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THE CUTTING EDGE | HEARD ON THE BEAT / IN ORANGE COUNTY

U.S. Shooting Team Sets Its Site on the Web

July 22, 1996|GREG MILLER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The U.S. shooting team took home two medals--a gold and a silver--from the Olympics in Barcelona in 1992, but in terms of television coverage, the team was shut out.

Aware that they might not be any more popular with the camera crews in Atlanta this week, the shooting team is aiming to provide some coverage of itself over the Internet.

Through a Web site established about six months ago, the team hopes to post Olympic competition results daily, and perhaps even show virtual pictures of targets as they are struck by bullets during the final rounds of competition.

"This is a way of trying to get shooting information out to the fans," said Robert Eck, president of the U.S. Shooting Team Foundation, the fund-raising arm of the team. Eck is also president of Beeman Precision Airguns, a Huntington Beach company that imports from Germany many of the air guns that the U.S. team uses in competition.

The Web site, at http://www.usc.edu/dept/USAshooting, was created by Patrick Reynolds, an associate professor of pediatrics at USC and the Shooting Team doctor for the 1992 Olympics.

"Unlike European television, American television won't broadcast even a second of the shooting competition," Reynolds said. "What we hope to accomplish is to get results to people in a timely fashion so people can share in the moment of the Olympics."

The Olympics in Barcelona ushered in a new electronic age in shooting competition. Participants aimed at targets that for the first time were equipped with acoustic sensors that pinpoint the entry point of the bullet. The point was then digitally translated into a dot on a computer screen image of the target.

Reynolds hopes to link into that electronic system so that the same computer images can be loaded onto the U.S. shooting team's Web site. Trouble is, the team is still waiting to see whether IBM, which is in charge of electronic distribution of Olympic results, will be willing to cooperate.

Though the shooting team is always surrounded by weapons, being team doctor is not a very demanding job, Reynolds said.

"It's actually the lowest-injury sport," he said. "What we worry about mostly is that they can get prescription medication. In shooting, even a headache can cost you a gold medal."

Greg Miller covers high technology for The Times. He can be reached at (714) 966-7830 and at greg.miller@latimes.com.

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