I am writing to express concern at the reported decision to exclude Shooting Events from the forthcoming London 2012 Olympic Ticket giveaway for London schoolchildren – the Ticketshare scheme – as reported in the London Evening Standard. I understand that you believe that including these sports would be at odds with your efforts to reduce gun and knife crime, which we wholeheartedly support and endorse.
However, the decision to exclude the target and shotgun sports from Ticketshare must be reconsidered:
It will be very disappointing for the athletes preparing to compete in Shooting sports at London 2012, by creating an association between those athletes and the criminals who illegally use firearms.
It compounds the decision already made to leave no legacy for shooting sports by staging the events at Woolwich rather than the existing National Shooting Center at Bisley – by discouraging the general public from supporting the shooting sports.
It is particularly disappointing to the Team GB athletes who will be training for London 2012 knowing that their sport has been omitted from a scheme to promote the next generation of athletes. Many of the British shooters are young themselves and have been encouraged by previous Team GB medals in shooting sports – what hope do we have for the continued patronage of a sport that Great Britain has enjoyed much success at?
The decision creates a spurious and inaccurate connection between the shooting sports and the criminal use of firearms. Are we going to see the same exclusion for Fencing given the ‘clear association’ with illegal use of swords or Archery because of the ‘dangerous connection’ with violence from bows and arrows? Are you also going to exclude the Modern Pentathlon from Ticketshare as it includes pistol shooting as a component sport? Will boxing be excluded because it ‘promotes’ physical violence? I am certain that you do not view these connections as valid, so why are you allowing this peculiar decision to stand?
Allowing children to attend these events will ensure that they observe shotgun and target shooting performed at the highest international level, with a high degree of discipline and excellent safety standards. It will also allow them to celebrate a sport that Team GB excels at whilst competing across the world. Ensuring these events are included will send a signal that you support Team GB and the worlds athletes competing at London 2012. Excluding these sports will diminish London 2012 in the eyes of the global shooting and sporting community.
We urge you to clarify your position in regards to this decision and reverse the exclusion at the earliest opportunity – the shotgun and target shooting community looks forward to your response.
Editor – ShootClay Magazine