Shooting Events

30 August 2012   |   by Colin Smith   |   Library

Shooting Events


A shooting event or shooting competition generally refers to a sanctioned and organized event in which sport shooters participate in target shooting. They come in many different varieties, covering a wide array of specific activities. Shooting sports most commonly test precision and accuracy of firing. There are a wide range of competitions, varying by the kind of target, the kind of firearm, age group and level of experience and there are organized competitions that are suited for both novice sportsmen and experts. If you have an interest in getting involved, there is more opportunity than ever to hone your skills in a safe and sporting environment.


For sport and recreational firearms enthusiasts, shooting events and competitions can be a productive and fun way to hone your skills, whether shooting targets, trap or skeet. There are a number of organizations that do a fantastic job of not only facilitating local, regional and national competitions, but also of providing comprehensive information on safety and protocol so that every sport shooter can enjoy recreational and competitive shooting with a full understanding of how to keep themselves and others safe. You can find clubs that specialize in all different kinds of shooting and get to know fellow sportsmen who share your interest. There are rifle and pistol competitions, crossbow competitions, scholastic clay target programs for junior sportsmen, and even competitions for the experienced practitioner that involve heavier and more complex firearms. USA Shooting, the IPSC, USPSA and the NRA all provide resources on how to safely get involved with various shooting competitions to suit your style of recreational sport shooting.

2023 Standard Catalog of Firearms
2023 Standard Catalog of Firearms

Here are some of the most common categories of shooting competitions:

  • - Bullseye Shooting (whether with handguns, rifles or bows)
  • - Field Shooting
  • - Clay Target Shooting
  • - Running Target
  • - Moving Target
  • - Disappearing Target
  • - Rapid Fire (with handguns or rifles)
  • - Practical Shooting
  • - Long Range
  • - And more…


You can go all the way back to the 1896 Olympics, where five distinct shooting competitions took place. But it was actually centuries before these first officially sanctioned Olympic competitions when sport shooting was already taking hold. Many historians place the first shooting competitions somewhere around the 10th century, when marksmanship with a crossbow and arrow was coming to be of much greater social relevance.

It is said that the first actual sport shooting clubs were organized in the 13th or 14th century in Germany. These provide the first evidence of organized, one-shot, public matches in which prizes were awarded. Public gatherings were centered around these competitions and victors were hailed and celebrated for their skill and proficiency.

The first World Shooting Championships followed shortly on the heels of the 1896 Olympic Games, debuting the next year in 1897. It may be somewhat hard to believe, but it wasn’t until 1979 that the United States sanctioned a year-round shooting team. From this point, the sport has grown in popularity and now includes dozens of athletes competing in a range of events.

Sport shooting has certainly evolved over the centuries. The Olympics now include upward of 15 disparate events in sport shooting for rifles, pistols and shotguns.

My favorite 1950s Target Revolver
signature Colin Smith GUNCC Guest Writer
shooting event