The following is in response to an OpEd by Alan Abrahamson published in Around the Rings on August 14, 2019. It can be found here.
The response is written by Bob Gambardella, Interim CEO of USA Shooting.
‘The margin between a Gold Medal and a Silver may hinge on a single
shot and oftentimes the margin of victory comes down to millimeters…’
Women's 25m pistol competition at Lima 2019 (Lima 2019)
After reading Mr. Abrahamson’s latest article, “After Dayton and El Paso: guns must get out of the Games”, the first thought on my mind is the leadership at USA Olympic & Paralympic Shooting and other federations should invite him to see firsthand what goes on behind the scenes at the US Olympic and Paralympic Shooting ranges in Colorado Springs and around the world.
First and foremost, USA Shooting wishes to express its deepest sorrow and sympathy for both the victims and those families affected by this latest tragedy. There is absolutely no place for this type of violence in this world. It's unfortunate when someone’s criminal and
cruel intent with firearms immediately creates a link to the shooting sports, to sportsmen, and to enthusiasts in general.
Every year approximately 100,000 visitors come through the Center to witness the hard work, dedicated effort, precision training as well as the integration of science, technology, engineering, testing, analysis, periodization, nutrition, rest, recovery, strength training and sport psychology. There is intentionally designed science behind the shooting sports. The approach that athletes from around the world take and the methodology applied by
coaches is a far cry from those who use ‘military-style weapons’. Our vision at USA Shooting is to sharpen the organizational vision on the mission of getting athletes on the podium and seeing that American flag raised in competition…’
To me it’s amazing to see the level of perfection take root, a disciplined approach taking shape, while zeroing in on an athlete’s training approach to precision while aiming at a center ten target the size of a period or a clay moving 60 to 70 mph.
As was mentioned in a previous press release, these are challenging times in the shooting sports industry following another unthinkable tragedy. Every one of these high-profile, senseless killings engulfs the world in a renewed and impassioned gun debate. The inevitable result: shaming, blame-shifting and social stigma.
USA Shooting Team’s athletes, and those competing around the world in this sport, represent the shooting sports with class and distinction in every way and take great pride in showcasing the sport to a wider audience. This is their passion, and something they’ve been doing their entire lives. They also realize that as ambassadors for their sport, there’s a need to educate people and to create greater understanding in what they do as well as
how and why they do it.
Men's 10m air rifle final at Lima 2019 (Lima 2019)
Calling for the elimination of the sport of shooting at the Olympics simply negates the universality inherent in the shooting sports today and all those participating in this sport who would be affected. This is not an American-centric sport, with limited participation.
Last year, 1,761 shooters from 105 nations competed during the 2018 ISSF World Cup Series. At the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, 390 athletes from 97 countries qualified to participate. Nineteen countries earned shooting medals in Rio, besting sports
like swimming, fencing, archery and taekwondo.
In times of tragedy, it's important to remember these Olympic athletes have no relation to the devastating things people do with firearms. They’ve chosen a livelihood in which a firearm is a desire and a necessity and absolutely value the freedom that provides them that opportunity. But, linking our athletes and our sport to every mindless tragedy which takes place is disrespectful, ignorant and in complete denial of the real problem facing today’s society. Lack of humanity is the real problem and having the sport of shooting eliminated from the Olympics is absolutely not going to fix that.
What USA Shooting does provide better than perhaps any other faction absorbed in this debate is the exemplary representation of the shooting sports. The debate of what good can come from teaching citizens, particularly our youth, about responsible gun ownership simply begins and ends with the class, distinction and principles USA Shooting athletes nationwide embody each and every day. Looking for the quintessential shooting sports
enthusiast, look no farther than the members and participants of USA Shooting and their counterparts around the globe.
After graduating from the University of Utah with a my Bachelor of Science
degree, I feel that my involvement in the shooting sports was key to my
progression through the physics program. Shooting sports taught me
management skills with my time as well as with others; to develop my teamwork
skills in a long-term setting; and to have self-discipline with my training, my
time, and my priorities. These skills not only helped me during my time at the
University in my studies, but also outside of school in my career.
Team USA Pistol Athlete
Bob Gambardella, Interim CEO of USA Shooting (Bob Gambardella)
The representation of our sport is vast; a melting pot of cultures, character, intrigue and conviction. You’ll find all of that within the USA Shooting ranks as well. We have competitive shooters that hunt, and others that don’t. Strong military representation and roots established by 4-H, Scouts, American Legion or family bonds. USA Shooting is
youthful beginnings which transform to collegiate, international, and Olympic representation all the while creating a lifelong, tireless pursuit of perfection.
We steadfastly stand in defense of our sport, our athletes, and the worldwide shooting sports community. Sterilizing the Olympic movement from the dangers and evil that lurk in the world does absolutely nothing toward solving the problems which exist. Instead, all that it means is that one of the founding Olympic sports and the Olympic dreams for
many would be unfairly eliminated.
The above commentary incorporates content from and builds upon USA Shooting’s March 17, 2019 press release titled “USA Shooting’s Response to ‘No More Guns’ Article.”
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