As the name suggests, these Olympic sports are confined to rifles of smaller calibre - .22 rimfire rifles and .177 air rifles. Smallbore rifle shooting and air rifle shooting is extremely popular all around the world, where the tradition goes back many years. There are both Olympic and non-Olympic events within the sport.
The main events are:
The air rifle match consists of a 60 shot event for men and women using a .177 calibre target air rifle weighing no more than 5.5kg. Pictures of the types of rifles used in competition, are available on this site.The event is shot in the standing position over a distance of 10 metres usually on an indoor range with set lighting standards. In international competition, there are separate events for men and women, with a newly introduced mixed pairs event, although both genders jointly contest many of the events in Australia. Air Rifle is an inexpensive way of getting into shooting, and it is an especially appropriate way to introduce juniors to shooting.
Competitors fire 60 shots over the 50 metre range using a .22 target rimfire rifle with standard velocity ammunition. The shots are fired from the prone position in a total time limit of 75 minutes.The men's rifle must not weigh more than 8kg and the women's not more than 6.5kg. Prone is the most contested singular event in Australia and would be regarded as the most popular. There are local variations that include a short range event at 20 metres, and a long range event over 90 metres. Another popular style of 50m shooting is Benchrest, where the rifle is rested on the bench, and a scope is used on the rifle.
Free Rifle 3x40
Competitors fire 120 shots over 50 metres using a .22 target rimfire rifle weighing no more than 8kg. Forty shots are fired from the prone position, 40 from a standing position and 40 from a kneeling position. This is most certainly the most challenging of all the events, and often regarded as the marathon match of smallbore shooting since it takes over 4 hours to complete - of course, and then there is the Final where the top shooters compete for the medals. Internationally this is both a men's and women's match.
Competitors fire 60 shots over 50 metres using a .22 target rimfire rifle weighing no more than 6.5kg. Twenty shots are fired from a prone position, then 20 from a standing position and 20 from a kneeling position.With the inclusion of the three shooting positions, this is also a challenging event lasting over 2 hours.
Going for Gold
Smallbore shooting is contested at both the Olympic and Commonwealth Games. There are also World Shooting Championships every four years. The world titles attract competitors from more than 100 countries and often over 450 competitors.
In recent years Australian rifle shooters have made their mark in international events with Commonwealth Games individual and team medals, World Championships team and individual medals, World Cup and World records to their credit. Rifle shooting has featured in most Olympic Games since 1896, including the Sydney 2000, Athens 2004 Beijing 2008, London 2012, Rio 2016 and will attend the Tokyo Olympics in 2021. There are many different styles and types of rifles used in the sport. Many shooters use standard manufacturer's designs, while others fully custom their rifles, both in looks and shape. You will see pictures of the equipment that is commonly used in the sport of smallbore rifle, and air rifle shooting on this website.
Target Rifle Australia has a promotional brochure introducing the sport of rifle shooting. If you would like a copy you can download it here.