During the London 2012 Games, nearly 400 competitors are shooting for gold across 15 dramatic events. The Royal Artillery Barracks provides a fitting location for Shooting with a heritage dating back to 1716 when a Royal Warrant authorized the formation of two artillery companies.
Although shooting competition dates back several centuries, its beginnings in Olympic form are much younger. Olympic shooting was part of the first modern Olympic games in 1896, and although the program's size has grown and receded since then, its enduring presence clearly illustrates an appreciation of the importance of precision shooting in a world that's sometimes dominated by "spray and pray" firepower (meaning when a shooter flings out multitudes of bullets, and prays he hits his target).
With the exceptions of the St Louis1904 and Amsterdam 1928 Games, Shooting has featured on every Olympic programme. Women’s events were added to the schedule at Los Angeles 1984.
Men and women have only been competing in separate events since 1996. For 28 years between 1968 and 1996, they competed alongside each other. From just three events in 1896, it has grown to a massive 15 events at London 2012, where 390 athletes from 103 countries will take part.
Having been practised competitively for centuries, the tense and demanding sport of Shooting is popular all over the world.
From the beginning, rifle and pistol shooting was all about hitting the target as close to center as possible, as many times as possible within the maximum allowable shots. In shotgun events, shooters try to break all the moving clay targets that are thrown into the air. Those are the basics, and the basics haven't changed
Mostly, what has changed is the equipment used and the clothing worn, along with the participation of women and the appearance of airguns on the Olympic shooting scene. Rules have changed and will likely continue to do so as time goes by.
Olympic Shooting events fall into three disciplines: Rifle, Pistol, and Shotgun events. In Rifle and Pistol events, competitors aim at a 10-ring target from a set distance (10m, 25m or 50m). Depending on the event, athletes are required to shoot from standing, kneeling or prone (lying down) positions.