Thomas Campitelli
July 14, 2016 03:05 PM

The nine winners of the 2016 CrossFit Games will receive a Glock pistol, the organization announced on social media Wednesday.

The top female, top male and the winning team will each receive a certificate for a free Glock pistol that they can then use to legally acquire the gun in their state, Dave Castro, the director of the CrossFit Games, tells PEOPLE. Glock semi-automatic handguns are popular among police forces and militaries, as well as recreational shooters in the U.S.

Castro, a gun owner himself, says that the idea came from a friend he knows in the shooting community.

“I am very active in the recreational shooting community,” he explains, “I am one of millions of people who legally own and use guns for recreational purposes.”

“I participate in pistol shooting competitions and from that sport I have met CrossFitters who also participate in the sport – one of them is the captain of the Glock shooting team. He mentioned a few months ago that Glock would be interested in giving guns to the winners. I agreed that would be a nice gift to them.”

The announcement on Instagram and Facebook drew largely negative comments, with many citing the recent shootings in Orlando, Dallas, and of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling.

“This is infuriating. We’re mourning the loss of our queer brothers and sisters in Orlando, Phil in Minneapolis and Alton in Baton Rouge, and police officers in Dallas. All were innocent lives taken from us by guns,” one Facebook user wrote. “Guns shouldn’t a prize. They should be the very last resort.”

“As a reward for fitness you can potentially shoot people? After the worst mass shootings in USA, I hardly feel bringing a community together via guns is in the spirit of crossfit. Shameful,” added another.

A commenter in favor of the decision argued that the prize makes sense given the sport’s relationship with the military: “The creator was a Navy SEAL this isn’t a joke. If you all have such a problem with it, then just stop doing Crossfit.”

Castro isn’t concerned about the criticism.

“From what I have seen on my social media there have been a lot of people against it, and a lot of people in support of it,” he says. “Guns are legal in the U.S. and in all 50 states. So there is nothing illegal or wrong being done here from that perspective.”

Castro added that this is not the first time they’ve given a gun as a prize at the CrossFit Games – they also gave one away during the 2009 Games.

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