Shooting joined the Paralympics at the Toronto
Games in 1976. Competitors use pistols or rifles to shoot
at a static target from the standing or prone position
at distances of 10m, 25m and 50m depending on the event.
Due to their impairment, many athletes use special equipment such as shooting tables
and chairs or wheelchairs. The target is made of ten scoring rings decreasing
in value towards the outer end during the qualification.
The centre ring is the bullseye, worth ten points.
In most qualification events and all finals the rings are sub-divided into ten decimal
score zones. Then the bulls-eye is worth 10.9 points.
In air rifle events, the bullseye is only half a millimetre wide –
the size of a full-stop on a printed page – requiring an incredible level of accuracy.
Shooting is open for athletes with a physical impairment.
There are three sport classes: SH1 Pistol, SH1 Rifle and SH2.
In both SH1 classes, athletes can support the weight of the firearm by themselves.
SH1 (Pistol) athletes may have arm or leg impairments, whilst SH1 (Rifle) athletes have
leg impairments only. SH2 athletes compete in rifle events only, and have an arm impairment that requires them
to use a shooting stand to support the weight of the rifle.
This shooting stand is fitted with a spring, to create movement of the rifle that the athlete
has to work hard to control. In the qualification round athletes fire a
given number of shots in an allotted time depending on the event.
For example in 50m rifle prone , athletes fire 60 shots in 50 minutes.
The best eight athletes in each event qualify for the final.
Most finals consist of two stages; competition and elimination.
Eliminations of the lowest scoring finalists begin after the eighth shot
and continue after every two shots until gold and silver medals are decided in an intense
shoot-off between the remaining two athletes. With such an incredible level of accuracy
required, this sport is all about co-ordination, balance, control and precision.