The sport of shooting is a challenge of accuracy and control, in which competitors use pistols or rifles to fire a series of shots at a stationary target. In this precision sport, athletes use focus and controlled breathing to reduce their heart rates and improve stability and high performance. This ability to steady hand and mind to deliver a sequence of shots requires well-developed powers of concentration and emotional control.
Open to athletes who have a physical impairment leading to reduced function in the lower and/or upper limb(s), IPC Shooting employs a functional classification system, where athletes compete in sport classes based on their functional ability, rather than impairment-type. Athletes compete in one of two sport classes (SH1 & SH2), depending on their impairment.
SH1 class includes athletes with lower limb impairments and either no upper limb impairments, or an upper limb impairment that does not prevent the athlete from supporting the weight of the rifle or pistol themselves (i.e. in the non-shooting arm for pistol shooters). Many, but not all, athletes compete in a sitting position either from a wheelchair or chair/stool.
SH2 class includes athletes who also have more severe upper limb impairments, which prevents the athlete from supporting the weight of the rifle themselves. SH2 athletes compete only in rifle events, and use a spring mounted stand to support the weight of the rifle. Some athletes also require a support assistant to load the rifle for them.
Athletes compete in events from distances of 10m, 25m and 50m in men’s, women’s and mixed competitions.
The sport is governed by the IPC and co-ordinated by the IPC Shooting Sport Technical Committee following the modified rules of the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF). These rules take into account the differences that exist between shooting for the able-bodied and shooting for persons with an impairment.
The goal of shooting is to place a series of shots inside the centre ring of the bull’s-eye. The target is comprised of 10 concentric scoring rings with a score grade of one to 10, the central ring giving 10 points. In all finals, and in some qualification rounds, to further challenge athletes and really refine their skills, the scoring rings are each further subdivided into a further 10 scoring zones to give decimal place scoring system, with 10.9 being the very centre of the target and the highest possible score per shot.
Shooting competitions are divided into two major events: rifle and pistol competitions at three distances: 10, 25 and 50m. The rules depend on the gun (air or .22 calibre), the distance, the target, the shooting position, the number of shots and the time limit. Competitors accumulate points for the value of their shots.
Scores for each shot in the qualification round are accumulated to give the athlete a total score. The top eight athletes in the qualification round qualify for the final, however qualification scores are not carried over into the final, meaning each finalist starts from zero. In an exciting test of nerves, skill and focus, athletes with the lowest scores are eliminated over the course of a final, until a duel between the two remaining athletes for gold and silver medals ensues.
To give you an idea of the level of the accuracy required, in air rifle events athletes fire at a bulls-eye which is only 0.05cm wide – which is as big as a full-stop.
Of the 12 Paralympic shooting events, six are open to both women and men, three are open to women only and three are open to men only.
Athletes use .22 calibre rifles and air guns (pneumatic, CO2 gas or spring). Upon trigger activation, the CO2 liquid changes to gas and activates the projectile toward the target. The pneumatic rifle uses a multiple pump system to store air pressure in a reservoir and trigger compression activates the projectile toward the target.
For 10m events held with an air rifle or air pistol, bullets with a diameter of 4.5mm are use. For 25m pistol events, and 50m pistol and rifle events, 5.6mm bullets are used.
The standard target is a cardboard square with concentric white and black rings around a black centre ring (or bull’s-eye). For the Paralympic Games, five different targets are used depending on the type of gun. These targets are electronic for increased accuracy.
Shooting has been part of the Paralympic Games since Toronto in 1976. Since the 1980 Paralympic Games shooting has developed from a disability-orientated classification system towards a functional classification system. This has resulted in a reduction in the number of classes from five classes with separate events at the Seoul 1988 Paralympic Games to three classes with integrated events since the Atlanta 1996 Paralympics.
In late 2010 the IPC and the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) signed a Memorandum of Understanding to continue working together in developing Shooting further in the years ahead.
It covers several areas including management, promotion of competitions and events, knowledge exchange and general development of the Paralympic Sport and participating athletes.
While the IPC’s shooting competitions will remain completely independent in the near future, it was agreed that ISSF would work with IPC Shooting to identify suitable ISSF Technical Officials to be involved in IPC recognized competitions. In such cases, the ISSF would remain as the sole and supreme authority controlling the certification of ISSF officials.
Today the IPC Shooting is practiced in nearly 60 countries.
At the London 2012 Games, 140 athletes took part in 12 medal events
SHOOTING – PUNJAB
PCP Sports Manager