A Complete Guide to Shooting

Have you ever liked action movies, seen the actors jump off the bridge, take a shot far away and kill the villain? It might seem too easy, but shooting isn’t a piece of cake!

While it doesn’t require as much physical strength or athleticism as other sports, shooting is definitely one of the most difficult sports played around the world. It requires strength of mind, incredible coordination, agility, focus and motivation.

Games like Tennis and Squash or Soccer and Cricket have hundreds and millions of players, practicing every day, but shooting as a sport is like a shadow, lurking around, where players don’t seem to take the centre-stage unless there’s an upcoming Olympic tournament.

However, every four years of so, the game emerges from the shadows and the top stars aim for their rightful place, fighting for the medals. And Indian players, like Abhinav Bindra, Gagan Narang and Anjali Bhagwat are the finest examples of the same!


Aiming For the Stars- Overview of Shooting

Shooting as a sport has achieved immense popularity in India. The game has been played for over a century and its history can be originated to British rule in the country.

Shooting, for a lot of people is a nerve-wrecking sport. It doesn’t involve as much physical strength or running. But it uses mind-function with hand-eye coordination. It is a sport that requires immense skill, inspiration and intense testing of one’s nerves. It tests mental strength and effective fine motor skills as well. That’s the reason why people of all ages can compete in this game at a global level. In fact, the oldest gold medallist in Olympic history comes from shooting.

As a competitive sport, shooting requires proficiency in terms of accuracy and speed. The sport makes safe use of firearms, including rifle, pistol and shotgun. However, it may also use archery and crossbow, which are a different shooting sport altogether.

A major sport at Summer Olympics, shooting has been played since the 1896 Summer Olympics. Over 15 events are played at the Olympics, including air pistol, skeet, trap, and rifle prone and rapid fire pistol events. International Shooting Sport Federation is the governing body for all shooting events, regulating the rules, qualifications and international competitions. In India, the governing body is National Rifle Association of India.

The History of Shooting as a Sport

The game of shooting has evolved over the centuries. Let’s check out its development.

  • Shooting as a sport is designed as an exercise in marksmanship. While modern shooting is associated with rifles, pistols and shotguns, earlier versions included crossbows and arrows.
  • Before the advent of firearms in the 13th century, skills in archery were tested. The idea was to shoot targets for accuracy from a particular distance or set of distances. This practice was quite common during the medieval years, especially in India. Modern competitive archery is now governed by World Archery Federation. However, other organizations exist as well.
  • It is believed that the earliest shooting matches began in Bavaria in 1477. The shooters in this case used matchlocks and competed from 200 meters. Similar events have been depicted in 1504 Swiss Painting.
  • German museums indicate that wooden targets for firearm shooting were used as early as 1540. Other places like Russia saw rise of shooting ranges and consequently shooting events in 1730s. At the American frontier, these games were introduced in 1750s.
  • Target rifle shooting has been a popular sport before 1800s in Britain. Incidentally, books on rifle shooting were written in the country. Henry Beuafoy published the first book about the game in 1808.
  • The rising popularity of shooting led to the first World Shooting Championship in 1897, when 300-meter rifle matches where played to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Lyon, France’s Shooting Club.
  • As a sport, it was introduced in the first Olympic Games, 1896. The games, which were played in Athens had several competitions. In Paris games, 1900, live pigeons were introduced. However, this was met with criticism from different societies and hence, pigeons were replaced with clay targets thereafter.
  • This was also the period when shooting in India actually started. It was initially popularized by the Indians, who worked as officers in the British Army. The easy access to firearms and the need to practice skills at weapons led to the beginning of semi-formal shooting tournaments. However, no championships were organized, as the country was still under British siege.
  • 1907 was the year when International Shooting Sport Federation came into existence. Due to the nature of the game, the board introduced different changes, and sought standardization to promote different types of shooting events.
  • India began participating in shooting events formally once National Rifle Association of India was established. The governing body was formed in 1951 to promote the sport. The first speaker of Lok Sabha, Shri G.V. Mavlankar was the founder of this organization.
  • Since the establishment of a governing body, shooting has become an important sport for India. It is considered crucial for Olympics, where Indian teams and individual players have won several metals. Over the years, India has accumulated 26 medals, including a gold medal by Abhinav Bindra.
  • 2008 and 2012 have been the best years for Indians in Olympics Shooting Events. It is during this period that India won individual gold medals, silvers and bronze in different tournaments.
  • Olympics Shooting is a major event, which has 15 shooting categories for men and women. In India, National Shooting Championship Competition is held annually to give young talent an opportunity for showcasing their skill and grabbing a spot in international games.
  • Now, Indian team is extensively preparing for 2016 Rio De Janeiro Olympics.


Shooting the Right Way: Rules

Since a number of events are played in Shooting, the general rules regarding limits, meters or the target may differ. Some basic rules are applied to every single game. These rules are mentioned below.

  • Tie break procedures are followed throughout the event. In qualification rounds of rifle and pistol events, ties are broken by comparing inner tens or the smaller rings where shooters scored throughout the series. If no results are achieved, then a shoot-off is done to decide the finalists.
  • For shotgun and 25m rapid fire pistol events, shoots-offs are the only way to break ties and decide who would participate in the finals. The same procedure may be used during the final matches to break any ties.
  • Penalties and disqualifications are a part of the game. Shooter may make a score protest about the value of a shot. But if the same is denied, a two-point penalty would be placed on the shooter. The protests, if any are resolved using accredited techniques by the Classification Jury.
  • There are other types of penalties that may be incurred if any rules of ISSF are broken. These penalties can be given for cross-fired shots and stiff clothing, failure of pistol or failure of rifle as per the rules.
  • The official results for any of the events cannot be published until all problems are results, if any. Participants can file protest or appeals during the period specified by the ISSF rules.
  • There’s a provision for establishing Olympic records during the event. These records can be established for individual men-women events or any team events. For records, individuals have to beat the previous score, board tally or the number of medals during the qualifications, semi-final or final event.

Know these aspects before you start practicing

Participation in Olympic shooting is not guaranteed. Therefore, national shooting federations from all nations, including India must earn ‘Quota Places.’ These quota places are designed due to limited number of events and limited number of sets for participation. Competition for quota places usually starts 2 years before the actual Olympic Games.

  • The player needs NOC or No Objection Certificate before attempting to earn Quota Place.
  • Quota Places are awarded to players or athletes that win ISSF World Cups or have been placed in World Championships or Continental Championships. The continental championships are held in Asia, America, Oceania, Europe and Africa. The place must be earned in three years preceding the event.
  • Quota place guarantees that any participant from the given country, and not just the athlete could compete in the game. Therefore, if the athlete doesn’t participate, anyone else from the country can. However, they have to be selected by the concerned committee or governing body.
  • Maximum number of qualified athletes are 28 and maximum qualification per event is 2 athletes. For Trap and Skeet Events for women, qualification is limited to 1 athlete.
  • Unused quota places can be re-allotted.

Shooting Events and Specifications


  • Events in shooting are divided in men, women and team categories.
  • Only athletes who obtained Minimum Qualification Score can enter one or more events. The scores are determined by ISSF.
  • Current events includeAir Pistol, Air Rifle, Double Trap, Rapid Fire Pistol, Pistol, Rifle Prone, Skeet, Trap and Rifle Three Positions.
  • Specification for rifle events are- 50m rifle 3 positions, 10 m air rifle, 50m rifle prone.
  • Specifications for pistol events- 50m pistol, 25m rapid fire pistol, 10m air pistol. The last two are for women participants as well.
  • Specifications for shotgun evens- trap, double trap and skeet. Women can participate in trap and skeet events.
  • The competitions consist of qualification and final round. Shots are fired at 10 ring target during qualifications.
  • 8 shooters qualify to the final round. Final score and qualification score are added to determine final rankings.


Organizations that govern shooting

Since shooting can be a dangerous sport, several organizations have been set up to promote safety and norms for the game.

International Shooting Sport Federation

The International Shooting Sport Federation or ISSF is the international governing body of Olympic shooting events. The federation takes care of rifle, pistol and shotgun disciplines. It also organizes World Championships with over 55 events for participants. The governing body, founded in 1907 is headquartered in Munich, Germany and follows a list of activities, including regulation of sports, organizing non-Olympic competitions and ensuring rule enforcement.

The organization was formed by the representatives of Austria, France, Belgium, Greece, Italy and Netherlands’ shooting federations. Now, the federation’s affiliates include 150 national shooting federations, including National Rifle Association of India.  Former member of Mexico’s shooting team and a World Champion, Mr. Olegario Vazquez Rana is the President of the organization.

Apart from organizing world events, ISSF organizes regional championships as well.

National Rifle Association of India

Affiliated with the Indian Olympic Association and International Shooting Sport Federation, National Rifle Association of India or NRAI is the governing body of shooting in India. The organization was founded in 1951 with the endeavour to promote and popularize the sport in the country; Led by Shri. Raninder Singh, the NRAI holds a number of national level competitions.

Participating Championships

If you are a shooter and wish to participate in events, these are the championships you should prepare for.


ISSF World Cup

Introduced by International Shooting Sport Federation in 1986, ISSF serves as the qualification system for Olympic shooting competitions. The World Cup is carried out in the style of Olympic shooting events. Four competitions are held each year, and World cup finals are mostly held in Munich. However, they can be held at Milan, Buenos Aires and Seoul as well.

Olympic Shooting Events

One of the most widely televised sports events, Olympics have a shooting category and include 15 games for men and women. The shooting events in Olympics have been held since 1896. The events include rifle, pistol and shotgun shooting. Since a few countries can participate, individuals have to compete in World Cup and Regional Championships to get their country a place.


National Shooting Championship Competitions

To select participants for Olympics, Asian and Commonwealth Games, NRAI conducts NSCC annually to promote the sports in the country. Apart from crowing national competitors, the competition serves as a qualifying round for World Championships and subsequently Olympics and other international games.

Kumar Surendra Singh Memorial Shooting Championship

This is yet another annual shooting event that’s aimed at popularizing the games among masses. Although the tournaments held here aren’t as tough and competitive as the NSCC, they are still quite crucial in selecting the best talents in shooting from the country.

Shooters Who Have Carved a Niche

These are the professional shooters who have inspired India.

Abhinav Bindra:

3- Shooting

World Olympic Champion, Abhinav Bindra is arguably India’s best Shooting Athlete. The player, born on 28th September 1982 is well known for competing in the 10m air rifle and other rifle events. He is the first Indian to win an individual goal medal at Olympic Games, winning 10m rifle event in 2008 Beijing Olympics. Bindra has won gold in 2014 Olympic Games at Glasgow. Apart from these events, the player has also accomplished feat after winning ISSF World Championships. Abhinav Bindra is a part of GoSports Foundation, under which he provides talented shooters a chance to compete and develop their skills.

Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore: India’s Union Minister under BJP government, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore is also a distinguished name in the International shooting arena. Lieutenant-Colonel Rathore has accomplished several feats and rose to fame after winning a silver medal in Double Trap at 2004 Olympics at Athens. He is also the first Indian athlete to win silver for India in Olympics. A graduate from National Defence Academy, Rathore has served Indian Army, won golds in Commonwealth Games for years and achieved success in his first Lok Sabha Election, 2014. Currently he handles Ministry of Information and Broadcasting under the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.


Gagan Narang: One of the leading shooting athletes in India, Gagan Narang has bought laurels for the country by winning gold in 2006 Melbourne games, not once but four times. He is also a gold medallist at 2010 Commonwealth Games and has won several medals in Asian Games. Narang won a bronze in 2012 London Olympics. He majorly plays in 10m air rifle, 10 m air rifle in pairs and 50m rifle 3 positions. Narang holds a world record in 10m air rifle, scoring 600 points in the qualification round.

Anjali Bhagwat:


A professional Indian Shooter, Bhagwat was the World Number One in 10m Air Rifle in 2002. She is also one of the World Champions in ISSF tournaments. The leading lady is the only Indian to win ISSF Champions’ Award for Air Rifle men and women mixed event in 2002. Over the years, Anjali has won over 30 gold medals, 23 silver and 7 bronze medals for the country. The competitor for India is also the winner of ISSF Champion of Champions Award.

Shooting is a dangerous, yet extremely thrilling sport! If you have a story to tell, an experience with this sport that you wish to share, or if you are interested in getting in touch with some of our experts on Shooting, then leave a comment below, and the YoGems team will be more than happy to get in touch with you!



Shivangi Gupta is a Content Writer Expert at YoGems. With years of experience in writing blogs, articles and guides, she writes about every sport. Also, she is good at sports and expert in shooting and won numerable awards at various events. She started receiving shooting training under her father at the age of 6. To get updated with her posts, stay tuned to the website.