History of shooting
The notion of marksmanship dates back to ancient civilizations, when competitors would engage in spear-throwing contests to improve hunting skills. Shooting contests emerged during the 13th and 14th centuries as the first shooting clubs were formed in German-speaking countries. Bows and wheel-lock muskets were shot from the standing position at first, and by the 16th century, public matches showcased firearms with rifled barrels.
Shooting matches and festivals flourished in the 17th and 18th centuries, spreading from Europe to Colonial American in the early 18th century. In the 1790s, Americans developed the match rifles with long barrel and double-set trigger mechanisms. Formal match shooting emerged in 1825, and trapshooting contests followed five years later. Around the same time, competitors began to organize national federations.
The first major international shooting competition was the 1896 Athens Games. Of the nine sports on the 1896 Olympic program, shooting had the most competitors. The first world championships were held a year later, in France.
Shooting made its Olympic debut at the first Games in 1896. Since then, it has appeared every time except for 1904 in St. Louis and 1928 in Amsterdam. The first women competed in shooting in 1968 in Mexico City, but the first women’s events were introduced in 1984 – prior to 1984, events were open to either sex. There have been as many as 21 shooting events in a single Games (1920), and as few as two (1932). The United States has won the medals in shooting in Olympic history, nearly twice as many as the next closest country, Sweden
Close to perfection
At the 2012 London Games, California native Kim Rhode had one of the greatest performances in Olympic shooting history. Rhode claimed gold in the women’s skeet event, setting an Olympic record and tying a world record by hitting 99 of 100 targets. She broke the previous Olympic records for both the preliminary round (74 to 72) and final round (99 to 93). By winning gold, Rhode became the first American athlete to win five medals in an individual event in five consecutive Olympics and became the first woman to win three gold medals in Olympic shooting.