Understanding the Difference Between Dust and Bust
Let’s face it, every athlete on the line has missed more than a few targets. Even Olympic-caliber shooters have missed more times than they can count. But even though we know we’ll miss eventually—that even the best don’t always shoot a 25-straight—hearing the scorekeeper call “Loss!” after a target doesn’t break is still a kick to the gut.
It’s especially painful when you feel like you hit that target.
We’ve all seen those targets that darken just a bit, hesitate just a fraction of a second, and then release a small cloud of dust before continuing on its way without even a thought about breaking. It’s understandable that your first instinct when you hear the scorekeeper call loss is to say “I hit that!”
Unfortunately for you, the scorekeeper was correct. They saw everything you saw, and still marked it as a lost target. Why? Because you just dusted the target—you didn’t break it. For the scorekeeper, a dead target is one that is completely destroyed, or one in which a clearly perceptible chip is seen flying away from the target. It’s not considered a hit just because the wind from a passing cloud of lead is enough to brush the dust off.
But what constitutes a chip versus just shaking loose some dust from the target? Quite simply, it’s the size of the chip that matters. The dust on a target is made up of microscopically small chips of paint and clay. But dust is just that: microscopic. A bit of dust isn’t big enough to follow with the human eye at 30 yards away.
That’s where we get to the internationally accepted definition of a chip: a perceptibly large enough piece of the target clearly broken away from the target due to the athlete’s shot. If there’s dust but no chip, it’s a lost target.
Think of it like bird hunting: If after you shoot you only see a feather drifting down while your quarry keeps flying, you’ve missed. You can’t eat a feather. We know it doesn’t really help the pain of hearing the scorekeeper call out “Loss!”
But, if it’s any consolation, you scared the dust off them. ✪