This discipline first made its debut at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games. It is becoming increasingly popular in Canada as the Government imposes more and more regulations on other firearms. It is for this same reason that the European countries rank this as their most popular shooting sport.
The skills required for this sport are so close to those of small-bore and full-bore shooting that many athletes use the Air Rifle as an indoor winter sport to practice for the outdoor seasons. Air Rifle is shot at 10 meters distance (33 Ft.) using a target with a 10 ring of 0.4 mm ( approximately the diameter of a pin head) and the 9 ring is just slightly larger than the .177" diameter of the pellet. Because the target is so small, usually only 1 shot is fired at a target during a competition.
The women shoot 40 shots for total possible 400 points in 75 Minutes during competitions and the men shoot 60 shots for a 600 point possible score in 1 Hour and 45 Minutes. The World record for women is now 400 / 400 (new record set in April 2002 at the Sydney World Cup ) and is 600 / 600 for men. The B.C. Provincial record is 592/600 and 396/400 - both held by women shooters.
At the end of a regular match a "Finals" is shot. In the final, each of the eight finalists ( top 8 in the open event) fire a series of up to 20 shots scoring shots. Each shot is scored and announced to the spectators and athletes on the line as the match progresses. At certain intervals, competitors are eliminated until the last two standing compete for the Gold and Silver medals in a final 3 shot match.
The points achieved are subdivided into decimal tenths during the Finals. For example, a shot that hits directly in the center of the ten ring counts as a 10.9, whereas a shot just barely touching the ten ring counts as 10.0. The results from the main match and the final are not added together but the finals determine an overall match winner. This adds extra excitement ( stress?) to the competition for both the athlete and the spectators.
In Canada we have 2 major Air Gun shoots in Richmond each year and the Canadian Grand Prix Air Gun Championships, usually held in eastern Canada each year. This event is shot in May and is now a world ranked Grand Prix match with over 300 competitors taking part from all over the world. B.C. shooters regularly take part in these competitions along with both the Provincial and National Smallbore Championships which also hosts a full Air Gun competition each year.
If you visit most gun clubs today, you will find a group shooting air rifle at least 1 night a week. Check with your local club and come out to give it a try. ( More Information )