Because so much attention gets paid these days to action shooting sports – cowboy action shooting, USPSA, IDPA, 3-Gun – it is easy to forget that target shooting has been a legitimate sport for decades, as seen, e.g., in the Olympics shooting sports.
Shooting has been part of almost every Olympics since the birth of the modern games in 1896, beginning with men’s events in pistol and rifle (women’s pistol and rifle were added in the 1984 games). In the 2012 games there were 9 men’s events (pistol, rifle, and shotgun), and 6 women’s events.
I had wanted to meet 5 time Olympic medalist Kim Rhode (the only American to win a medal in five consecutive Olympic games), but she was apparently at home having a baby. But USA Shooting had a booth, and there were some manufacturers present with products targeted to those who shoot Olympic style events.
In fact, one of the more interesting conversations I had during the meetings was with a representative from Eley, a maker of .22 ammunition for competitive target shooters. He informed me that of the 18 medalists in the 6 events using .22 ammunition in the 2012 London games (25m pistol women, 25m rapid fire pistol men, 50m rifle prone men, 50m free pistol, and 50m rifle 3 position men and women), 14 used their ammunition. He suggested their products could make even me a better .22 target shooter!
This spoke to me of the diversity of guns and gun culture. Something that is rarely mentioned in broader public debates about guns, gun ownership, and gun use.