A centuries-old practice, the sport of shooting originated in Europe – in countries such as Germany, there are clubs that are more than 500 years old. The sport’s popularity grew in English-speaking countries with the creation of shooting organisations in England in 1859 and the United States in 1871.
Baron de Coubertin, the founder of the Games of the Modern Era, was enthusiastic to have shooting in the Olympic programme. As a French pistol champion, he included the sport in the first edition, at the Athens 1896 Games.
In 1907, the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) was founded. Over the years, the sport has made significant changes in order to gain popularity: events have kept up with technological evolutions in firearms, and the targets have taken on a circular shape to avoid associations with animals or people.
Shooting has only been excluded from two editions of the Games. The first time was in 1904, in St. Louis, USA, and the second time was in 1928, in Amsterdam, due to a conflict between the ISSF and the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which did not agree to some of the sports competitions awarding cash prizes, which would characterise professionalism.
The discipline rejoined the Olympic programme at the 1932 Games in Berlin, and women first participated in 1968 in Mexico City, in mixed events, which were repeated until the 1980 edition in Moscow. The first women-only events took place in 1984 in Los Angeles.
Three types of guns are used at the Olympic Games. In rifle and pistol events, competitors have to hit a 10-ring target from a distance of 10, 25 or 50 metres. Depending on the event, competitors need to shoot while standing up, on their knees or lying down. In shotgun events, participants shoot at mobile targets, launched upwards and to the front.
The rules are different for each event, including in terms of distance, the type of target, the target’s position, the number of shots and the time each participant has to shoot. Competitions are divided into classification and final stages, and the winner is the person who scores the most points.