back to article Olympic athletes compete in RAYGUN SHOOTING for the first time

Thus far, we here at the Register have struggled to hang much of a tech angle on the ongoing London Olympics. As there are also few obvious Paris Hilton angles to be found on the 2012 spectacle-fest, and few Vultures have any deep expertise in sports or physical exercise, we have thus far confined ourselves to a few pieces on …


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  1. Silverburn
    Thumb Down


    Surely the skill of the shooter was being able to anticipate and compensate for gravity, wind, temperature etc, and well as physical control of heart rate, breathing etc to obtain the perfect shot?

    Lasers just seem like...cheating.

    1. fajensen Silver badge

      Re: Outraged!

      Yup. I think they should up the stakes a bit and use muzzle-loaded black-powder pistols instead. The athletes can learn to load while running, that sort of thing.

    2. Rampant Spaniel

      Re: Outraged!

      I concur, part of the skill of shooting is factoring in external forces like gravity and wind. Anybody who has learned to shoot will tell you the direction of the barrel is not the whole story.

      Where does this leave them with respect to records? They would have to start over right? It would be akin to turning round to the hurdlers and saying, right the 2012 hurdles are 60% shorter and when the records fall (not due to better training or fitter humans) depriving the old record holder of their title. It just wouldn't be fair on the current record holders who set records under more difficult conditions.

    3. despairing citizen

      Re: Outraged!

      Also no recoil to compenstate for.

      Might as well scrap the competition, as it is now longer even an aproximate facilimy of the military skills it was suppose to be a test of.

      1. Rampant Spaniel

        Re: Outraged!

        Perhaps the unfamiliar horse is partially to compensate? Maybe they should get the horse drunk or shoot a supersoaker full of chilli water up the horses back passage?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Outraged!

        Well, lasers *do* have recoil, y'know?

        I believe these ones have a delay built in between trigger pull and fire, to stimulate travel.

        And it's not like the target pistols that used to be used had any significant recoil anyway.

        "These were chosen with the idea that they were the primary physical skills that a military officer (perhaps tasked with delivering urgent despatches across the battlefield)"

        I think that the events were specifically designed to emulate the activities of an officer escaping from behind enemy lines.

        The modern Decathlon is along similar lines and includes wine-cellar raiding, Frenchie heiress defrocking, chicken stealing, cadding, boundering, and the 200m disdainful glare.

      3. Graham Wilson

        @despairing citizen - Re: Outraged! -- Forget all this imitation shooting stuff.

        When I was learning to shoot, bullets had mass, were subject to wind drift, and there's a myriad of other things one had to learn before one could consistently repeat high scores in application shooting. Take any away and the game's a silly joke.

        I'd propose we do away with the sport altogether and substitute bubble-gum blowing instead.

        At least the spectators would be amused.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @despairing citizen - Outraged! -- Forget all this imitation shooting stuff.

          " the game's a silly joke"

          ... a bit like Blighty then :-(

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @despairing citizen - Outraged! -- Forget all this imitation shooting stuff.

          "When I was learning to shoot, bullets had mass, were subject to wind drift"

          .22 Olympic-quality target pistols don't have anything recognisable as recoil, and 25m doesn't really result in windage. It's apples and oranges, really.

      4. John 104

        Re: Outraged!

        Or, just not have the Olympics in the UK with their retarded gun laws.

        I'm seriously baffled as to why they would consider hosting the Olympics and not issuing a temporary order allowing fire arms during the competition.

        1. Fibbles

          Re: Outraged!

          The IOC is a corrupt organisation that already has far too much influence. Changing the laws of a country just to accommodate a sporting event should not be encouraged.

          On the subject of lasers, will the athletes have to compensate for new environmental factors when taking their shot? How will a heat haze affect the accuracy of a laser pistol?

          1. Alister

            Re: Outraged!


            >On the subject of lasers, will the athletes have to compensate for new environmental factors when taking their shot? How will a heat haze affect the accuracy of a laser pistol?

            In the UK? in summer? are you serious??

            Rain maybe, or ice crystals, but heat haze... nope.

        2. Martin 71

          Re: Outraged!

          They already DID change the law to allow firearms.

        3. rh587 Silver badge

          Re: Outraged!

          They did. All the shooting events are going on as normal. Foreign rifle shooters and shotgunners just had to get temporary permits whilst their UK counterparts already held those guns on Firearm and Shotgun Certificates. The only ones that caused a bit of paperwork were the cartridge pistols for Sport Pistol, Rapid Fire Pistol and 50metre Pistol which have to come directly form the Home Office (FACs/SGCs are issued by your local Police Force).

          The pistols needed section 5 permits from the Home Office for the duration of the Games, but all the other airguns are legal here, as are the firearms (with the right licence).

          The move to laser guns was a move by the World Pentathlon Association for reasons best known to themselves. Nothing to do with UK laws (we allow air pistols anyway). Their claim was it would be easier and safer to run events with laser pistols, but since 10m air ranges are not hard to set up, and I know of no major safety incidents or injuries on one, that was a fairly poor excuse.

          All it did was hack off a lot of Pentathletes who had to go and spend moolah on laser pistols (and couldn't part ex on their air pistols because they still need those for local and national comps until all the relevant national governing bodies catch up and buy the targetry needed).

      5. This post has been deleted by its author

      6. nitsedy

        Re: Outraged!

        Time to bring in grenade launching and attack helicopter crowd thinning?

      7. rh587 Silver badge

        Re: Outraged!

        There's no recoil to speak of with the air pistols either. But you did at least have to have a decent technique as you still had a small but significant lock time and barrel time.

        Unless they have built in a delay, the shot will be basically instantaneous, which makes the whole affair trivially easy.

        There's been a lot of grumbling as it impacts the grassroots rather deeply - most local competitions can't afford electronic targetry, and would prefer to use good old falling plates with air pistols, which leads to a split between grassroots and national level competition, and those on the boundaries needing two pistols, which will have slightly different weights, balances, and react differently.

        Also, on the lead front, it's not hard. Lay down matting in front of the targets (which will also have a hard backstop) and sweep up afterwards. It's only 10m air pistol, not shotgun or 1000yd rifle - very easy to contain the lead.

    4. Bored Stupid

      Re: Outraged!

      It is cheating, but there is a solution.

      In order to bring the skill back into it, the competitors should have to get totally ratfaced first. The type of ratfaced where you have to close one eye in order to try and get your key in the door.

      1. Psyx

        Re: Outraged!

        "In order to bring the skill back into it, the competitors should have to get totally ratfaced first."

        The competition always used to be dominated by Commissioned Officers.

        They're used to being drunk. It's more of a handicap making them compete sober.

      2. Bucky 2

        Re: Outraged!

        Ooh! Ooh! And driving! You've got to add drunk driving, too!

        We'll get Oksana Baiul back into the Olympics yet!

    5. Matt Bryant Silver badge

      Re: Outraged!

      What's next? Motorbikes for the cross-country running? DPVs for the swimming? Damn Nanny State rides again!

      1. Dave Bell

        Re: Outraged!

        That's not such a daft idea. Use BMX Bikes rather than horses, and replace fencing with Judo. They're all Olympic sports, so there's no huge problem.

        Since the running and shooting are combined, it's going to be hard shooting straight, and breathing.

        1. Dave 62

          Re: Outraged!

          @Dave Bell

          BMXs? This sounds more relevant to modern life! The running should be done wearing trousers two sizes too big and gaudy underwear and they could have a random vandalism event.

          Is texting an event yet?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Outraged!

        Segways - a magnitude more gay!

    6. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Outraged!

      Wind and gravity don't impact on pistol shooting; it's too short distance. It's only 10m or so unlike rifle shooting over several hundred metres.

      Recoil is more relevant but then since they already switched to air pistols...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Wind and gravity don't impact on pistol shooting; it's too short distance"

        Gravity effects everything, and trajectory is important when dealing with competition standard target shooting.

        Wind has a veriable effect based on the size - weight - aerodynamcs and energy of the projectile.

        Pistol rounds tend to be low powered and large, making them more susiptiable to wind effects than high veloicty rifle rounds. (which is why long range pistol shooting is done with rifle rounds e.g. 7.62x51)

        The higher the velocity of the round, the flatter it's trajectory

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "Wind and gravity don't impact on pistol shooting; it's too short distance"

          "Gravity effects everything, and trajectory is important when dealing with competition standard target shooting."

          Gravity is constant.

          Given the same muzzle velocity and range, drop is constant.

          Range is going to be constant.

          So you set the sights for the range. And then you you don't compensate for gravity.

          Gravity is not an issue, nor a variable. It is constant that one's kit compensates for.


      2. Koekie

        Re: Outraged!


        Pistol rounds typically travel around 200m/s. Why? Because (especially for rimfires which have structural limitations) the short barrel only affords limited opportunity for acceleration from a relatively low pressure load. In addition, one doesn't want to have to contend with transonic aerodynamic instability. This also reduces recoil (and yes, air pistols have slight but significant recoil as well, at the level of competition we're considering).

        At 200m/s, one covers 10m in 0.05s. At roughly 10m/s^2, that means the downward vector is 0.5m/s, give or take, and that the bullet lands lower by about 1cm, by virtue of gravity.

        At this level of competition, accounting for 1cm is not trivial. It's crucial. It might seem trivial if you're shooting at people under combat conditions, but even shooting small vermin it is highly nontrivial.

        An additional fudge factor is what happens with the placement of the powder grains in the cartridge. This is a factor in physical ammunition, which doesn't apply to lasers.

        The best argument you could make in this context is that it shouldn't matter because the sights would be pinned for the appropriate distance, which honestly suggests a different approach: give each competitor a bog standard 1911, hi-power, CZ-85 (for the lefties) or similar, and have them shoot at a variety of ranges from, say, 3m to 30m. That will separate the sheep from the goats.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The way the future was

    Well done on using "scientifiction". Hugo would be proud.

  3. Florence

    Unfamiliar horse

    I thought that twist was added at the 2008 Olympics but wasn't the norm, and modern-pentathletes usually rode their own horses.

    If unfamiliar horses have now become standard, then I'll definitely be watching, that was the most hilarious event in 2008.

  4. Nev Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    It's the 21st Century...

    .. easy to come up with a blank-firing, laser sited simulated weapon.

    Kinda makes the "Why are guns banned? It's a hobby to practice a great skill/sport." argument redundant.

    1. The Mysterious Panda

      Re: It's the 21st Century...

      Though it does nothing to touch on "Why are guns banned? It's a hobby I enjoy" argument. Or should things be banned just because they're not interesting to you?

      Besides, it's harder to enjoy reloading and working up loads for a laser.

      1. hplasm

        Re: It's the 21st Century...

        "Besides, it's harder to enjoy reloading and working up loads for a laser."

        Only if it's a namby pamby laser...

        I agree with Matt (!) though- where's our Mary Poppins Icon?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @ Nev

      Not only have you missed most of the point of the discussion with that remark, but if you are going to talk about guns you might do well to learn how to spell "sight".

      It's what you do with your eyes. Not where builders work.

  5. Silverburn

    It's the thin end of the wedge...

    Soon they'll also be riding around in uncrashable robot horses, using light sabres instead of swords (without the decapitation ability), virtual pools where you swim in VR, or use a games console and running, where they all use joint-injury-friendly treadmills.


    1. auburnman

      Don't forget "Participation Medals" so no-one goes home empty handed.

      Humbug indeed!

    2. Dropper

      WII Sports Olympics

      The next generation's Olympics will be played entirely on WII Consoles across the internet.. which is how it should be in an age where sports in schools is regarded as too expensive... "athletes" will be disqualified for taking a new range of banned substances - Rockstar, Red Bull, etc - and avatars will have to conform to IOC dress standards.

    3. Steven Roper
      Thumb Up

      Light sabres

      Not as clumsy or random as a... laser pistol...

  6. Cameron Colley

    Why bother.

    As a precious poster mentioned there is more to shooting than simply aiming and pressing a button. Why not just drop the sport since it has been decided that guns are evil and nobody who isn't under the employ of the government must be allowed to touch one?

    They should drop the bow and arrows too in case they're stolen to order by criminals wanting to hold up the local Tesco.

    1. frank ly
      Thumb Up

      Re: Why bother. " ...a precious poster ..."

      I like that finger slip. (I assume it was a finger slip.)

      1. Cameron Colley

        Re: Why bother. " ...a precious poster ..."

        Yes, amusing typo.

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. nitsedy

      Re: Why bother.

      Drop the javelin too since somebody might decide to start a war in Germania. Oh, and the hammer throw needs to go away, wouldn't want any Scotts' getting any ideas - particularly while in London!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The sporting gun simulators I'm familiar with have an infrared LED in the target shining back towards the firing position and the "guns" have a camera where the bullets would normally exit.

    I think the transition has more to do with finances, pentathlon being a relatively expensive sport.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Um, I think the laser guns are actually more expensive than even high-quality air pistols - they are not used for anything else so won't benefit from economies of scale. The targets themselves (which must contain electronics) certainly cost more than paper ones.

  8. TeeCee Gold badge


    I read this and think it must be about time to start lobbying for Laser Tag to become an Olympic sport.

    Oddest laser tag place I ever went to was in CZ. The "guns" were rather larger, heavier and more robust than usual and the chest and back sensor / scoring arrangements were dirty great metal boxed things, liberally adored with large, balefully glowing lime-green and red LEDs and attached to a honking great NiCad battery pack on the belt. My guess is that it was ex-Soviet military training gear. Slight snag was that the straps for the sensor gear were designed for athletic young soldier types and didn't fit middle-aged fat bastards too well. Still, it evened things out as the adults were struggling to keep everything in place while the kids were struggling under the sheer weight of the kit.

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

      Re: Possibilities.

      Hey, it's not like you can just go and buy the same stuff the US and allies use for their training ( Oh, wait a sec... yes you can!

      Well, as long as you're not called Abdul and live in Bradford.....

    2. Greg J Preece

      @TeeCee - You play?

      You play tag? What system? Don't say Quasar. I'll cry.

      As an avid laser tag player, I welcome this upgrade to the Olympic event. Perhaps next time we can have the ability for the target to fire back, requiring some sort of...vest apparatus? And then the time after that, we could play in the dark!

      One step at a time. ;-)

  9. Anonymous Coward

    but ...

    What if a competitor accidentally continued to carry the laser gun whilst in the swimming section of the event and a passing shark happened to end up with the aforementioned energy weapon on it's head by benefit of some seaweed adhesive anomaly ... ?!

  10. RainForestGuppy

    So they run around a field and then play a quick game of "Tin Can Alley" ***

    ***A seventies shooting game, using a light gun. Shows my age.

  11. Mike Richards Silver badge

    A better explanation for the modern Pentathlon

    It's every skill you need to escape from a castle after being caught in bed with the evil general's gorgeous daughter.

    It'd be even better if they had to complete each discipline with a box of chocolates in one hand and fight off an army of disposable henchmen.

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

      Re: A better explanation for the modern Pentathlon

      ".....with a box of chocolates in one hand...." Nah, I just can't think of black turtlenecks without thinking of numpty fanbois.

      1. hplasm
        Thumb Up

        Re: A better explanation for the modern Pentathlon

        "Just because the Lady loves...shiny Apples!"

  12. ForthIsNotDead


    It's just conditioning of the proles.

    The police and elite get to use real guns that kill people. We can't. Lest we turn our weapons on them. Witness the (re-newed) attack on the 2nd Amendment in the USA that is happening right now.

    Tin foil hat, anyone?

    1. Nev Silver badge

      Re: Conditioning.

      "Witness the (re-newed) attack on the 2nd Amendment in the USA that is happening right now."

      Bollocks. There is no attack on gun rights in the US.

      It's an election run-up and both candidates need the votes.

      An AR-15 with stockpile 6000 rounds of ammunition, 100 round magazines combat vest and a knife.

      All easily purchased online (2 day delivery! ) or at gun shows.

      You can buy as much and as many weapons as you could possibly want to go out and kill some proles in a cinema.

      1. The Mysterious Panda

        Re: Conditioning.

        You can't "easily purchase" an AR15 online, even in the US. Well, not in the way your comment suggests. It would have to be delivered to a local dealer and you would have to go in and complete all the same checks as if you had bought the rifle from them directly.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Conditioning.

          And clearly that works so well!

        2. Random K

          Re: Conditioning.

          Bahahaha! You've obviously never been to a gun show in the south. I've seen a (maybe 16 year old) kid buy a 9mm with not so much as a paper filled out. Asked for the Glock, handed they guy some cash, walked away from the table. Of course that was 3 or 4 years ago. Perhaps things have changed, but that's just one more thing I don't miss about Texas.

  13. Mickey Finn
    Big Brother

    You could have your eye out with that!

    If lead bullets are so dangerous, perhaps they should make them out of a different material?

    1. druck Silver badge

      Re: You could have your eye out with that!

      Depleted Uranium perhaps?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: You could have your eye out with that!

        I can only UPVOTE you once. So I did.

    2. hplasm

      Re: You could have your eye out with that!


      or Antimatter...


      1. Mickey Finn

        Re: You could have your eye out with that!

        Assuming that one is replacing the lead with something of a similar mass... Smirk...

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Perhaps scrap it completely and just let them lose in a smoke filled warehouse and play Quasar (do those places still exist or have they all closed down now?)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Let them lose"

      Well, hopefully at least one of them will actually win.

  15. Chris Miller

    Scientifiction Olympics

    Took place on the first day, when a blind Korean archer won the gold: "Use the Force, Luke".

  16. Kurt 5

    Drones and laser designators

    The sport would be much better if you had a drone flying overhead and from horseback you used your "laser pistol" as a targetting laser to designate a target. And then the drone would release a missile and blow up whatever you were lasing. Seems perfect for today's warfare.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A gold medal for playng SNES Duck Hunt?

    No wonder the Borg adapted so quickly to such political correctness.

    I'm surprised Isambard Kingdom Brunel didn't appear in the stadium smoking an electronic cigar, though maybe that would have inadvertently sparked a false major anti-terrorism incident...

    Quack quack quack quaaAAAAAAAAk!

  18. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    Lead contamination?

    "There is also a minor environmental plus in that there's no need to clear up lead pellets afterwards to prevent them contaminating groundwater etc.

    This last might not seem like a big deal...blah, blah, blah"

    One wonders just how much lead contamination from bullets gets into the groundwater compared with, say, a rainy day over a church. Not to mention the lead pipes still in existence as part of our drinking water network.

  19. Gordon M

    Increased difficulty?

    Actually, aiming a laser at the target is likely to be more difficult than using Air Pistols - I mean, the baby shark will wriggle like hell once you pull it out of the tank, surely?

  20. Emilio Desalvo

    Long live Biathlon

    Were a proper carbine is needed!

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Health and bloody Safety gone mad.

  22. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    reduce the lead content of their small-arms ammo

    Soldiers shooting at each other with RoHS bullets. The world has gone mad.

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