The air was hot. Aside from a clanking fan placed at the end of the long hall of people, there was not a sound. The tension in the air could be felt - and seen in the stillness of everyone in the room. Along both sides of the hall, windows opened up into a large room surrounding us. An unbroken line of targets ran along the wall, each mounted on a green stand, and ready to electronically to the millimeter the location of each shot fired at it.
Unknowingly we had stumbled onto the Women’s US Air Rifle finals - the winner would be going to the Olympics.
Only eight finalists stood by windows, though there were windows in the hall for seventy two. Their rifles, partially resting on stands in the windows, could have been taken out of a futuristic movie. Their clothing too, could have come from another time. Totally concentrating on the match they were about to shoot, the women stood motionless, each looking to the side over their rifle, intently gazing at nothing.
Only ten rounds would be fired, and each shot was given everything each contestant had. Ninety seconds were allowed for the finalist to take a single shot. After each person in the line had fired once, the range master would walk down the line and announce each person’s score, while those on the firing line again stared at nothing, and those watching quietly applauded for every ten point shot. “Load one match round,” was be announced, and the entire process was repeated yet again for one more hole in the target.