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Shooting for the gold.

Once every four years the eyes of the world turn to a tiny spot on the face of the earth: Berlin, Helsinki, Tokyo, Rome, London, and this year to Los Angeles, California. The reason? The Games of the Summer Olympaid; this year specifically, the XXIII Games of the Modern Olympics. We know of the many events held; track, swimming, basketball, field hockey, volleyball, team handball, water polo--the list goes on.

Paramount to that long list, so far as Guns & Ammo readers are concerned, is shooting. Traditionally the first medal awarded to any event of the Summer Olympics goes to a shooter--the winner of the Men's Free Pistol--and this year was no exception. China's Haifeng Xu shot a 566x600 to take home the gold, besting Ragnar Skanaker of Sweden, and Xu's own teammate Yifu Wang. The winning score didn't approach either the Olympic or world record, but it was good enough to capture first place. And so the shooting portion of the Olympic Games opened with a bang.

However, for a while late last year it didn't look as if the shooting events would take place. The shooting venue was the last to be decided on and, as of January 1984, was still a cow pasture. Because of this there was a distinct possibility that the events might not be included in this year's games. But in November of last year, Petersen Publishing Company's Chairman of the Board, Robert E. Petersen, was named Commissioner of Shooting Sports for the Games. The site for the shooting venue had already been obtained from the U.S. Army Corps of engineers at the El Prado Recreational Facility in San Bernardino, some 50 miles from the heart of Los Angeles. It was up to the Commissioner, however, to take charge and turn barren fields into an Olympic-grade shooting site. With the aid of Competition Director Mike Tipa and Venue Director William Deneke, the plans began to take shape. Abetted by John Regus, who was in charge of overseeing the various contractors, a first-class facility was constructed in an amazingly short period of time. Bob Petersen was there almost daily, overseeing the construction, solving problems that were constantly cropping up, and working toward his own personal commitment that the shooting portion of the Olympics would have the best possible ranges and equipment for the diverse events, which included rifle, pistol, shotgun and air rifle matches. This was a Herculean task as some of the specialized equipment had to be imported and then properly installed.

His dedication to this project bore fruit when--in April--construction was sufficiently advanced to host an international competition, and later, U.S. team tryouts. These events conclusively proved that despite the breakneck pace of construction, the site was capable of hosting the Olympic competitors, and that the equipment and building were of world-class quality. Both of these meets came off with just a few minor glitches, but to Mr. Petersen that simply wasn't good enough. Again he was back at the Prado Dam shooting site. Under his personal supervision the last problems were ironed out with time to spare.

By July the transition from cow pasture to Olympic site was complete. Almost as if by magic the barren fields were now dotted with hundreds of trees, the shotgun fields boasted a verdant covering of newly groomed grass, and spectators entered only to be greeted by beds of flowers hued in every color in the rainbow. Thus from a grazing area arose what has been called the finest international shooting facility in North America.

While Mr. Petersen was overlooking the shooting venue his engaging wife, Margie Petersen, assisted by Protocol Manager Don Hopf, had arranged for a hospitality area where the various dignitaries from around the world could spend a quiet moment, or have lunch catered by Petersen's own Scandia, one of the finest restaurants in all of Southern California. Among those who attended the shooting venue were the King and Queen of Sweden, Princess Anne of Great Britain, actor Robert Stack (who himself had been an international skeet champion while still in his teens), Alaska Governor Bill Sheffield and his party, Chino Mayor Larry Walker, Barbara Strauss of Levis Strauss Co., San Bernardino County Supervisor Bob Townsend, IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch, ABC Television commentator Arthur Ashe, and numerous other local, national, and international dignitaries. The success of the shooting sports, and the shooting venue, was definitely a husband and wife commitment for the Peterson family.

On a lighter note, all competitors and dignitaries were presented with keepsakes from various shooting sports firms to help make their stay at the Los Angeles Olympics that much more memorable. These keepsakes included such items as patches from Pachmayr Gun Works and Tasco scopes, western hats from Resistol, Bob Allen tote bags, wallets and badges from the National Rifle Association and posters from Bianchi International.

On site, many manufacturers and firms helped ensure the smooth running of the competition. Yamaha Golf Car Center, Laguna Hills, CA, and Club Car Sales, Anaheim, CA, furnished golf carts to carry participants from one area of the site to another. Igloo Coolers provided water fountains for competitors, B&B Sales of North Hollywood, CA, ensured that ammunition, from air gun pellets to shotshells, was in abundance, and Fleetwood Enterprises, Riverside, CA, lent a large Avion "Federation Trailer" for the use of U.I.T. and I.O.C. officials.

While China's Haifeng Xu was in the process of winning the first medal in the converted pasture, the trap shooting started its three-day competition. Unlike many of the events, both trap and skeet are shot over this extended period of time. A total of 200 targets comprised both events, with 75 targets being shot the first day, 75 the second, and on the final day, the last 50. At the end of the first day, America's Dan Carlisle, the current world champion, shot a 73 to hold a one bird lead over six other shooters. Down in 18th place, four targets behind, was young 19-year-old Francisco Boza from Peru. Boza, shooting in his second Olympics, was a name totally overlooked by most, but as the next two days were to prove, that was a mistake. America's second team member, Wally Zobell was also in with a 69 on the first day.

An Olympic venue is a busy place, and while the trap and free pistol events were going on, another building was hosting the Women's Sport Pistol Match. New to the Olympics this year, the Sport Pistol event is almost like two matches in one, the first portion being much like a slow-fire event. The First 30 shots are fired at 25 meters in six series of five shots each. A total of six minutes is allowed for each five-shot string. The second 30 shots are fired at a turning target, much like that found in Men's Rapid Fire. At the end of the 60 rounds there was a two-way tie between Linda Thom of Canada and Ruby Fox, America's own co-world record holder at this event. In the shootoff, Linda registered one more bullseye than Ruby, so she came away with the gold, Ruby Fox the silver, and in another shootoff for the bronze, Pat Dench of Australia defeated Haiving Liu of China. The final score of 585x600 that Thom and Fox both shot constitutes a new women's Olympic record.

Monday, and the second day of the shooting, dawned hot and slightly humid. Today the battle would go on in trap shooting, while the English Match (prone rifle) and Running Game Target (running boar) would also be shot.

It was the English Match that produced America's first gold medal winner. Edward Etzel, a coach at the University of West Virginia who is studying for a doctorate degree, tied the Olympic record using his .22 caliber Anschutz bolt-action rifle to post a 599x600. Ed credits his ability to reading the very slight breeze better than anyone else for his victory. He was folowed home by Michel Bury of France and Michael Sullivan of England. Although the crowds that stayed after the shooting each day to cheer the winners as they received their medals were very supportive of each country's shooters, you can imagine the cheers that went up as Etzel marched to the three-tiered podium. The ovation lasted for quite some time, and the now-familiar "USA! USA!" chant filled the field. It was a thrilling moment.

In the Running Game event, a two day affair, the shooters fired their first 30 rounds. In the 60-shot match, 30 are fired the first day and 30 more the second. The first day's competition consists of the slow-fire position wherein the 30 shots are fired at the moving boar target at a distance of 50 meters. The opening the boar crosses is only 10 meters wide, and in the slow-fire section it makes its trip in five seconds. Again, a .22 rimfire rifle is used, and this is the only event where a scope sight is permitted. At the end of the day's competition Yuwei Li of China held the lead, Uwe Schroder of West Gernamy was second, and Ezio Cini of Italy was third. Now all these three competitors had to do was wait another 24 hours to shoot the rapid fire section.

Meanwhile, the trap shooting was still going on and America's Dan Carlisle, after the second 75 targets, still held on to the lead by a single target. He'd dropped another four targets, but his 144 bird total kept him at the head of the pack. There were still five shooters a single bird behind him, including Francisco Boza, the 19-year-old shooter from Peru, and the 1980 Olympic winner Luciano Giovannetti from Italy. The final 50 targets that would be shot the following day held the promise of great excitement.

Along with the last of the trap shooting the next day also featured the final portion of the Running Game event, and Women's Air Rifle, where as it turned out, America was to get her next gold. Eighteen-year-old Pat Spurgin from Billings, Montana, the youngest member of the U.S. shooting team, missed the world record by only two points as she established the Olympic record (this was a first time event in the Games) of 393x400. She and her Model 380 Anschutz air rifle were working as one during the 40-shot competition. Her closest competitor was Edith Gufler of Italy, who in turn was followed by Xiaoxuan Wu of China. Pat held a two point advantage over the silver medalist, and a four point lead over Wu. Young Pat Spurgin was a very thrilled winner.

The last section of the Running Game event was also fired that morning. The second series of 30 shots were loosed at the running boar where it was now covering the 10 meter opening in 2-1/2 seconds. Only the top name on the leaderboard remained the same, as the other two dropped out of medal consideration. Yuwei Li of China anchored down the gold with a score of 587x600, while Helmut Bellingroot of Colombia captured the silver, and Li's teammate, Stewart, America's top shooter in this event finished in ninth place.

But this day much of the excitement was reserved for the finals of trap shooting. The big question was, could Dan Carlisle hold onto his slim one-target lead? His first 25 looked good as he ground them all up, but his second field proved to be his undoing. Dan dropped two birds, and that left him in a three-way tie with Boza and Giovannetti. The shootoff was somewhat anticlimatic as Giovannetti dropped only one target to take the gold, Boza missed two for the silver, and Carlisle missed three on his way to the bronze. Some people were saying that Carlisle cracked under the pressure, but this write doubts it. For two of the three days, Dan proved that he is the best trap shooter in the world. On the third day he had two slightly bad rounds, and in competition of this quality you can't afford something like that. I think you can rest assured that both Giovannetti and Boza felt lucky they caught Dan on a bad day . . . he doesn't have many of them.

On Wednesday the Three Position Rifle match was shot, and Malcolm Cooper of Great Britain equaled the world and Olympic record with a 1,173x1,200 score. Daniel Nipkow of Switzerland was some ten points behind in second, and another Englishman, Alister Allan, took home the bronze medal.

Wednesday also saw the first section of Men's Rapid Fire Pistol being shot. At the end of the first day Corneliu Ion of Romania stood up on top of the leaderboard, with Rauno Bies of Finland in second and Jong-Gil Park from Korea in third.

Thursday found the spectators watching the finals of the Rapid Fire competition, plus the beginning of skeet, and the Women's Small Bore Rifle Three Position event. Here, American picked up another medal; in fact we almost got two more. Xiaoxuan Wu of China won the gold with Ulrike Holmer from West Germany the silver. Right behind them, and taking the bronze was Wanda Jewell of the U.S., and fourth was Gloria Parmentier, also from America. Actually Homer and Jewell tied in the overall score, but the German girl had more shots in the ten ring to break the tie. Inasmuch as this event is new to the Olympics, the winning score of 581x600 established a record.

By the time the Men's Rapid Fire contest was over, Japan's Takeo Kamachi stood on the top step of the medal podium. His final day's shooting had been good enough to overcome the rest of the field and provide him with the gold medal. The first day's leader, Corneliu Ion, was second and Rauno Bies of Finland stood third.

There was no great surprise in the skeet shooting by the end of the first 75 targets. Eight shooters posted scores of 74 (one target missed), and among them was America's Matt Dryke. There are many people who feel Dryke is the best skeet shooter who has ever lived, and as the events were to prove, he did nothing to dispel this hardearned esteem.

Friday saw only two events contested as the shooting portion of the Olympics was slowly grinding to a halt. Skeet, of course, and Men's Air Rifle. In the air rifle event France's Philippe Heberle set an Olympic record (this was a new event in the Games) with a 589x600, and just missed the world record by a single point. The silver medal went to Andreas D.I. Kronthaler of Austria, and Barry Dagger brought home the bronze to Britain.

Again skeet was almost anticlimatic. Matt Dryke was expected to win the gold, and the second day's rounds did nothing to dissuade this. Matt dropped only one bird over the 75 rounds, and this gave him a one bird lead over the field. The rest of the shooters had fallen at least two birds behind, with the exception of Ole Riber Rashussen of Denmark, who was hanging in there just one clay behind Dryke. The stage was set for the only event to be held on Saturday, the final 50 rounds of the skeet competition.

Once again the shooting venue was sold out, as it was every day, for the finals. And Matt Dryke didn't keep the overwhelmingly pro-American crowd waiting long. On his first field he was in the middle of every bird as was the Dane, Rasmussen, determined to keep the pressure on Matt. But it's doubtful that Dryke and his remington Model 3200 know the meaning of the word pressure. His last 25 targets ended up as puffs of smoke in the sky; he'd run his last 50 targets, equalled the Olympic record, and shut the door on the rest of the field. The gallant Dane dropped one of his last 25 birds and was involved in a shootoff with Luca Rossi Scribani from Italy for the silver medal. Again in the shootoff the Dane didn't miss a target, thus wrapping the silver medal up for himself and his country.

As the final medal presentation came around and Dryke climbed the victory podium, the crowd went absolutely crazy. The cheers lasted for many moments, and Matt Dryke was almost speechless.

Thus ended the shooting portion of the Summer Games. American had done itself proud with six medals; three gold, one silver and two bronze. Our shooters have proven they can compete with anyone in the world; I think the results would have been the same even if the Eastern Bloc nations had attended. Perhaps, for them, it's a good thing they didn't.

After the last medal presentation, and while the crowd of over 7,000 people were still there another presentation was made that bodes well for the shooting sports in america.

Mr. Petersen was particularly appreciative of the help offered to him from many quarters. "I would like to thank any number of people for their assistance in a difficult, but rewarding, experience," he said. "The LAOOC is to be particularly commneded for turning over the site to San Bernardino County for the training of future Olympic athletes and hosting national and international matches. This was carried out mainly by LAOOC Executive Vice President Harry Usher and San Bernardino county Supervisor Robert Townsend who arranged the funding with his fellow supervisors to ensure continuation of the shooting site.

"Chuck Cale, Vice President of the LAOOC, and Associate Vice Presidents Hank Taterchuk and Bill Schmidt also provided invaluable guidance," Mr. Petersen continued.

He also thanked U.I.T. Vice Presidents Gavrila Barani, Chong Kyu Park and Bjorn Schulstrom for their assistance, and added, "I want to single out the Chino Valley Committee for the 1984 Games for providing people to help run the shooting venue, as well as all the other volunteers from throughout the United States who helped to make the competition run as smoothly and efficiently as it did."

With its future almost guaranteed perhaps, like the Los Angeles Coliseum which was built over 50 years ago for the 1932 Games, the Prado Dam shooting venue will once again be used by shooters from every corner of the world "shooting for the gold"!
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Title Annotation:1984 Olympic shooting events
Author:Hetzler, Dave
Publication:Guns & Ammo
Date:Nov 1, 1984
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