Introduction to Shooting

Shooting sports consist of four disciplines: shotgun, rifle, pistol and running target. Within these disciplines, shooting events include clay pigeon, skeet, down the line, free pistol and trap.

The disciplines may be divided into two main parts:

  • Precision shooting
  • Shotgun event.

Precision shooting applies to rifle, pistol and running target events where shots are scored from 0 - 10, according to the place of the shot in scoring rings.

In slow shooting, time limits are given for the entire event. In rapid fire shooting, time limits are given for one single shot or a group of five shots.

In the shotgun event, only two evaluations are possible, "bono" where the target is broken by the shot, or "zero", where the shooter misses the target. Shotgun has no time limits but there are limits on where the target may be reached by a shot.

Most competitors shoot in a standing position. In rifle shooting, they shoot prone and kneeling. All the positions are described in the official regulations.



Firearms originated as military weapons, used along with stone throwing machines, bows and crossbows. The booming sound of early firearms compensated for their lack of precision and power.

Many changes in firearms history occurred in the early 16th century when the rifle was created. A slug was put in the bore to stabilise the bullet in the air and accuracy improved significantly.

As the muzzle-loading rifle was slow to reload, rifles were mainly used for elite sports and hunting.

In the 19th century, shooting began to evolve as a sport. One of its champions, Pierre de Coubertin, the French pistol champion, was the founder of the modern Olympic Games.

Shooting was featured in the first modern Olympic Games in Athens in 1896. Nine different sports were placed on the programme and shooting sports had the highest number of participants in these first Olympic Games.

The first World Shooting Championships were held one year later in 1897.

Shooting has been contested in most Olympic Games with the exception of 1904 and 1928. Women were first allowed to compete in 1968.

In 1984, the International Shooting Union (now called the ISSF - International Shooting Sport Federation) introduced separate events for women. Between 1984 and 1992, the number of women's events gradually increased.

The current Olympic programme includes 15 different shooting events: nine for men and six for women. There are three shooting disciplines presented in the Olympic programme: rifle, pistol and shotgun (clay target).

Shooting joined as an official sport in the 2nd Asian Games held in Manila, the Philippines in 1954.



Shooting competitions in Olympic events consist of two stages: qualification and final.

The 50m rifle and pistol shooting events depend upon weather conditions. When there is a large number of participants, the competition must be conducted in three stages.

The number of participants in the finals varies between six and eight. The final relay is shorter than the qualification: 10 shots for rifle and pistol or one round of 25 shots for shotgun.

Scoring may also differ in the finals: double shots are not allowed in the trap and points are taken to the first decimal place in precision events.

In case of equal scores after the final, the judges will conduct a shoot-off. Shooters have to continue shooting until a winner is determined.

In the clay target shotgun event, the competition target should be visibly broken and it is the referee's duty to determine this. In precision shooting, targets with printed scoring rings are used.

There are three types of firearms used in the shooting sports:

Pistol or handgun - usually a small firearm that can be used with one hand. The three common types of pistols are single-shot pistols, revolvers and automatic pistols.

Rifle - a firearm that uses a spiral groove cut into the barrel to spin a bullet, improving accuracy and range of shooting.

Shotgun - a firearm typically used to fire a number of small spherical shots from a smoothbore barrel of relatively (to rifles) large diameter.