Polls show most people think this is a "fuss over nothing"

Matho’s blog: Olympians holding a gun

Get on with the Games

“Legitimate shooting organisations, law enforcement officers and defenders of our nation should quite rightly feel deeply offended when our sporting heroes cannot even be photographed holding a gun,” Bob Katter says. Too right.

He and a bunch of others have weighed into the argument after the Australian Olympic Committee announced punishments for swimmers Nick D’Arcy and Kenrick Monk after they showed the world a photograph of themselves at a gun range in the US.

“We need to stand up and fight against this overwhelming tide of political correctness,” Katter told reporters. “By trying not to offend anyone, we ensure that we offend nearly everyone.”

Olympic shooter Russell Mark makes some fair points about safe handling of firearms in his criticism of the swimmers. Gangster-esque poses, pistols pointed blithely at someone else – things that make an experienced shooter cringe. Things that deserve a rap over the knuckles. But they’re details in this overblown anti-shooting frenzy.

And it’s true that Nick D’Arcy isn’t exactly the kind of bloke we want as a pin-up boy of shooting, not with an assault charge behind him. But again, it’s a detail that’s largely irrelevant in the big picture of anti-shooting vitriol.

The main point is the underlying bad attitude towards shooting shown by Swimming Australia and the Australian Olympic Committee. If they’d said, “Boys, that’s not the way to pose with firearms, so take down the pic and, next time, think a little harder,” I’d have been on side. But they didn’t.

There are double standards here. Swimming Australia can organise a range day for its athletes and it’s okay, but it’s not okay for athletes to do it themselves. Go figure.

Well, it’s not okay when they’re Olympic athletes, it seems. The AOC came out and made that distinction when it distanced itself from SA’s range day and continued its criticism of Monk and D’Arcy in their capacity as Olympic swimmers. It also imposed sanctions – no social media, and an early return from the Olympic Games – and seems to be copping growing opposition for doing so.

So it’s not alright for swimmers to pose with guns. But it is alright for shooters to pose in a swimming costumes. Russell Mark’s wife, Lauryn, who of course is also in the Olympic shooting team, will be photographed for a men’s mag. And why not?

The AOC must have a very fine line drawn in its sand. I suspect the winds of whim and publicity must keep moving it, too.

Maybe the pose wasn’t the smartest one for D’Arcy and Monk to adopt, but surely that’s all there is to it. It’s time to move on to the real business of the Olympics.


Mick Matheson




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Mick Matheson

Mick grew up with guns and journalism, and has included both in his career. A life-long hunter, he has long-distant military experience and holds licence categories A, B and H. In the glory days of print media, he edited six national magazines in total, and has written about, photographed and filmed firearms and hunting for more than 15 years.