From 1972 to 1976, while the U.S. Olympic Committee was parceling out almost $4 million to national governing boards to organize teams for Olympic sports, the shooting soprts received practically nothing.
The money was earmarked to developed and prepare athletes for international competition to pay for trials and to cover operating costs of committees.
Some representative four-year totals: $236,856 allocated for wrestling; $78,500 for volleyball; $192,241 for team handball and $221,820 for men's rowing.
In the same time span, the national governing board for international shooting events asked for and received from USOC $5,000 to develop and train competitors in the seven Olympic shooting disciplines, an average of $1,250 a year.
The governing board, the million-member National Rifle association, upped its request in 1977 to $2,000 and this year asked for a sharp increase to $53,000 and received $48,000 from the USOC.
The mighty NRA apparently is bending after two years of battling pesky fleabites from the U.S. Federation of International Moving Target Shooters, a 500-Member outfit that contends top civilian shooters are being denied the right to compete because of inadequate training funds.
Says John Satterwhite, world class skeet shooter and head of USFIMTS, "the NRA has been the national governing board for eons and they've always relied on the military to develop shooters for them.
"But the greatest source of talent to draw on for shooting competitors is the civilian population, and NRA is ignoring it. "
Adds Elwood Hunsberger, Eastern regional head of the USFIMTS, "NRA is offering no training program, no subsidies for shells and training. They wait around until the annual U.S. championships and take the top shooters in each discipline" for the world team.
The U.S. Olympic Committee stoutly defends the NRA, maintaining that U.S. medal production has been high in the Olympic and other world competition. USOC communications director Bob Paul explained the low budget requests: "The reason they got $5,000 instead of the hundreds of thousands that went to track and field is that NRA is a wealth organization and can afford to pay for training out of its pocket."
Paul added, "We can't dictate to our governing boards whom they should train. We rely on them. But we do know that one of our better organized governing boards is the NRA."
The USOC seems more impressed with NRA'S training successes than NRA itself.
According to Gary Anderson, NRA executive director of general operations, the organization budgets $600,000 a year for international shooting, but almost all of that goes to run local tournaments and to transport and accommodate atheletes at major competitions.
As far as traing shootings, "at this point we're doing very little," he said. "We're working feverishly to change that. We realize it is a definite short-coming."
Anderson said the incresed fund request and allocatio from USOC is an indication of NRA'S decision to improve training facilities for shooters. "The development of international shooters is something we're commited to," he said.
Satterwhite and Hunsberger maintain the NRA is so consumed by its balltes over gun control and its higher ranks are so loaded with former military officers that it is unable to understand the plight of the civilian shooter who needs help to hone his talents.
According to the NRA's Anderson, "We have new leadership now and that leadership is very interested in changing all that. We should have been doing differently in the past."