Member of Team USA Competes in Paralympic ShootingMember of Team USA Competes in Paralympic Shooting


Shooting has been a recreational pastime since the tenth century and an Olympic sport since the inception of the modern Games in 1896. Though the sport has existed for hundreds of years, a U.S. Shooting Team didn’t really exist until 1979. Before that, athletes trained individually and then convened for events like the Olympics and World Championships.

Shooters with physical impairments participated in the 1948 Stoke Mandeville Games, the predecessor of the Paralympic Games. Having proved itself a worthy sport in these early Games, Paralympic shooting debuted as a medal sport at the 1976 Toronto Games.

Both Olympic and Paralympic shooting include rifle and pistol events, while Olympic shooting also features shotgun events. In this sport of precision and focus, competitors aim for the center of a stationary target. The target is made up of ten concentric scoring rings, with a score grade of one to 10.



The first shooting competitions take place, transforming shooting into more than a recreational activity

Paralympic Shooting debuts at the Toronto Games

Inception of the year-round U.S. Shooting Team

USA Shooting was formed and named the governing body of U.S. shooting sports


Paralympic shooting is divided into two major events: rifle and pistol competitions. These take place from distances of 10 meters (33 feet), 25 meters (82 feet) and 50 meters (164 feet).

The Rio 2016 Paralympic Games will consist of 12 total events: eight rifle and four pistol. Six of these events are open to both men and women, three to just men, and three to just women.


Athletes compete using air pistols, air rifles or .22 caliber rifles. For 10-meter events held with an air rifle or air pistol, athletes use bullets with a diameter of 4.5 millimeters (.18 inches). For 25-meter pistol events and 50-meter pistol and rifle events, athletes use bullets of 5.6 millimeters (.22 inch).

Five different targets are used in Paralympic games, depending on the type of gun. All targets are electronic to maximize accurate readings.


Did you know: The visually impaired can compete in non-Paralympic shooting events.

Meaty Roots: The first shooting competitions in the United States were called “rifle frolics” or “turkey shoots,” and winners took home beef, turkey and other food items.

A keen eye: The bulls-eye in air rifle events is a mere 0.05 centimeters (.02 inches) wide. This is approximately the size of the period at the end of this sentence.

More than a steady hand: Shooting is all about accuracy, therefore it is imperative that athletes learn to control their breathing and reduce their heart rate. For the straightest shot, they also must practice concentration and emotional control.

Athlete Spotlight:

Tammy Delano

Tammy Delano will make her first appearance at the Paralympic Games this year, competing in the 10-meter air rifle category. Five years ago, Delano attended her first competition with borrowed equipment and just a few weeks' experience shooting—but she came away invigorated and with her eye on the Paralympics.

Delano was born with spina bifidaDefinition: A birth defect where a person and grew up on crutches and in a wheelchair. As such, she didn’t have any opportunities to get involved with sports—until she was introduced to adaptive sports in 2001. She joined the Sitrin Success Through Adaptive Recreation and Sports (STARS) program, which introduced her to wheelchair basketball, road races, kayaking, skiing and wheelchair curling before she picked up a gun and found her passion—shooting. Her career has moved quickly since then. In 2014, she began residency at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs and took gold in the Falling Target event at the World Cups in Szczecin, Poland. At the 2015 World Cup in Fort Benning, Georgia, Delano won bronze, hit a new personal record and met the quota to join the U.S. Paralympic Shooting Team.

In the past year, Delano lost her father, who had been an important figure in her life. Despite that loss and a neck surgery in 2014, Delano has persisted and continues to notch new triumphs. She dedicated her 2015 World Cup performance to her father. Perhaps this summer she will send another tribute his way!

Althete Spotlight Tammy Delano


Paralympic shooting competition is open to male and female athletes with physical impairments, including amputationsDefinition: Amputate: to cut (as a limb) from the body., spinal cord injuries, cerebral palsyDefinition: Damage to the central nervous system. and traumatic brain injuries. Athletes may have an impairment of the lower and/or upper limbs, so many compete in a seated position. At the Paralympic Games, sport classes are divided into two groups—SH1 and SH2. Depending on their impairment, athletes may be allowed to shoot with adaptations such as backrest support, rifle support and loading assistants.

Note: The models presented below are examples. A classification evaluation must be performed to determine an athlete’s sport class(es).

Physical Impairment

Visual Impairment

Intellectual Impairment


SH1 (pistol)

SH1 (rifle)

Athletes in this sport class may shoot with either a pistol or a rifle. These athletes' arms are less affected by their impairment, so they do not require a shooting stand.

SH1 (pistol)

Athletes in SH1 (rifle) may have the same types of impairments as those in SH1 (pistol). The only difference is the shooting equipment used.

Impairment Severity Scale


SH1 (rifle)

Athletes in SH1 (rifle) may have the same types of impairments as those in SH1 (pistol). The only difference is the shooting equipment used.

Impairment Severity Scale




Athletes in this sport class have a more severe impairment in the upper limb that the athletes in SH1, so they use a shooting stand. These athletes shoot with rifles only.

Impairment Severity Scale