What is Shooting?

In the sport of shooting, the competitors-or "marksmen"-stand or sit in a prone position and shoot at targets of specified distances. In shotgun competitions, marksmen shoot at clay pigeons that are launched into the air by traps. This is different from pistol and rifle events, in which targets are stationary. These targets are usually round, layered circles called bullseyes.

There are also running target events, which have moving bullseyes.


Shooting was historically used exclusively for hunting purposes but developed into a competitive sport around the 1500s and 1600s in Europe. Over time it gained popularity and organization but remains a fringe sport in many places. Shooting is an Olympic sport, with 15 total shooting events being held across both gender classifications.

Types of Competitions

In its modern practice, competitive shooting is classified by the type of gun used. There are separate competitions for pistol, rifle, and shotgun events. Shooting competitions may be either individual or team-based. The basic aim of shooting is to see who can hit a target more accurately and consistently.


Events are also classified by the distances between the shooters and targets. The main distances are from 10, 25, 50, and 300 meters for rifle, pistol, and running target competitions. Shotgun competitions are not measured because the clay pigeons are launched and moving.


Marksmen earn points for hitting targets more accurately, and these points are totaled to determine the individual or team winner of an event. The speed of the shooter is not a factor, and the time limit for each shot is very long so that shooters have more control over their process and precision. Shotgun events, however, inherently involve speed because the pigeons are only in the air for so long. Therefore, they use binary "hit or miss" scoring.

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