Sport Week: History of shooting Para sport

In 30 years the programme has evolved rapidly and produced some of Para sports most recognisable faces. 07 Jul 2016
A picture of a man holding a gun

Jonas Jacobsson competes in the Mixed R6 50m Free Rifle Prone SH1 final at Beijing 2008.

ⒸGetty Images

Shooting has been on the Paralympic programme since the Toronto 1976 Paralympic Games and today is practiced in more than 65 countries.

One of the sport’s greatest athletes, Sweden’s Jonas Jacobsson, has won medals at nine consecutive Paralympic Games since 1980.

In the past he has recalled how in the early days, shooters used to fire at paper targets pinned to the wall. That is a vast departure from the way in which competitions are contested in the modern day, where targets and scoring are much more sophisticated.

The same venue and systems are now used for Paralympic shooting as for the Olympic Games at each edition.

After 1976, the competition schedule evolved rapidly. From three competitions limited to rifle shooting, by Arnhem 1980 there were 11 medal events including the addition of three in pistol.

This development levelled out after New York/Stoke Mandeville in 1984, by which time the programme included individual and team pistol and rifle events in prone, kneeling and three positions.

Now the programme includes 12 individual men’s, women’s and mixed events in rifle and pistol over distances of 10m, 25m and 50m.

In 2010, IPC Shooting signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) to cooperate and work together in developing shooting sport. The agreement covers several areas including management, promotion of competitions and events, knowledge exchange, and education of technical officials.

It was this partnership, as well as discussion from within shooting Para sport, that led to the most recent changes after London 2012.

In 2013 IPC Shooting followed suit with the ISSF and changed its scoring and finals formats.

At Rio 2016, athletes who progress to the finals will now begin their score from zero. Decimal scoring has also been introduced to almost all finals, plus also 10m air rifle and 50m rifle prone qualification events, to ensure the best athletes can truly demonstrate their incredible levels of accuracy and control.

Paralympic competition is open to athletes with physical impairments, with the development of visually impaired shooting underway outside of the Games. Para clay target shooting, with shotguns, is also being developed.

Other recognisable names in the sport include 73-year-old Grandmother Libby Kosmala. The Australian has competed at seven Paralympic Games including in 1976 where she won one of the first gold medals in the history of the sport.

Editor’s note: Each sport on the Rio 2016 Paralympic programme will have a dedicated week of featured content published on Every week a new sport will be featured and the series will run until September’s Games, helping the public understand more about the 22 sports being contested in Rio.


Sport fans from around the world can now buy their Paralympic tickets for Rio 2016 from authorised ticket resellers (ATRs)

The IPC’s Global ATR is Jet Set Sports, and Rio 2016 tickets and packages can be purchased on the CoSport website.

Residents of Brazil can buy 2016 Paralympics tickets directly from the Rio 2016 website.

Visa International is the exclusive payment card and the official payment system for the Paralympic Games.