A Brief History of Sport Shooting

Rifle Shot

Ever wondered just where Sport Shooting all began?  Here is an interesting article from The Washington Post that will give you some idea.  For the full article please click the link provided.

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The Washington Post 

“The History of Shooting Sports
Formal target shoots involving the bow and arrow and the spear were first used as military training activities, but Homer’s “Iliad” indicates that Greeks also held archery contests to shoot pigeons on top of tall poles in honor of the gods. Indians, Persians, Slavs, Celts, and Germans engaged in similar activities.
By the tenth century, marksmanship evolved into a social and recreational sport. Regarded as the progenitor of great shooters, Swiss hero William Tell gained honor during the 14th century after successfully shooting an apple off his son’s head. A tyrannical Austrian bailiff forced Tell to use a crossbow to perform the legendary feat.

The First Shooting Clubs
The first shooting clubs were formed by German-speaking peoples in the 13th and 14th centuries. Membership was limited to men only. At first, bows and wheel-lock muskets were shot from the standing position, but by the 16th century, firearms with rifled barrels were used in public matches. Early club competitions were festive one-shot matches fired at elaborately painted wooden targets. Matches and shooting festivals for one or more clubs were routinely held on New Year’s Day, religious holidays, and other special occasions. Prizes of gold and money were frequently awarded.

Shooting Traditions in America
German and Swiss riflemakers in Pennsylvania began producing flintlock rifles suitable for use on the American frontier around 1710. Since protection from Indians and hunting for food were vital concerns, frontiersman soon began “shooting at a mark” to sharpen their skills. The mark was usually a knot on a tree or an “x” marked on a slab of wood.
The first forms of competition in this country were “rifle frolics” or “turkey shoots,” with prizes being beef, turkey, or other food items. Matches were usually one shot affairs fired from a distance of 250-330 feet from either the standing or rest shooting positions. Between 1790 and 1800, the first match rifles were developed, featuring 38 to 40-inch barrels, double-set triggers, and target sights similar to those used on European target arms.

Target gun accuracy improved when riflemakers began using new percussion caps in 1825. Formal match shooting began shortly thereafter, and competitions in all parts of the country were well-attended by shooters and spectators. A match in Glendale Park, N.Y., in the 1880’s attracted more than 600 shooters and 30,000 spectators in one day alone. An 1898 shooting festival at that same location offered $25,000 in cash prizes.

Trap shooting with live pigeons began in the U.S. around 1825, with the first recorded match being in Cincinnati, Ohio, six years later. Americans led the way in developing artificial targets for trap competition— first glass balls containing feathers, then clay targets. Among the greatest of the 19th century trapshooters were Adam Bogardus, Ira Paine, and “Annie” Oakley. In a one-day exhibition, Bogardus once broke 5,681 glass balls before missing, while Oakley once shot 4,772 of 5,000 glass balls released from 15yard traps.

The first recorded pistol match was a duel in 1860 between two men shooting nine-inch china plates from 100 feet. The winner broke 11 out of 15. In 1865, W.F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody began shooting pistol exhibitions, which did much to promote the sport.

Skeetshooting originated between 1910 and 1915 as an attempt to simulate upland game shooting. At first, competitors fired “around the clock” using a complete circle of shooting stations. This format was later modified to the present day half-circle, with targets thrown from high and low houses on either side of the field.

 

The Beginning of World Competition
The first World Shooting Championships were fired in 1897, when Lyon, France’s shooting club organized an international 300-meter rifle match to celebrate its 25th anniversary. Women’s events were first instituted at the 1958 Championships, and today World Championships for men and women in all disciplines are fired every four years. At the 1994 Championships in Milan 102 individual and team pistol, rifle, running target, and shotgun events will be contested.
The Emergence of National Federations and the UIT As shooting traditions devel0ped in the V.S. and overseas, many national federations were established in the mid to late 19th century. The National Rifle Association of America (NRA) was founded in 1871 by Colonel William Church and Captain George Wingate of the New York National Guard. The U.S. Revolver Association, founded in 1900, actually selected, trained, and financed Olympic pistol teams through the 1936 Games. The NRA then assumed leadership and developmental responsibilities for pistol, rifle and, beginning in 1960, shotgun shooting in the U.S.

In 1907, eight nations established the International Shooting Union (UIT), recognized today as the world governing body for shooting. The U.S. joined the UIT in 1908. The organization is now based in Munich Germany, and has 148 member federations. Mexico’s Olegario Vazquez Rana currently serves as the UIT president. Wolfgang Schreiber edits the UIT Journal, published bimonthly in four languages. UIT Headquarters can be reached at 01149 89 53 10 12 (phone) or 011 49 89 5 30 94 81 (fax).

In 1978, the U.S. Olympic Committee selected the NRA as the sole national governing body for Olympic-style shooting in the United States. The NRA’s International Shooting Sports division has been designated to fulfill this responsibility from its headquarters office at the Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center. However, organizations such as the Amateur Trapshooting Association(ATA), the Pacific International Trapshooting Association (PITA), and the National Skeetshooting Association (NSSA) actively govern and develop American-style trap and skeet shooting in this country.”