shooting, firing with rifle, shotgun, pistol, or revolver at stationary or moving targets. The term shooting is also used in Great Britain to mean small-game hunting.
In the 19th cent. the sport of rifle shooting became increasingly popular in England and in the United States, where the National Rifle Association (NRA) was formed (1871) to standardize the rules for rifle marksmanship. Matches were arranged and trophies offered. Pistol and revolver events were added in 1900. Shooting events have been included in the Olympic games since 1896; separate men's and women's events were established in 1984.
Among the Olympic events are pistol shooting at 50 m (164 ft), rifle shooting at 300 m (984 ft), trapshooting and skeet, and small-bore rifle shooting. NRA-sponsored tournaments are divided into sections for small-bore rifles, high-power rifles, pistols, and revolvers. In small-bore rifle shooting the targets range in distance from 50 ft to 200 yd (15.24–182.88 m), and in pistol and revolver shooting from 50 ft to 50 yd (15.24–45.72 m). For long-range rifle marksmanship, targets from 200 to 1,000 yd (182.88–914.4 m) are used. A shooting target is made of black-on-white cardboard and is composed of a bullseye (black) and several concentric circles. Competitors shoot from four positions with the rifle—prone, sitting, kneeling, and standing. Matches in which competing teams exchange scores by telegraphic and postal facilities are common.
Trapshooting with shotguns began in England in the 19th cent. To simulate the flight of game birds, "clay pigeons" (originally made of clay but now molded of silt and pitch in the shape of saucers) are hurled from a mechanical contrivance (the trap). The distance between the shooter and the target varies from 16 to 25 yd (14.63–22.86 m); a 12-gauge gun is preferred. Trapshooting was adopted in the United States in the late 19th cent., and in 1900 the American Trapshooting Association was organized. Annual championship matches are held at Vandalia, Ohio.
Skeet, in its early years called "round the clock" shooting, was devised (1910) by C. E. Davies of Andover, Mass. The name, chosen in a magazine contest, is an old Scandinavian form of the word shoot. Two trapshooting devices hurl "pigeons" at and over each other from 40 yd (36.58 m) apart. The marksman shoots at the moving target from different stations on the perimeter of a semicircle connecting the traps. Guns used are 12-, 16-, 20-, and 28-gauge and .410 bore. In skeet matches 25 "pigeons" are thrown, of which 8 are hurled in pairs.
See J. Lugs, A History of Shooting (1968); S. Slahor et al., Shooting Guide for Beginners (1986); W. S. Jarrett, ed., Shooter's Bible (1989).