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.┬áThat 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…


8 thoughts on “Some suggestions for the ISSF

  • I totally agree with you! The idea about using electronic trainers (scatt etc) would be a great improvement from a spectators perspective, I’ve had that idea for years. Maybe have a “heartrate-meter” on the shooters in finals and show it on the same display as the electronic trainer? I really hope they don’t ruin the sport.

    Greetings from Sweden!

  • I agree with your suggestions. I believe there are way too many changes this time around. It took me a long time to read through the changes and then re read them. Too much at once.

    I’m somewhat surprised about the shooting pants patch on the rear. Though ISSF may not care there are top shooters who shoot 4 positions regularly. I thought that change is some arbirtrary and unnecessary.

  • I agree with most of your suggestions. Using electronic trainers is an idea I’ve been wanting to see some time now. It’s such a simple thing to at lest try out. I even think they could be borrowed for free (advertisement) over a major competition and see how it plays out.
    Commentators are an important part of spreading final videos or promotional material and the one currently commenting on ISSF finals isn’t perfect. She has difficulty pronouncing names (which might be difficult sometimes, but make an effort and take some time to train on them before broadcasting), lacks in insight and doesn’t provide enough details about finalists. So yes, I agree that a different one might work better. I assume, you’re talking about the commentator in the official Olympic channel? Haven’t seen it yet, will have a look later, so no comment so far.
    Something which I don’t agree with is making the use of social media a requirement. It should absolutely be used (which is seriously lacking today), but mandatory? My point is somewhat tangent though, where are all shooting blogs? Take any (most) other sport out there and most athletes, top or in the middle, have a blog where you can interact with them. You hear of what’s going on in the sporting world and provides the athlete with a window where they can be heard. Also to get sponsors and take care of their fans. But in shooting there’s just a few out there. It’s hard to make the general public interested when the information just isn’t there. Where were the Olympic buzz for example? or any buzz around bigger competitions? people being amazed about performances in the top or breakdowns over past performances or current ones (scores/mental approach/techniques etc)? Take a look at if you don’t know what I’m referring to. My point is that changes in competition formats and regulations aren’t enough when the shooting community in itself doesn’t seem to care that much. Too harsh maybe, but it’s just so strange.
    Anyway, just some thoughts from me.

  • I don’t agree with resetting scores in finals. In other sports, like ball games, swimming, tennis, athletics etc, there are finals from “0”, but these are “full time” competitions. We have only 20 shots (10 now). Per example: I shot 1175 in 3×40 and my oponent has got 1130 and is 8 to the final. I’m good in all of three posisions and he has got great result in standing only. Prone and kneeling above 380 and 360. The final is shooting in standing position from “0”. I have a little chance to win with somebody who’s got 1130. It’s unfair.

  • The equipment changes are particularly troubling to me. This changes, if enacted, would have a detrimental effect on junior shooting programs who don’t have the money to purchase new or modify old equipment to get it into compliance. Please consider signing this petition:{%22492314474114282%22%3A440786902626499}&action_type_map={%22492314474114282%22%3A%22change-org%3Arecruit%22}&action_ref_map={%22492314474114282%22%3A%22__wulGTGMghk%22}#

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