How Did Shooting Sports Become Part Of The Olympics?

Since the dawn of the modern Olympic Games in 1896, just five sporting events have been a part of every single Games.

These events may not be too surprising, given that they include athletics, cycling, fencing, gymnastics and swimming, but the next longest-lasting event is shooting sports, the professional next step for country sports photography.

Aside from the St Louis Games in 1904 and the Amsterdam Games in 1928, shooting sports have been a fundamental part of the Olympic Games, and the reason for this can be traced back to the founder of the modern Olympiad himself, Pierre de Coubertin.

Baron de Coubertin believed in the importance of sport to the point that he wanted to transform the educational system in the country to incorporate more physical education elements, travelling to England and then the United States to see how they managed their athletes.

Whilst this did not come to pass, he subsequently came up with a bigger plan to bring the nations of the world together to compete in athletic events inspired by the Ancient Greek Olympics.

To this end, he established the International Olympic Committee and developed a philosophy focused on the love of athletics and a focus on events that had real-world applications. This included shooting, and as a pistol shooting champion himself, he helped ensure that five shooting events were held in Athens in 1896.

These were the 200-metre military rifle, the 300-metre free rifle event from three positions, the 25-metre military pistol, the 25-metre rapid fire pistol and the 30-metre free pistols events.

In total, 61 shooters from seven nations took part, the vast majority of which were from the host nation Greece, and as a result, the Greek shooters were exceptionally successful, with only John and Sumner Paine from the United States, and Viggo Jensen and Holger Nielsen from Denmark winning medals aside from the hosts.

After this first event, the targets would be changed, the disciplines standardised and this has managed to keep the shooting events relevant to this very day.