In recent years, the popularity of rifle shooting as a sport has soared, opening up a wealth of opportunities and variations on the sport. Air guns have entered the target-shooting arena as another choice for shooting enthusiasts. While traditional rifle sports maintain popularity, the air rifle sport is growing and gaining traction.
While traditional rifle shooting as a sport has a variety of different goals, air rifle shooting is typically focused on still target shooting. The Olympics features one such competition during every summer Olympics.
Considered part of the rifle competition portion of the Olympics, the air rifle and air pistol competitions have targets placed ten meters from the shooter’s stand. While in most ways this competition mimics the high-powered rifle events, this distance is much closer than the traditional rifle shooting events, due to the decreased power and range of the air gun.
Another big difference in the Olympic event is the position of the shooter for the competition. While traditional high-powered rifle events feature three positions for the shooter – standing, kneeling, and prone – the air rifle competition only has the shooter positioned to stand.
The Olympics isn’t the only professional venue for air rifle shooting competitions. There are international and national events held regularly to qualify for the Olympics. Additionally, new leagues are popping up across North America with the particular focus of air rifle target shooting. They offer competitions, classes, and events for beginners, enthusiasts, and professional sportsmen.
As with high-powered rifle events, many air rifle target shooting events allow participants to practice and compete in the traditional three-position rotation, but with less of a distance to each target.
Why are air guns gaining traction as a target-shooting sport? Many people prefer the lower cost and easier upkeep of an air gun. Whether shooting BBs or pellets, air guns don’t require the same investment or cleaning as a traditional rifle. Many air gun owners rarely clean their air guns, and don’t see a decrease in accuracy or distance. Pellets and BBs are readily available for purchase, and less expensive to practice with, as going through rounds and rounds is not uncommon.
Air guns are a good first step in the competition world. The lower power and the decreased distance allow the beginner to become comfortable and used to the sport before moving on the higher-powered rifles or pistols. Training and competing with an air rifle is the first choice for parents getting their children into the sport. Events and training can be just as serious and competitive as with high-powered rifles, without the cost.
While traditional, high-power rifle shooting as a sport still has a massive following, air gun rifle target shooting is gaining traction and is a solid lower-cost, fun alternative and a developing sport in its own rite.