Previewing the Sports You Know Nothing About: Shooting

The name pretty much says it all

Jul 27, 2012
Outside Magazine
USA shooting 2012 Olympics London

Shooting.    Photo: familymwr/Flickr

Different types of guns are shot at different types of targets. The pistol is shot from a standing position at an immobile electric—they look like paper, but no!—target. The rifle is shot from a number of standing-through-face-down positions at the not-paper targets. Then there’s also the shotgun, which is shot at a number of different clay targets that are launched into the air. Each weapon has a number of different competitions—all of which are individual. Shooting will award medals every day from July 28 through August 6.

Shooting has been in the Olympics nearly forever because humans love to fire projectiles at inanimate objects for whatever reason. It’s in Genesis—if you look close enough. The sport’s changed and expanded over the years because shooting a pistol at a cardboard circle apparently isn’t enough. The United States has 103 total medals—next best is Sweden, with 55. America’s 50 golds are also 31 more than second-place China. Apple pie and controlled firearm usage, guys.

U! S! A? Eh, kind of. There’s no real dominant country in world shooting since there are so many different, super-specific competitions now. China has won the most medals in firing-guns-at-stuff over the past few Olympics, if you need to pick one favorite. The Chinese should take home the most medals and most golds, while Serbia and Russia should also challenge for multiple golds. Not since 1992 has one person won multiple shooting golds at the Olympics, but 24-year-old Italian Niccolo Campriani is the top-ranked shooter in two events. He’s also a graduate of West Virginia University, so call him an “honorary American” if you must. 

At worst, the Americans should take home at least one gold and a couple other less-precious medals. Joshua Richmind and Kim Rhode are the two names to look out for as potential gold medalists. But the person who really matters here is Matthew Emmons. He won a gold in Athens with a female teammate’s gun, but once in Athens and once in Beijing, he was leading events heading into his final shot and both times misfired so badly that he dropped from first to off-the-podium ... on his last shot. And then in 2010 he developed thyroid cancer. The 31-year-old will be competing in two events in London, so you should probably root for him.

Dealing With Olympic Failure,” by Reeves Wiedeman

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