|Highest governing body||Several organizations, see list|
|First played||Switzerland in the second half of the 15th century|
|Team members||Yes or no, depending on competition|
|Mixed gender||Yes or no, depending on discipline|
|Type||Indoor or outdoor|
Shooting sports is a group of competitive and recreational sporting activities involving proficiency tests of accuracy, precision and speed in shooting — the art of using ranged firearms, mainly referring to man-portable guns (firearms and airguns, in forms such as handguns, rifles and shotguns) and bows/crossbows.
Shooting sports can be categorized by equipment, shooting distances, targets, time limits and degrees of athleticism involved. Shooting sports may involve both team and individual competition, and team performance is usually assessed by summing the scores of the individual team members. Due to the noise of shooting and the high (and often lethal) impact energy of the projectiles, shooting sports are typically conducted at either designated permanent shooting ranges or temporary shooting fields in the area away from settlements.
Historically, shooting game and target shooting has been limited to the upper-class and the gentry, with severe penalties for poaching. The National Rifle Association of the United Kingdom (NRA) was founded in 1860 to raise the funds for an annual national rifle meeting "for the encouragement of Volunteer Rifle Corps and the promotion of Rifle-shooting throughout Great Britain".
Target shooting was a favorite sport in colonial America, with the New England Puritans regularly testing their shooting skills for recreation and at militia training days. The Scotch Irish settlers on the frontier favored shooting matches sponsored by Tavern keepers. Turkey shoots were popular after harvest time. Contestants would pay an entry fee, and everyone who killed a tethered turkey at 110 yards for muskets or 165 yards for rifles could keep the bird. German gunsmiths in Pennsylvania began to manufacture Flintlock rifles in the 1720s, which became especially popular among hunters because of its long-range accuracy. It could be accurate to 200 yards. Along about 1820, percussion caps, and the locks that ignited them, became available, and nearly all new firearms began to be constructed using this ignition system. Many flintlock firearms were also subsequently converted to the percussion system, which was a relatively simple procedure that could be accomplished by local gunsmiths. Although percussion ignition did not add to the accuracy of the firearm, the time between when the firearm firing mechanism (or “lock”) started the sequence that lead to the ignition of the propellant in the barrel, was shortened drastically. This made getting smaller shot groups on the target more attainable as the possibility of the firearm moving off the aiming point after the shooter pressed the trigger was lessened. This shortened ignition time, which is referred to as “lock time” was (and still is) a very important factor in target shooting. The closed design of the percussion system materially improved reliability of the firearm, especially in rainy or damp conditions. The faster “lock time” also made hitting fast-moving aerial targets with a cloud of tiny lead pellets (“shot”) fired from a smooth-bore firearm a real possibility. Practicing for game hunting by shooting at artificial aerial targets launched from spring-powered launching devices (“traps”) became highly popular and led to the development of the modern Trap, Skeet, and Sporting Clays shooting sports.
In 1831 a sportsman club in Cincinnati Ohio held a competitive shoot at pigeons and quail released from ground traps. German ethnic communities set up athletic clubs and shooting clubs, especially in the Midwestern states In the 1850–1917. period Breach loading shotguns introduced in the 1860s, and the knowledge of rifles by Civil War soldiers, made trap shooting popular. However, there was human humanitarian opposition to killing live birds—and the passenger pigeon was dying out—so glass or clay targets were used instead.
Concerned over poor marksmanship during the American Civil War, veteran Union officers Col. William C. Church and Gen. George Wingate formed the National Rifle Association of America in 1871 for the purpose of promoting and encouraging rifle shooting on a "scientific" basis. In 1872, with financial help from New York state, a site on Long Island, the Creed Farm, was purchased for the purpose of building a rifle range. Named Creedmoor, the range opened in 1872, and became the site of the first National Matches until New York politics forced the NRA to move the matches to Sea Girt, New Jersey. The popularity of the National Matches soon forced the event to be moved to its present, much larger location: Camp Perry. In 1903, the U.S. Congress created the National Board for the Promotion of Rifle Practice (NBPRP), an advisory board to the Secretary of the Army, with a nearly identical charter to the NRA. The NBPRP (now known as the Civilian Marksmanship Program) also participates in the National Matches at Camp Perry.
In 1903, the NRA began to establish rifle clubs at all major colleges, universities, and military academies. By 1906, youth programs were in full swing with more than 200 boys competing in the National Matches. Today, more than one million youth participate in shooting sports events and affiliated programs through groups such as 4-H, the Boy Scouts of America, the American Legion, U.S. Jaycees, NCAA, The USA High School Clay Target League, the Scholastic Clay Target Program, National Guard Bureau, ROTC, and JROTC.
French pistol champion and founder of the modern Olympics, Pierre de Coubertin, participated in many of these early competitions. This fact certainly contributed to the inclusion of five shooting events in the 1896 Olympics. Over the years, the events have been changed a number of times in order to keep up with technology and social standards. the targets that formerly resembled humans or animals in their shape and size have are now a circular shape in order to avoid associating the sport with any form of violence. At the same time, some events have been dropped and new ones have been added. The 2004 Olympics featured three shooting disciplines (rifle, pistol, and shotgun) where athletes competed for 51 medals in 10 men's and 7 women's events—slightly fewer than the previous Olympic schedule.
In the Olympic Games, the shooting sport has always enjoyed the distinction of awarding the first medals of the Games. Internationally, the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) has oversight of all Olympic shooting events worldwide, while National Governing Bodies (NGBs) administer the sport within each country.
Having originally established shooting as an organized sport in the US, the NRA was chosen to administer the United States participation in the Olympic games. The NRA managed and financially supported international and conventional shooting sports (i.e., National Matches) for over 100 years until the formation of USA Shooting.
Shooting at the Summer Olympics (at last edition Rio 2016), is competed in nine disciplines, six in bullseye (pistol and rifle) and three in skeet and trap (shotgun), The events will be six in Tokyo 2020.
Handguns are handheld small arms designed to be shot off-hand without needing a shoulder stock. The two main subtypes of handguns are pistols and revolvers. They are much more convenient to carry in general, but usually have a shorter effective range and less accuracy compared to long guns such as rifles. In shooting sports, revolvers and semi-automatic pistols are the most commonly used.
A rifle is a long gun with a rifled barrel, and requires the use of both hands to hold and brace against the shoulder via a stock in order to shoot steadily. They generally have a longer range and greater accuracy than handguns, and are popular for hunting. In shooting sports, bolt-action or semi-automatic rifles are the most commonly used.
A shotgun is similar to a rifle but often smoothbore and larger in caliber, and typically fires either a shell containing many smaller scattering sub-projectiles called shots, or a single large projectile called a slug. In shooting sports, shotguns are more often over/under-type break action or semi-automatic shotguns, and the majority of shotgun events are included in clay pigeon shooting.
Bullseye shooting is a category of pistol and rifle shooting disciplines where the objective is to achieve as many points as possible by hitting a round shooting target as close to the middle as possible with slow precision fire. These disciplines place a large emphasis on precision and accuracy through sight picture, breath and trigger control. Fixed and relatively long time limits give the competitors time to concentrate for a perfect shot. An example of bullseye shooting is the ISSF pistol and rifle disciplines, but there are also many other national and international disciplines which can be classified as bullseye shooting. The shooting distances are typically given in round numbers, such as 10, 25, 50, 100, 200 or 300 meters depending on firearm type and discipline. Competitions are usually shot from permanent shooting ranges and with the same target arrangement and distance from match to match. Usually the competitors each have their own shooting target and shoot beside each other simultaneously. Because of the relatively simple match format, beginners are often recommended bullseye shooting in order to learn the fundamentals of marksmanship. Bullseye shooting is part of the Summer Olympic Games, and a considerable amount of training is needed to become proficient.
Two shooters during an ISSF 300 meter rifle three positions (prone, kneeling and standing).
Field-Shooting or Terrain-Shooting  refer to a set of pistol and rifle shooting disciplines that usually are shot from temporary shooting ranges in outdoor terrain at varying (and sometimes unknown) distances, rather than at permanent shooting ranges at fixed distances.
Nordic Rifle Field Shooting in Sweden during the winter in 2012.
The Norwegian Rifle Field Shooting Championship at the 2007 Landsskytterstevnet.
Field-like shooting competition in USA using a National Match M1.
Field target shooting in Germany
Keith Sanderson from USA during the ISSF 25 meter rapid fire pistol event at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
John Pride at the 2008 Bianchi Cup.
Trap shooting in USA.
Skeet shooting in USA.
Clay targets being placed in an automatic throwing machine.
Trap shooting at the 2015 World Police and Fire Games in USA.
Sketch of a Skeet shooting range.
Running target shooting refers to a number of disciplines involving a shooting target—sometimes called a boar, moose, or deer—that is made to move as if it is a running animal. Events of this type include:
Practical shooting, also known as action shooting or dynamic shooting, is a generic term applicable to shooting sports where speed is of equal importance as precision. Many of the disciplines involve movement, and when using handguns they are often drawn from a holster.
An Open division practical pistol shooter during a stage.
A Norwegian practical rifle shooter at the 2017 IPSC Rifle World Shoot in Russia.
Three times practical revolver world champion Ricardo López Tugendhat from Ecuador.
Long range shooting is shooting held at such distances that sight adjustment based from judging atmospherical conditions become critical.
Benchrest shooting is concerned with shooting small groups with the rifleman sitting on a chair (bench) and the rifle supported from a table. Of all shooting disciplines, this is the most demanding equipment-wise. Depending on equipment class, international benchrest competitions are governed by either the World Benchrest Shooting Federation or World Rimfire and Air Rifle Benchrest Federation.
An Anschütz 1903 rifle in caliber .22 LR used for benchrest shooting at 50 meters.
A BCM Europearms single shot benchrest rifle.
Metallic silhouette competitors shoot at animal-shaped steel silhouettes (chickens, pigs, turkeys and rams) that must be knocked down to score. Banks of 5 targets are placed at up to 500 meters, with distance and size of target determined by firearm class. Classes include Handguns, Small Bore Rifle (Hunter, Silhouette), High Power Rifle (Hunter, Silhouette), air rifle and black powder rifle. Handguns used in the Unlimited Categories are rifle-like in appearance; Thompson Contender, Remington XP-100, and other pistols are chambered in rifle calibers with the power, aerodynamic efficiency, and external ballistics required for precise shooting at 200 meters. There are silhouette categories appropriate for virtually all types of adjustable sight pistols and rifles, only excluding high-velocity armor-piercing rounds that would damage targets. Targets for open sighted guns are placed between 25 and 200 meters, and are designed to provide a usable size of the hit zone of about 1.5 milliradians (or 5 minutes of arc).
Scenery in a Western scenario.
The shooter uses different firearms during a stage. In this stage revolvers were used at the close range blue targets and a lever action at the red targets furthest away.
Cowboy mounted shooting at the 2012 AQHA Mounted Shooting World Championship.
Competitor shooting at 1000 yards (914.4 meters) laying on back
Competitor from Team Norway shooting at 1000 yards (914.4 meters)
Replica Rigby rifle used at the 2015 MLAIC Muzzleloading Long Range Championship
A member of Team USA loading his blackpowder rifle
Paralympic shooting, also known as "shooting Para sport", is an adaptation of shooting sports for competitors with disabilities. Paralympic shooting first appeared in the Summer Paralympics at the 1976 Toronto Games. Para shooting is internationally governed by the International Paralympic Committee. To help establish fair competition, a shooting classification called Para-shooting classification in place for the Paralympic Games.
Para shooting with a rifle sitting in a wheelchair.
Shooting competitions for factory and service firearms, usually called Service Rifle, Service Pistol, Production, Factory or Stock, describe a set of disciplines or equipment classes where the types of permitted firearms are subject to type approval and few aftermarket modifications are permitted. Thus the terms refer to permitted equipment and modifications rather than the type of shooting format itself. The names Service Rifle and Service Pistol stem from that the equipment permitted for these types of competitions traditionally were based on standard issue firearms used by one or several armed forces and civilian versions of these, while the terms Production, Factory and Stock often are applied to more modern disciplines with similar restrictions on equipment classes. Factory and service classes are often restrictive in nature, and the types of firearms permitted are usually rugged, versatile and affordable. In comparison, more expensive custom competition equipment are popular in more permissive equipment classes. Both types of equipment classes can be found within many disciplines, such as bullseye, field, practical and long range shooting.
Plinking refers to informal target shooting done for pleasure or practice typically at non-standard targets such as tin cans, logs, cartons, fruits, or any other homemade or naturally occurring objects like rocks (however, it is unsafe to shoot at rocks) or tree branches. The primary appeals of plinking as a sport are the broad variety of easily available locations, minimal costs, freedom in practice styles, and more relaxing and less restrictive shooting experience.
The flexibility of target choice is also why plinking is popular. A small, three-dimensional target in an outdoors setting is much more akin to a real-world hunting and varminting scenario, presenting a better simulated opportunity to practice shooting skills. A plinking target will also often react much more positively to a hit than a paper target used in formal competitions, either audibly with a sharp impact sound (hence the name "plink") or visually by bouncing, splattering or falling over. Steel targets used for formal action and long range shooting competitions are also popular for plinking due to the ease of setting up and confirming good hits.
A woman plinking with a Hi-Point pistol in .40 S&W in Alaska.
Plinking with a Ruger 10/22 rifle in Burro Canyon, Arizona, US.
Plinking on a Saturday in Burro Canyon, Arizona, US. On this range firearms must be kept unloaded in the rack, except when on the firing line.
Athletic shooting sports are hybrid events of normally stationary shooting sport competitions and the sport of athletics or other physically demanding non-shooting sports. Many were borne from military exercises and emphasize physical endurance.
Bike biathlon competition using handguns.
Modern competitive archery involves shooting arrows at a target for accuracy from a set distance or distances. A person who participates in archery is typically called an archer or a bowman, and a person who is fond of or an expert at archery is sometimes called a toxophilite. The most popular competitions worldwide are called target archery. Another form, particularly popular in Europe and America, is field archery, which generally is shot at targets set at various distances in a wooded setting. 3D archery, which differs from field archery in that the targets are animal models, is also quite popular in the same regions. There are also several other lesser-known and historical forms, as well as archery novelty games. Note that the tournament rules vary from organization to organization. World Archery Federation rules are often considered normative, but large non-WA-affiliated archery organizations do exist with different rules. Competitive archery in the United States is governed by USA Archery and National Field Archery Association (NFAA), which also certifies instructors. Run archery is a shooting discipline connecting archery with running.
Target shooting with a recurve bow.
The International Crossbow Shooting Union (Internationale Armbrustschützen Union or IAU) was founded in Landshut, Germany on June 24, 1956, as the world governing body for crossbow target shooting. The IAU supervises World, Continental and International crossbow shooting championships in 3 disciplines; 30 m Match-crossbow, 10 m Match-crossbow and Field-crossbow shooting. IAU World Championships take place every two years with Continental Championships on intervening years. Other International and IAU-Cup events take place annually. World Crossbow Shooting Association (WCSA) organises competitions in 7 disciplines: Target, Target match play, Forest, Forest match play, 3D, Bench & prone target and Indoor target.
Anna Sushko of Russia, 2006 Junior World Champion, holding an ICU 10 m Match Crossbow
There are several competition styles of sport blowgun practised around the world. A standardization of competition style is based upon fukiya, and governed by the International Fukiyado Association. It is a 10-metre target shooting, using a standardized barrel caliber and length, and a standardized dart length and weight as outlined by IFA. There are two more styles, both based upon the Cherokee Annual Gathering Blowgun Competition. The Field Style competition is similar to the winter Biathlon, where the shooter runs from a starting line to a target lane, shoots and retrieves the darts, and continues to the next station. The course length varies from 400 to 800 m with from 9 to 16 targets at various heights and shooting distances. The final style is the Long Distance target shoot. The target is a circle of 24 cm diameter, and the firing line is 20 m away. Three darts are fired by each shooter, at least one of which must stick in the target. All successful shooters move to the next round, moving back 2 m each time.
Confrontational shooting sports is a set of relatively new team sports using non-lethal ranged weapons that are safe enough to shoot at other people. Previously such games were not possible due to safety concerns since bows and guns are generally too lethal and dangerous for human targets, but the development of newer airgun and infrared technologies allowed for the development of safe confrontational disciplines. While initially only for sport and recreations, professional sport competitions are now held. These type of games are also used for tactical gunfight training by military and law enforcement agencies to some extent.
Olympic dueling is an archaic individual sport that sought to safely emulate the deadly practice of pistol duelling, akin to fencing emulating sword fighting. It involved the use of specially built primer-fired pistols to propel wax bullets. Two versions of the sport were demonstration events at the 1906 Olympics and 1908 Olympics. It was also a popular sport in France.
A duel at the 1908 Olympics.
Portrait shots of Olympic duelists, showing their safety equipment and modified guns.
Paintball is a competitive sport in which players from opposing teams eliminate opponents out of play by hitting them with round, breakable, dye-filled oil and gelatin pellets ("paintballs"), shot from HPA/CO2-powered air guns called paintball markers. It can be played on indoor or outdoor fields scattered with natural or artificial terrain, which players use for tactical cover. Paintball game types vary, but can include capture the flag, elimination, ammunition limits, defending or attacking a particular point or area, or capturing objects of interest hidden in the playing area. Depending on the variant played, games can last from seconds to hours, or even days in scenario play. The game was developed in the 1980s and is now regularly played at a formal sporting level with organized competition involving major tournaments, professional teams and players.
Players next to an inflatable Sup'Air bunker.
View of a course during a speedball game in progress.
Airsoft is a competitive sport similar in concept to paintball, in which participants from opposing teams eliminate opponents by hitting each other with solid round plastic pellets launched from low-powered smoothbore air guns called airsoft guns. It is different to paintball in that airsoft pellets do not visibly mark the targets like paintballs, and thus the sport relies heavily on an honor system where a hit player has the ethical duty to call himself out of play, regardless of whether anyone else sees it happen. Most airsoft guns are also magazine-fed (unlike the commonly top-mounting pellet loader of paintball markers) with mounting platforms compatible with real firearm accessories, and tend to more closely resemble real guns in appearance, making them more popular for military simulation and historical reenactments. The greater toughness of airsoft pellets also allows the use of better powerplants and apparatus such as hop-up device for improved external ballistics, making the gameplay more accurately resemble real gunfights. They are also much cheaper for casual players to participate than paintball.
Airsoft gameplay varies in style and composition just like paintball and is played in both indoor and outdoor courses. Situations on the field frequently involve the use of real-life military tactics to achieve objectives, and it is not uncommon for participants to emulate the uniforms and equipment of real military and police organizations for a sense of realism. Games are normally supervised (and sometimes umpired) by trained on-site administrators, and players' airsoft guns are usually checked through a chronograph to enforce power output restrictions.
There are currently no formal national or international governing bodies for the airsoft sport. Competitive tournaments are usually organized by private clubs or among enthusiasts and professional/semi-professional teams (often referred to as "clans"), with rules and restrictions varying from event to event.
Three airsoft team members defending an area during an indoor CQB game.
From an outdoor airsoft game.
Three airsoft team members during a field game.
Laser tag (despite the name, laser is actually not used due to safety concerns) is a tag game played with infrared light guns and sensors worn on the body of the players. Since its birth in 1979, laser tag has evolved in both indoor and outdoor games, each with gameplay styles such as annihilation, capture the flag, domination, VIP protection, (usually sci-fi) role playing, etc. When compared to paintball and airsoft, laser tag is painless and very safe because it involves no projectile impacts, and indoor games may be considered less physically demanding because most indoor venues prohibit running or roughhousing.
An indoor laser tag competition at Long Beach, California in 2011.
Soldiers equipped with laser tag training equipment
Archery Tag is a form of combat archery sport where participants shoot one another using a bow with arrows with large foam tips. The game's rules closely resemble dodgeball. The game begins with a number of arrows in the center of the arena. At the whistle, players race to collect them, before firing them at one another across the playing field. A player is eliminated if struck by an arrow, and a player can bring an eliminated teammate back into play by catching an arrow. To avoid injury, participants wear protective facemasks and use bows with less than 30 pounds (14 kg) draw weight. It was invented in 2011 by John Jackson of Ashley, Indiana, and experienced a boost in popularity from the Hunger Games books and film series, which feature a bow-wielding protagonist Katniss Everdeen. Jackson staged Archery Tag games at local premieres of the films. By 2014, Jackson had licensed the game to 170 locations, mostly in the United States, but also in Russia, Peru and Saudi Arabia.
A game of archery tag in Toronto
eSports is the competitive playing of video games, often referring to play at the professional level. While the term eSports includes many types of video games unrelated to shooting sports, a major subset of eSports are the shooters, namely first-person shooters and third-person shooters. Matches of these games can take a variety of forms but traditionally take formats similar to paintball, involving teams of players whose objective is to eliminate the opposing team in simulated combat, often while also focusing other key objectives. Major games of these styles currently in professional play include (among others) Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Overwatch, Team Fortress 2, and PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds. Organized play is done both online or in-person. While there has been serious interest to include eSports in the Olympics and similar events, the inclusion of shooters has been less welcomed due to their often violent visual content.
A live professional CS:GO match in 2016.
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