The reigning World and Olympic champion Niccolo Campriani of Italy and eight-time Olympian and Sydney Games champion Rajmond Debevec of Slovenia have lodged a protest against the proposed rule change, by the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF), to have ‘zero start’ for the Finals, after the qualification series in all events, in the 2013-2016 Olympic cycle.

The ISSF Administrative Council has approved the rule changes, but the detailed rules for Finals in Olympic events as well as a few additional rules will be approved by the Council in its meeting in November.

The ‘petition’ by the two champion shooters, with the hope to garner support from the fraternity and stop the unwanted change of the time-tested rules, has questioned the approach of the ISSF to reduce sport into just a ‘show’.

“The start at zero rule, deleting the qualification scores, would represent the ‘death’ of events such as the 3-position rifle or the free pistol, that for their nature reward the ability to maintain concentration and technical skills for a long period of time,” the duo said in the protest campaign which has been gaining momentum with support from shooters and coaches around the world.

“It would be like trying to make a marathon more spectacular and in order to do that we decide to stop the first eight runners after 41,900 metres, erasing the gaps, then let them do the sprint for the last 100 metres all together,” they argued.

“We as the shooters and coaches around the world, appreciate the effort of the ISSF in order to make shooting a better sport, but at the same time we believe that such important decisions should not be taken without the agreement of the majority of shooters and coaches.

“We ask the ISSF to be clear and transparent in order to participate in this discussion and improve together this sport,” the statement said, suggesting that entertainment should not be at the expense of “meritocracy’’.

Pointing at the success of shooting in the London Games, the duo stressed that the current structure was very exciting and provided suspense for the spectators to make for a great show, and that there was no need to tinker with a formula that had worked well since 1986.

The ISSF had changed the ‘Final’ rule in the 25-metre rapid fire pistol event for 2011-12, and that saw world champion Alexei Klimov of Russia missing out on a medal despite setting a world and Olympic record 592 in qualification in the London Games.

In its argument in promoting the change, the ISSF had said that shooting had difficulties for long in explaining why some athletes in the Finals started with advantages.

To ensure the true test of skill, the ISSF has decided to increase the number of shots in the Finals. It will also have different Final formats for different events.

“Scoring for the 25m pistol Finals uses hit-miss scoring. Tenth ring scoring is retained for the 10m and 50m rifle and pistol events.

“Shotgun and 25m pistol women finals use quarterfinals and semifinals stages to identify the athletes who will compete in bronze and gold medal duels, while other events use a series of eliminations to reach gold medal duels,” the ISSF said in its summary of approved change of rules.

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