders being smaller? The belt loops fewer? The buttplate being restricted from turning on an axis parallel to the boreline of the rifle? The shooter walking in a normal fashion? The dress code being adhered to? I don’t think so.

So with that in mind, here are my suggestions for how to meet that challange and achive the goal ISSF has set itself:

  • Make it mandatory for World Cup level events and above to have wireless Noptel/Scatt/Rika electronic trainer setups attached to barrels for finals and presented on screens above the shooter. Show the spectators the shooter’s approach to the target, their settling, their hold and their wobble and their triggering. We’ve tried that before in a Eurosport shooting match some years ago and it was magnificent – and more to the point, we know it can be done and how…
  • Make it a contractual obligation with Suis Ascor, Megalink and any other ISSF-approved electronic target manufacturer to produce software that lets you share scores live on the web (and by software, I mean software that works well, is robust and easy to use, not the poke-your-own-eyes-out-with-a-butternut-squash nightmare they currently have). Every shot, as it’s fired, should be up on the web, whether on a custom website or on Facebook or Twitter or all three. It isn’t rocket science, it’s a fairly simple task, using standard well-understood tools (I say this as an engineer who’s done this for a while).
  • Hire the commentator from the London Games to be the official ISSF commentator on the ISSF youtube channel and for all ISSF major events in the future.
  • Make it mandatory to use Twitter and Facebook duing ISSF major events and to up the amount of interaction we see. One single press release with an image from an event was a good step forward, ten years ago; today it’s just not cutting it, and the demographic ISSF want to capture is used to far more. More than half the shooters from the international circuit are on Facebook, and lots are on Twitter as well. If you can access both from a mobile phone, and you have professionally paid PROs at these events, then you can tweet/facebook from them too.
  • Drop this idea of resetting scores to zero for finals. If you have to do this duelling model for finals – and you don’t, London proved that – you can do it without doing the resetting of scores. Archery’s been doing that for twenty years now. And beware – if you show a wildly different style of shooting to the public in the finals than they’d encounter when they try the sport themselves, you’ll be sabotaging yourself…

 

New ISSF Rules for 2013-2016

The new, much-anticipated, rule changes for post-London are now out (or at least, a summary of them) and are the subject of much discussion around the web at the moment.

New ISSF RULES 2012

Lots of changes to times for matches, to kit, and a scarily inexact comment about banning Vibration Reduction Systems from all rifles and pistols, without a clear definition of what those would be.

Not comforting reading and while most of the changes are things we could live with, and a few are changes that will make events more efficient and which aren’t bad ideas in and of themselves; I still think the thinking behind these changes is failing to acknowledge one very fundamental principle. All of these changes are being justified by wanting to make the sport more exciting and accessible to the general public. But none of these changes are things the general public will ever see or notice. Belt loops, shoe shapes, times during qualifications – nobody ever sees those unless they’re eager to see them, and if they’re eager to see them, then they’re not the demographic the ISSF is looking to attract, they’re the demographic we already have.

Look at London, and ask yourself – why were the crowd going wild for the last shot of the Mens Air Rifle Finals?

Was it the tension caused by several hundred people watching one man standing there on the line taking the final shot of the match, everyone knowing he would win or lose the gold medal depending on whether his score was higher or lower than a 9.7? Was it seeing that shot land and knowing instantly that he’d won it? Was it the commentator taking the entire audience to that point by walking them through the progression of the finals and winding them up for that final shot?

Or was it down to the blinders being smaller? The belt loops fewer? The buttplate being restricted from turning on an axis parallel to the boreline of the rifle? The shooter walking in a normal fashion? The dress code being adhered to?

I don’t think it was any of the latter, do you?

If you want to bring in a spectator who knows nothing of the sport and get them excited, you have to show the spectator what you’re doing. Look at football (any kind of football) and you see people spread out over a large physical area and a visible ball being passed around as the visually distinct teams try to move it to a visually identifiable goal. You can see the game happen as it happens.

In shooting the game is too small to see with the naked eye from the stands, and unless you know what you’re looking for, it’s not visible to the naked eye from even a few feet away. The average punter won’t notice Debevec’s position being any different from Emmon’s in kneeling; won’t notice the signs that Piasecki is having a good day or a bad; won’t be able to tell who’s really handling the pressure in a finals. Unless you show them, with big screens showing electronic target results, cameras showing the shooters close-up, commentators explaining the state of play for neophytes, even things like strapping noptels or the like to the rifles.

You want to attract people to our sport? Do that. Don’t write rules that nobody understands and that seem to ban every firearm made since the late 80s!

 

This smells of change for change’s sake, and change made without sufficient analysis or data. And that’s bad news for our sport.

Playmobil finals hall

So obviously, when you have a kid, they need toys. And naturally, no good parent gives their kids toys untested, right?

5202 Playmobil Target Shooter
5202 Playmobil Target Shooter

:mrgreen:

Besides, this beats toy soldiers any day. (And more seriously for a moment, it’s nice to see the sport get this kind of exposure with kids). So, let’s see, need eight for a finals hall…

Over the shoulder

 

From the target line...

 

Firing line (yes, it's to scale!)

 

Note the to-scale firing line :D

 

But is this rifle or pistol we're shooting here?

 

The new finals hall :)

 

Leaving aside the giggles for a moment (if you can), our sport gets very little good publicity. Even this week, in the middle of one of the most outstanding Olympic Games in a long while (in terms of performance standards), despite the good image being protrayed, we had medal winning Olympic shooters having to tell the press that our sport isn’t connected to gun violence. The fencers weren’t asked about edged weapon violence despite a similar event happening at the same time in Bejing; boxers aren’t asked to justify their sport in the light of drunken idiots beating each other up outside the pub at closing time; dressage riders aren’t asked about stray ponies being mistreated in inner city Dublin. But shooters get vilified all the time, precisely because we aren’t a familiar, known quantity. The Olympics do a huge amount to help with this, but they’re out of the news cycle for four years at a time. So silly toys like this one, which show what our sport looks like so that we’re a familiar image from a person’s childhood; that’s not a silly end result. It’s wonderful.

Frankly, if you like shooting, I think you should go search for a few of these and buy them now, to give out as birthday and xmas presents later. It’s not like they’ll break the bank, they worked out at about a fiver each on ebay…

NTSA National Air Rifle Championships 2011

Discussed how to approach the Nationals with Matt in training on the friday beforehand. We both know that the new position and shot routine isn’t fully ironed out yet – in every session I keep learning one or two more of the little things about the new setup that I knew backwards about the old one, like what goes wrong, what to watch for that’s not obvious from within the position and so on. And the jacket, well. That jacket is the bane of my life at the moment, and has a date with a BBQ pit, a pint of petrol and a match when the new one arrives – at the moment, I’m damn near shooting without a jacket for all the lumbar stabilisation it gives me. So I wasn’t expecting an MQS from this match, just an improvement on the last day and maybe to get a good view of what the position can do, and maybe to learn some new things to watch.

And for the most part, I got that:

Air Rifle Nationals 2011 overall shot group

Looking at the match string by string shows the progress the training has made with the new position and routine so far: Continue reading “NTSA National Air Rifle Championships 2011”

London 2012 Test Events announced for Shooting

Mark your calendars. From the ISSF website, via twitter (yay for the use of modern media!):

Olympic tests: Shooting 18-29 April 2012

The testing programme of the 2012 Olympic Games: Shooting pre-Olympic World Cup in all events scheduled between 18 and 29 April 2012 at the Royal Artillery Barracks, Woolwich, London

The London 2012 Organising Committee (LOCOG) announced a comprehensive testing programme which will form a key part of its preparations for the Games next year.

The testing programme will focus primarily on testing the field of play, results, scoring and timing systems, as well as key operational procedures and functions.

The Shooting Sport Test event, a pre-Olympic ISSF World Cup in all events, will take place at the Royal Artillery Barracks, Woolwich, London, between the 18th and the 29th of April 2012.

Seb Coe, Chair of the London Organizing Committee, said: ‘Our approach to operational delivery is similar to that of an athlete. You do not want to face any conditions at competition time that you have not prepared for. When the world’s greatest Olympic and Paralympic athletes come to London in the summer of 2012, every aspect of our delivery needs to be the best it can be. The invaluable experience we gain through our testing programme means we can “road-test” all our operational plans and make sure we have all the knowledge we need to deliver a truly memorable Games in 2012.’

People who are interested in attending events should sign up to www.tickets.london2012.com and they will be sent further information as soon as it is available.

Marco Dalla Dea