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.

.22 Target Pistol Shooting Events of the 1950s

In the 1950s, .22 caliber target pistol shooting events were popular and highly competitive, reflecting the growing interest in precision marksmanship and organized shooting sports. Here’s an overview of some key aspects of these events during that era:

Types of Events

Bullseye (Conventional Pistol) Shooting

  • Format: Bullseye shooting, also known as conventional pistol shooting, was the predominant form of competition. It typically involved shooting at circular targets at various distances, often 50 feet, 25 yards, and 50 yards.
  • Courses of Fire: Matches usually included the Slow Fire, Timed Fire, and Rapid Fire courses. The Slow Fire course required 10 shots in 10 minutes. Timed Fire involved 5 shots in 20 seconds, and Rapid Fire required 5 shots in 10 seconds.
  • Three-Gun Aggregate: Competitors often shot in three stages using three types of pistols: a .22 caliber rimfire pistol, a centerfire pistol, and a .45 caliber pistol. The .22 rimfire stage was particularly popular due to the low recoil and affordability of ammunition.

International Pistol Shooting

  • Olympic Events: The 1950s also saw .22 caliber pistols being used in international competitions, including the Olympics. The Free Pistol event, shot with .22 caliber pistols at 50 meters, was a prestigious competition.
  • Standard Pistol: Another international event was the Standard Pistol match, which included a course of fire with elements of precision and timed shooting.

Notable Competitions and Championships

  • National Matches at Camp Perry: The National Matches held at Camp Perry, Ohio, were a significant venue for competitive shooting. The matches attracted top shooters from across the United States and included .22 caliber pistol events.
  • International Shooting Union (ISU) Competitions: The ISU, now known as the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF), organized various international competitions that included .22 caliber events, promoting standardized rules and fostering international competition.

Equipment and Firearms

  • Popular Pistols:
    • Colt Match Target: A favored choice for many competitive shooters due to its accuracy and balance.
    • High Standard Supermatic: Known for its reliability and precision, the Supermatic series was widely used in competitions.
    • Smith & Wesson Model 41: Introduced in 1957, it quickly gained popularity for its superb trigger and accuracy.
  • Customizations: Competitive shooters often customized their pistols with target grips, adjustable sights, and other modifications to enhance performance.

Prominent Shooters

  • William McMillan: An accomplished shooter who won gold in the Rapid Fire Pistol event at the 1960 Olympics. He also competed successfully in .22 caliber events in the 1950s.
  • Huelet Benner: A dominant figure in bullseye shooting during the 1950s, Benner won multiple national championships and was known for his skill with the .22 caliber pistol.

Evolution and Impact

The 1950s were a formative decade for .22 caliber target pistol shooting, setting standards and practices that would influence the sport for years to come. The popularity of these events contributed to advancements in firearm technology and the establishment of a competitive shooting culture that emphasized precision and skill.

The legacy of 1950s .22 caliber target pistol competitions is still evident today, as many of the firearms, techniques, and competition formats from that era continue to be valued and utilized in modern shooting sports.

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