Air gun competitive shooting has been part of the Paralympic Games since Toronto, Canada in 1976 and currently is being practiced in 59 countries. Shooting is a test of skill and mental discipline, in which competitors use pneumatic rifles and pistols to fire a series of shots at a paper target. Competitions at the Paralympic Games are open to all athletes with physical impairments.
The pistol is held with one hand. The athlete is standing unless injury has impacted balance, stability or strength in the lower extremities. For those athletes, a wheelchair or other seat may be used, but the athlete may not rest on a table or any other surface to assist in the shot.
Open and SH1 – The athlete will be seated and may rest both elbows and lean the torso against the bench or a table for stability (see IPC rules). Athletes may use a sling to support the weight of the rifle. SH2 – If the athlete is unable to support the rifle due to injury, the rifle will be supported by a spring stand (see IPC rules). The athlete will be seated and may rest both elbows and lean the torso against the table for stability. SH3 – In addition to being visually impaired, competitors may be allowed to have adaptations from any of the previous classifications, depending on other existing physical impairments.
Open – The athlete will be in the standing position (see ISSF rules). SH1 – Athletes will rest one elbow on their hip or ribcage to support the weight of the rifle. The athlete may be in the standing position or seated, if required, but may not rest any part of the body or arms against a bench, table, chair or wheelchair. SH2 – If the athlete is unable to support the rifle due to injury, the competitor may shoot from a stand, bench or table, and the rifle will be supported by a spring stand that meets IPC rules. The athlete may be standing up or seated (if needed), but may not rest any part of the body or arms against a bench, table, chair or wheelchair (see IPC rules).
MATCH FORMATS FOR COMPETITION
- Pistol (Open & SH1) – 40 shots
- Rifle – Standing (Open, SH1 & SH2) – 20 shots
Elimination Match: (usually more exciting for spectators and experienced shooters and is shot from the “standing” position.) Qualification Round:
- Men—60 competition shots in 105 minutes
- Women—40 shots in 75 minutes
- Eight finalists shoot 2, 3 shot series in 150 seconds each
- 14 single shots are each fired on command with 50 seconds for each shot
- Single eliminations start after the second single shot (first six shots in three shot series, then the next 2 single shots fired on command)
- Shooters are eliminated one by one, after every two single shots, until the gold and silver medalists are decided from each division are decided
- Ties between gold and silver are determined by single shots until a winner is determined
There are four major shooting divisions based on the competitor’s classification.
- The Open Divisions include ambulatory competitors with injuries such as traumatic brain injury, orthopedic injuries or PTSD.
- Other permanent physical disabilities such as spinal cord injuries, amputations or stroke are included in the SH1 Division. Generally, these competitors have the physical ability of the upper torso to support the weight of the rifle or pistol.
- The SH2 Division includes those competitors that cannot support the weight of the rifle and therefore require the aid of a specially designed, spring support stand. Additionally, SH2 shooters unable to load pellets into their air rifle, are allowed to have assistants who load the rifle for them before each shot. There is no SH2 Division for the air pistol competitions.
- A new division of Paralympic shooters (SH3) are the visually impaired competitors that will soon be included in competitive events.