Shooting as a sport demonstrates the accuracy, control, and speed of the shooter in aiming at targets using guns like pistols and rifles. Shooting sports started more than 500 years ago in European countries. It became popular in the US during the 1950s when a national association for this sport was created. Now, this sport is well-known and enjoyed worldwide.
There are different categories depending on the guns used and the format of the competitions. There are three major guns that are widely used in competition: rifles, pistols, and shotguns.
Rifles are shoulder firearms with long barrels and rifled bores. They are commonly long and require two-hand hold. Popular shooting games using this type of gun are four position small bore, gallery riffle shooting, benchrest shooting, high power rifle (aka Across the Course), biathlon (combination of shooting and cross country skiing), fullbore target shooting (shooting ranges are at 300- 1200 meters), field target (more popular in UK) and many more.
Pistols (or handguns) are smaller guns, used in shorter ranges and have lesser accuracy compared to rifles. Intended for one hand use only. Popular shooting games include modern pentathlon wherein it involves timed shooting with an air pistol. Then the silhouette shooting. The goal is to hit all metallic targets placed at different distances. It is scored on how many targets are hit.
Shotguns are firearms that are doubled barreled smoothbore shoulder weapon. They are very similar to rifles. More often, they are for pump-action or single-shot-and-reload actions. Cowboy shooting and practical shooting generally uses shotgun. They are more popular in countries where handguns are banned.
Action shooting involves measuring the speed of how long a shooter can take to hot one or more targets. Targets can either be moving or stationary. Scoring can be based on accuracy of the hot or falling targets.
Rifle Shooting Sports
- Benchrest Shooting - a shooting sport where the participant shoots with a rifle at the bench.
- Fullbore Target Rifle Shooting - using rifles, shooters hit the paper targets in prone position.
- High Power Rifle - shooting competition using rifles such as the service rifle.
- Popinjay - a shooting sport with either bows or rifles, in which the bird-like target is suspended from a pole.
Shotgun Shooting Sports
- Clay pigeon shooting - the shooters try to shoot flying targets like clay pigeons with a shotgun.
- Skeet Shooting - targets are thrown in singles and doubles from two traps situated 40m apart.
- Trap Shooting - 1 or 2 targets are thrown away from traps situated 15m in front of the shooter.
- Sporting Clays - shooters move about a course, attempting to hit varying targets projected at different angles, speed, elevation, and distances.
Pistol Shooting Sports
- Practical Shooting - a dynamic shooting sport using handguns and moving and shooting over obstacles.
- Metallic Silhouette Shooting - players compete to test their skills by shooting at silhouette metal targets.
- Cowboy Mounted Shooting - involves shooting at targets while riding a horse, using old western style single-action revolvers.
General and other Shooting Sports
- Target Shooting - guns of any type used for aiming at a target.
- Field Target - an outdoor air gun discipline.
- Cowboy Action Shooting - involves shooting targets with a variety of guns that were typical of the late 19th century.
- Skirmish — a general term for sports in which participants replicate firearm warfare.
- Airsoft — a skirmish sport in which participants eliminate opponents by hitting them with spherical non-metallic pellets from replica firearms.
- Laser Tag — a skirmish sport in which players attempt to score points by tagging targets, typically with a hand-held infrared-emitting targeting device.
- Paintball — a skirmish sport in which players compete to eliminate opponents by tagging them with capsules containing water soluble dye propelled from paintball guns.
Sports Involving Shooting
- Biathlon - a combination of cross-country skiing and rifle shooting.
- Modern Pentathlon — an event in the Olympics that comprises five events: fencing, 200m freestyle swimming, show jumping, and a combined event of pistol shooting and 3200m cross country run.
- Underwater Target Shooting — competitors free dive in a swimming pool, using spearguns to fire at targets.
- Archery — competitive archery involves shooting arrows at a target for accuracy from a set distance or distances.