A test of body and mind – quite often with conflict between the two – shooting is the ultimate demonstration of accuracy and skill.04 Jul 2016
Shooting is the ultimate test of accuracy and control and at the Paralympic Games, athletes with physical impairments compete in both rifle and pistol events.
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.
Athletes compete in events from distances of 10m, 25m and 50m in men’s, women’s and mixed competitions.
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.
The sport is governed by the IPC and co-ordinated by the IPC Shooting Sport Technical Committee and Management team.
The sport follows rules of the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) in conjunction with its own IPC Shooting Technical Rules and Regulations, which take into account the considerations that exist for Para athletes in shooting sport.
It has been on the Paralympic programme since Toronto 1976 and today is practiced in over 65 countries.
Athletes compete in three sport classes – SH1 (pistol), SH1 (rifle) and SH2 (rifle).
SH1 (rifle) athletes generally have an impairment in their lower limbs, whilst SH1 (pistol) athletes have an impairment in the non-shooting arm and/or their lower limbs.SH2 athletes have an impairment in their upper limbs which prevents them from supporting the full weight of the rifle, thereby requiring the assistance of a spring-mounted shooting support stand.
More information about classification can be found in a dedicated article later on in Sport Week.
The competition format is very similar to that of able-bodied shooting sport - The goal is to place a series of shots inside the centre of the target (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 many events - to showcase the athletes' skill and accuracy - the scoring rings are each further subdivided into a further 10 scoring zones to give a decimal place scoring system, with 10.9 being the very centre of the target and the highest possible score per shot.
The rules (including the number of shots and the time limit) depend on the gun (.177 air or .22 smallbore calibre), the distance, the target, or the shooting position. 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 10m air rifle events athletes fire at a bulls-eye which is only 0.05cm wide - which is as big as a full-stop.
Editor’s note: Each sport on the Rio 2016 Paralympic programme will have a dedicated week of featured content published on paralympic.org. 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)