From just five shooting events at the inaugural 1896 Olympic Games to 15 today, the sport has grown steadily alongside the advance in firearms technology.
Shooting as a sport has been practised for hundreds of years in European countries, with some German shooting clubs dating back more than 500 years. The popularity of the sport grew in English-speaking countries with the formation of the National Rifle Association in 1959, which originally met in Wimbledon, London, and the National Rifle Association (USA) in 1871.
There are 15 events in the Olympic programme, divided into three different groups: rifle, pistol and shotgun. The rifle and pistol competitions are held on shooting ranges, where marksmen aim at targets at distances of 10, 25 and 50 metres. In the shotgun event, competitors shoot at clay targets propelled at a series of different directions and angles.
Heartbeats and bullseyes
Marksmen need to be as steady as possible to be accurate. In order to achieve this, they use relaxation techniques to drop their heartbeat to half its normal rate, fire between heartbeats and use blinkers to hit a bullseye, which appears as no more than a tiny dot in the distance.
As an example of overcoming adversity, Karoly Takacs has few peers. He was part of Hungary’s world champion pistol-shooting team in 1938, when an army grenade exploded, crippling his right hand. Ten years later, having taught himself to shoot with his left, he won two gold medals in the rapid-fire class.More