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Last Updated: Wednesday, 31 March 2004, 10:56 GMT 11:56 UK
Beginner's guide to shooting
A competitor takes part in trap shooting
The slightest movement or noise can cost points
Shooting is one of those sports where the difference between winning and losing can be measured in millimetres.

Many of the targets to be shot at are hardly visible to the naked eye, so the smallest movement at the crucial moment can cost vital points.

Stories abound of shooters firing between heartbeats, and many wear stiff, thick jackets - not only to provide support but also to muffle the pulse.

Of the 17 events - 10 for men and seven for women - six are contested with shotguns, five with pistols and six with rifles.


In the trap, double trap and skeet events, competitors stand in shooting stations firing at clay targets which are released upon the call of the shooter. The person who hits the most targets wins.

  • Trap - One of three traps at differing heights and angles fires a target into the air - the shooter does not know from which - and the competitor is allowed two shots to hit it.

  • Double Trap - Two targets are released simultaneously at different heights and angles from two of the three traps. The shooter must fire just one shot at each target.

  • Skeet - The take-off points of the two targets are at different heights and at opposite sides of the range. The competitor shoots from designated points arranged in a semi-circle between the traps. The traps throw out either single or double targets.

    A single target can be thrown from either trap. A double target is when two targets are thrown simultaneously, one from each trap. The shooter can fire just one shot at each target.

Men and women compete in all three shotgun events.


Rifle events are held on shooting ranges where competitors shoot at targets at distances of 10 and 50 metres.

In the 1900 Olympics, live pigeons were used as targets
The running target is a men's event. Shooters fire at a moving target from a distance of 10 metres as it moves across a two-metre opening in front of them. The shooter who hits the most targets wins.

In this discipline, the shooter stands and cannot support his left arm (or right arm if the shooter is left-handed) on his hip or chest.

For all other rifle events in the standing position, the rifle rests against the shoulder and the left arm can be supported on the chest or hip.

There are also men's and women's 10m events, a 50m event for men in the prone position, and a 50m three-position event for men and women.


Pistol shooters aim at targets from distances of 10, 25 and 50 metres.

Men compete in the 10m air pistol, 25m rapid fire pistol and 50m pistol - women in the 10m air pistol and 25m pistol.

All the targets have 10 concentric rings with different points values, the inner ring being the bullseye and normally worth 10 points. The shooter with the most points at the end wins.

Rules vary when a shot breaks the line between two rings.

The higher score is generally awarded, though in air rifle competitions the 10 ring, or the bullseye, must be shot out completely to score a perfect 10.

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