This feature appears in the December ‘16 issue of NRA America’s 1st Freedom, one of the official journals of the National Rifle Association.
The 1976 Olympics were controversial for many reasons. But it was in the shooting competitions where history was really made.
U.S. Team Captain Lanny Bassham (above right) was using a Walther gx1 .22 rifle—the first one made—in the three-position, 50-meter smallbore rifle match. Also competing was Margaret Murdock (above left), who was on the Olympic shooting team for the first time. As the heated competition came to a close in a dead heat, one score for Bassham was incorrectly transferred from his target to the scorecard. A recheck gave him 1162, knocking Murdock down to second place.
Bassham wanted both to receive gold, but due to UIT rules at the time, only one gold medal could be awarded. When the time came for Murdock to receive her silver—the first Olympic medal ever awarded to a woman shooter—Bassham suddenly did the unexpected. Pulling Murdock up from the second-place spot to share the top podium, the two American shooters—who had fired the same score—were together in the spotlight at Montreal. Today, Bassham’s rifle is on display at the NRA National Sporting Arms Museum located at Bass Pro Shops in Springfield, Mo.The NRA National Firearms Museum at NRA Headquarters in Fairfax, Va.; the NRA National Sporting Arms Museum at Bass Pro Shops in Springfield, Mo.; and the Frank Brownell Museum of the Southwest at the NRA Whittington Center in Raton, N.M..; each have fine selections of historic arms on display. Admission to each is free, and donations are gratefully accepted. For more information, visit nramuseums.com, phone (703) 267-1600 or email [email protected].