It was announced last week that the 2012 London Olympics will feature laser guns instead of an air pistol for the shooting portion of Modern Pentathlon. The announcement was made at the Youth Olympic Games in Singapore by Union International de Pentathlon Moderne (UIPM) President Klaus Schormann.
Modern Pentathlon requires competitors to compete in running, fencing, shooting, swimming, and horse riding. The event was introduced to the Olympics by Baron Pierre de Coubertin to simulate the experience of a cavalry soldier behind enemy lines – riding a horse, fighting with sword and pistol, swimming, and running. One famous pentathlete from the past was General George S. Patton who competed in the event for the United States in the 1912 Stockholm Olympics. He finished fifth overall in the event.
Over the years, the shooting portion of Modern Pentathlon has evolved from 25 meter ISSF rapid fire to 10 meter ISSF air pistol to combining shooting with running (like a biathlon).
In announcing the change, Schormann said:
Based on this new technology, all countries in the world can compete in our sport.
We can hold competitions in parks and even shopping malls. Safety issues will no longer be a big concern
Jim Shepherd of The Shooting Wire interviewed people with the US Shooting and the International Shooting Sports Federation abou these changes. They dislike the changes saying that it will take the external element out of the shooting competition as the pistol, pellet accuracy, and wind conditions will now be irrelevant. One went so far as to characterize it as “turning shooting into an arcade game.” They also view it as a threat to the shooting sports.
If safety is such a parmount concern for the UIPM, then I would suggest in addition to the laser guns that they hold the running event on treadmills so that competitors won’t breathe in polluted air, use a Wii for the horse riding and fencing competitions because horses are unpredicatable and can be dangerous, and finally use an endless pool to minimize the risk of drowning.
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