Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Olympic shooter loses medal due to unintentional shot ... again

Four years ago at the Athens Olympics, Matt Emmons had what looked like an insurmountable lead going into the final round of the event. On that final shot, he shot the wrong target, and failed to medal.

On Sunday, Matt Emmons again had what looked like an insurmountable lead going into his final shot. This time, with a shaking trigger finger, he pulled the trigger before he intended to, scoring the lowest score of the event by a huge margin, and, again, failing to medal.

Yesterday, in the exact same position, with a seemingly insurmountable lead going into the final shot of the same event, the 50-meter three-positions Olympic rifle final - with complete redemption one squeeze of a trigger away - Emmons didn’t hit the wrong target.

This was worse.

“I didn’t feel my finger shaking, but I guess it was,” said the native of Burlington County, N.J.

He didn’t intend to pull the trigger but did “very softly.” The shot missed the bull’s eye. His score was 4.4, the lowest by anybody in the competition, not really a score at all. A 6.7 was all he needed to win gold. Nobody in the 10-shot finals scored worse than 7.7 (on an 11-point scale) for any shot.

He ended up fourth.

Article here. Rule Three: keep your finger off the trigger and outside the trigger guard until your sights are on target, and you've made the conscious decision to fire. I don't know much about the rifles used for Olympic 50-meter competition, but I suspect that the trigger pulls on such rifles are measured in mere ounces, rather than the multi-pound trigger pulls of most hunting and military rifles.

A useful reminder of the perils of violating basic firearms safety under stressful conditions. Fortunately, in this case the errant shot only killed Olympic dreams. Nevertheless, another heartbreaking loss for Matt Emmons.

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