Shooting Events in the 2012 London Summer Olympics

Shooting sports were in the first modern Olympics games and will be back in the 2012 London Summer Olympics as well. The shooting matches will be held at the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich, England between Saturday, July 28 and Monday August 6.

Almost 400 competitors will gather in London, each one seeking to win the Gold medal for his or her country in fifteen separate shooting events involving rifle, pistol and shotgun. This is the first Olympics where electronic targets must be used for both qualification and final rounds.

There are nine men’s events and six women’s events:

Rifle Pistol Shotgun
Men’s Events 50m Rifle 3 Positions 50m Pistol Trap
50m Rifle Prone 25m Rapid Fire Pistol Double Trap
10m Air Rifle 10m Air Pistol Skeet
Women’s Events 50m Rifle 3 Positions 25m Rapid Fire Pistol Women Trap
10m Air Rifle 10m Air Pistol Skeet

Olympic rifle events

There are three men’s events and two women’s events in Olympic Rifle Shooting competitions. In each event, the competition is won by the shooter who reaches the highest aggregate score (qualification + final).

  • 50 meter Rifle 3 Positions: Competitors in these rifle matches shoot a .22 caliber Long Rifle (5.6 millimeters) from three positions — standing, kneeling and prone (laying down) in that order. Men fire 40 shots in each position while women fire 20 in the qualification round. The top eight competitors in each gender class advance to the finals.

    Both men and women use sport rifles in this event. Men’s rifles may weigh as much as 8.0 kilograms (18 pounds), while women's rifles are limited to a maximum weight of 6.5 kilograms (14 pounds).

  • 50 meter Rifle Prone: This men’s-only event also uses a .22 caliber Long Rifle, firing 60 shots from the prone position to qualify. The final consists of ten shots, with a time limit of 45 seconds per shot.

  • 10 meter air rifle: The 10 meter air rifle is shot from a standing position. Both men and women use a 4.5 millimeter (0.177 inches) caliber air rifle with a maximum weight of 5.5 kilograms (12.13 pounds).

    In the qualification round, competitors in the men’s event are allowed 60 competition shots within 105 minutes, while women fire 40 competition shots within 75 minutes. The top eight shooters in each gender class — eight men and eight women — move to the finals where they take another 10 shots.

Olympic pistol shooting events

Forget what you’ve seen on TV where good guy or bad guy holds the pistol in one hand and supports it with the other. Olympic pistol match shooters must shoot one handed. As in the rifle competitions, the winner is determined by the highest aggregate score (qualification + final).

  • 50 meter Pistol: Competitors in this men’s-only event shoot a .22 caliber pistol, using ammunition for a .22 Long Rifle. The pistol is only loaded with one round at a time. Optical and laser sights are not allowed. The course of fire is 60 shots within a maximum time of two hours.

    25 meter Rapid Fire Pistol: The shooter readies by bringing the shooting arm to a 45 degree angle. When the green light appears on the target, the shooter raises his arm and fires five shots. The first time the shooter has 8 seconds, then 6 seconds, and finally 4. A stage consists of two of these series, and a full course of fire is made up of two such stages, totaling 60 shots.

    The top six shooters qualify for a final round of four additional 4-second series. The total maximum score is 600.

  • 10 meter Air Pistol: A 4.5 millimeter (or .177) caliber air gun is used in the qualification round to fire 60 shots within 105 minutes for men, and 40 shots within 75 minutes for women. The top eight shooters advance to the final. The final consists of ten shots with a time limit of 75 seconds per shot.

Olympic trap and skeet shooting

Shotgun matches — skeet, trap and double trap —consume more than 270,000 clay targets hurled into the air in front of the shooters during their quest for the Gold.

  • Trap: Trap shooters fire a shotgun to break a clay disk flung into the air away from the shooter at high speed. In Olympic trap shooting, the distance to the targets and the speed with which they are thrown are both greater than most other trap shooting competitions.

    The course of fire for men is 125 targets in the qualification round for men, while women shoot 75. An additional 25 targets are thrown in the final round for the six best shooters.

  • Double Trap: In double trap, as the name implies, two targets are released simultaneously from the house. The shooter can take one shot at each target. The course of fire in this men’s-only event is 75 doubles in the qualification round. The top six competitors move up to a 25-double final.

  • Skeet: In Olympic skeet, a series of 25 targets are thrown at different heights and in a specific order. Some are launched as singles and some as doubles. Men's qualifications rounds are made up of five of these series, while women's have three. The top six competitors in each gender class shoot an additional series as a final round.

History of men’s and women’s participation in Olympic shooting

Previous to 1968, shooting matches in the Summer Olympic Games were restricted to men only. Beginning in 1968, women shooters were allowed to participate in mixed gender matches at the Olympics.

In the 1992 Barcelona games, China’s Zhang Shan became the first woman to take the Gold, out shooting her male competitors. After those games, the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) changed the rules which eliminated mixed gender matches in favor of separate men’s and women’s events.

The International Sport Shooting Federation is the governing body for the matches, under the authority of the International Olympic Committee.

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