Gun shooting sports have evolved from its very first version when Greeks held contests using the bow and arrow to shoot clay pigeons above tall poles in order to honor their gods. Persians, Indians, Celts, Slavs and Germans held the same competitions. When the tenth century arrived shooting endeavours transformed into social and recreational sports.
The Evolution of Shooting Sports
Originating from ancient times of bronze weapons and string-tension projectiles, the worldwide use of gunpowder during the industrial age have paved the way for the 10th century musket. Tracing back to the roots of recreational shooting, its progenitor known as William Tell was instructed by a tyrannical Austrian bailiff to use a crossbow and shoot an apple on top of his son’s head. William Tell became a Swiss hero after successfully shooting the apple.
From the 13th and 14th century wheel lock muskets, rifled-barrels were prevalent in most shooting competitions held in the 16th century. Rifles were then innovated to build upon the accuracy of smooth bore muskets. Benjamin Robbins, an English 18th century mathematician realized that an elongated bullet retained the kinetic energy and momentum of a musket ball while able to easily slice through the air. Early club shooting matches were held for shooters to aim at elaborately painted targets during New Year’s eve and many religious holidays.
The invention of semi-automatic rifles during the Second World War gave civilian shooters a new generation of accurate and reliable shooting platforms. One notable rifle is the M1 Garand that is a favorite between military units and future civilian competitors for its durability and precision. It is one of the primary weapons chosen to be fielded by the United States’ Civilian Marksmanship program which was launched to prepare a number of interested individuals in handling military grade weaponry.
Swiss and German makers in the American state of Pennsylvania invented flintlock rifles during the 18th century and were available for American frontiersmen in 1710. The first shooting competitions were called “turkey shoots” and “rifle frolics” where people shot at knots and tree spots marked with an “x” as their targets. The prizes for these competitions were turkey, beef, goods, and other items of significant value. The first World Shooting Championships were initiated in 1897 in Lyon, France. In 1978, the US Olympic Committee assigned the NRA to govern all olympic style shooting in the United States.
Different Precision Shooting Sports Using Rifles
Competitive shooting is still held in multiple countries every year. The fascination of civilians and locals with the proper field application and use of historic and modern rifle systems gave way to different shooting competitions. These events encouraged athletes and civilians to train independently and be proficient with the firing of various rifle systems.
- Bullseye Shooting with Rifles
Bullseye shooting is prevalent in the United States as is known as four position small bore competition. The event is known to utilize air rifles which rely on an integrated air canister for projectile propulsion. Bullseye shooting consists of two Olympic shooting events known as the 10 meter and 50 meter air rifle positions where competitors are challenged to shoot in long ranges of 10, 50, and 300 meters.
- Field Shooting
Field shooting encompasses all the competitive rifle shooting held in large areas of land. These events use ammunition ranging from the .22 LR cartridge at 100 meters, intermediate grade such as 6.5x55mm, .30-06 Springfield, .308 Winchester at distances of 100 to 650 meters. Precision rifle competitions are also held with the use of intermediate rifle cartridges with distances of 10 to 1000 meters. Targets which are located beyond the 300 meter mark can be classified as the long range shooting discipline.
- Rapid Fire Rifle Match
The Rapid Fire Rifle match still uses intermediate rifle cartridges and precise rifle platforms. The Rapid Fire Rifle Match is a sped up iteration of the ISSF 300 meter Standard Rifle Competition. The event utilizes variable rapid-fire rifle systems to shoot at targets installed at 155 meters and targets with a maximum distance of 221 meters.
The modern competitive shooting with different weapon systems, ammunition types, and rifle cartridges can be traced back into ancient times when the Greeks held competitions for people to shoot at clay targets above tall poles. The evolution of rifles from the first versions of the musket enabled people to shoot at targets at various distances. Competitive shooting is now hosted by different countries worldwide to present citizens the opportunity to hone their marksmanship skills and overall preparedness in handling firearms.