Whether you’ve been to a gun range and seen a true marksman at work or watched shooting programs on television, the sport of shooting is a sight to behold. However, many don’t realize the place that competitive shooting holds in history; or the advancements that have been made.
How Far We’ve Come
3,000 years before guns were invented, the Egyptians were shooting at targets with slings. Hieroglyphics depict bows and arrows used in competitions. Competitive shooting has a strong foundation in history!
During the Medieval ages, the crossbow became a means of sport. From hunting competitions to William Tell’s infamous apple shot, Europe developed the shooting concept as a sport further. Shooting clubs were founded as early as 1100. The first shooting clubs were formed by German-speaking peoples in the 13th and 14th centuries.
Of course, while the origins of shooting date back that far, it wasn’t until the gun was invented that the sport truly rose to the place we now know.
Earliest Firearm Competitions
When the first firearms came around in the 1600s, it wasn’t long until they took over the sport. During the Frontier era of American history, turkey shoots were organized as a sport. This was when the Kentucky rifle became popular. Men would have one shot to hit a wooden target or a marked tree, and the winner would get anything from food to money.
We’ve come a long way today! We wrote a helpful article on our blog titled: “3 Tips to Improve Your Shooting Skills At The Gun Range” – you can read it here: https://mt2.com/blog/11026-3-tips-to-improve-your-shooting-skills-at-the-gun-range/
The 1800s were the prime years of shooting sports, with Annie Oakley and Buffalo Bill becoming two of the most known figures. Trick and trap shooting became popular in this period, but it wouldn’t be until later in the century after the Civil War that things elevated.
The first pistol shooting competition took place in 1860, where two men shot at plates from 100 feet away. Five years later, Buffalo Bill began holding shooting events and spreading the idea of shooting as a sport through the U.S.
The NRA was founded in 1871, one of the first national shooting federations in the world. These federations organized numerous shooting competitions and continue to do so to this day. Skeet shooting, firing at clay pigeons, came about in the early years of the 20th century, but just a few years before, the first “Olympics” took place.
Welcome to the Olympics
In 1896, a French pistol champion named Coubertin hosted the first Olympics consisting of nine sports.
The shooting portion of the event involved four pistol competitions and two with rifles.
Since those days, shooting events in the Olympics have advanced to include shotguns. But even more than that, the games became more inclusive. Margaret Murdock achieved a silver medal in 1976 to become the first woman to win a medal in Olympic shooting.
This brought about women having their own events beginning in 1984 with the air rifle, three-position rifle, and sport pistol events.
U.S. shooters mostly dominate the modern Olympics and shooting competitions in general. Shooting sports have come a long way from the slings and arrows and continue to progress and grow. Television shows like “Top Shot” created a reality competition with shooting various ranged weapons even beyond the televised events.
It’s not just about accuracy anymore, but the speed and the ability to transition between multiple firearms or hit targets at varying ranges. Shooting competitions continue to garner support and interest, primarily due to media and celebrities becoming more involved with firearms. As advances are made in weaponry and marksmen continue to attempt the “perfect shot,” the history of shooting sports will deepen and become even more competitive.
Guest Author Bio:
Richard Douglas is a long-time shooter, outdoor enthusiast, and technologist. He is the founder and editor of Scopes Field and a columnist at The National Interest, Cheaper Than Dirt, Daily Caller, and other publications.
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