Shooting Sports Scoring Challenges

I’ve seen quite a few competitive shooters praising this column in today’s Shooting Wire about the methods of scoring that contribute to making watching a shooting competition about as exciting as watching paint dry.

It’s an interesting thing to consider because as much as the Olympic shooting sports are criticized from many shooters of the more modern shooting competitions as boring because of the shooting style, they do real-time scoring with graphic representations of the targets on screen during the television coverage. You get to see that pulled shot within seconds or stand amazed at the accuracy of a shooter you’re cheering. It makes it much easier to get involved as a spectator.

It’s an interesting challenge to think about for the various shooting sports. The beauty of having so many different types of sports at so many different levels of competition is that maybe this column will spur some clubs to try out different methods of sharing scores to see what works to improve the sports for spectators and even other shooters.

9 thoughts on “Shooting Sports Scoring Challenges”

  1. I compete in primitive biathlons, which are snowshoes and muzzleloaders instead of cross-country skis and modern target rifles.

    The targets are swinging steel: You hit one, and you know it, and so does everyone else watching. Your score is your time to complete the course, minus 5 minutes for every target hit.

    Modern biathlon has something similar, except you generally have to ski a penalty lap for each missed target. You can instantly see if they’ve hit or missed a target.

    The point is, reactive targets that are easy for even a novice to see and understand would go a *LONG* way to make shooting a more spectator-friendly sport. Something like Silhouette is easier to watch than Benchrest.

    1. I actually thought about using Silhouette as an example, even though it’s a shooting sport that is fading in popularity. I can not only see the scores of myself and my competition immediately, it’s also easier to rally behind fellow competitors who are having an outstanding day. Because it’s kind of a fading sport, it was also easy for us to rally behind someone who might have been shooting to break a national record. We didn’t need a score sheet at the end of a match to see whether or not all 10 animals were knocked off.

      1. Not to mention nothing puts a smile on a kids face more than going out to shoot a gun the first time, hitting a steel silhouette, hearing it ring and seeing it spin.

    2. Thank You. I was going to comment nothing boring about Biathalon. I’ve done a mountain bike and .22 biathlon once when I lived in Vermont and have done a couple of cross country skis and ..22lr casual biathalons. Fantastic and lots of fun.

      And I know lots of people who aren’t gun people who have watched biathlon at the Olympics and thought it was fantastic.

  2. Boomershoot is another attempt to make shooting events more “visual”, but I think it wouldn’t scale very well to general shooting events. :.)

    There is this notion in mathematics, that “Mathematics is not a spectator sport”. The idea is that, to get good at mathematics, you have to practice what you read. While I agree this is true for people who want to become expert mathematicians, however, I consider this attitude to be somewhat flawed: there is room for the occasional talk where you get to simply absorb something mathematical, presented in an accessible way. Whether you’re an “athlete” (ie, a mathematician), or a “spectator”, it’s good to see an interesting mathematical concept presented in a fun, somewhat non-technical sort of way!

    In any case, making shooting sports more visual is something I’ve given some thought to as well. I think that making the sport more visual will do two things for it: it allow spectators to be in a better position to enjoy the sport; it will allow some spectators to want to join in the fun! Unfortunately, I haven’t had the time since then to participate in shooting sports, so I haven’t given this as much thought as I should have.

    Now that I think about Silhouette shooting, and the “Olympics and the Web” post by Sebastian, I can’t help but wonder if combining Silhouette with other modes of shooting wouldn’t be beneficial, too…

    There’s certainly room for experimentation in this avenue! And I suspect that one way to get around the reluctance of the “old guard” to change scoring methods, would be to develop our own methods, and organize our own events…

  3. Shooting practical pistol is tremendously exciting. Scoring it is not. It’s 30 seconds (or less) of pure adrenaline follow by 3 minutes of taking inventory.

  4. NBC did a great job of displaying the shooting in Biathalon. In one inset they show a close up of the target where you can see the actual bullet impact and the target reaction. In another inset they show a graphic of 5 targets for each shooter. Black is unshot, white is shot and the background flashes red for a miss. The graphics are stacked for the active shooters [sic] and as each shooter arrives his/her graphic appears and when they leave their graphic disappears.

    1. Biathlons are an inherently “photogenic” and exciting shooting sport: It’s a race, and because you are shooting at what is after all reactive target, hit or miss is obvious to all. It’s not hard to make an event like that watchable.

      Similarly, shotgun sports like skeet and sporting clays are also watchable. You can *SEE* when the shooter breaks a clay bird.

      The problem is with the rifle and pistol target disciplines, like in the summer Olympics. Because thousandths of an inch might separate the gold medalist from last place, it’s a real challenge to present that in an exciting and visually appealing manner, which is what I think Bitter was getting at.

      One thing I would like to see is the development of “summer biathlons” more, and perhaps make that a summer Olympic sport.

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