As I have been learning more and more, many people have never been introduced to the sport of competitive shooting. This is a vast world with many different disciplines. I will not be able to discuss all of them here, but I would like to discuss a little about what type of shooting I do. I shoot women’s 25 m pistol (also called sport pistol) and women’s 10 m air pistol.
My style of shooting is called International Style Pistol. It is a one handed style that is used in the Olympics for the pistol sports. It’s unusual to see for the first time. The shooters stance is long, but relaxed with the arm stretched out from their side toward the target, the gun simply an extension of themselves. The grips on the guns are custom molded by the shooter to fit their hand. Mine has been compared to holding a ball with a trigger. By molding them to each of the specific needs of the shooter, it allows for more accuracy without trying as hard. Each discipline will have a different gun style, grip style, and consists of one of two calibers: .22 for small bore pistols or .177 for air pistols.
When first watching a line of shooters, it will seem as though they are all doing the same thing as each other over and over. Slowly it will become more and more apparent that there are differences, big and small, among them. Some will breathe differently before or during the shot process. Others will raise and lower at the target multiple times while others will raise or lower once. It depends on their style and what seems to work best for them. The point is to try to make your process the exact same every single time. I like to compare it to a science experiment. I want to eliminate as many variables as possible before I shoot. If all the variables become the same, then when one thing is purposely changed, their will be a more predictable result.
Good scores can’t always be defined. What would be considered an excellent score at one competition may be really weak at another. What has helped me best with thinking about good scores has been to only compare myself to my scores. For example, my current personal best in air pistol is 378/400. I was pretty proud of that score when I shot it, but now I’m getting more and more scores close to that in practice, so I want to set the next “good score” to be above that. If I were to compare this score to a collegiate level competition, it would be an excellent score, and would probably place in the top three. However, this score in international open (all age groups) competition, this score would place me in the 20’s or 30’s. Another big factor is who shows up at the competitions. There could be some new people who have amazing scores and bump “good scores” down, or vice versa and average scores now become amazing scores. Therefore, I find it best to only qualify my scores by how well I am doing at the time.
10 m air pistol is shot at a distance of 10 meters (hence the name) at a target with a 10 ring diameter of 11.5 mm. The competition for women’s air pistol is 40 record shots in 50 minutes. The best score you can get is 400 (40/40 shots in the 10 ring). Air pistol is normally where everyone starts off. It teaches the fundamentals of sights, stance, and trigger control. Because there is little noise and barely any recoil, it makes air easy for new shooters to feel comfortable and not focus on those aspects. It also is a little less expensive than start up training on sport pistol or other small bore competitions, which is a pretty big incentive for beginners and pros alike. I still really enjoy air pistol training, because it emphasizes what I might be doing in both disciplines. It also exaggerates for me what my mental game is like during the competition. Precision disciplines are all about the mental game because of how much longer each shot tends to be. When shooting, the goal is to focus on front sight, trigger control, and more front sight. If other thoughts creep in, the shot might not be where it should be.
As much as I love air pistol, I must admit that my favorite discipline is sport pistol. 25 m women’s sport pistol is shot at a distance of 25 meters with a .22 caliber, magazine fed, semi-automatic pistol. It is smaller than the air pistol, but is much heavier due to the materials used to make it. Sport pistol consists of two stages. The first stage consists of six precision series. Each series has five shots in five minutes. There are six of these series to total in 30 shots. The target for this stage has a 10 ring diameter of 50 mm. The second stage is the rapid fire stage. Each series consists of five shots, but this time it is timed for each shot. The shooter begins in a “ready position” with their arm raised 45 º from their body. This is held for the first seven seconds. Then the signal is given, and the shooter has three seconds to raise the gun to the target and fire. The target for this stage has a 10 ring diameter of 100 mm. There are six series in this stage, totaling at 30 shots for this stage. That totals at 60 shots for this competition, making the maximum score 600 (60/60 shots in the 10 ring). There is strength in precision when needing to be as still as possible and not shake, but sport pistol requires a lot more physical strength for me. The gun is heavier, and during the rapid fire stage with all the raises and holds, I really feel a workout. The mental game is so active as well, which is why I think I enjoy it more. There are more variables to attempt to eliminate and prepare for. It’s exciting to watch as well because it is faster paced. It certainly worth watching if you get the chance.
I really can’t put into words how much joy I get from shooting. It’s a sport where competing with yourself is the main goal, and helped me learn so much about myself. It’s made me a better student, and I’ve really felt like it has helped me grow and mature. This is a very brief description of my disciplines, and I’m sure there are a few questions. I would really love to hear from you in the comments, and I will answer them to the best of my abilities.
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