Spectators taught the ABC of shooting

A goal in football needs no explaining. An ace in tennis speaks for itself. But is a 9.9 in air rifle good or bad? Shooting crowds at the Olympics are being given a crash course on the sport.

Spectators in the packed stands at London's Royal Artillery Barracks are shown videos explaining the sport, have a speaker to give them further guidance and even a commentator to help them understand what's going on.

It's the most comprehensive package ever provided to Olympic shooting crowds, who might otherwise sit there baffled as to what's going on in the technical sport.

Shooting technical operations manager Tom Wenham told AFP that Games organisers were always aware that most spectators in London would be from a non-shooting background.

"At the start of the show we need to have a mixture of education and making it informative but absolutely understanding that somebody simply standing there saying the athletes will hit the clays is just dull," he said.

In the shotgun events there is even a chance for some people to handle the targets so they can understand what the competitors are aiming at.

"It's impossible to generate any kind of atmosphere and really get them passionate and engaged in the sport if they're constantly thinking, why's that happening? Why's he done that? What on earth's going on now? Wenham said.

And he said the atmosphere generated in the impressive temporary shooting halls in south London proved the strategy had worked.

"We've got really good audience participation and it's generating an atmosphere and I'm not sure, if I'm honest, that's happened in shooting in this country before."

International Shooting Sport Federation communications manager Marco Dalla Dea said watching shooting was different from turning up to see more popular sports and the ISSF hoped it would generate sustained interest.

"It's not like walking into a stadium and watching a football match," he said.

"So it's great to see that people came here with an Olympic spirit and they are really enjoying it so we hope they will come back and follow our competitions."

"The difference (in shooting) is made by details so to enjoy the show it's good to know about technical details, to know what the score is and what is a great score and what is not," he added.

"A 9.8 seems to be a good score and in fact it is in some pistol finals but it's not in rifle finals where shooters are much more precise.

"It's good to give this background information to the crowd so they can enjoy the show."

Dalla Dea said at every Olympics there was a good turnout of spectators clapping and cheering but the ISSF was pleased with the reaction of the fans in London -- who were learning what to look out for and when to applaud.

"You can really feel the people are clapping and cheering in the right moments for the right shots.... We really have people enjoying the show and understanding what's going on.

"We think it's going to bring benefits for the sport because after the last two Olympic Games we found out that more and more people are following our sport. Here the event was sold out, crowded.

"It's working. It's nice to see spectators enjoying your sport."


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