Shooting sports

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The shooting sports include those competitive sports involving tests of accuracy and speed when shooting various types of guns, including airguns. Shooting with bows and arrows is not treated in this article, but at Archery. Sometimes hunting is also considered a shooting sport, and indeed shooting on live pigeons was once an Olympic event.

The shooting sports are categorized by the type of weapon or target used. The web site identifies 20 different shooting sports, but does not claim that the list is complete.



Competing in shooting accuracy has a history almost as old as weaponry itself. During the 19th century, shooters began to organize themselves nationally, and one of these was French pistol champion Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympics. This fact certainly contributed to the inclusion of ten shooting events in the 1896 Olympics. Soon World Championships were being organized as well.

During the years, the sports have been changed a number of times and new ones have been added. For instance, from the beginning many of the targets had human-like (or in the case of running target, animal-like) shapes; most have now assumed a circular form to reduce the connotations with the use of guns in wars. One fact that has not changed, however, is that it is only at the Olympic Games that the sports gain attention from the media and public. As a participant sport, however, it is one of the largest in the world.

Recently, a number of threats to the shooting sports have become apparent. In many countries, the majority of voters disapprove of wide possession of handguns, because of the perceived risk of handgun violence and the view that the weapons serve no useful purpose in civilian hands. By extension, handgun shooting sports may be disapproved of by local governments or legislatures. School teams, particularly, are viewed as encouraging the use of handguns and firearms more generally, and if not already disbanded have come under pressure to end. Some governments that enact restrictive gun control legislation include shooting sports specifically in the restrictions, notably the British. Even when sanctioned, shooting sports may not be televised or publicized. For example, television networks rarely televise shooting events held during the Olympics, in part because they are difficult to televise in an interesting way, and partly because of the widely perceived association between guns and violent crime.

Meanwhile, the rise in the number of concealed carry permit-holders in the US has led to a surge in interest in various handgun competitions that foster defensive skills, accuracy drills, and personal protection tactics.

Rifle shooting sports

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Target for 10m air-rifle (Olympic)
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Sport-shooting with air-rifles, 10m

Handgun shooting sports

  • The six Pistol ISSF shooting events (including four Olympic events) consist of both precision and rapid-fire target shooting from distances of 10, 25 and 50 m.
  • The CISM Rapid Fire match is similar to the ISSF 25 m Rapid Fire Pistol event.
  • Practical shooting, developed from military and police exercises, is a variation where the shooter often moves during shooting, and hit scores and shooting time are equally important.
  • PPC 1500, also developed from police exercises, is standard precision shooting, as opposed to practical shooting, but somewhat imitating real-life conditions.
  • Muzzle loading and Cowboy Action Shooting, as above, also use revolvers.
  • Metallic silhouette shooting is shooting with big-calibre handguns at metallic silhouettes that respond to hits.
  • Here also there are a vast number of nationally recognized sports, including:
    • The NRA conventional pistol competition, shot with three different handguns, popular in the United States but also some other countries.
    • Field shooting, a type of variable rapid-fire competition, popular in Scandinavia.

Shotgun shooting sports

  • The three Shotgun ISSF shooting events (presently all Olympic) are based on quick reaction to clay targets thrown by a machine.
  • Other shotgun sports with (at least partial) international recognition include Sporting Clays, providing more variation than the standard ISSF events.
  • Cowboy Action Shooting

International governing bodies

Other external links

de:Sportschieen et:Laskesport fr:Tir (sport) pt:Tiro


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