Paralympic Shooting

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This event first appeared in the Summer Paralympics at the 1976 Toronto Games and is an adaptation of shooting sports for competitors with disabilities. It is a test of control and accuracy, using pistols or rifles to fire a series of shots at a fixed target. Each shot is worth up to 10 points or in some cases 10.9 points.

Competitions are open to all athletes with physical disabilities such as amputation/limb loss, spinal cord injury/wheelchair-users and cerebral palsy/brain injury/stroke. A functional classification system is in place, which enables wheelchair users and ambulant athletes from different disability classes to compete together either individually or in teams.

Athletes compete in rifle and pistol events from distances of 10, 25 and 50 meters, in male, female, and mixed competitions. Of the 12 Paralympic events, there are six open to both women and men, three for women only and three for men only.

Air Rifle


Air Pistol





25m and 50m

The sport is governed by International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and co-ordinated by the IPC Shooting Sport Technical Committee following the modified rules of the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF). These rules consider the differences that exist between shooting for the able-bodied and shooting for persons with a disability.

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Classification system

Shooting utilizes a functional classification system, enabling athletes from different disability classes with the same abilities to compete together, individually and in teams. Depending on the existing limitations (degree of body trunk functionality, seated balanc, muscle strength, upper and lower limb mobility), and on the necessary skills involved in Shooting, athletes are placed into one of three classes: SH1, SH2 and SH3 (Paralympic Competition does not currently include class SH3 - visually impaired). SH1 and SH2 differ mainly in that SH2 athletes are physically not able to support the rifle and are therefore permitted to use a special support spring stand for the rifle.

The Paralympic Games feature only SH1 and SH2 classes, based on IPC Shooting Classification Rules and Regulations.


Pistol and rifle shooters able to support a firearm without a stand


Rifle shooters requiring a firearm support to shoot


Rifle competitors with visual impairment.

Sub-classifications define wheelchair backrest height depending on back and pelvic strength per athlete.

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Equipment - Rifles & Pistols

Athletes use .22 calibre rifles and pistols and 0.177 calibre air rifles and air pistols (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, pellets with a diameter of 4.5mm (0.177 calibre) are used. For 25m pistol events, and 50m pistol and rifle events, 5.6mm bullets (0.22 calibre) are used.

The 10m air pistol events use single shot weapons, except that for the 10m Standard event the pistols have a 5 shot magazine.

If you are looking to buy a weapon for competition, be aware that the rules governing the weapons and even clothing are strict and very comprehensive. For instance, these are just some of the regulations covering rifles:

The pistol grip for the shooting hand must not rest on the sling or on your other arm.

No perforation of the barrel or extension tubes is allowed.

There must be nothing special inside the barrel or extension tube other than rifling & chambering.

No compensators or muzzle brakes allowed.

Electronic triggers are allowed, but the entire assembly must be firmly attached to and contained within the action or stock of the rifle, the trigger is operated by your right hand if you shoot right-handed, every part of it is present when the rifle is inspected, and if it must not cause the rifle to be oversized or overweight.

Slings may have a maximum width of 40mm (1.57") and may only be used on upper part of the non-trigger arm and from there go to the fore-end, attached at a single point; may only pass along one side of the hand or wrist; and may not touch the rifle except at the swivel and hand stop.

Barrel weights may be used within a radius of 30mm (1.18") from the center of the bore, and may be moved along its length.

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Equipment adaptations

Disabled shooters use the same firearms and clothing as able-bodied shooters. Adaptations are equipment specific:

Ambulant competitors have a separate shooting table or integrated table for wheelchair users in prone or 3-position events.

Shooting chair for ambulant competitors or wheelchair for users in prone or 3-position events.

Shortened shooting jacket for seated competitors - jacket edge terminates on top of the shooters' thighs when seated.

A rifle stand with spring tension which depends upon the SH2 shooter's degree of ability to support a rifle.

A 'sight' that uses sound to help SH3 shooters to aim.

The IPC's Paralympic Shooting rules are adapted partially from ISSF rules. In 10m Prone Air Rifle and .22 Prone Rifle, slings are required for SH1 shooters while SH2 shooters may not use a sling. There are very specific equipment instructions for ambulant and wheelchair users in the IPC Shooting rulebook. SH3 athletes have a special sight that converts light to sound, using a target that shades from dark grey on the outside to white in the centre, the shooter knows that the higher the frequency of the sound the better the aim.

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Rifle events

The SH1 and SH2 shooters use the following positions depending on event, with the 3-position (Standing, Kneeling, Prone) involving all three.


Standing or seated, shooting table support not allowed


Seated, single elbow support on shooting table plus use of a sling


Seated or prone, both elbows supported atop a shooting table plus use of a sling

SH1 Class



10m Air Rifle Standing
10m Air Rifle Standing
10m Air Rifle Prone
50m Rifle Prone
50m Rifle 3-position 3×40
50m Rifle 3-position 3×20

SH2 Class - all mixed gender


10m Air Rifle Standing
10m Air Rifle Prone
50m Prone Rifle

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Pistol events

SH1 Class (there is no SH2 for Pistol)



10m Air Pistol
10m Air Pistol
25m Pistol
50m Pistol
10m Air Pistol Standard

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Competition description

The goal is to place a series of shots inside the centre ring of the bull's-eye, on a target comprised of 10 concentric scoring rings with a score grade of one to 10, the central ring giving 10 points. In finals and increasingly. in qualification rounds, the scoring rings are each further subdivided into 10 more scoring zones, giving a decimal place scoring system, with 10.9 being the highest possible score per shot. In air rifle events athletes fire at a bulls-eye which is only 0.05cm wide - which is as big as a full-stop.

Shooting competitions have rifle and pistol competitions at three distances: 10, 25 and 50m. There are different rules depending upon the gun (air or .22 calibre), the distance from the target, the target, the shooter's position, how many shots are allowed, and the time accorder each competitor.

A recent improvement to safety is the Safety Flag RULE - with a small ISSF flag on one end of a highly visible nylon line inserted full length and out the other end of both rifles and pistols to visibly show that the firearms is unloaded and 'safe', are additional required safety equipment seeing action at the finals, as well as firearm control and while on standby at the firing point.

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Visually impaired shooting

This is an adapted version of sighted shooting, and at present (Dec/2013), not included in the Paralympic itinerary. There are two target shooting disciplines available:

Supported shooting: The rifle rests on a stand which supports its weight and gives stability. All beginners use this method. Many shooters continue with this method.

Free standing shooting: For those who can support 5kg of weight by themselves, the weight of the rifle is supported by the shooter.

To make visually impaired shooting a safe and rewarding sport, a couple of special departures from sighted shooting must be made:

Special sights that use audio cues to aim, rather than visual cues.

Shooters have a sighted assistant for safety.

Although visually impaired shooters' sights may look similar to conventional sights, in performance they are completely dissimilar. Their sights measure the intensity of light reflected from the target and converts it into sound. The target's centre is white, while the outer circles become increasingly darker grey. As the sight is aligned closer to the target's white centre, more light is collected by the sight and it emits a higher frequency sound.

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