The Joys (or Sorrows) of IntSk
Here I’ll continue to talk about the lesser known but more difficult clay target games. Last time it was Olympic Bunker trap. This time it’s International Skeet.
The game of skeet started around 1920 in America. It began as practice for grouse hunting but soon became a game in and of itself. Originally skeet was shot with a low gun and a variable-delay target release from zero to three seconds. Over time, in an effort to make the game easier to supposedly appeal to more shooters, Americans relaxed the rules to permit pre-mounted guns, instant pulls, higher scores and fewer bruised egos.
The rest of the world didn’t see it that way. They not only formalized the more difficult butt-at-beltline low-gun position and mandated the variable three-second delay, but they also sped up the targets considerably. To them, skeet was an athletic event, not an endurance contest. In 1968 this form of “International Skeet” became an Olympic event for the Mexico City games. It remains in the Olympics to this day.
“IntSk” has become more difficult over the years. It seems that every time someone achieves a good score, in a fit of pique the international governing body toughens up the game to get even. For example, the distance that the IntSk target is thrown has increased from 50 yards to 72, thus greatly increasing its speed. The legal shot load has decreased three times in order to tighten patterns and lower scores. In the 1960s 1-1/4 oz of shot was permitted. Today it is slightly less than 7/8 oz. The positioning of the stations has remained the same as in American Skeet, but the IntSk target sequence has become Draconian. Over time many of the easier single shots have been eliminated and replaced with more and more difficult doubles. In short, the Olympic skeet game started hard and has gotten harder.
Those who follow the Olympics and World Championships will note that, in spite of the increase in difficulty, scores have remained about the same. This is because of the inevitable increase in shooting talent. Each year athletes run faster and throw farther. They also shoot better.
IntSk’s sheer difficulty, not its mechanical requirements, limits its popularity. Unlike Olympic bunker trap versus ATA American-style trap, Olympic skeet doesn’t require any new equipment compared to American skeet. Both games use the same field and station layout. Today most skeet fields have outgrown—or worn out—the old Winchester single-stack machines and use new carousel skeet machines from GMV, Beomat, Promatic, Materelli and the like. These are European in origin and were designed for the faster Olympic targets, yet they can be slowed to accommodate the American game. If your club has modern machines, it is a simple matter to speed them up to Olympic requirements.
There is a marvelous manual on International Skeet shooting by Tonino Blasi, the Italian Olympic Skeet coach. This is really worth reading if you want to learn about the game and high-end shotgun competition in general. It can be viewed at: http://www.issf-sports.org/theissf/academy/coaching.ashx
And here’s a great little piece by English coach Roger Hill on making the transition from English skeet (like American-style skeet) to the Olympic game: http://www.procoachshootingschool.com/images/pdf/How%20to%20shoot%20olym...
International Skeet is a very challenging game. With its low-gun, surprise-delay and quick-shooting requirements, it ought to make you ruffed grouse hunters feel right at home. And that’s just what it was designed to do 90 years ago.
Next time another masochistic sport: FITASC.
That’s it for now. Boots off. Beer open.