Laser guns and electronic targets for the first time will replace traditional air guns in the modern pentathlon event at the 2012 London Olympics.
The modern pentathlon consists of five events: pistol shooting, fencing, 200 m freestyle swimming, show jumping, and a 3 km cross-country run and has been part of the Olympic Games since 1912. (Cool fact: George Patton, who later became General of the US Army, competed in the first Olympic Modern Pentathlon at the Stockholm 1912 Games, according to the London Olympics web site).
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There are a number of benefits to the new high-tech systems according to Pentathlon's governing body, Union International de Pentathlon Moderne (UIPM):
Also, with the new laser technology which will be provided by a company known as Simpower the shooting discipline now works without any pellets or lead bullets. In the past the firearms polluted the air with gas and heavy metals in the gunpowder in guns used in the past, according to UIPM's web site petathalon.org. The laser is Class 1 which means that a person can look into the beam for 8 hours without damage for the eyes. The typical shot duration right now is: 40 milliseconds. The technology will also reduce the cost of the shooting element of the five-event sport by two thirds, the organization says.
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The guns have been tested in a number of events including the 2010 Youth Olympics in Singapore.
Still the decision to use the lasers has also generated a good bit of controversy. An interesting argument is found here.
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